Reduce your roaming rates by using a local SIM.
If you’re planning a trip to Malaysia, a top tip for keeping costs down is to switch to a local SIM card. Take advantage of better tariffs, plans and deals to dramatically reduce your roaming rates. You can get 1GB of data from Malaysia’s top telco providers for about MYR15 (AUD$4.56). So, whether you’re a short- or long-term traveller, you can save money by comparing your SIM card options on finder.com.au.
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Telco providers in Malaysia
There are four main telco providers in Malaysia: Celcom, Maxis, DiGi and U Mobile. Both locals and travellers use SIM cards from all four networks, and they can be trusted no matter which plan you choose. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Malaysia’s signal strength varies but is most likely to be stronger around the main cities and more urban areas. In the more remote regions, the network signal will struggle, but that will happen with whatever provider you use there.
About Malaysia’s operators
Malaysian operators offer good services on GSM platforms. All operators offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. All four operators offer prepaid SIM cards, and you can buy them from stores, supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores and official outlets, as well as at the international airports. You can buy a SIM card by showing your passport, and your telephone number is already active when you purchase it. To add credit, there are several prepaid card kiosks around various towns and cities, and vouchers are stocked in stores and supermarkets.
Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in Malaysia.
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Celcom is the largest provider in Malaysia and offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Its prepaid SIM card is called “Xpax” and can be picked up for free, although prepaid SIM card plans will have to be added before use. Celcom kiosks are dotted around most towns and cities, and also at the airport. Credit can also be purchased at the same retailers. All SIM sizes can be purchased, although some will have to be cut down to fit the nano or mini size.
All prepaid SIM cards are sold under the “Xpax” brand name. A good option is the “Xpax Turbo” pack, which costs MYR10 and comes with MYR6 of credit and 200MB of data, valid for 7 days.
The following data packs are also available, listed with their prices and activation codes:
Dial *118*1*1*2# to check your data balance.
The following data add-ons can also be purchased:
|100MB||MYR3||*118*1*2*4*1# to activate|
|500MB||MYR10||*118*1*2*4*2# to activate|
|1GB||MYR15||*118*1*2*4*3# to activate|
|5GB||MYR50||*118*1*2*4*4# to activate|
The following add-ons can also be added to to increase data usage:
- 2GB for a day: MYR1 – *118*3*4*1# to activate
- 20GB for a week: MYR7 –*118*3*4*2# to activate
- Nighttime use (1am-7am):
- 2GB for a day: MYR1 – *118*3*3*1# to activate
- 20GB for a week: MYR7 – *118*3*3*2# to activate
Celcom also offers roaming packages that can be purchased by dialling *118#. The SIM cards are valid in 164 countries and dramatically reduce roaming costs, especially in Asia. Check the list of countries when you purchase the package, as they can often change. The roaming SIM card can be purchased for MYR38 and comes with 500MB of data.
Celcom’s APN: celcom4g, and website: http://www.celcom.com.my/personal
Maxis is the second-largest provider in Malaysia and offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Its prepaid SIM cards only come with prepaid SIM card plans. Maxis kiosks are positioned around most towns and cities, and also at the airport. Credit can also be purchased at retailers, supermarkets and corner stores. All SIM sizes are available, but some will have to be cut down to accommodate the nano and mini size.
Prepaid SIM card starter packs called “Fast” packs can be purchased for MYR10 and come with MYR5 credit and 300MB of data valid for 5 days.
Dial 122# to check your credit. Dial *100# and follow the options to check your data balance. If you download the Maxis “RED” app on your phone, you will get 1GB of data for use on that platform.
The following data packs can also be added:
|5GB + 100 minutes||MYR50|
Dial *100#, select 'Internet Passes', then the relevant package to activate. The following bonuses can also be added:
- Happy Hour: 1GB Internet for an hour every day.
- Free weekends: 1GB of data to use on Saturdays; 1GB of data to use on Sundays.
The following data packages can also be added:
In addition, there is a selection of data roaming packages available:
- Daily pass to roam in eight Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries – MYR10 per day which comes with 1GB data. Valid in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
- Monthly pass to roam in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia – MYR38 for 1GB data, valid for 30 days.
Dial *100*3# to activate either of the above-mentioned plans.
Maxis APN: maxis, and website: http://www.hotlink.com.my
DiGi is the third-largest provider in Malaysia and offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards come only with prepaid SIM card plans. DiGi kiosks are positioned in most towns and cities, and also at the airport. Credit can be purchased at retailers, supermarkets and corner stores. Credit can be found in several denominations between MYR5 and MYR100. All SIM sizes can be purchased, although some will have to be cut down to accommodate the nano- or mini-sized slot in your phone.
Prepaid SIM card packages come in the following two options:
- DiGi Prepaid Best: MYR8 which comes with MYR5 credit valid for 30 days and 300MB of data valid for 7 days
- DiGi Prepaid Live: MYR12 which comes with MYR8 credit and 300MB of data valid for 7 days.
Dial *126# to check your balance. Dial *200# to check data usage.
The following data packs can also be added by dialling the activation code:
All of the above-mentioned packs come with free WhatsApp use and free Internet use on other social media platforms.
There are also several roaming packages available:
- Roam5/Roam10: MYR5 or 10 per day for unlimited social media and messaging, plus 50MB of data.
- RoamCombo: MYR15 for 72 hours' use of 500MB Internet plus 30 voice minutes, or pay MYR25 for 2GB data plus 30 voice minutes, also valid for 72 hours.
- RoamTelenor: MYR25 for 72 hours' use of 4GB Internet and 60 voice minutes.
DiGi’s APN: diginet, and website: http://new.digi.com.my/cs/Satellite/Page/landing/default/home
U Mobile is the smallest provider in Malaysia but offers good 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Prepaid SIM cards come only with prepaid plans. U Mobile kiosks are located in most towns and cities, and also at the airport. Credit can also be purchased at the same retailers, supermarkets and corner stores.
Its “Power Prepaid” SIM card can be purchased for MYR8.50 and comes with MYR5 credit and 1GB of data, valid for 10 days. Dial *118# to check your balance.
The following data packs can also be added:
|MYR38||2GB, 150 minutes, 30 SMS|
Dial *118*3*1*1# to activate one of the above-mentioned plans. The following data packages can be added:
|2GB + 1GB at night||30 days||MYR40|
|5GB + 3GB at night||30 days||MYR68|
Dial *118# and follow the prompts to purchase a pack.
Additionally, there are roaming offers available:
- MYR10 per day for roaming in the following countries: Australia (Optus), Bangladesh (Banglalink), Cambodia (Cellcard), Hong Kong (HKT), India (Aircel and Reliance), Indonesia (Indosat Ooredoo), Laos (Beeline), Philippines (Smart), Singapore (Starhub in 4G), South Korea (SK Telecom), Taiwan (Taiwan Mobile) and Thailand (TrueMove in 4G).
- MYR36 per day for roaming in all the countries where U Mobile operates. Check the list at time of purchase because it can change from time to time.
There is also a tourist SIM card available that offers reduced international calls and some great data bundles. Check offers at time of purchase for the per-minute call rates. The following data packs can be added too:
U Mobile’s APN: my3g, and website: http://www.u.com.my
- The official language is Malaysian, but English is taught in most of the schools.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM Kaa” or “SIM”.
- Ask the retailers to set up the SIM cards for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to get advice.
- We advise you to purchase your SIM card from official stores rather than through a street vendor.
- Get to the shops early to receive better assistance and to avoid the crowds.
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
While it’s well known for reviews, 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 Malaysia.
“You can get standard SIMs, micro or nano SIMs to suit your phone. At the airport just go to one of the service providers and they will sort it out for you.”
“Just remember to take your passport when buying a SIM card as the shop will have to register you with the network provider.”
“You can get SIM cards in any place in Malaysia, be it city or small town. Maxis has the best coverage, so it can be used in small towns or remote places like islands. If you are travelling only in big cities, DiGi will be a wise choice.”
Pros and cons of Malaysia’s top telco providers
- Good value for money
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Some areas can suffer from bad coverage
- No phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- SIM cards must be registered by using your passport
Had more questions about finding the best SIM card?
Q: What about other providers in Malaysia?
A: There are three other providers (Yes, TMgo and Altel) that operate on 4G/LTE only. Check the latest offers before purchasing your SIM card.