If you are planning on traveling to Southeast Asia soon, you are probably wondering how you can use your smartphone while you are away on your international adventure. Different mobile phone carriers offer options in international plans while traveling, also known as roaming. However, if you opt not to use those, you do have SIM card options for your smartphone when you are going to Southeast Asia.
What are the best SIM card options when traveling in Southeast Asia? Each country will have their own ‘best’ in terms of SIM cards. I have identified 11 excellent choices:
- DST Communications in Brunei
- Cellcard in Cambodia
- Telemor in East Timor
- Telkomsel in Indonesia
- Unitel in Laos
- Celcom in Malaysia
- MPT in Myanmar
- Smart in the Philippines
- SingTel Mobile in Singapore
- AIS in Thailand
- Vinaphone in Vietnam
Since there is not much information available on the Internet today about SIM card options when traveling to Southeast Asia, I have created this article to help you out. I have taken the guesswork out of finding the best company and SIM cards when traveling through Southeast Asia. Whether you are going on a quick trip to Brunei or planning to stay a month in Singapore, we have found the best companies offering fantastic deals and coverage to help you save money and keep in touch with your loved ones.
Below I will cover what your cell phone options are when you go to Southeast Asia and the best SIM card options you will have depending on what country you plan on visiting.
Smartphone Options when Traveling in Southeast Asia
If you are planning on traveling to Southeast Asia and you know you will need access to your cell phone while you are on the other side of the globe, then you will need to start exploring your smartphone options before you travel to Southeast Asia. Besides using a SIM card while traveling in Southeast Asia, which we will cover in more detail later, you can also opt for a few other choices.
Use Your Existing Carrier
One option you will have for your cell phone when traveling to Southeast Asia is to add an international plan to the carrier you already have. Adding a global program is simple, and all you will need to do is call your phone company, or log in to your account on their website and upgrade.
One of the reasons why not all people opt to use their existing carriers when traveling is because it will not be very cost-effective. Even if you add-on a plan while you are traveling internationally, you will still wind up paying up to a dollar or more for each minute you talk, as well as additional amounts for each text you send and all the data you use.
These types of international plans add a one-time charge to your already existing policy. Many of these plans start at an additional $10 per day to use your phone. While that does not sound too bad when you start adding up those extra per minute and per text fees, you can see how using our existing carrier might cost you more than you are willing to spend.
Additionally, not all providers have international roaming plans. In most cases, you will be roaming on Pay As You Go roaming rates, which can become expensive quickly. Finally, roaming is not possible with all carriers either. You could consider getting an international SIM as well.
So, while using your existing carrier might not be the most cost-effective way to use your cell phone while you are traveling in Southeast Asia, it is an option. If you do not mind the additional fees, then there is nothing wrong with picking this option. However, you can save a lot of money if you use a SIM card instead.
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Get a Portable Hot Spot Device
Another choice you will have when using your cell phone and traveling to Southeast Asia is to get a portable hot spot device. You can purchase one or rent one. While it is beneficial to have a mobile hot spot on you, you still may wind up paying a lot of fees in roaming charges if you opt for this route.
Unfortunately, the roaming charges on these types of roaming hot spot devices can be astronomical. However, one company, Skyroam, does offer options that are more affordable than most of its competition.
With Skyroam, you can connect five devices to one hotspot and get unlimited usage. You will only have to pay $8 per day for each day you use it. So, if you need to use more than one device, this can come in handy. However, there are still other, more affordable options out there.
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Turn of Roaming and Use Free Wi-Fi
You could also turn off roaming on your cell phone while you travel to avoid incurring additional charges. After you do that, you could then connect to free and available Wi-Fi when you want to use your phone.
While this method will help save you money in the long run, it is not super convenient when you are traveling in Southeast Asia. Not all countries in Southeast Asia prevalently use Wi-Fi so that you will not have tons of free access to Wi-Fi like you would if you were traveling through North America or Europe.
So while this option will help save you money, it will not be the most convenient or effective choice for using your cell phone while you travel in Southeast Asia.
Allow Your Phone to Roam
You could also allow your phone to roam if you would like, as mentioned earlier. However, if you do this, you will wind up with a huge cell phone bill upon your return. People I have known that have decided to allow their phones to roam when traveling Southeast Asia have returned home to cell phone bills that cost over $1000.
So, while this is an option, it is not affordable. If you decide to allow your phone to roam, you will be doing that at your own risk and expense.
Purchase a SIM Card
Your last option and the one we are going to discuss in the most detail here is to purchase a SIM card once you arrive in the country you are visiting. Buying a SIM card in Southeast Asia is a cheap and straightforward way to use your phone while you are traveling.
SIM cards as the least expensive way to keep your phone as fully functional as possible when you are traveling in Southeast Asia. So, below, we are going to cover some of the SIM cards you can use in Asia, depending on the country you are visiting in so that you will get the best deals possible.
With a SIM card from Southeast Asia, you will be able to use your phone efficiently, effectively, and at an affordable rate.
Using a SIM Card when Traveling in Southeast Asia
Your cheapest option for the best cell phone service when traveling through Southeast Asia is using a SIM card. SIM cards are incredibly affordable. For example, you can purchase 5GB of data for your phone on a SIM card in Southeast Asia for as little as $5.
Since cellphone and data reception has boomed all over the world in the last decade, technology has become very cheap and affordable. Even the poorest households in Southeast Asia seem to be able to afford cell phones since they are not a costly expense in Southeast Asia. That is because it is cheaper to place a cell tower on a hill than it is to hardwire thousands of homes with cables.
So, you can easily purchase a Prepaid SIM card in Southeast Asia that will cover 10 to 30 days of cell phone usage. While it is usually best and cheapest to buy the SIM card once you have arrived at your destination because you will pay only local prices for the SIM cards, you can also order them in advance online if you wish.
Brunei SIM Cards
The good news about traveling in Brunei is that you will not have to worry about the signal being lost along the way. For the most part, coverage is reliable in the majority of Brunei, especially around Bandar Seri Begawan. However, you may notice that the signal gets a little bit weaker as you venture into more rural areas of Brunei.
Two companies provide SIM cards in Brunei: DST and Progresif. Both of these companies go through a strict approval process in Brunei, which means that they not only offer their customers with top-notch coverage, but their pricing is excellent, too.
Worried about the language barrier? The majority of locals will speak a good deal of English, although they mainly speak Malay in Brunei.
When it comes to buying, it is best to get to the shops early in the morning. Shops can become overwhelmingly crowded as the day goes by, so always ensure you are getting there bright and early. If you need help with the purchasing and setting up your SIM card, retailers should be able and willing to help.
First Choice: DST Communications
DST is the market leader when it comes to SIM cards in Brunei. The DST Communications company provides its customers with a variety of packages featuring 2G, 3G, and 4G coverage. They are available at any of the official stores throughout Brunei as well as at the airport and malls.
The best way to buy a DST Communications SIM card is to opt for the EasiLOAD rechargeable cards. These are available for purchase between D2 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. You can also opt for Easi, which is perfect for locals, Easi Tourist, which is specially designed for tourists, or the Go!broadband option, which is data only.
DST sells the following data plans:
- 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
Second Choice: Progresif
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 two different packages offered from Progresif: the Progresif Prepaid option, or Progresif Unlimited. These SIM cards are initially free, although you will need to add credit for the SIM card to work.
There are different options when it comes to SIM card packages, but the standard per MB is BND0.05. They also have two handy packages for purchase. These combo deals include:
- For 25 BND, you can get 1 GB of data, 250 SMS messages, and 50 talk minutes.
- For 50 BND, you can get 2 GB of data, 500 SMS messages, and 100 talk minutes.
Cambodia SIM Cards
There are a few additional fees that are tacked onto this SIM card when you use it that you will want to be aware of before you sign-up. It costs 5-8c/minute extra when making national calls and 3-5c/minute for national text messages. That is not that much, and if you want to make sure all your domestic calls and texts are covered, you can pay an additional dollar or two to cover all of that.
How to Purchase a Cellcard SIM Card
If you are flying into Cambodia’s Phnom Penh airport, you are in luck. You will find a Cellcard booth at this airport as you prepare to leave the baggage reclaim area. So, you can purchase your SIM card right after you have exited your airplane.
Also, the employees at the Cellcard booth at the Phnom Penh airport are trained to speak English well and handle all the ins and outs of setting up your phone. You will have your phone ready to go in just a few minutes after you have stopped by their booth.
However, if you are arriving at a different airport, or you prefer to purchase your SIM card in town, you will notice Cellcard signs everywhere while you are out in about. Cellcard even sells SIM cards in small Cambodian cities. Your passport might be required to purchase a SIM card, but otherwise, it is a straightforward process.
It is also effortless to top up your Cellcard plan whenever you need to. All you need to do is find a shop that has a Cellcard sign in the window. Trust me, there are plenty of those, and you will discover Cellcard signs everywhere in Cambodia.
You will typically get data speeds of around 3G/HSPA+ in most larger towns, but your service might be slower in other places.
Second Choice: Metfone
- You will get coverage with 4G/LTE.
- To get started, you will need to stop by an official Metfone Store in Phnom Penh or Siam Reap. Or you can find a store at the airport. They will register you properly and set up your SIM package at the store to make sure your phone works correctly.
- The SIM price is $1 to $2 for the SIM card fee.
- The 1.5 GB soft-cap plan costs $1.50, and you will get a week’s worth of coverage.
- The 3 GB soft-cap plan or 4 GB hard-cap plan both cost $5 and give you one month of coverage.
- With a soft-cap plan, your plan will be throttled once the data cap is reached, but you will not incur a surcharge.
Third Choice: Smart
Another company I would recommend to use for a SIM card in Cambodia is Smart.
- You will get coverage with 4G/LTE.
- You can also get data-only plans that are called “SurfLikeCrazy” Plans.
- You can find the official store in Phnom Penh, Siam Reap, and major airports. Make sure you take your phone to a store or booth and have your package set up by a Smart employee.
- The SIM Price is $1 for the SIM card fee.
- The Traveler SIM Card gives you 2 GB of data and $1 credit for $5 and offers a week of coverage. You can only purchase this plan at international airports.
- The 1 GB of Data Plan costs $1 and gives you one day of coverage.
- The 4 GB Hard-Cap Plan costs $5 for one month of coverage. If you go over the cap limit, you will be charged an extra $0.01 per 500 KB that you go over the cap limit.
East Timor SIM Cards
Timor-Leste, which is referred to as more commonly as ‘East Timor,’ has some excellent coverage for the majority of the area. However, it is essential to keep in mind that outside of the major cities, you may have a little bit more struggle finding service. However, you should never be completely without coverage anywhere in East Timor.
Three different companies offer SIM cards in East Timor: Telemor, Timor Telecom, or Telkomcel. It is always recommended to buy a SIM card for $1 upon your arrival to East Timor, and then decide what type of data and package you will need.
First Choice: Timor Telecom (TT)
Timor Telecom, also referred to as TT, was the sole provider for coverage in East Timor up until 2012. This made them the go-to choice for SIM cards. Recently, though, they have dropped in popularity because they have become the priciest company out of the three.
Timor Telecom is noted for having the best service of the three SIM card companies in East Timor. That being said, a lot of customers do not mind shelling out a few more dollars for top-notch coverage and reliability.
The default rate for Timor Telecom is $0.04 per 1 MB. However, there are many packages available to customers. You can get the TT01 package at $0.10, which includes 60 MB for 12 hours up to the TT100 plans, which are sold for $100 and offers 70 GB for 30 days.
This company also provides specialty campaigns where you can get your hands on some fantastic deals. One of these campaigns is known as the ‘Happy’ campaign and comes with some key features, including unlimited data from midnight to 8 AM.
Second Choice: Telkomcel
Telkomcel is the final company that offers SIM cards to customers in East Timor. However, they do not have as many options when it comes to coverage and packages and may not work with your device. It is essential to check beforehand, as most devices in Asia cannot handle the 850 MHz 3G plans.
The default rate for Telkomcel is $0.045 per 1 MB. There are many packages to choose from, including daily weekly, monthly, and ‘turbo’ options. These will range from $0.25 to $150, depending on how much data and how long you need it for.
UPDATE: My first choice has changed from TT to Telemor. Not only do they have good coverage, they also became the largest operator since 2017. You can get a Telemor SIM card for $1 and an unlimited data plan for 30 days for just $25. Only need 1 GB? You can get a 1.1 GB plan for $15, lasting you 15 days.
Indonesia SIM Cards
Indonesia has some of the best coverage in Asia, although more rural areas may not provide adequate coverage. However, there are four trusted and reliable companies that offer attractive rates on top of spectacular coverage. These companies are Telkomsel, IM3 Ooredoo, 3 (Tri), and XL Axiata.
Keep in mind that locals of Indonesia refer to SIM cards as ‘Kartu Sim.’ Your SIM card must be registered before you can use it.
First Choice: Telkomsel
The largest company offering SIM cards in Indonesia is Telkomsel, and its coverage and services can be used throughout the entirety of the provinces. They offer 2G, 3G, and 4G services to their customers alongside some of the fastest internet speeds in the country.
The initial prepaid SIM card options include SimPATI, Kartu AS, or Loop. All can be purchased for the price of 2000 IDR (or about 0.14 USD – 1000 IDR is about $0.07), although you will eventually need to top-up your card with one of the many packages or deals.
In general, there are three different types of plans:
- Pulsa 777 National credit can be used anywhere in Indonesia.
- Pulsa 369 local credit is ideal if you are staying in one province, as it cannot be used throughout.
- Pulsa is a mixture of both and can be found almost anywhere.
Data packs and add-ons are available for purchase and will land you anywhere from 5000 IDR (various) to 300 000 IDR (13 GB), depending on your needs.
Second Choice: IM3 Ooredoo
IM3 Ooredoo is another popular company in Indonesia that provides SIM cards and coverage with 2G, 3G, and 4G plans. Their internet speeds are relatively quick as well. Combined with some great data and voice package deals, it is a top choice amongst locals and tourists alike.
When it comes to the prepaid plans, you have three to choose between: the Freedom Internet, Freedom Mini, and Freedom Combo. They all land around 4000 IDR, and you can easily add more data packs if needed.
Data packs will typically range from 2000 IDR for 24 hours and 5 MB to 30 days of use with 8 GB for 160 000 IDR. If you just need more data period, you can buy add-ons such as 15 000 IDR for 22 MB up to 6 GB for 80 000 IDR.
Third Choice: 3 (Tri)
3 (Tri) is another popular choice in Indonesia. They offer their customers with 2G, 3G, and 4G network coverage, which has recently become much better than in the past. They also have the best promotions and deals amongst the competitors in Indonesia.
The Bali prepaid card from 3 (Tri) will run you around 40 000 IDR. From there, you have the option of adding more data. For 2000 IDR, you can get 20 MB, while 150 000 IDR will give you 9 GB of data.
Fourth Choice: XL Axiata
The second-largest operator in Indonesia is XL Axiata. While the company is small-scale, they still provide some fantastic coverage in 2G, 3G, and 4G capabilities. The speed is reasonably quick, and the company has some of the best deals to save you money. XL Axiata offers a basic prepaid SIM card for 5 000 IDR. With this card, you get 2 MB of data right off the bat. From there, you can add on additional data starting at 1500 IDR for 15 MB.
Need more data? For 50 000 IDR, you will get 1.5 GB. For 220 000 IDR, you will get 16 GB.
Laos SIM Cards
My top pick for a SIM card in Laos is Unitel. Unitel’s SIM cards cost 10 000 LAK ($1.20) and you will get 5000 LAK call credit included. 1.5 GB of data also costs 15 000 LAK. There are several different phone and data packages available with Unitel, so you will want to check out the different plans before you make your decision.
How to Purchase a Unitel SIM Card
If you want to purchase a Unitel SIM card, you will need to find a store. You will discover Unitel signs posted in many stores around, so once you see that sign, you know you can purchase your SIM card. Also, in some cases, you may not need to provide a passport. However, that all depends on what shops you visit when deciding on your card.
If you want to top up your plan, you can find refills at any store that has a Unitel sign. You will be buying a top-up card, scratching off the silver coating, and then following the directions written in English that are on the card. You will need to cancel the plan if you do not want it to auto-renew. To cancel, type *209*0# to unsubscribe. If you do not cancel, you might incur a negative balance on your account. You do not want to be in debt with a foreign operator.
Second Choice: Loa Telecom
Your second-best choice in Laos is Loa Telecom. You will get some 4G/LTE service and access to a few local Wi-Fi Hotspots. To use Loa Telecom, you will need to buy a SIM “Net” card, which is data only, and a plan at a Loa Telecom store. Sometimes you will find top-up cards at smaller shops.
You can get a Lao Telecom SIM card for 5000 LAK. Data packs range from 5000 LAK for 125 MB lasting you 24 hours to 100 000 LAK for 2.5 GB lasting you 30 days.
Need more data? Get a Lao Telecom data-only SIM card, called SIM Net, for 10 000 LAK. SIM Net data packs range from 5000 LAK for 1 GB for 24 hours to 50 000 LAK for 7 GB for 30 days.
Malaysia SIM Cards
Throughout Malaysia, you will mostly find good coverage. The most reliable signals are in the cities, while more rural sections of the country can have weaker ones. You may struggle in rural areas, but for the most part, you can feel confident using your phone from one of these companies: Celcom, Maxis, Digi, and U Mobile.
Keep in mind that the locals refer to SIM cards as ‘SIM’ or ‘SIM Kaa.’ Retailers will be able to help set up the SIM card, but you will need your passport to register the SIM card for use.
First Choice: Celcom
Celcom is the third-largest operator in Malaysia, providing its customers with top-quality coverage in 2G, 3G, and 4G. The prepaid SIM cards are known as ‘Xpax’ and are free of charge. However, you will need to add credit with one of the plans or packages before the SIM card can be used.
There are several packages available for purchase:
- 1 day: 3GB for 2 MYR
- 7 days: 10GB for 7 MYR
- 30 days: 15GB for 20 MYR
- 30 days: 10GB for 50 MYR (includes unlimited calls, which is why it is more expensive and has fewer data compared to the price above)
For reference, MYR1 is about $0.24 and is also known as RM (Malaysian ringgit).
Second Choice: Maxis
When it comes to data packs, there are several different options to suit your needs.
- 1 day: 1 GB MYR for 3 MYR
- 7 days: 300 MB for 7 MYR
- 30 days: 2 GB for 30 MYR
- 30 days: 5 GB and 100 minutes for 50 MYR
Aside from these cost-effective data packs, other options to help you save money include the Happy Hour bonus, which provides for 1 GB internet for an hour every day and Free Weekend bonus that allows for 1 GB of use on Saturday and Sunday.
Third Choice: Digi
Digi is the largest operator in Malaysia that offers SIM cards. They have good coverage and a fair amount of packages and deals to choose from. However, there are two main prepaid SIM card deals offered by Digi: Digi Prepaid Live and Digi Prepaid Best.
Each of the data packs available by Digi comes complete with free WhatsApp use as well as free internet service for social media platforms, which is one of the significant benefits of opting for Digi service.
Data packs are available for a wide variety of prices ranging from 100 MB for 24 hours at 1 MYR to 10 GB for 30 days at 48 MYR.
Fourth Choice: U Mobile
U Mobile is the last and smallest company in Malaysia that offers great deals with their SIM cards. Although the company is small, they still have some fairly great coverage in Malaysia. There are tons of data packs and packages available for purchase with U Mobile. You can find the following deals:
- 20 MYR for 1.5 GB
- 30 MYR for 7.5 GB
- 50 MYR for 12 GB
Myanmar SIM Cards
Myanmar, which used to be known as Burma, is a country in Southeast Asia that just barely gained its independence and freedom from a strict military force. This made mobile access very limited, and the overall coverage is still faulty in this particular area.
Overall coverage in Myanmar is weak and spotty. In fact, in most areas outside of the major cities, you will not be able to get any internet access whatsoever. However, all three companies that offer mobile coverage and SIM cards are readily available at some reasonable prices.
First Choice: MPT
MPT, which is the Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications company, offers its customers with 3G and 4G network (which was just released in 2017). The original SIM card can be topped up quickly and has rates between 1000 MMK to 30 000 MMK (or $0.65 to $19.75).
MPT data packs start from 700 MMK for 400 and 25 000 MMK for 25 GB – all MPT data plans are valid for a month.
There are several different packages to choose from, all of which will have a 5% tax added.
Second Choice: Ooredoo Myanmar
Ooredoo was actually the first company to offer SIM cards in Myanmar. They do not have any 2G backup coverage, which can make their coverage spotty in certain areas. They do, however, offer 3G and 4G to its customers.
The original SIM card is bought for 1 500 MMK and only comes with 10 MB of data, which means you will need to purchase more data immediately. There is plenty of different monthly packages to choose from. You can get 450 MB for 700 MMK to 9 GB for 10 000 MMK. All plans come with a dedicated Facebook allowance ranging from 50 MB to 1 GB
Third Choice: Telenor Myanmar
Telenor Myanmar is known for having the best and most significant 3G coverage in the entire country. However, they also offer 4G services in select cities. Their SIM card is available for purchase at 1500 MMK and comes with 500 MMK in credit right off the bat. You will need to purchase one of their many packages, all valid for 30 days:
- 900 MMK: 565 MB
- 1500 MMK: 1.5 GB
- 2500 MMK: 2.5 GB
- 6000 MMK: 6 GB
- 15 000 MMK: 15.5 GB
Philippines SIM Cards
The Philippines is known to have some great coverage throughout the country. The two major companies that provide SIM card and coverage for its customers is Smart and Globe. Each has been noted as being top-of-the-line companies, with the 2017 Asia Communication Awards in Singapore being awarded to Smart.
First Choice: Smart
When it comes to Smart, they clearly know how to make their customers happy with the 2G, 3G, and 4G services. Upon arrival, tourists can get their hands on the free Smart LTE Tourist SIM for free with 300MB of data. From there, a customer can earn 700MB additional data after at least PHP30 has been added to the account.
Aside from the free SIM card, Smart also offers the Smart LTE Prepaid SIM for PHP40 (or $0.80 – 1 PHP is about $0.02). It comes with 300 MB.
The Smart company provides a multitude of great packages:
- The ‘SurfMax’ packages have a data cap of 800 MB in a day and are priced between PHP 50 (800 MB for 1 day) and PHP 1000 (max. 24 000 MB for 30 days).
- The ‘Big Bytes’ data package has a varying level of data caps and is priced between 5 PHP (15 MB for 1 day) and 30 PHP (100 MB for 1 day).
- The ‘GigaSurf’ deals vary in data caps and can be bought between 50 PHP (1 GB for 3 days) and 900 PHP (8 GB for 30 days).
Second Choice: Globe
Globe also offers some unique deals and specials to their customers. The Global TravelSurf SIM card is a free card for travelers and can come with either the Travel3 package for PHP150, offering 250MB of data, or the Travel7, which costs PHP500 and comes with 1GB plus PHP200 credit. Lastly, you can opt for the Travel30, which is PHP1,000 and has a whopping 5GB of data.
You can also opt for the Global Non-LTE SIM for PHP40. This SIM card only operates using 3G networking. The Global LTE SIM card, on the other hand, utilizes 4G networking and is PHP40.
Aside from their packages with prepaid SIM cards, you can also top-up or add these package deals to your device. GoSurf data packages have varying levels of caps and come with a multitude of free apps, including Instagram, Musical.ly, Vimeo, and more. The cost ranges from 15 PHP (100 MB) to 1000 PHP (10 GB), depending on your needs.
Singapore SIM Cards
Singapore is one of the best spots to travel to in terms of coverage. There is relatively good coverage throughout the entirety of the country with little to no dead zones. All three companies that provide SIM cards in Singapore, SingTel Mobile, StarHub, and M1, offer 3G and 4G coverage to their users.
Keep in mind that the locals of Singapore refer to SIM cards as ‘SIMS’ or ‘SIMKaa.’
First Choice: SingTel Mobile
SingTel is the largest and most popular company in Singapore amongst locals and travelers alike. They offer a variety of great package deals for data, but by far, the most popular SIM card is the ‘hi!Card’.
SingTel Mobile offers an overwhelming number of package choices. Simply put, there is going to be a package that suits your needs, whether you are a high usage person or need more emphasis on data for social networking and apps.
You can top-up your SIM card with ease. With lots of options, you can precisely find what you need. Data can be applied to your SIM card with prices ranging from 10 SGD to 30 SGD (or $7.35 to $22 – SGD1 is about $0.73). High usage plans will range anywhere from 7 SGD for 2 GB to 15 GB for 30 SGD. High-value plans will include 10 MB for 7 days at 1 SGD to 1 GB for a week at 7 SGD.
Aside from these popular plan options, you can also find extended-expiration plans that range from 10 SGD to 30 SGD and social media packs that give you access to WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, and Facebook for a low price.
To put it simply, they have it all.
Second Choice: StarHub
The standard rate for data is 0.07 SGD per 10 KB (reminder, 1024 KB = 1 MB). You can add additional data ranging anywhere from 2 SGD to 20 SGD and can also purchase specialty packs for social media, including WeChat and Line.
StarHub also offers a special roaming package known as ‘Happy Roam,’ which will allow its users to have data without the expensive pricing across all of Asia as well as into other countries.
Third Choice: M1
The M1 is the smallest company in Singapore, offering its customers some great deals across the board, the most popular SIM card option being the ‘M Card.’ You can top-up your SIM card quickly and easily, and prices range from 5 SGD to SGD 30 SGD, depending on your needs.
Thailand SIM Cards
If you want to purchase a SIM card when traveling in Thailand, I recommend 1-2-Call. Their SIM card costs about 50 TBH, or $1.60. You can pick from a bevy of different calls and data packages. Depending on how much data you will need and how long you will be in the country, you will have plenty of options from which to pick.
For example, for $14, or 427 BHT, you will get 3 GB of LTE data for one month. You will also get access to the high-speed AIS SUPER Wi-Fi network while you are traveling.
How to Purchase a 1-2-Call SIM Card
You can purchase 1-2-Call SIM card packages as soon as you get off the airplane and enter the airport. While 1-2-Call SIM cards are available at most international airports, you will wind up paying a pretty penny at the airport in Thailand. It is much cheaper to purchase your SIM cards in town once you arrive in Thailand.
You will get much better deals in Thailand if you purchase your SIM card in town and outside of the airport. You can head to the nearest AIS store and pick up the 1-2-Call card that works best for you. Remember, though that you will need to provide your passport and get your picture taken in Thailand to get registered and activated.
If you need to top up your plan, you can go to a booth or a mobile phone store that has an AIS/1-2-Call logo or sign on it. You will be able to top up using a printed voucher or scratch card.
Also, you will get data speeds of 3G/HSPA+ in most cities and larger towns. In smaller areas, your service will probably be slower.
Second Choice: Dtac
Dtac is the largest wireless bandwidth service provider in Thailand. You can purchase their SIM card at any dtac kiosk or store.
- The 4GSIM card + costs 49 BHT, or $1.60.
- The Happy Tourist SIM card costs 599 BHT or $18.75 and gives you an unlimited data plan for 15 days.
Third Choice: TrueMove H
TrueMove is the third option for SIM cards when traveling in Thailand.
- You will get 4G/LTE coverage.
- 7-Eleven and Tesco own TrueMove H so that you can pick up these SIM cards at those stores, or any TrueMove H store.
- The 4G SIM Card+ costs 49 BHT or $1.60
- The Tourist Inter SIM plan for 3.0 GB costs 299 BHT or $9.20 and offers unlimited hotspot Wi-Fi as well, all for eight days.
- The 4 GB of data plan costs 399 BHT, or $12.75. The usage cap is 128 Kbps at no additional charge. This plan lasts one month.
- Also, the monthly plans with TrueMove H auto-renew, so you will need to request a cancellation code if you wish to cancel your service once you leave the country.
Vietnam SIM Cards
If you are traveling to Vietnam, you will need to make sure you have a valid passport with more than six months left on it, and you will also need to consent to a photo once you apply for the SIM card. While in Vietnam, the first choice in SIM carriers is Vinaphone.
- Vinaphone costs $5, or 100 000 VND, for 5 GB of data. It is valid for a month, and you can purchase a Vinaphone SIM card as soon as you get off the plane at the airport.
- While you would think the rates at the airport might cost more than what they would be in town, there is not much of a difference. Sometimes the prices at the airport are even lower than they are in town.
How to Purchase a Vinaphone SIM Card
If you are flying into the Ho Chi Minh City airport, you will find many mobile phone stands set up outside of the international arrivals hall here. One of the stands you will see is Vinaphone, which is on the left-hand side of the area. Also, the Vinaphone employees speak excellent English and will be able to get you started with what you need immediately.
If you are not planning to purchase your SIM card at the airport, and you would instead buy one in town, you will have a lot of options. SIM cards seem to be available for purchase everywhere in Vietnam. I recommend staying around the tourist areas if you need to do business with somebody that speaks English. Also, remember that you will need a passport in the official stores, but you probably will not need it if you purchase your SIM card elsewhere.
Some shops will only sell credit and not the SIM cards themselves. Also, not all visitors feel safe purchasing SIM cards outside of official stores. So, if you want to make sure your SIM card will not experience any deactivation issues, we suggest buying it from an official store.
You can also top up at any mobile phone shop that advertises Vinaphone products. Data speeds of 3G/HSPA+ are available in most major town areas. You are more likely to get slower speeds everywhere else.
Vinaphone Plan Breakdown
- The daily rate is about $0.50 per day.
- Nationwide 4G LTE
- Costs 50 000 VND, or $2.50, for the SIM card fee.
- You can purchase 2 GB of data at 79 000 VND or $4.50 with 30 days of coverage.
- You can purchase 6 GB of data at 200 000 VND or $8.80 with 30 days of coverage.
- To cancel your plan, text “HUY” to 888, or the program will auto-renew.
Second Choice: Viettel
The second choice in SIM card options for traveling in Vietnam is Viettel. Viettel’s plan breakdown is below.
- 4G/LTE coverage.
- Costs 50 000 VND, or $2.50, for the SIM card fee.
- DMAX Plan 1.5 GB costs 120 000 VND or $5.30 with 30 days of coverage.
- DMAX 200 for 3 GB costs 200 000 VND or $8.80 with 30 days of coverage.
- If you want to cancel your plan, text “HUY” then “Y” to 191. Otherwise, the program will auto-renew.
- You will need to visit an official Viettel Store in Hanoi or Hoh Chi Minh City so you can properly register your phone and have the store clerks set-up your phone correctly.
Third Choice: Vietnamobile
The third choice in SIM card options when traveling in Vietnam is Vietnamobile. I have included their plan breakdown below.
- 4G/LTE coverage
- These cards can sometimes be purchased online at Amazon or SIM Cart Online. If you cannot find them there, you will find then in any Vietnam Mobile store.
- You can purchase tops ups in stores or online.
- To add data to your package, text “DK Package Code” to 345.
- If you want to cancel your data package, send “HUY Package Code” to 345.
- 5000 VND ($0.22) for 4 GB for 1 Day.
- 90 000 VND ($3.90) for 4 GB per Day, up to 120 GB for one month.
- 10 000 VND ($0.43) for 1 GB for one month.
- 25 000 VND ($1.08) for 2 GB for one month.
- 40 000 VND ($1.73) for 4 GB for one month.
- 70 000 VND ($3.03) for 8 GB for one month.
- 90 000 VND ($3.90) for 12 GB for one month.
- 125 000 VND ($5.41) for 20 GB for one month.
- 200 000 VND ($8.66) for 40 GB for one month.
Now that we have covered the options you will have when it comes to purchasing a SIM card in Southeast Asia, you will be able to use your cell phone as often as you would like to while you enjoy your trip. Buying a SIM card in Southeast Asia offers you an affordable way to access your phone while you are traveling internationally. You will still get peace of mind and safety because you will be able to use your phone for everything you will need, and you will not have to pay a substantial amount for the privilege.
So, as long as you purchase a SIM card and use it when you are traveling in Southeast Asia, you will not need to worry about restricting your cell phone usage while you visit, which can create a lot of stress. You also will not need to worry about a $1,000 phone bill after you return home, which is also a nice bonus.
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