Travel technology forum

iPhone SIMs in SEA

  • TravelMoo

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd June, 2014
    Posts: 6

    Hi everyone,

    Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere but after a search round the forums I have struggled to find a definitive answer. Pretty much every other question I have had I have managed to get an answer to from the website and forums so thanks - it's been invaluable so far!

    I am planning a solo trip in SEA from Oct 2014 to March 2015 visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam & Laos. Then depending on time to spare and recommendations I get on the way may visit Indonesia or the Phillipines. I'm from the UK.

    It is my first time travelling and as a young female doing it alone I am going to have a lot of worried people back home who will want to know they can get a hold of me fairly quickly if need be. Therefore, I am keen to ensure I have a plan in place for how I will call/text/email/Skype back home.

    I am planning on taking and iPad mini (wifi only) and an iPhone 4s. I will use the iPad for skyping when I have access to wifi (hopefully fairly regularly) as well as general internet browsing when I am not out and about. I'd like to use the iPhone for calls and texts (both to home plus others I may meet along the way in country). Ideally I'd also have some data allowance on there for things like quick emails (to worried parents) where wifi isn't available or a quick check of google maps if I get lost.

    It seems I have two options:
    1) buy an international SIM in advance (I know STA travel have one)
    2) buy SIM cards in each individual country that come with data allowances

    I wondered what everyone's recommendations would be? It seems like it might be a bit of a hassle changing up in every single country but is that the cheapest option? Or am I being unrealistic and should I just take a cheap Nokia or something for calls/texts and rely on wifi for internet?

    Any advice would be much appreciated!


    #1 Posted: 2/6/2014 - 16:55

  • Advertisement

  • goonistik

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

    It is always cheaper to get a local SIM rather than pay roaming charges. In many SEA countries it is easy to get a prepaid SIM. I know that Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines will be easy. I'm not sure about Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It is also cheaper when you need to make a local call.

    Roaming offers the convenience of retaining of your telephone number but that convenience comes at a cost. Retaining a phone number is important for people traveling on business (and their phone bill is on the company's tab).

    #2 Posted: 2/6/2014 - 23:50

  • ElleH

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd July, 2014
    Posts: 1

    In my experience, I think buying a SIM before you leave for your travels is most wise. I feel more prepared once I land in a foreign country. Since you're going to be traveling to so many different countries, make sure your SIM is flexible and compatible in all of those countries-- I go with G3 Wireless because I haven't visited a country where the service doesn't work and I love staying connected while I'm traveling. Happy travels!

    #3 Posted: 22/7/2014 - 20:00

  • savorygal

    Joined Travelfish
    16th July, 2010
    Posts: 159

    I'm with Goon, buy a local sim when you arrive. easy & cheap. Vietnam has sim cards in the airport, I just bought the sim for a nominal amount, chose a data amount & for the equivalent of about 20 USD I had unlimited 3G & texting. 20 international talking minutes & 40 local minutes for one month. Laos & cambodia were no problem either. all the small shops seem to carry them.
    happy travels

    #4 Posted: 22/7/2014 - 22:00

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2583
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    we just did the same thing savorygal mentioned for our recent trip to indonesia, picking up a local sim card. there was free wi-fi almost everywhere, so we didn't use all that much data, but having a local telephone number really came in handy a few times when people needed to call us back to confirm reservation or give directions, etc.

    #5 Posted: 24/7/2014 - 07:57

Have questions? Jump to our menu of forum quicklinks

Add your reply

Your reply

Check this box if you want to be notified of replies.

Please be familiar with our user guidelines before you post. Thanks!

Businesses planning on plugging their guesthouse / hotel / karaoke bar should read our "Addition guidelines" very carefully.

You need to be logged in to answer an existing post on the Travelfish forums. Please login via the prompts just above and refresh this screen -- before writing your post -- and you'll be in business.

Hotel Deals of the Day
best price guarantee