Using a local SIM card cuts costs
Using your phone in Brunei can be expensive so consider switching over to a local SIM card to take advantage of better deals, tariffs and plans. Brunei has some of the best prepaid SIM cards on offer in Asia – deals that can reduce your bill. You can buy 1GB of data from Brunei’s leading telco provider for as little as BND10 (AUD$9.40). So, whether you’re planning a short trip, longer stay or tour of Asia, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.au.
There are only two telco providers in Brunei: DST and Progresif. Both providers went through a strict approval process before being allowed to operate in the country and both offer customers good deals. Each service has been tried, tested and trusted by both locals and visitors.
According to OpenSignal’s connectivity map, Brunei has very good network coverage in Bandar Seri Begawan. However, as you head further out the signal can become a little weak but you can still manage to pick up a signal most of the time.
Brunei’s operators offer good roaming rates and sell prepaid credit, which allow visitors to take advantage of cheap local offers and deals. Both providers offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G services. Locals call their SIM cards “SIM-SIMs” or “Chips” and there are rules and regulations when purchasing them. SIM cards can only be purchased once you have shown your passport and you will have to officially register the phone number using your ID before being able to use it.
Keep in mind that the country is very religious and prayer time is often, especially on Fridays from noon.
Below, we have broken down both telco providers to highlight exactly what’s on offer during your visit to Brunei.
DST is Brunei’s market leader and it offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G services. SIM cards can be purchased from official stores right across the country and at the international airport within the airport mall. We advise you to pick one up here before heading to the hotel to save time and hassle.
EasiLOAD recharge cards can be purchased for BND2–100, are valid for 2–300 days and offer bonus credit depending on the amount spent. Dial *103*<12-digit PIN># to top up. Dial *102# to check balance.
The following prepaid SIM cards are available:
Easi: talk and data for locals.
Easi Tourist: talk and data for tourists.
Go!broadband: data-only SIM cards.
The standard default data rate is BND0.05 per MB. DST’s starter pack costs BND30 which includes BND5 credit, valid for 7 days. Data charges are BND0.01 per 200KB as a default rate.
Dial 159 to activate the relevant Easi plan and to select whether you wish to have your language settings in Malay or English.
The Easi Tourist SIM can be purchased for BND15 which includes BND5 credit. The standard default data rate is BND 0.20 per MB.
The Go!Broadband data-only package can be purchased for BND30 which includes BND10 of credit, valid for 15 days. The standard default data rate is BND0.01 per 200KB.
Data packages can be added to any of the above-mentioned plans. Make sure you register to DST’s broadband help portal called DSTMBB, either in-store or online. Dial *133# to activate any of the following packages:
|200MB||Valid for 3 days||BND3|
|400MB||Valid for 6 days||BND5|
|1GB||Valid for 30 days||BND10|
|3GB||Valid for 30 days||BND20|
The above-mentioned days are measured by the exact number of hours used and reminders will be sent when you’re near the end of the plan. Dial *133# to add more packages.
Progresif has the best rates in Brunei but the coverage isn’t great. It’s highly recommended to use DST if you plan on travelling around the country. However, if you will be located in the main cities for most of the time then Progresif’s prepaid SIM cards have the best prices.
Progresif’s starter packs are available to purchase from official stores using your passport for identification; make sure that you register the number before you use it. There are two prepaid plans on offer: Progresif Prepaid and Progresif Unlimited. Both SIM cards are free of charge but you will have to add credit to start using it.
Credit can be purchased for BND5, BND10, BND15 and BND30. e-TopUps are also available for BND1–100 and can be purchased online or at Progresif stores. Dial *178*<12-digit-PIN># to top up. For new customers, insert your SIM and dial 179 to activate. Register the line properly with the correct information and it will be valid for one year.
Progresif Prepaid is the standard SIM plan for voice and data. To start using the SIM card purchase credit for BND10 and this will include a 10% bonus credit that can be used on voice, data or SMS.
The standard default data rate is BND0.05 per MB. The following combo packs are also available:
- BND25: 1GB, 250 Progresif SMS, 50 Progresif mins – Text 'addplan25' to 39123 to activate.
- BND50: 2GB, 500 Progresif SMS, 100 Progresif mins – Text 'addplan50' to 39123 to activate.
Progresif Unlimited includes unlimited domestic voice and text but no data. To start using this plan purchase credit for BND25, which will include a 10% bonus.
Unlimited voice and SMS packages can be purchased for BND20 and the following data plans can be added:
- 2GB: BND10 – Text “addunlimited2gb” to 39123 to activate.
- 5GB: BND25 – Text “addunlimited5gb” to 39123 to activate.
- 10GB: BND40 – Text “addunlimited10gb” to 39123 to activate.
- 20GB: BND55 – Text “addunlimited20gb” to 39123 to activate.
- 40GB: BND70 – Text “addunlimited40gb” to 39123 to activate.
- 80GB: BND85 – Text “addunlimited80gb” to 39123 to activate.
Once the data has been used it will be cut off automatically. The following add-on packages can be added:
- 2GB: BND10 – Text “add2gb” to 39123 to activate.
- 5GB: BND25 – Text “add5gb” to 39123 to activate.
- 10GB: BND40 – Text “add10gb” to 39123 to activate.
- They speak Malay in Brunei, but you shouldn’t have any troubles communicating with the locals as most can speak English.
- Locals call a SIM card “SIM-SIMs” or “Chips”.
- Ask the seller to set up the SIM for you; they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
- Remember, it’s always better to get things done early, before the shops get too busy – that way you are more likely to receive better assistance and avoid the crowds!
While it’s well known for its reviews as well as booking hotels, flights and holidays, TripAdvisor also has many user comments that can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in Brunei.
Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
- “DST is located in the arrivals hall so you can get a SIM card from there. Progresif is also there”
- “Progresif store is open in the arrivals hall at the airport. A traveller sim is available which costs US$10 and includes 1GB of data, 50mins local calls, 50 local SMS and 10mins + 10 SMS to international numbers”
- “If you need fast data, you may be better off with DST as they have a 4G/LTE network which is faster”
Both networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible international phone. To double check you have this phone, or if it’s possible for your provider to unlock your device, contact them before you leave.
- Good value for money
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Cheap handsets are sold in-store
- No phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Coverage can be bad in country areas
Q: Can Brunei SIM cards be used throughout Asia?
A: Brunei SIM cards can be used in other Asian countries, subject to additional roaming charges, but that defeats the object of purchasing a local SIM card to avoid using your home phone abroad. We advise you to only use the Brunei SIM card in Brunei to reap the full benefits of what it can offer. If you plan on travelling around Asia, it would be better to purchase a SIM card from that country to cut costs.