Best SIM Cards for Backpacking in Singapore

 

The metropolitan hub of Singapore may be an expensive place to visit but the wealth that dominates this one city nation has given rise to some of the fastest and best-connected mobile networks on the planet. 

It won’t come as a shock to those of you who have done your research that the cost of SIM cards and data bundles are significantly higher in Singapore than the average for the region. The cheapest place in the city to find SIM cards is within the Little India district (arguably the best food is here too), where many of the small shops offer discounts and deals you won’t be able to find elsewhere. 

Be prepared to show your passport to buy and register the SIM. Any shop selling SIMs should also be able to register them. If your vendor of choice cannot register the SIM, go elsewhere. It will be cut off quickly if it is not set up correctly. 

If you are not fussed about picking up the cheapest option or need your SIM in a hurry, the quickest way to get one is from 7/11. There is not usually a long queue at these shops and they can register the SIM fo you in a matter of minutes. 

As of 2017, there is no 2G network in Singapore. Everything is 3G or 4G. The coverage is so good throughout the country that the lack of 2G is unnoticeable and means you are always connected to good, high-speed internet. For those travellers out there who do not use a smartphone while travelling, make sure your old school phone can receive a 3G signal before buying a SIM! 

From our research, the best SIM for backpacking in Singapore is the Starhub Tourist SIM. Read on to find out why!

Best Singapore SIM Cards:

Singtel – Hi! 

  • Where to get a SIM: Prepaid Hi!card SIM available in 7/11, official stores and most supermarkets
  • Where to top up: Anywhere displaying the Singtel or Hi! Logos, via the Singtel app or through any Singtel payphone. 
  • Cell network: 3G/4G.
  • ID Required: Yes.
  • Bands/Frequencies: 900MHz & 1800MHz (3G), Bands 3,7 & 8 (4G).

Singtel has the largest market share in Singapore but the speeds and coverage are not noticeably different from their competitors. 

Prices for data are high, especially if you do not buy a bundle so be sure to activate one before using data. If not, you will see your balance drain rapidly! They offer specific social media data plans that allow you to use the internet through specific social media apps for a fraction of the cost. These only last one day and expire at midnight. If you plan on using this service, be sure to renew the bundle each morning. 

There are three different tourist SIMs available in some 7/11 stores, official Singtel shops and from the airport. These range in price from $15 SD ($11USD) to $50 SD ($38USD) with the latter being the best value for money. The $50 option comes with two SIM cards and 100GB of data shared between the two SIMs, making it a great choice for couples or friends travelling together. Whilst generally only valid for 15 days, tourist SIMs can be extended for $3 SD ($2USD) per day. The tourist SIM also has roaming available for use in Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia but if you are planning on spending more than a couple of days in any of those countries, it is worth just picking up a local SIM as this will cost you less in the long run. 

M1

  • Where to get a SIM: Prepaid M Card sims available at official stores, money changers and most convenience stores. 
  • Where to top up: Anywhere displaying the M1 or M Card logo, or in the app. 
  • Cell network: 3G/4G
  • ID Required: Yes
  • Bands/Frequencies: 900MHz & 1800MHz (3G), Bands 3 & 7 (4G).

M1 is the third of the big three carriers in Singapore but this is down to advertising rather than the quality of service. The coverage is very similar to the other networks and the speeds are just as good. 

They offer a tourist SIM, which is available from airports and official stores but this is not the cheapest way to get online. The cheapest option is to head into Little India or even Chinatown and hunt out a $5 SD ($3.50USD) SIM. These come with very little data so will need to be topped up soon after purchase.

Be sure to get a data package before browsing or your already expensive SIM card will end up costing you more money than you want to think about! 

Mini and Micro sims are widely available but sometimes it can be challenging to find a nano SIM. If a nano SIM is what you require, you can cut down a larger SIM or head to one of the official stores where they should have plenty stockpiled.

Starhub 

  • Where to get a SIM: Available in official stores and most supermarkets or 7/11’s.
  • Where to top up: In the app or anywhere displaying the Starhub or Happy logo.
  • Cell network: 3G/4G.
  • ID Required: Yes.
  • Bands/Frequencies: 900MHz, 1800MHz & 2100MHz (3G), Bands 1,3,7 & 41 (4G).

Starhub’s prepaid plans are known as Happy Prepaid Sims and are available all over the city. As previously mentioned, the place to find the cheapest sims is in Little India. 

Just as with the other carriers, Starhub offers great coverage and fantastic speeds. The data is expensive, especially when used outside of bundles but they offer a tourist SIM which is significantly cheaper than their rivals. For just $32 SD you can get 100GB of data (restricted to 7mbps download speed) which is valid for 12 days. This tourist SIM is only available if you purchase it in advance from their website and can be picked up from the airport upon your arrival. 

If you do not get a chance to pre-order your tourist SIM, Starhub may well still be the cheapest option for getting a SIM card in Singapore. They offer huge promotions and bonuses that are constantly changing so keep an eye out when buying your SIM. Most shops will have a list in English explaining the benefits of each package. 

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since the incident, he has travelled in South East Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and is currently backpacking around South America. His first book 'From Paralysis to Santiago' chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident that changed his life and will be released later this year.