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Do I need a local phone number to use ridesharing apps in Southeast Asia?

No, you don't!

· 2 min read

Ridesharing apps are an integral part of transportation in many societies, especially across many destinations and cities in Southeast Asia. Most data-eSIMs do not come with a local number; and if you are considering getting a data-only eSIM for your connectivity needs one consideration that you might have would be whether you can still use these ride-share apps in Southeast Asia.


What ride-share apps are used in Southeast Asia?

Uber is not used in Southeast Asia. Instead, Grab is possibly the largest player in the region, with presence across many Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

There are also a few other players like Gojek - with presence primarily in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore. There are also other options that operate in a less destinations, like TaDa and Ryde in Singapore; Maxim in Malaysia; or Bolt in Thailand.

Do you need a local phone number to use the ride-share apps in Southeast Asia?

The TL;DR is that you don't need a local phone number to use the ride-share apps in Southeast Asia. So yes, it is safe for you to simply get a data eSIM that does not have a phone number, if that is your primary concern.

These ride-share apps, including Grab and Gojek, require that you have a valid phone number to register for an account. However, it does not necessarily have to be a local phone number.

When you register for an account, most of the apps will require you that you provide a phone number. A SMS with a verification code will be sent to that number. This number does not have to be a local phone number, as long as you are able to receive SMS on that number.

That means that you will be able to use your home number - whether you are from the US, UK, Europe, or anywhere else - to register for an account! After you enter your number,

However, you will need to make sure that you are able to still receive SMSes on your primary phone number, or the phone number that you will be using to register for an account.

In case you are not sure if you can receive a SMS overseas, you can download the rideshare app ahead of your trip and set up your account before arriving at the destination. That way, you wouldn't have to worry about not being able to set up your account after arrival.

Keeping your primary phone number active even with a data eSIM

Whether you are using a physical SIM or eSIM for your primary line, you can keep your primary phone number active even with a data eSIM.

You will not need to remove your physical SIM or deactivate your primary eSIM even if you are planning to use a data eSIM. After you install your data eSIM, simply go to your device settings, and make sure that the data eSIM is selected only for data.

This way, you can keep your primary line active while using your data eSIM only for connectivity, so that you won't incur any unnecessary charges.

However, it is important to confirm first that your primary plan with your home provider allows you to receive SMSes at no charge while overseas.

Get a Nomad eSIM for Southeast Asia for your next trip

Nomad has recently launched new Southeast Asia-Plus plans that include data coverage in 14 destinations, including Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes major destinations in Southeast Asia, along with other Asian countries in the region. There are a variety of plans with varying volumes at affordable prices from as low as $1.50/GB.

The Southeast Asia-Plus plans will help you stay seamlessly connected as you travel across multiple countries in the region. Forget about switching out physical SIM cards, or even about having to install multiple eSIMs! Simply install the eSIM once, and the eSIM will automatically connect to the local network as you travel across destinations.

If you will not be traveling to multiple destinations, Nomad also offers a variety of single-country plans for many Asian destinations, all at near-local, or even below-local rates! You can get connected in Thailand from as low as $0.16/GB, and in Taiwan from as low as $0.64/GB.