Not in the mood in visiting big countries in Southeast Asia? You should consider visiting Brunei. It is a small nation on Borneo and is surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea. Malaysia actually splits Brunei in two when consulting with Google Maps. To some, Brunei is an expensive destination, but it has a lot to offer. If you are already nearby, give the nation a visit.
To make things a bit cheaper when visiting Brunei is using a local SIM card. Roaming with your provider can be expensive if they do not offer an affordable roaming package or rates. That is why many travelers tend to buy a SIM card from Brunei instead of roaming to save on mobile costs. In this article, I will analyze the SIM card options you have when visiting Brunei.
Telecom Providers in Brunei
Brunei is a relatively small country in Southeast Asia. With a population of more than 400000, you should not expect that much choice in terms of telecom providers. DST and Progresif have a duopoly in Brunei. DST has the most subscribers and best coverage in the country but has the highest rates. Progresif has a decent 3G network (while DST has 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks).
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Brunei? If you want to buy a SIM card in Brunei, I would recommend going with DST. As they have the best coverage and multiple networks, you will experience good service with them. Progresif should only be considered if knowing you will stay in one area where they have coverage. Else you will experience patchy service.
SIM cards can be bought in the official stores. Be sure to bring your passport with you to register the SIM card. If you, for some reason, manage to get an unregistered SIM card, service will stop working after a week.
Every SIM card will be charged a yearly license fee of BND 25 to the government. If you are opting in for a tourist SIM card, you will pay less.
Other than that, there is not much more to know about providers in Brunei, so let’s see what options we have.
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DST is the market leader when it comes to SIM cards in Brunei, which is reflected in the prices. The DST Communications company provides its customers with a variety of packages featuring 2G, 3G, and 4G coverage. DST also has the best coverage and speeds in Brunei. They are available at any of the official stores throughout Brunei as well as at the airport and malls.
DST sells three types of SIM cards, Easi, Easi Tourist, and Go!broadband, which have to be topped up EasiLOAD rechargeable cards. These are available for purchase between 2 BND – 100 BND (or between roughly 1.40-73.50 USD – 1 BND is about $0.73). They are valid for anywhere between 2 and 300 days.
The Easi card, sold for 30 BND with 5 BND in credit to be used within 7 days, which is perfect for locals. Data without a package is charged at 0.05 BND per MB.
Another option is Easi Tourist, which is specially designed for tourists and sold for 30 BND (it comes with 5 BND in credit). The default data rate is 0.20 BND per MB.
Finally, you have the Go!broadband option, which is a data-only SIM card. They are sold for 30 BND and come with 10 BND credit to be used in 15 days. The data rate is 0.02 BND per 200 KB (as a reminder, 1 MB is 1024 KB).
If you want data, I would recommend going for one of the following data packages, which can be added to any SIM card:
- 3 BND: 200 MB for 3 days
- 5 BND: 400 MB for 6 days
- 10 BND: 1 GB for 30 days
- 20 BND: 3 GB for 30 days
Unlike most providers who reset the day at midnight, DST calculated your validity on exact hours, which is fair.
Progresif is known for having the best rates for SIM cards in Brunei. However, the downside to using Progresif is its coverage can lack in a lot of areas. If you are not staying in the city, you will lose coverage, making DST Communications the better choice for you.
There are three different packages offered from Progresif: the Progresif Prepaid option, Progresif Unlimited, and the Tourist SIM. These SIM cards are initially free, although you will need to add credit for the SIM card to work when purchasing the card.
The Progresif Prepaid card needs a minimum of 10 BND before it will work. The standard data rate is 0.05 BND, but it offers two combo packages:
- 25 BND: 1 GB, 250 SMS, and 50 minutes.
- 50 BND: 2 GB, 500 SMS, and 100 minutes
The Progresif Unlimited card needs at least 25 BND before it will be activated, but all top-ups will get a bonus of 10%. The Unlimited Plan is quite funny because you can customize it to what you like it to be.
To start, you need to add a base plan, which could be the 10 BND plan that is data-only with 1 GB or the 25 BND with minutes, SMS, and data, which includes unlimited calls and SMS in Brunei.
Once you have selected your base, you can add one of the following packages:
- 10 BND: 2 GB
- 25 BND: 5 GB
- 40 BND: 10 GB
- 55 BND: 20 GB
- 70 BND: 40 GB high-speed data, then throttled
- 85 BND: 80 GB high-speed data, then throttled
Lastly, we have the Tourist Plan, which is valid for 4 weeks. Once the timeframe has expired, the SIM card will expire and will be disabled. For 25 BND a week, you get unlimited data (not sure if it eventually gets throttled), 10 international minutes, 10 international SMS, and unlimited local minutes and SMS.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Brunei
Some travelers do not want to get a Brunei SIM card for various reasons. Some prefer to roam with their providers while others would prefer an international SIM card. Then we have those who like portable WIFI devices, and others who will connect to WIFI networks instead.
Roaming in Brunei with Your Provider
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. If you use your phone in Brunei without changing SIM cards, you would be roaming in Brunei.
Roaming can be expensive. This person received an £8,348.41 data roaming bill. I also found out why roaming is so expensive. However, it does not always have to be costly.
Many providers offer roaming plans where you can roam for free in select destinations like Brunei. Others may offer bundles that give you some minutes, SMS, and data. You also have providers that allow you to use your plan's allowance for a daily fee. Every carrier is different, so it is recommended to explore your roaming options before you go out and experience bill shock (which is not fun). Luckily, I have reviewed the roaming options of many providers so that you do not have to.
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
You can also Roam As You Go, meaning that you will pay per minute, text, and MB. In most cases, this is not recommended, as these rates are insanely high (that is how people get bills in the thousands). There are some providers, however, that do have attractive Pay As You Go roaming rates. Do not get too excited, though, as the number of carriers that have decent standard roaming rates is rare.
International SIM Cards
International SIM cards are cards that have been made for travelers so that they do not have to deal with roaming costs.
There are many international SIM cards out there, such as OneSimCard and SIM cards from SimOptions. These SIM cards with the same as roaming with your provider, but the charges are often way less than actually roaming because they have been set up for international travel.
International SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. As in, not having to get numerous SIM cards, you will not use again, and being reachable on one number instead of multiple
International SIM cards are, however, more expensive than using a local SIM card, such as a Brunei one. On the other hand, they are often cheaper than roaming with your provider. International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or those who are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. If you are only visiting Brunei, stick to a local SIM as discussed in this article.
If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my comparison post where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers.
Portable hotspots, or pocket WIFI, are devices small enough that they should fit into your pocket. These devices turn into your on-the-go WIFI hotspot while they connect to the cellular networks in the country.
There are many portable hotspots out there. Two reputable pocket WIFI companies I know are Skyroam (use coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ) and Vision Global Wireless. WIFI access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day. Using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
A pocket WIFI device is ideal for those who are traveling with families or multiple individuals. This way, everyone can connect to the device and enjoy the WIFI network on the go. Some companies will charge you per GB while others will give you unlimited data. Be aware of the data restrictions of your device so that you will not receive a high bill after your travels.
Free WIFI connections
Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected: Free WIFI hotspots.
Although using WIFI hotspots may save you money, it may not be convenient as using a SIM card. First, you would have to find WIFI hotspots. Brunei has some WIFI networks around the country, but some are slow and useless.
Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. I would recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to an unfamiliar network. The VPN will encrypt your data and will keep your data private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get yours today or find out more about NordVPN.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Brunei
Getting a SIM card from DST would do you well when considering a Brunei SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Visiting other countries in Southeast Asia? Check out my Southeast Asian SIM card buying guide, covering other Southeast Asian countries, such as Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
What is next?
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Book Your Flight for Brunei
It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Brunei. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Brunei drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Brunei
I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Brunei. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Brunei
You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Brunei, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.
Get a Travel Debit Card
Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the local currency for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.
Enjoy your trip!