Seria, Brunei

Best SIM Cards for Backpacking in Brunei

An often overlooked destination for backpackers, Brunei is a country rich in both oil and heritage. If you plan on getting yourself a SIM card whilst visiting, listen up. This guide will tell you everything you need to know, from where to buy one, how much they cost and which is the best. 

Mobile internet speed was once very bad in Brunei, however, since the COVID-19 pandemic, coverage has improved a lot, thanks to the launch of the Unified National Network (UNN). Three carriers operate in Brunei, Progresif, DST and the newest, Imagine. 

Hello? Is It Me You’re Looking for?

Travellers looking for a quick answer about the best SIM for backpacking in Brunei will want to grab one of the Progesif Tourist SIMs.


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A Guide to SIM Cards in Brunei

Where to Buy a SIM Card in Brunei

SIM cards are available for purchase at the arrivals area at Brunei International Airport, some convenience stores and network provider shops. If you are buying a SIM card in Brunei, you will need to present your ID to register the SIM. Staff may refuse to sell you a SIM without ID and any unregistered SIM will expire and stop working after seven days.  Staff will install and configure the SIM for you, so you’ll be fully connected by the time you leave the shop! 


Network Coverage 

As of 2020 when the Unified National Network (UNN) launched, all of Brunei’s mobile network providers use the same physical infrastructure so coverage is much the same from all of them. While 3G was once the only option, 4G/LTE now covers many parts of the country with 5G being introduced in Bandar Seri Begawan in 2023!


Best Brunei SIM Cards:

Progresif

  • Where to get a SIM: Official stores, arrivals gate at the airport, convenience stores
  • Where to top up: Anywhere displaying the Progresif logo or online
  • Cell network: 3G/4G/5G
  • ID Required: Yes
  • Bands/Frequencies: 2100MHz (3G), Band 3 (4G)

Progesif used to offer a range of tourist SIMs but now offers only a 4GB tourist plan for around $15BND (approx. $11USD). It lasts for seven days and includes 30 minutes of local calls. If you are staying in Brunei for longer than a week, it is possible to top-up via text once the package runs out. For an additional $10BND, you can get another 2GB of data.  The SIM will cease to work after four weeks. 

Good to Know!

Tourist SIM cards in Brunei offer good value for money because users don’t need to pay the yearly government fee. Both DST and Progresif pass the $25BND ($20USD) fee onto their regular customers but not to tourists. 

DST

  • Where to get a SIM: Kiosk in arrivals at the airport, official stores, some convenience shops
  • Where to top up: Cards available from any shop or vendor displaying DST logo
  • Cell network: 3G/4G/5G
  • ID Required: Yes
  • Bands/Frequencies: 2100MHz (3G), Band 3 (4G)

DST’s Easi Tourist SIMs are available for $15BND (approx. $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.  Additional data packages are not available on the tourist SIM and you will pay around $0.20BND per MB of data used after your free 3GB. 

There are also regular prepaid SIMs and data-only SIMs available but as these are not tourist SIMs, they come with a $25BND (approx. $20USD) charge. If you will be in the country for a long time, these are a cheaper option but not very practical for your average backpacker or short-term visitor. 

Imagine

  • Where to get a SIM: Kiosk in arrivals at the airport, official stores
  • Where to top up: Any official store or online via the app
  • Cell network: 3G/4G/5G
  • ID Required: Yes
  • Bands/Frequencies: 2100MHz (3G), Band 3 (4G)

Imagine is the latest network provider to bounce onto the scene in Brunei. While they do not offer official tourist SIMs, it is possible to grab a prepaid plan. One of the Imagine SIM cards called Wish is the best bet for travellers. These cost $8BND and come with $5BND credit, 2GB of data and 20 local minutes and SMS messages for 30 days. 

It’s easy to tear through limited data if you are not careful, so it is best to leave your mobile data switched off until you need it. You can use the imagineGo app to top up and activate data plans as needed. 

Bizarrely, it doesn’t appear that Imagine makes customers pay the $25BND to the government for non-tourist SIMs as its competitors do. We tried researching why this is but drew a blank. If you have any information, please leave a comment below!

“I used an Imagine SIM card on my recent visit to Brunei. Not only did I think it was very good value for money but it worked perfectly everywhere in travelled in the country, ideal for using the Uber alternative Dart!”

Sheree Hooker, Editor at South East Asia Backpacker

E-SIMs in Brunei:

If you’re looking for a hassle-free way to stay connected in Brunei, there is also the option to purchase an E-SIM. While buying a local SIM is far cheaper, these can be a good option for travellers with limited time who don’t want to spend time in a mobile shop when they arrive. Read more about E-SIMs here.

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