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Best Ways To Stay Connected In Singapore and Malaysia

It is easy to stay connected as you travel between countries!

· 4 min read

Given the close proximity between Singapore and Malaysia, it definitely makes sense to visit both countries together. In fact, it wouldn't even be a surprise if you are considering doing a day trip to Malaysia during your visit to Singapore. So, if you are looking for ways to stay connected during your visit Singapore and Malaysia without incurring exorbitant roaming charges, we just might have what you are looking for.

lady with luggage in Singapore

Telcos in Singapore

Singapore has three main telcos - Singtel, StarHub, and M1 - and a couple smaller ones that ride on the infrastructure provided by these three big names. Many of these providers offer tourist SIMs that you can easily pick up at the airport, at the shops in town, or at convenience stores all over the island. The prices and offerings of the telcos are fairly similar, most of them offering massive amounts of data (think 100GB and up) and significant amount of call-time; but if you are trying to decide which tourist SIM to get, it is widely acknowledged that Singtel (and providers riding on their infrastructure) provides relatively more stable coverage across the country.

But if you have an eSIM-only device, it should be noted that not all telcos offer eSIM options for tourists.

Telcos in Malaysia

Crossing the causeway to Malaysia, the major operators include Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia, and Time dotCom. Of which, Celcom and Digi are generally regarded as the top two telcos, with Maxis following as a close third place. Celcom is known to have the best coverage, whereas Digi is said to have the best speed.

All the telcos also offer tourist SIMs that you can easily pick up at the airport or land checkpoints. The offerings are also fairly similar; and while the data packs offered are not as massive as what you'd see in Singapore, it should be more than enough for your travel needs.

Staying Connected in Singapore and Malaysia

Now that we have a general overview of the telcos and providers in Singapore and Malaysia, let's take a look at what our options are if we were to travel between both countries.

Get SIM cards from local telcos

One way to stay connected would be to obtain a SIM card from one of the local telcos. It is possible to get a SIM each for Singapore and Malaysia, but this comes with the hassle of having to keep multiple physical SIM cards — and having to remember to switch them out as you travel between countries.

It might also be good to take note that due to how close the countries are geographically, there might be times when you are physically in Singapore, but your phone hooks on to a Malaysian network instead (and vice versa), which could result in a disruption in connectivity.

Local SIMs that provide roaming

Given the close proximity of both countries and how often people travel back-and-forth across the borders, it is no surprise that some of the telcos provide options where the tourist SIM comes with roaming capability that supports both countries. For example, StarHub, Singtel, and M1 all have options that support roaming. However, it is imperative to note that the data allocation for roaming is much lower than that of what you would get locally.

Enabling International Roaming

A tried and tested way to stay connected as you hop between countries would be to enable international roaming. However, this method, while convenient, also comes with a higher cost. Although costs for roaming has been decreasing in recent years, it still is a more expensive option than if you were to get a local SIM or a travel eSIM. If this is your preferred choice, be sure to check for bundled plans that your provider might offer at a lower cost.

If you were traveling to only Singapore or Malaysia, be mindful also that depending on where you are, it is possible that your phone hooks on to a network from the other country — so be sure to check what your roaming plan entails to avoid incurring unnecessary charges.

Getting Travel eSIMs

Another method, which combines the best of both worlds, is to get a regional or multi-country travel eSIM. With eSIMs, not only do you not have to go through the trouble of changing out your physical SIM cards as you travel across countries, you can easily switch between eSIM profiles with just a few taps on your device.

With regional eSIMs, all you need is to install one eSIM and you can remain connected throughout your travels. The eSIM will automatically hook on to the network of the destination country without needing any further configuration. And since regional eSIMs tap on the same data pack regardless of your physical destination, you don't have to worry about incurring unnecessary charges or over-using data in a single country.

Nomad's Regional Plans for APAC

If you have an eSIM-enabled device, Nomad's Regional Plans for Southeast Asia and Oceania would be a great option for your next trip to Singapore and Malaysia. With Nomad's Regional Plan for SEA-Oceania, you would have the benefits of a regional SIM, and more!

Nomad's SEA-Oceania regional plan includes coverage for Singapore, Malaysia, and more. With a single plan, you will be able to stay connected as you travel through both countries for your upcoming trip. Save the trouble of having to switch between multiple SIM cards with Nomad's regional plans.

If you find that a SEA-Oceania plan is too much for you as you won't be visiting so many different countries, Nomad now also has a data plan that includes only Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines. This SG-MY-PH plan allows you to stay connected seamlessly at a lower price as you travel across SIngapore, Malaysia, and Philippines.

Simply head to the Shop page and select a plan that is suitable for your trip duration and data usage habits. Upon successful purchase, you will receive an email with a QR code and instructions on how to install and activate your data plan.

What Happens If I Run Out of Data on My eSIM?

Should you run out of data on your eSIM, fret not! Nomad's regional plan for APAC offers convenient top-up options, allowing you to replenish your data allowance on the go. In just a few taps on your device, you can add additional data allowance for the same eSIM (yes, you don't need to install a new eSIM).