SIM Card, Roaming Or Portable WiFi? We Compare Charges For 6 Popular Travel Destinations

... so you don't need to.

All prices and plans are accurate at time of publishing.

It's super easy to get Internet connection 24/7 while you're on holiday overseas these days

Image via Barbados

Telcos are providing data roaming at a more affordable rate now. Some even have traveller sim cards with special packages for tourists. Airports also have kiosks that rent out portable WiFi hotspots if you prefer to use that instead of data.

But which option is cheaper for your overseas trip? We compare the rates for all three in six different destinations:

1. Thailand

Image via Visual Mischief

Roaming

Maxis
MaxisONE 188 users can add on RM1 to use your existing plan's data quota, which is 50GB, while roaming. You'll also enjoy 500MB free data every day on top of that. However, this promotion is only valid for a year. If you're using other plans, you can roam using MaxisONE World at RM38 with the same entitlements as the 188 plan.

Digi
The Roam Like Home package that gives you 5GB data while you're roaming. This costs RM30 every month, but is free for Digi Postpaid 110 and 150 Infinite users. They also have a Roaming Pass that gives you up to 4GB of data for three days at RM25 on top of your existing plan. If that's not enough, you can get unlimited data at RM36 per day.

Celcom
Depending on how long your holiday in Thailand is, their Internet Pass charges RM38 for 500MB per day; or RM138 for 3GB, which you can enjoy for seven days.

U Mobile
Users subscribing to plans like P70 and above can enjoy their roaming service, Roam-Onz, for free with up to 8GB (depending on your plan) while in Thailand. Other users can purchase U Data Roam, offers unlimited data roaming at RM10 per day.

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Local tourist sim card

Happy Tourist SIM
There are three different types of data plans. All plans have unlimited data, but there's a quota for high speed Internet. If it's just a short trip, opt for the Happy Tourist 199 plan which gives you 500MB of fast Internet at THB199 (about RM25.08) for seven days.

AIS Traveller SIM
This also has three different types of data plans. Like dtac, data is unlimited but with a quota for maximum speed. You can get up to 2.5GB at high speed for seven days at THB299 (about RM37.68).

TrueMove H Tourist SIM
This telco only has one data plan. It allows you to surf at high speed for the first 2.5GB at THB299 (about RM37.68) for eight days.

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Portable WiFi hotspot

Wiyo
Rental is RM25 per day for their pocket WiFi. Daily data allowance is unlimited, and the best part is that you can share it with up to five devices.

Travel Recommends
Their pocket WiFi rental is RM19 for a maximum of 500MB per day. No device limit is specified.

Visiondata
This company charges RM25 per day for up to 500MB per day for pocket WiFi rentals to Thailand, which can port to five devices max.



Conclusion
Digi and U Mobile users should definitely take advantage of the free data roaming benefit if their plan entitles them to it. It's more affordable for other telco users to get dtac's Happy Tourist SIM if they're travelling alone or as a couple in Thailand. For big groups, portable hotspot is the way to go.

2. Vietnam

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Roaming

Maxis
You need to purchase the DataRoam Pass to roam while in Vietnam, which is RM38 per day for 500MB.

Digi
Unfortunately, we could not find any data roaming info for Vietnam.

Celcom
You can roam in Vietnam at RM38 per day with a daily quota of 50MB.

U Mobile
U Data Roam's package for Vietnam is RM36 per day for unlimited data.

Local tourist sim card

Mobifone
They have a few tourist packages for you to choose from, depending on the duration of your stay. 4GB high speed data for 17 days is VND150,000 (about RM28.23); whereas 9GB high speed data for 23 days is VND200,000 (about RM37.64).

Viettel
Their tourist sim is available in four packages. We recommend the 1GB Internet for 5 days at VND100,000 (about RM18.82); or the 2GB Internet for 10 days at VND200,000 (about RM37.64).

Note: Make sure you get your sim card from an official telco store with legal registration. Sim cards that are not registered under your passport may risk being shut off by the government at any time.

Image via Full of Travel

Portable WiFi hotspot

Wiyo
Rental rates are RM28 per day for Vietnam, which can be shared among five people. There's no daily quota for this.

Travel Recommends
They charge RM15 per day for the pocket WiFi with a daily quota of 1GB. There's no limit on sharing specified.

Visiondata
Their fees are RM19 for up to 2GB per day in Vietnam. This can be shared among five devices.



Conclusion
Roaming choices are pricey and limited for Malaysians in Vietnam. It's cheaper to purchase a local tourist sim at any Vietnamese airport, or share a pocket WiFi if you're travelling in a big group.

3. Indonesia

Image via Greg Goodman

Roaming

Maxis
Indonesia is one of the available countries for MaxisONE 188 plan's users to roam at just RM1. Data used will be deducted from your existing monthly quota, and you get to enjoy 500MB free every day. For other plans' users, it's RM38 per day for the same entitlements.

Digi
You can choose between Roam Like Home's 5GB data at RM30 per month (free for Digit Postpaid 110 and 150 Infinite users); or the 2GB Internet Roaming Pass at RM25 for three days. Single-day passes are available at RM15 for 500MB. Those who want more can get unlimited data at RM36 per day.

Celcom
Similar to the roaming charges in Thailand, Celcom charges RM38 for 500MB single-day roaming; or 3GB data for a week at RM138.

U Mobile
Roaming charges in Indonesia are the same as their charges for Thailand. Roam-Onz is free for plans with monthly charges equal to or more than that of P70, which gives you up to 8GB data, depending on your plan. Those who can't get the Roam-Onz can get U Data Roam at RM10 per day for unlimited data.

Image via We Heart it

Local tourist sim card

simPATI
This sim card by Telkomsel comes with 52MB at IDR50,000 (about RM16.10). You'll need to purchase top-up credit to get more data. We recommend you purchase at least IDR100,000 (about RM32.21) top-up to get 1.5GB data, which is valid for 30 days. The total will be about RM48.31.

Freedom SIM
You can get IM3 Ooredoo's sim at IDR7,000 (about RM2.25). It allows you to use WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, and even Grab without eating into your Internet quota. To get data for browsing, top up at least IDR40,000 (about RM12.88) for 2.5GB data, which is valid for a month. The total will be around RM15.14.

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Portable WiFi hotspot

Wiyo
They have two types of pocket WiFis for you to choose from: the 3G one costs RM28 per day; whereas the 4G one costs RM30 per day. Both have a daily quota of 500MB, and can be shared among five devices.

Travel Recommends
You can rent a pocket WiFi at RM15 per day. Daily quota is capped at 500MB.

Visiondata
Rental fees for Indonesia is RM28 per day with a 500MB daily quota. It can be connected to up to five devices.



Conclusion
Using a local sim card in Indonesia can be confusing for some, especially since the have different types of credit: national and local. Roaming in Indonesia is affordable and convenient, whereas pocket WiFis are still the best for group travels.

4. Japan

Roaming

Maxis
You can purchase the DataRoam Pass to stay connected while in Japan. For RM38 per day, you get a daily quota of 500MB.

Digi
Roaming Pass is available for all Digi users in three packages. We recommend the three-day pass priced at RM25 for 2GB. Heavy data users can opt for the unlimited data package at RM36 per day.

Celcom
You can choose between the one-day Internet pass priced at RM38 for 500MB per day; or week-long pass which is RM138 for 3GB.

U Mobile
U Data Roam is priced at RM36 for unlimited data per day.

Image via Dat Japan Info

Local tourist sim card

b-mobile Visitor Sim
This is priced at JPY3,480 (about RM133.44). It comes with 5GB data and is valid for 21 days.

IIJmio's Japan Travel Sim
This can be purchased from the JTB Malaysia office in KL before your trip to Japan. It's priced at JPY2,980 (about RM114.27), valid for 30 days with 1GB data.

Japan Tourist SIM
Sakura Mobile has five different data packages for you to choose from: ranging from 3GB at JPY3,500 (about RM134.21) to 50GB at JPY33,000 (about RM1,265.42). The validity period for these range from three to 90 days.

eConnect
This sim card offers six different tourist data packages. We recommend the 15-day package, which gives you 1GB data at JPY3,180 (about RM121.94).

Prepaid Data Sim For Japan
Freetel's pricing is among the lower range. It has four different data plans, the cheapest is priced at JPY2,280 for 1GB (about RM87.43), valid for seven days. Apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, LINE, and KakaoTalk can be used without eating into your data quota.

TelecomSquare
This telco has two packages: a one-week data package at JPY3,800 for 2GB (about RM145.71); or JPY5,500 for 5GB (about RM210.90), valid for a month.

Image via All Japan Tours

Portable WiFi hotspot

Wiyo
They are offering their pocket WiFi at RM20 per day without daily quota. You can connect it to up to 10 devices.

Travel Recommends
At RM15 per day, you get unlimited data usage everyday in Japan.

Visiondata
You also get unlimited daily data with their pocket WiFi. It costs RM20 per day and can be used by five devices.



Conclusion
Pocket WiFi is the cheapest option, whether you're travelling alone or in a big group, if your holiday in Japan does not exceed five days. If you're going there for a week or more, it's best to purchase one of their local sim cards - Freetel is the cheapest.

5. South Korea

Image via A Travel Diary

Roaming

Maxis
Like Japan, users can roam using the DataRoam Pass which allows you to use 500MB data at RM38 per day.

Digi
You can enjoy 500MB at RM15 per day; or 2GB at RM25 for three days with their Roaming Pass. For unlimited data, it's RM36 per day.

Celcom
It's RM38 per day for 500MB data in South Korea.

U Mobile
Roam-Onz is available in Korea, which means P70 and above plan users have free 5GB data roaming every month. Those who subscribe to the cheaper plans can use U Data Roam 10, which gives you unlimited data at RM10 per day.

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Local tourist sim card

kt's Data Prepaid Sim
This costs KRW27,500 for unlimited data (about RM103.35), with a validity of five days. There's also a 10-day option priced at KRW38,500 (about RM144.69).

EG SIM
It has three different data plans starting from KRW30,000 for 1GB data (about RM112.75). All of their plans are valid for a month. An extra of KRW5,000 (about RM18.79) apply for those using nano sim cards.

Portable WiFi hotspot

Wiyo
You can rent a pocket WiFi for RM20 per day. There's no data quota and you can connect to seven devices at the same time.

Travel Recommends
The pocket WiFi rental charge for South Korea is RM15 per day for unlimited data.

Visiondata
It's RM20 per day for unlimited data. The pocket WiFi can be connected to up to five devices.



Conclusion
Roaming is definitely the best and cheapest option for U Mobile users. For other telco users who plan to spend more than a week there, getting an EG SIM is more pocket-friendly.

6. Australia

Image via Fremantle Story

Roaming

Maxis
You can get a DataRoam Pass at RM38 for 500MB data per day in Australia.

Digi
You can try these two Roaming Pass packages in Australia: RM15 for 500MB per day; or RM25 for 2GB that lasts three days. You can also get unlimited data at RM36 per day in Australia with Digi.

Celcom
Their Single-Day Internet Pass (RM38 per day for 500MB) and 3-in1 pass (RM138 for 3GB that lasts for a week) work in Australia.

U Mobile
Great news! Roam-Onz is available in Australia, that means free unlimited data while roaming for P70 plan users and above. Other plans' users can opt for unlimited data at RM10 per day as well.

Image via Abduzeedo

Local tourist sim card

Telstra
Their sim starter kit starts from AUD10 (about RM32.57) onwards. The cheapest one gives you 1GB data for seven days.

Vodafone
Their Data Combo starter kit has three different plans - the cheapest is AUD30 for 3GB data (about RM97.34), with a 28-day validity period.

Image via Melbourne Ahoy

Portable WiFi hotspot

Wiyo
You can rent a pocket WiFi at RM30 per day. The daily quota is set at 1GB and you can connect it to 10 devices.

Travel Recommends
Rental fee for a pocket WiFi to Australia is RM26 per day. The quota is 500MB per day.

Visiondata
They charge RM28 per day for their pocket WiFi rentals. The daily quota is 1GB, and is able to connect to five devices at the same time.



Conclusion
Roaming is still the cheapest option for U Mobile users in Australia. If you're using other telcos, the cheaper option would be to get a Telstra or Vodafone sim starter kit.

Our conclusion? It all boils down to your telco and the number of people you're travelling with.

Image via ATG Travel

Based on the destinations above, roaming would be the more affordable option for certain telco users. For those travelling as a couple, it’s cheaper to get data by buying local sim cards. Pocket WiFis are the way to go if you’re travelling in a bigger group as you’ll get to split the cost.

Just remember not to be too obsessed with using the Internet till you forget to focus on your vacation!

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