An often overlooked spot for backpackers, Brunei is a country rich in both oil and heritage. If you plan on getting yourself a SIM card whilst visiting, be prepared for a patchy signal outside of the cities. Even when there is a signal, the internet speeds are generally poor.
If that doesn’t put you off, then here’s what you need to know about getting a SIM card in Brunei.
There are two carriers operating in Brunei, these are Progresif and DST. Both require you to pay a yearly fee of $25 BD ($20USD) to the government but this is discounted to $0 for tourist SIMs. You will also need to register the SIM upon purchase. Any unregistered SIM will expire and stop working after seven days.
Travellers looking for a quick answer about the best SIM for backpacking in Brunei will want to grab one of the DST Tourist SIMs (Easi Tourist). Keep reading to see why!
Best Brunei SIM Cards:
- Where to get a SIM: Kiosk in the arrival area of the airport or there are plenty of shops or vendors selling SIMs all over the country.
- Where to top up: Any shop displaying the Progresif Logo but more top up options are available from official stores.
- Cell network: 3G
- ID Required: Yes
- Bands/Frequencies: 2100MHz (3G)
With their 3G only network, Progresif’s speed and coverage offerings are limited, even by Brunei standards. Within Bandar Seri Begawan, the coverage is fine but the system is often overloaded with users. This congestion causes internet speeds to be pretty crap. Outside of major population centres, the signal is unreliable at best and non-existent in a lot of cases.
The advantage that Progresif holds over DST is its pricing. The deals are cheaper, especially for heavy data users. If you are somewhere with a decent signal and don’t plan on moving around too much, then this is the most budget-friendly option.
There are many different packages available depending on how long you will be in the country and how much data versus minutes that you require. Tourist packages start at just $25 BD ($20USD). These plans include unlimited local minutes, unlimited local texts, unlimited data, up to 10 international minutes and 10 international text messages.
- Where to get a SIM: Kiosk in arrivals at the airport or from official stores, which are easy to find.
- Where to top up: Top up cards available from any shop or vendor displaying the DST logo.
- Cell network: 2G/3G/4G
- ID Required: Yes
- Bands/Frequencies: 900MHz (2G), 2100MHz (3G), Band 3 (4G)
Whilst DST is more expensive than Progresif, they also offer a lot more for the price. Not only do they have much better coverage across much of the country but they also provide both 2G and 4G connections, as well as 3G. This makes them much more versatile, especially in rural areas.
Even if you are connected to the 4G network, do not expect to get the same speeds as you would at home. The network is often congested and even when it is not, the infrastructure simply isn’t reliable. However, thanks to the 2G network, you are much less likely to end up stuck without no signal. Just don’t rely on this older network to connect you to the web, it is primarily used for calls and texts.
Tourist SIMs are available for $15 BD ($11USD). These include 3GB of data which is valid for a week, the actual SIM will expire after 30 days and cannot be topped up to last longer than that.
Data packages are not available on the tourist SIM and you will pay around $0.20 BD per MB of data used after your free 3GB. This cost can quickly add up if you are not careful, so it is best to leave your mobile data switched off until you need it.
There are also regular prepaid SIMs and data-only SIMs available but as these are not tourist SIMs, they come with the $25 BD ($20USD) charge. If you will be in the country for a long time, then these are a cheaper option but not very practical for your average backpacker.