Original publication: 24th of September 2023. Last updated: 24th of January 2024.
Table of Contents
Which Phones are Compatible with Holafly eSIMs?
Before discussing the Holafly eSIM to be used in Asia specifically, you first need to know whether your phone can even support Holafly's eSIMs.
Sure, your phone may support eSIM, but the local mobile operator and travel eSIM provider, like Holafly, first needs to certify a phone before the users can use their products.
As of August 2023, the phones shown in the infographic below are compatible with Holafly eSIMs:
With that out of the way, let's talk more about the Holafly Asia eSIM!
How Much Does the Holafly Asia eSIM Cost?
You can get the Holafly Asia eSIM for as little as 19 USD (unlimited data for five days) and up to 79 USD (unlimited for 30 days). The eSIM can be used in 11 countries with six options: 5 days, 7 days, 10 days, 15 days, 20 days & 30 days.
Wait… unlimited data!?
Yes, Holafly has been offering unlimited data plans since June 2022.
While unlimited often means “unlimited”, Holafly told me that its plans were truly limitless when it introduced its new plans.
A few weeks later, though, this paragraph was added to its “Can my connection speed be reduced?” FAQ:
[…] if the mobile operator estimates the usage of more than 90 GB of data in a month, it may temporarily reduce the speed to 256 Kbps – 1 Mbps to avoid affecting other users. This limitation is intended to prevent network saturation and will be removed within 24 hours.
I suspect things changed after the Europe trip (read my Holafly Europe review here 😏), or Europe is exempted because every unlimited Holafly eSIM I tested afterward (Canada, the United States, Indonesia, Taiwan & Vietnam) had to deal with (severely) throttled speeds of up to 20 Mbps.
When doing speed tests, I could see the speed go up as high as 80 Mbps before it dropped all the way back to 17 Mbps many times 🙄.
I have asked Holafly to clarify what is up, as it should inform its customers 😡 – at least I am doing it 🙄.
Holafly got back to me saying it is the “fault” of the local mobile operators. Even though (most) of its competitors are not throttled like itself – even when using the same local network!
One of Holafly's competitors (an eSIM reseller – not me, lol) tried to hit a daily fair-use limit, realizing that speeds get throttled after using more than 2.5 GB to 3 GB daily.
Do with this information as you wish 😏. But I can say I have not reached this mysterious limit yet (speeds are instead slow at all times, as mentioned a bit earlier).
Below is an overview of how much each Holafly Asia eSIM costs:
- Asia unlimited data eSIM for 5 days, costing 27 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia unlimited data eSIM for 7 days, costing 34 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia unlimited data eSIM for 10 days, costing 37 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia unlimited data eSIM for 15 days, costing 47 USD
- Asia unlimited data eSIM for 20 days, costing 54 USD
- Asia unlimited data eSIM for 30 days, costing 64 USD
Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in September based on data up to the 7th of September (2023 data only).
Also, be aware that tethering (mobile hotspot) is impossible with Holafly's unlimited data plans (except for the North American one), including the Asia ones – it simply will not work.
If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.
Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).
I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.
As of recently, you can extend/top-up the validity of your Holafly Asia eSIM on the customer portal or Holafly app (also new), which was not the case for literal years (until June 2023).
For example, suppose you buy the 20-day Holafly Asia eSIM (costing 54 USD) but realize you wish to stay in Asia a little longer.
You can top it up with the 7-day top-up (costing 34 USD) or 10-day top-up (costing 37 USD).
Many eSIM providers out there, which Holafly was part of, do not allow you to top up or extend the validity of your eSIM, so it is cool that Holafly allows you to do so now (even though it took years).
In Which Countries Can the Holafly Asia eSIM Be Used?
The Airalo Asialink eSIM can be used in Asia, mostly in East- and Southeast Asia, which are Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam.
With the Holafly Asia eSIM, you can save a lot of money by skipping the initial SIM card costs per country you visit.
So if you plan on visiting multiple Asian countries, getting the Holafly Europe eSIM will be convenient AND will save you a lot of money too.
My Holafly Asia eSIM Experiences
Normally, I am very excited to try our new regional eSIMs offered by the eSIM providers I work with.
Holafly actually upgraded its former Nomad America eSIM (6 GB for 15 days) to unlimited data plans like Asia.
I say like Asia. But the Holafly Asia eSIM was upgraded while I was already in Asia (mid-August until early September).
It got updated too late to try in Indonesia, so I tested it in Taiwan and Vietnam instead.
The thing is, I was already suspicious about this eSIM (and Holafly's performance lately).
In Canada, you can get relatively fast speeds.
Unfortunately, you cannot use 5G NR in Canada with the Holafly North America eSIM because Holafly partnered with Rogers Canada, which does not allow its prepaid customers to use 5G NR, nor can travel eSIMs use it.
That is why I avoided Rogers Canada with all the other travel eSIMs I used that did promise 5G NR.
In the United States, 5G NR is available to many travel eSIMs, but not for Holafly somehow.
No biggie… except that in both countries, the Holafly eSIMs often could not get speeds faster than 20 Mbps (and if they did, it was by “accident” and only up to 35 Mbps).
This was interesting because Airalo and Holafly both use Drei Austria/eSIM Go as their partner (for Airalo, only the new Airalo Discover(+) eSIMs).
Not only did the Airalo Discover+ have 5G NR access, but it also reached blazing-fast speeds – up to 760 Mbps.
Weird… because the Holafly Europe eSIM was fast in Europe just before I went to Canada (where in June and July, I visited the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic & Germany – all with no throttled speeds).
But it may be a North American thing – so let's see how things are in Asia (Indonesia, Taiwan & Vietnam).
While speeds in Indonesia (Bali, Jakarta & Nusa Penida) were not as blazing-fast as in North America, I noticed that the Holafly Indonesia eSIM was almost always slower than any other travel eSIM I tested.
Then I went to Taiwan, where I experienced incredible speeds on 4G/LTE back in 2020-2021 (I was “stuck” there during COVID, so I had a whole year to test all the Taiwanese mobile operators extensively).
Now, 5G NR is widely available, and various travel eSIMs also have 5G NR access here.
Surely, the Holafly Asia and Holafly Taiwan eSIMs cannot be slow, right? I managed to get a download speed of 594.17 Mbps with the Airalo Asialink eSIM… on 4G/LTE!
That was faster than Chunghwa Telecom – the network the Airalo Asialink eSIM used. And it had 5G NR access at that location.
While the Holafly Asia eSIM did have 5G NR access in Taiwan, I could see that speeds were throttled aggressively.
I often saw the test wanting to go fast before dropping back to 17 Mbps (from 45 Mbps).
And yes, this also applied to the Holafly Taiwan eSIM (which did not have 5G NR access, except at one location).
So, after two days of testing, I stopped testing the Holafly Asia eSIM in Taiwan because I knew what I could expect after each test: disappointment.
So what about in Vietnam?
I had a short time in Ho Chi Minh City, and speeds were not stellar in general.
But the Nomad Vietnam eSIM has access to the same two networks as Holafly Asia has in the country (Mobifone and Vietnamobile – I selected the former for both because Vietnamobile sucks).
With the Nomad Vietnam eSIM, I managed to get speeds up to 56 Mbps.
With the Holafly Asia eSIM? You guessed it – below 17 Mbps. 14.75 Mbps was the fastest I got.
After these two disappointing experiences, I decided that I will not test the Holafly Asia eSIM in all 11 countries it can be used in (unlike Airalo's Asialink eSIM (14 countries), Nomad's APAC eSIM (21 countries) & Nomad's SEA-Oceania eSIM (eight countries)) because the results are too predictable.
And honestly, it makes me question whether testing Holafly's country-specific unlimited data eSIMs is worth it too, because the throttled speeds are not an Asia thing (as it happened in North America too).
So why do I still recommend the Holafly Asia eSIM in some guides?
Mostly for the people who do not want to worry about data allowances and do not care about fast speeds.
It is the minorities because most Phone Travel Wiz readers are speed devils like myself 😈.
But some readers want convenience, and the Holafly Asia eSIM can be perfect for them (although if you wish for fast speeds, the Airalo Asialink eSIM is the clear winner).
Anyway, I will still write the analysis for Taiwan and Vietnam below.
But unless Holafly makes significant changes to the speed of the eSIM, you will not see me using the eSIM in the other nine countries (and for the country-specific ones, I will probably test them for a day or two to confirm speeds are still throttled).