Tips On Getting A Myanmar SIM Card
Updated on January 30th, 2020
There’s no avoiding that having a SIM card when travelling makes things easier. For the past year, while travelling through Europe, we managed to go without having a SIM. However, with less public wifi access in Myanmar, it’s a cheap and easy idea to get a Myanmar SIM card.
Even when staying in hotels with wifi, I have found that wifi is very unreliable. At the current place we are staying, the signal went down for over 24 hours. On top of that, it drops out often with frequent blackouts.
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Why having a Myanmar SIM card is useful
- Places and services aren’t always easy to find in Myanmar so having access to GPS and a location finder is super handy. There were multiple times in Yangon when I found an address on Google only to arrive and it was in a different location. Different map apps will show the location in a few spots. So it’s also a useful idea to read reviews to find out if the stated address is what’s listed.
- Another reason is obviously as a safety backup. I always feel safer when travelling solo with a SIM card and have access to calls and data services.
- When flagging down a taxi, because who wants to walk in 30+ degree heat (eek), the easiest way to show your driver where you want to go, is by pointing to it on a map. I found the drivers haven’t spoken much English if any.
- Grab is also the Southeast Asian equivalent of Uber. Forget about haggling for a price and trying to explain where you want to go. Just pop your destination into Grab and get a safe ride from a trusted driver.
Download the Myanmar packing list
Where to buy a SIM card in Myanmar
You can buy a prepaid Myanmar SIM card as soon as you arrive at Yangon Internation Airport or at any phone shops. These shops may just be a small building offering a few phones and phone cases but in most cases will have a variety of SIM’s on offer.
In the Yangon arrivals area, you will find kiosks for the three main service providers. I didn’t buy mine at the airport as I didn’t have any local currencies but found one from a store a few days later. I was recommended by an expat to buy my Myanmar SIM card with Ooredoo and have been extremely happy with them.
Note: Make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave home.
Carriers to choose from
Prior to 2015 buying a prepaid SIM card in Myanmar was not a feasible option. Due to heavy government restrictions, Myanmar SIM cards were costing upwards of $250 and as recently as 2001 around the $3,000 mark. Now, however, I bought mine for $1
MPT is the government-run cell company and is said to have the best coverage throughout the country. Still, MPT is more expensive than the other options. A Sim card costs the same amount as the others, 1,500 Ks but data is charged at 7ks/MB. Make sure to buy a data pack to receive up to 24.5GB for 26,999 Ks ($18 USD)
Telenor was the first service provider to bring in a more affordable option for travellers. I read that Telenor has the cheapest deals but don’t seem to agree with this. For 15,000 Ks ($10 USD) you get the following. On the website, it says the internet data is charged at 10Ks per MB.
Ooredoo is said to have the fastest coverage and is what I was recommended to buy. Having only been in Yangon and Myeik I can’t speak for its coverage in other locations. For digital nomads, you will be happy to hear that the internet speeds are very good with download speeds of 30.00 Mbps and upload speeds of 16.62 Mbps. This will pass speed tests for teaching English online.
Ooredoo prepaid SIM card
An Ooredoo SIM card costs 1,500 Ks and is really easy to activate. I handed the guy at the phone shop my money and he put a range of phone numbers on the counter to choose between. I wasn’t required to give any form of ID. Once I picked a number and inserted into my phone it sent me a bunch of text messages in the local language.
To register your Ooredoo Myanmar sim card, connect to wifi or download the My Ooredoo app ahead of time. Once the SIM card is in your phone, open the app and up the top right of the screen you will see an ‘en’. Click this to change the language to English. Follow the prompts to add your number which is located on the SIM pack.
Recharging and topping up
From here you will need to top up with your desired amount before buy data or minute packs. You can browse the packs available first by clicking ‘buy packs’ as shown below. The largest pack available is 40GB for 43099Ks ($29) and lasts for 30 days. This is significantly cheaper than what I was used to paying in Australia 🙂
Once you know which pack you want to buy go back to the ‘top-up’ tab and select ‘others’ to pay by debit card. Enter the amount you want to buy and hit top-up. As easy as that!
Ran out of data or minutes? Just log back on to your app and repeat the steps above.
If you want the best coverage and speed buy two SIM cards to use the more expensive one only when necessary. Take a look at this map of the Ooredoo coverage locations to find out exactly where they cover for your trip. Most of the tourist areas should be fine, although Tripsavvy mentions they did not have service at Inle Lake and Pindaya, but not as to when this was.
Are you heading to Myanmar soon?
Make sure you know all the travel tips and cultural etiquette for visiting Myanmar.
Certain nationalities can now apply for visas online ahead of time. This will save you having to get a visa on arrival at the airport. Check below if you can apply for your visa online.
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Did you buy a SIM card in Myanmar? Which service did you go with? Would you recommend to other travellers?