Visiting Malaysia? It is worth noting to understand an overview about the Internet in Malaysia and how to get mobile data with Malaysia SIM cards for travelers.
Malaysia is not a paradise for Internet access. You can get Internet access if staying in one of the major cities, but if you travel to remote locations or one of the islands, be prepared to travel without the Internet. Also, do not expect high speed ADSL when you are traveling in Malaysia.
That said, buying a Malaysia visitor SIM card probably promises a well-planned trip. Fortunately, Asia and Malaysia as well is one of the best places where travelers can buy a (e)SIM card easily. Most data plans are affordable, which even makes things much easier.
In this guide, you will learn everything about Malaysia SIM card for travelers and eSIM if your phone works with it.
Table of Contents
You may want to know:
- 1 MYR = $0.23 USD
- 1 USD = 4.42 MYR
- Malaysia’s telecom infrastructure is not developed so much. Not all tourist destinations in Malaysia have 5G signals.
I. Should You Get a New SIM Card When Traveling to Malaysia?
There are many ways for tourists to connect to the internet when traveling to Malaysia and buying a Malaysia SIM card is one of them.
1. How to access internet in Malaysia?
This is the most cost-effective way to access the internet when traveling abroad, but wifi is not available everywhere, you should use a combination of free wifi and a travel SIM card to optimize costs. When using free wifi, you should not make money transfer transactions when using free wifi to avoid leakage and theft of personal information.
This is a well-known way to access the internet when traveling abroad, but it’s not recommeneded using this method because it is very expensive. Especially when you use a lot of data to stream, call facetime, surf the web, read reviews, etc. when traveling, the bill you have to pay if you use international roaming can make travelers dizzy.
To access the internet when traveling in Malaysia, renting a wifi transmitter is also a solution. The wifi transmitter allows simultaneous connection of up to 5-10 devices and unlimited mobile data, so it is suitable for families or travel groups.
However, the wifi transmitter is quite inconvenient to use because this device can only broadcast wifi within a maximum radius of 10m, meaning that wherever you go you need to go together and have to carry the transmitter with you.
Avoid damaging, scratching or losing the transmitter because you may lose your previous deposit.
2. So, is Malaysia SIM card is the best option?
When traveling to Malaysia, you may want to use your current SIM card to make calls, send text messages or access the Internet for calling a cab, getting directions from Google Maps, translating Malaysian language, etc. However, your main SIM card may not be compatible with the local mobile networks in Malaysia, or the roaming charges can be too high, which may obstruct your experience during the trip.
That is when you should consider buying a new local Malaysia SIM card for your mobile phone. This will help you reap some benefits as follows:
- Lower roaming charges: Buying a local SIM card can avoid high local roaming charges.
- Better network coverage: Local networks in Malaysia may offer better coverage than your home network, especially if you travel to rural areas in Malaysia.
- Access to local services: By using a Malaysia SIM card, you can access local services such as Grab (a ride-hailing app) and online food delivery services, which can be useful and convenient for travelers.
- Data and call packages: some travel SIMs in Malaysia come with affordable data and call packages that can be customized according to usage. Even it helps you save more money if you do not want to make calls and texts by buying a data-only SIM card in Malaysia.
- We recommend you to buy a prepaid SIM card in Malaysia because it is easy, cheap, and takes just a few minutes. It also saves roaming charges. No need to tell you that using public WiFi is also one of options to get Internet access while traveling but it is often slow and not reliable. The use of VPN is often recommended.
- Ensure that your phone is CARRIER-UNLOCKED before buying a new Malaysia SIM card, so you can receive mobile signals from operators in Malaysia.
II. Types of Malaysia SIM Cards
There are 2 common forms of Malaysia SIM cards for tourists:
- Physical SIM card
- eSIM (digital SIM)
1. Malaysia SIM card
Physical SIM cards in Malaysia include: prepaid local SIM cards and tourist SIM cards.
- Prepaid local SIM cards: Tourists also often buy prepaid local SIM cards in Malaysia at the airport or various convenience stores. These SIM cards often come with a fixed amount of data, calling minutes and texting credits, all of which can be utilized during your trip.
- Prepaid data SIM cards for tourists: SIM cards for tourists in Malaysia are tailored to meet the needs of travelers and come with data usage. They are also widely available at Malaysia’s airports and convenience stores.
2. Prepaid Malaysia eSIM
This type of Malaysia eSIM can be unfamiliar to many people, but it is a convenient way for travelers to stay connected when being abroad. The e-SIM card is totally online and can keep you connected in Malaysia wherever you go, without requiring you to switch to a new SIM card.
You order an eSIM online, receive the QR code via email, follow the guidelines and you are ready to go.
Many travelers choose data-only eSIM to save money and use messaging apps to stay in touch with others.
You are recommended to compare the tourist mobile plans and rates for Malaysia offered by different carriers (either mobile network carriers or third-party eSIM providers like Gigago, Airalo, Holafly, among others).
Note: To use eSIM, make sure your phone is supported with eSIM technology and carrier-unlocked. Check out eSIM compatible device list.
What is the best travel SIM for Malaysia?
If you choose to buy a physical prepaid SIM card for Malaysia, you will not get data right after landing at the Malaysian airports. So, if you prefer to stay connected at all times, you should choose a prepaid data eSIM or buy a prepaid SIM card online for your Malaysia trip.
III. Where and How to buy a Malaysia SIM card?
1. Where to Buy Malaysia SIM Card?
You can buy a SIM card in Malaysia as soon as you land at most international airports in Malaysia to make it easy or buy it online by using a service on any travel website to pick up your Malaysia SIM card on arrival.
Otherwise, official mobile network provider stores, convenience stores, or shopping malls or bus stations also offer tourist Malaysia SIM card as well.
- Buy online: You do not need to wait until you arrive in Malaysia to buy a SIM card. Simply order online, get it and you will arrive in Malaysia prepared.
- Buy at Malaysia airports like Kuala Lumpur International Airport: Though this is a more time-consuming way but it is the easiest way to stay connected for Malaysia travel. You can expect higher costs and low data offers at the airport, as usual. After landing, you walk out into the arrivals hall and see the prepaid SIM card shops on your left hand side: Hotlink Maxis, Digi Shop or Tune Talk. On the right hand side, there is a Bluecube (Celcom). These shops are open 24 hours.
Note: Not all Malaysia SIM card shops accept credit cards. Bluecube (Celcom) and Tune Talk only accept cash.
Other international airports in Malaysia also have kiosks selling prepaid SIM cards for tourists in Malaysia: Kuching, Langkawi, Penang and Kota Kinabalu. See more details about guide to buying SIM cards at Malaysia airports.
- Buy in official stores of mobile carriers, in convenience stores like 7-Eleven. Especially, if you are very particular about what service you get and exactly what it covers, then buying from the kiosks at the arrival airports is a good choice because you can ask any questions.
Pro Tip: If you care about budget, we DO NOT RECOMMEND you to buy a SIM card for Malaysia at the airport due to higher costs, limited options and low data offers. Instead, buy directly from mobile providers’ stores.
2. Where to Buy Malaysia eSIM?
New to eSIM? An eSIM eSIM is an electronic SIM card that you can activate online and use on your eSIM-compatible device, such as a smartphone or tablet. It allows you to access local cellular networks in Malaysia without needing to switch out Malaysia SIM cards.
It works well everywhere in Malaysia, regardless of big cities or rural areas. When you arrive in Malaysia, your device will connect to the local network automatically, allowing you to use data for activities like browsing the Internet, social media, maps or contacting family and friends via apps.
Travel eSIMs for Malaysia are offered by:
- Most mobile network providers (DiGi, Celcom, Maxis/Hotlink, U Mobile, Yes, Unifi/Bebas). But you have to register your personal information when buying Malaysia SIM cards and eSIMs. It is rather time-consuming.
- Several MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) in Malaysia. But they are rather small to consider as a good prepaid eSIM for tourists to Malaysia; and
- Travel eSIM providers (Malaysiaesim.com, Airalo, Holafly, Gigago, Nomad, Ubigi, etc.
However, NOT all devices are compatible with eSIMs. It is important to check if your device can use eSIM technology in advance.
Note: Digi has plans with better rates but less 4G coverage while Celcom has better coverage at all times but expensive data.
IV. Registration process – What to prepare to buy Malaysia SIM cards?
You will always need to show your passport and probably personal information like an ID card when buying or picking up a Malaysia travel SIM card because it is legally required.
The shop will take a copy of your passport and register your new SIM card on your name. Sometimes, you need to give your fingerprint.
Then, the SIM card will be activated in minutes.
Directly insert the new SIM card on your phone and see whether or not it works before you get out of the store.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to ask your sim provider to check your account balance and remaining data volume.
V. How much do prepaid Malaysia SIM cards cost?
The price of prepaid Malaysia SIM cards and eSIM for tourists to Malaysia differ by carriers and plans.
1. Malaysia SIM Card Prices
Here are some noticeable plans from famous Malaysia mobile operators:
- 25 RM = 10 GB data + 2 RM credit valid valid for 365 days – $6
- 40 RM = Unlimited data (3Mbps) + calls valid for 1 month – $9.5
- 50 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) + calls valid for 1 month – $12
- 15 RM = 3 GB data + Unlimited Social Media – $3.6
- 30 RM = 15 GB data – $7.1
- 35 RM = 30 GB data + calls – $8.3
- 45 RM = 40 GB data + calls – $9.5
- 12 RM = Unlimited data (3Mbps) + calls for 7 days – $2.8
- 15 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) + calls for 7 days – $3.6
- 35 RM = Unlimited data (3Mbps) + calls for 30 days – $8.3
- 45 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) + calls + 5 GB uncapped data for 30 days – $10.7
- 12 RM = Unlimited data (3Mbps) + calls for 7 days – $2.8
- 30 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) for 30 days – $7.1
- 35 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) + calls for 30 days – $8.3
- 15 RM = 10 GB data for 30 days – $3.6
- 20 RM = 20 GB data for 30 days – $4.7
- 30 RM = Unlimited data for 30 days – $7.1
- 12 RM = Unlimited data for 7 days – $2.8
- 35 RM = Unlimited data for 1 month – $8.3
2. Malaysia eSIM Prices
If your device is compatible with eSIM, it is one of the best choices to get mobile data in Malaysia for tourists.
Malaysia eSIM has various pricing options based on the data plan and validity. You can refer to some eSIM plans from malaysiaesim.com as follows:
Malaysia eSIM plans for 7 days:
Malaysia eSIM plans for 15 days:
VI. Why eSIM for Malaysia trip?
Things you need to know about eSIM Malaysia:
- eSIM works well on last-generation devices, not old ones.
- When buying an eSIM, you must have a valid email.
- When activating an eSIM, you need an internet connection to carry out the process.
- DO NOT buy eSIM Malaysia TOO EARLY because some eSIM has limited waiting period. Ask your eSIM provider clearly before purchase.
- Also DO NOT activate it TOO EARLY because some eSIM providers will start counting eSIM validity as soon as you scan the QR code, not upon using it in Malaysia. So, if you install the eSIM months in advance, then you may have issues using it later. Contact with your eSIM provider to clarify it before taking any action.
You do not need an eSIM to travel to Malaysia, but having one can make things easier for travelers. This will give you peace of mind that you will have data for your whole trip and you are all set to go.
Now, let’s take a quick look at the similarities and differences between an eSIM and a physical SIM for use in Malaysia.
Malaysia eSIM vs Malaysia SIM Card
eSIMs for Malaysia
Malaysia SIM cards
An eSIM refers to a digital SIM card that enables users to activate a mobile data plan from their network provider without requiring a physical nano-SIM card
A SIM card is a chip that is inserted or removed physically within the phone, allowing you to use your carrier’s plan.
Where to buy
Picked up at a store or buy online and shipped to you
Not all phone models can work with eSIM. You may have to buy a new phone which can be expensive.
SIM card can be lost or damaged if you remove your SIM card and place it somewhere.
Which place in Malaysia will you visit on your trip? See our full guides on buying e-SIM by place below.
- Kuala Lumpur SIM cards and eSIM
- George Town of Penang SIM cards and eSIM
- Langkawi SIM cards and eSIM
What is the best eSIM for Malaysia travel?
If you want to get an eSIM for Malaysia, we suggest going for Gigago. They have multiple data plans with different data and validity combos. The price of plans are reasonable and they have good coverage on different networks.
Another option is Airalo, which also has affordable plans, but seems suitable for low data users. So it may not be enough for some people.
If you need unlimited data, Holafly is a good choice. But, their plans are the most expensive ones. So, if you’re on a tight budget, you might want to consider other options.
Nomad only offers plans for people on a long trip in Malaysia. So, if you are planning a short trip, go for another eSIM provider.
VIII. Malaysia eSIM supported devices
The eSIM can be installed on smartphones, smartwatches and laptops.
To use eSIM in Malaysia, you need to make sure that your device is unlocked and supports eSIM technology. Here are some popular devices that are compatible with eSIM:
- iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max
- iPad Pro (11-inch) and iPad Pro (12.9-inch) (3rd generation and later)
- Apple Watch Series 3, 4, 5, 6, and SE
- Google Pixel 3, 3 XL, 3a, 3a XL, 4, 4 XL, 4a, 4a 5G, and 5
- Samsung Galaxy Fold, Z Flip, S20, S21, S21 Ultra, and Note 20
Please note that this list is updated regularly, so you can check if your device is compatible with eSIM.
IX. Best mobile network operators in Malaysia for travelers
Malaysia is a country with a highly developed mobile network infrastructure. There are 04 major mobile network operators in Malaysia that provide reliable services across the country. These operators are Maxis, Celcom, Digi, and U Mobile.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these operators and what they offer.
1. Maxis – Hotlink
Maxis is one of the largest mobile network operators in Malaysia, with the widest coverage across the country. Although it is one of the biggest mobile network providers in Malaysia, their prepaid service is called Hotlink.
Maxis has a range of plans for tourists, including prepaid and postpaid options. Their plans are generally more expensive than other operators, but they come with more data and better coverage.
They offer 4G/LTE signals reaching about 93% of the population.
Celcom is another major mobile network operator in Malaysia, with a signal strength of over 90% in most areas. They offer 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE services with fast internet speeds.
Celcom’s prices are competitive compared to other operators in Malaysia. Its postpaid plans start from RM 38 per month, while prepaid plans start from RM 10. Celcom also offers various add-ons such as data boosters and international direct dialing plans.
In terms of coverage, Celcom has the widest 4G/LTE network in Malaysia, covering over 90% of the population. It also has a strong 3G network, covering over 80% of the population.
In conclusion, Celcom is a reliable and affordable mobile network operator in Malaysia. Its wide coverage and strong signal strength make it a popular choice among consumers. Compared to other operators in Malaysia, Celcom offers competitive prices and attractive plans for travelers.
Celcom has a range of plans for tourists, including prepaid and postpaid options. Their plans are generally more affordable than Maxis, but they come with less data and coverage.
Digi is one of the most popular mobile network operators in Malaysia, with good coverage across the country. They offer 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE services with fast internet speeds.
Digi has a range of plans for tourists, including prepaid and postpaid options. Their plans are generally more affordable than Maxis and Celcom, but they come with less data and coverage.
4. U Mobile
U Mobile is a relatively new mobile network operator in Malaysia, with good coverage in urban areas. They offer 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE services with fast internet speeds.
U Mobile has a range of plans for tourists, including prepaid and postpaid options. Their plans are generally more affordable than other operators, but they come with less data and coverage.
Comparison table of 4 major Malaysia mobile network operators:
|Operator||Coverage||Speed||Signal||Plans for Tourists||Cost|
|Maxis||Widest||Fast||Strong||Prepaid & Postpaid||High|
|Celcom||Good||Fast||Strong||Prepaid & Postpaid||Medium|
|Digi||Good||Fast||Strong||Prepaid & Postpaid||Low|
|U Mobile||Urban||Fast||Weak||Prepaid & Postpaid||Low|
To conclude, the choice of operator depends on factors such as coverage, speed, signal strength, and cost. Tourists can choose from a range of prepaid and postpaid plans offered by these operators. It is recommended to research and compare plans before choosing an operator.
► So which is the best 4G/5G network in Malaysia?
Can I buy a Malaysia SIM card at 7 Eleven Malaysia?
Yes. Apart from official stores of Hotlink/Maxis, Celcom, Digi, U Mobile, Yes, and Altel stores, you can buy SIM cards for Malaysia at resellers like 7 Eleven (especially for those MVNOs)
Simply buy a mobile prepaid Malaysia SIM card that fits your needs at any 7-Eleven store near you.
Is there 5G in Malaysia?
it is surprising that 5G network in Malaysia is not as developed as you thought. Though nearby countries like Singapore and Thailand offer some of the best 5G coverage in the world, Malaysia is far behind. Until April 2023, there are only some famous tourist destinations in Malaysia equipped with 5G signal.
Is eSIM available in Malaysia?
Yes, eSIM is available in Malaysia.
All major telecommunication providers in Malaysia, such as Maxis, Celcom, Digi, and U Mobile, offer eSIM services, along with affordable international players.
How to buy eSIM for Malaysia?
To buy an eSIM for Malaysia, you can choose one of ways below:
– Buy at eSIM providers’ store: There are several eSIM providers in Malaysia, such as Digi, Celcom, and Maxis. You can compare their plans and prices to find the one that suits your needs.
– Purchase the eSIM online at eSIM providers: Once you’ve chosen an eSIM provider, you can purchase the eSIM through their website or mobile app. You do not need to provide your personal details.
Do I need to unlock my phone to use eSIM in Malaysia?
It depends on your phone and carrier. Some phones and carriers may require you to unlock your device to use eSIM, while others may support eSIM straight out of the box.
Which eSIM is the best in Malaysia?
The best eSIM in Malaysia may vary depending on individual needs and preferences. It is recommended to research and compare different eSIM providers to find the one that suits your requirements best. Some popular eSIM providers in Malaysia are Maxis, Celcom, Digi, and U Mobile.
Can I use my eSIM in other countries besides Malaysia?
Yes, you can use an eSIM in other countries, as long as your mobile network operator offers international roaming services. However, it’s important to check the rates and coverage in advance, as they may vary by country.
Is it cheaper to use eSIM in Malaysia compared to a physical SIM card?
It depends on the plan and carrier you choose. Some eSIM plans may offer cheaper rates compared to traditional SIM cards, but it’s best to compare the different options available to determine which one is the best for your needs.