Gear and equipment forum

Cell phones and sim cards

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
    13th June, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    Hello everyone!

    I travel to SE Asia fairly often and in two weeks I'm heading back for a trip to Myanmar. I'd like to have a mobile phone this time around so that I can call guesthouses to book rooms, keep in touch with other travelers, etc...

    In the USA we use a different mobile phone system, so my current phone won't work in Myanmar. I read somewhere that I need an unlocked GSM mobile phone and can just buy sim card there to use for it. Do I have that right? If so, is it cheaper to buy an unlocked phone there?



    #1 Posted: 2/6/2013 - 20:12

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  • goonistik

    Joined Travelfish
    7th January, 2010
    Location Philippines
    Posts: 560
    Places visited:
    At least 9


    That is correct. You need to buy an unlocked GSM phone. It will work in most countries of Asia, Japan and Korea being the only exceptions I am aware of. If the phone is unlocked, you can just change SIMS to use the local network.

    You don't mention where you plan to buy the phone but I figure that in the more open countries like Thailand, SG, Ph and Malaysia you can get cheap cellphones.

    A basic China brand cellphone for sending text messages and calling can be as low as $20. A basic Nokia cellphone might be about $25. Many of these phones are sold unlocked but it is possible that a telco will sell a locked version of the phone. So before you buy, make sure the phone is unlocked.
    I've come across stories about the weird situation in Myanmar where you can buy a SIM but you can't reload it.

    #2 Posted: 2/6/2013 - 22:28

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