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SIMming around the World

local SIM
A small sample of the remainder of my SIM card collection

As someone without international data roaming in my work subscription, this is a post I've been thinking about for  some time, just waiting to have a sufficiently large collection of used SIM cards to make the point, but somehow with the relocation to Thailand combined with the TOC habits of our cleaning lady, half of it got lost.

Considering 2017-2018 combined (so far), I've been to Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sweden and Germany (before EU roaming). In all these places, I bought a local pre-paid SIM card and you, as seasoned traveller should do too.

For us Europeans roaming within EU is pretty much a seamless event - just turn it on and don't go overboard on live video. What about those Asian friends coming to visit? Guys have hope - in general 10EUR will get you 1.5GB - much less than what you get back home, but at least something.

Jumping to the East side becomes another story, so I want drop some numbers here and make a strong point to buy a local SIM as soon as you land (in fact there are plenty of counters as soon as you exit the airport) to avoid nasty surprises. Advice inspired by a conversation to a fellow Aussie, who was paying 10AUD a day for less than 500MB roaming in India.

2018 pricebook follows below, decreasing price per GB:
  • Japan: Find all details here, I hope it gets easier and cheaper for the Olympics, bit sad they are only sold at BIC Camera - in contrast with ASEAN countries and even Australia, where you can get it at the airport.
  • South Korea: Local tourist SIM at KT shop, 38500KRW roughly 30EUR for a SIM valid during 15 days. In the web it says data free, but last summer I was paying nearly 10EUR per 1GB data, cash and in-store top up.
  • Australia: 10AUD for 5GB valid during a week, various packs available here, comes with a cute little "yes" thing to open the SIM card place in your iPhone that I am keeping with me at all times, best branding ever.
  • Thailand: DTAC tourist SIM bought right in the airport (cash only), 15EUR for 6GB during 7 days - several combinations available.
  • Indonesia: Telkomsel tourist SIM from mall, they call it internet vaganza and comes in various options e.g. 5.6EUR for 14GB during 30 days.
  • Malaysia: Digi tourist SIM card bought in the airport incredibly cheap, 4EUR for 9GB during 7days, 8EUR for 25GB during 15 days.
  • Bangladesh: Grameenphone tourist SIM card bought in the airport (in fact the only reason to bring local cash, as VISA on arrival can be paid in USD), 4EUR for 3GB valid 28 days
  • India: Airtel Bharti SIM card, 18EUR fo 1GB per day

Why is having a local SIM so important in Asia and particularly in South East Asia? 
  1. Grab App is the ASEAN Uber - they shut down operations - so you need data connectivity and preferably a local number to be able to order taxis and pay with card, without being busted with the tariff.
  2. Traffic jams are our daily bread and butter, trust me, 2h locked in a vehicle go much faster if you have mobile data (you can work or bitch in social media or a combination of both)
  3. Taxi drivers may get lost and you would be shocked how many of them cannot use Google Maps - yes this is based on personal experience - so it's great to be able to guide them
  4. On-the-fly check in, hotel rearrangements or a tripadvisor investigation, as hotel WiFi is not as stable as you would expect.
  5. How else would you learn about the environment while generating a bit of social green eyes?

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