You have probably been enticed by the beautiful beaches, secluded islands and rich culture and now planning a trip to Malaysia! Keeping in touch is paramount these days and therefore you gonna love this complete guide showing you the best way to get connected for your trip to Malaysia. Find here everything you need to know about buying a sim card for Malaysia: where to buy a sim card, up to date prices as per October 2023, the best 4G/5G network, my recommendation and even info about international and e-sim cards for Malaysia.
Buying a local prepaid sim card or an e-sim card is the first thing I do when I get to a new country and that is what I did when I recently visited Malaysia. In total I have written more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world: China, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Bangkok, Indonesia, Bali, Vietnam, USA, Europe, Dubai, Istanbul, London, Paris, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
So when planning your next trip abroad always come check out Traveltomtom for the latest local travel tips and prepaid sim card advice. Also when interested, I am trying to visit every country in the world. I am already over 150 countries now, check out the progress in the link and enjoy stories from my journey.
Why buying a sim card for Malaysia?
Life can be pretty challenging these days without a working data connection on your mobile and so is traveling. Think about ordering a taxi through an app, getting directions from Google Maps or simply staying in touch with your loved ones back home. No need to tell you that traveling to Malaysia is much easier with a local prepaid sim card.
Traveltomtom recommends you to buy a prepaid sim card in Malaysia, because it is easy, cheap and takes only a couple minutes. It is the best way to save on high roaming costs. Also a reminder that public WiFi is often slow and unreliable and it is an UNSECURED network. The use of a VPN is recommended.
Be aware: your phone needs to be UNLOCKED to make sure a local prepaid sim card from Malaysia is working in your phone. This also counts for international prepaid sim cards and e-sim cards for Malaysia.
Based on research and user experience Traveltomtom recommends a Digi prepaid sim card for traveling in Malaysia. For around $10 you can already get 30 GB data for 1 month. You can also buy a lot of unlimited data prepaid sim cards in Malaysia, but they are all on limited data speed of mostly 6 Mbps.
Digi has truly high speed internet and no data speed cap and therefore Traveltomtom's first recommendation!
Of course does Traveltomtom also recommend e-sim cards and there are some amazing e-sim card deals you can directly order on the internet. Keep in mind that on arrival in Malaysia, at Kuala Lumpure International Airport or in any phone store tourists can only buy physical prepaid sim cards. E-sim cards are not available for tourists in Malaysia, only on the internet.
Check out Traveltomtom's comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Malaysia in 2023, including all FAQ's and everything else you need to know about using e-sim cards.
If you are on a trip to Asia and visiting several countries then check out travel sim cards with global coverage. In my comparison of the best international sim cards for travelers in 2023 you can find some great sim card deals for traveling around Asia.
These pre-activated international prepaid sim cards will be shipped to your home address before your trip. Especially when traveling to multiple countries on one trip these global travel sim cards with data are a great way to stay connected.
Best e-sim cards for Malaysia
The easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Malaysia in 2023 is an e-sim card. No more swapping physical sim cards and the best thing is you keep your sim card from home in your phone and thus your own phone number. You order an e-sim card for Malaysia online, receive an email with a QR code, follow the instructions and you are all set.
For more info about using e-sim cards for traveling to Malaysia check out my complete guide in the link.
There are multiple e-sim card providers reviewed and tested by Traveltomtom.
Airalo has the following Malaysia e-sim card deals:
- 1 GB for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB for 15 days = $8 USD
- 3 GB for 30 days = $10.5 USD
- 5 GB for 30 days = $15 USD
- 10 GB for 30 days = $25 USD
- 20 GB for 30 days = $40 USD
Click here to directly order an e-sim card for Malaysia via Airalo.
The above e-sim cards of Sambungkan are data-only sim cards valid only in Malaysia. They operate on the 4G/LTE network of Digi.
SimOptions is another reliable e-sim card provider that Traveltomtom has used multiple time and they sell the following Malaysia e-sim cards:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.90 USD
- 3 GB data for 15 days = $12.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 10 days = $17.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $59.90 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for traveling to Malaysia via SimOptions.
Before ordering an e-sim card for Malaysia make sure that your phone is e-sim card compatible.
Traveltomtom wrote a complete guide including a comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Malaysia. Click on the link to see many more e-sim card deals and much more detailed info about ordering an e-sim card on the internet.
Another way to NOT swap physical sim cards is a portable WiFi device, but I am NOT a fan. Check out my article for the pros and cons of pocket WiFi’s.
Mobile internet operators in Malaysia
There are 6 mobile operators in Malaysia and they all offer prepaid sim cards for tourists:
- U mobile
On top of the above mobile internet providers there are also a couple MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) but they are too small to consider as a good prepaid sim card for Malaysia.
Prices for data plans differ slightly per provider but 4G/5G network coverage differs much more significantly. Below I show you the prices and the mobile internet network coverage maps in Malaysia, make a comparison of all the Malaysia sim cards and find you the best one.
Where to buy a sim card for Malaysia
Buying a sim card at Kuala Lumpur Airport
More time consuming but the easiest way to get connected when arriving in Malaysia is to buy a sim card at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Even before passport control you can already buy a Malaysia sim card from either the Hotlink Maxis, Tune Talk or Digi shop. It is impossible to miss when walking up to immigration on your right hand side. When you walk out into the arrivals hall you will immediately stumble upon the prepaid sim card shops on your left hand side: U Mobile, Maxis Hotlink and Tune Talk. On the right hand side there is Bluecube. All prepaid sim card shops at Kuala Lumpur Airport are open 24 hours, but mind you that not all shops take credit card. Tune Talk and Bluecube only accept cash!
You can not buy an e-sim card at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, only physical prepaid sim cards.
If you are curious what it is like to buy a prepaid sim card at Kuala Lumpur Airport then watch my vlog about my own experiences:
If you arrive on one of the other major international airports in Malaysia then there are also kiosks that sell prepaid sim cards for tourists at: Langkawi, Kuching, Penang and Kota Kinabalu.
You can of course also buy a sim card for Malaysia in any random phone store around the country. Traveltomtom advices to buy a sim card from an official retail store of one of the mobile internet providers. To find the nearest one to you simply use Google Maps.
In an official mobile internet operator retail store you will get the best service, prices and they make sure that everything works properly before you leave the store and you are connected to the internet.
Remember that if buying a local prepaid sim card in Malaysia is too much hassle you can also order a prepaid sim card for Malaysia online or click here to order an e-sim card for Malaysia. This way you arrive prepared and there is no need to find a phone store to buy a sim card on arrival. As soon as the plane lands you are online.
When buying a prepaid sim card in Malaysia you need to bring your passport. In the shop they will take a copy and register your new prepaid sim card on your name. You will also need to give your fingerprint.
The purchased prepaid sim cards in Malaysia are activated within minutes. Traveltomtom advices to directly put the new sim card in your phone and see if it works before you leave the store. Also ask your provider how to check your balance and remaining data bundle.
If for some reason you do not wish to register with your passport then looking into ordering an e-sim card for Malaysia or order an international prepaid sim card for Malaysia. These forms of getting connected when traveling to Malaysia do NOT require identification.
Prices prepaid sim cards in Malaysia
All the below prices and info are up dated as per October 2023. Prices are in Malaysian Ringgit: 10 MYR = $2.09 USD and $1 USD = 4.79 MYR.
Unfortunately there are still no e-sim cards available for tourists. When buying a prepaid sim card in Malaysia you can only get a physical prepaid sim card.
Maxis - Hotlink
Although Maxis is one of the biggest mobile internet providers in Malaysia, their prepaid service is called Hotlink. They offer the following Malaysia prepaid sim card deals:
- 25 RM = 10 GB data + 2 RM credit valid valid for 365 days - $6
- 40 RM = Unlimited data (3Mbps) + calls valid for 1 month - $9.5
- 50 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) + calls valid for 1 month - $12
For more info check the Hotlink website.
Hotlink also offers a tourist sim card which is valid for only 15 days and service will be terminated after the 15 days. It costs 99 RM ($22 USD) and comes with 8 GB data + 10 GB Facebook and 60 minutes calling time (Malaysia, India & China). Check out more info about the Hotlink Tourist Sim Card in this link.
The Digi prepaid sim cards are free when you buy one of the following packages that are valid for 30 days and do not have any speed caps:
- 15 RM = 3 GB data + Unlimited Social Media - $3.6
- 30 RM = 15 GB data - $7.1
- 35 RM = 30 GB data + calls - $8.3
- 45 RM = 40 GB data + calls - $9.5
Check out the latest Digi prepaid sim card deals for Malaysia on their website.
A Celcom sim card costs 10 RM ($2.4) and comes with 10 GB Facebook, 1 GB data + 6 RM credit. You can opt on top of that for one of the following data packages:
- 12 RM = Unlimited data (3Mbps) + calls for 7 days - $2.8
- 15 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) + calls for 7 days - $3.6
- 35 RM = Unlimited data (3Mbps) + calls for 30 days - $8.3
- 45 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) + calls + 5 GB uncapped data for 30 days - $10.7
See all the prepaid Celcom data packages in the link.
At U Mobile they offer 3 different prepaid sim card deals for Malaysia:
- 12 RM = Unlimited data (3Mbps) + calls for 7 days - $2.8
- 30 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) for 30 days - $7.1
- 35 RM = Unlimited data (6Mbps) + calls for 30 days - $8.3
Click here for all the U Mobile prepaid sim card deals.
Yes was called Yes 4G, but with the new 5G era coming soon, it is simply Yes Malaysia now. Yes is a fairly new mobile internet provider and their network is much smaller than other providers. However, they offer 3 good prepaid sim card deals:
- 15 RM = 10 GB data for 30 days - $3.6
- 20 RM = 20 GB data for 30 days - $4.7
- 30 RM = Unlimited data for 30 days - $7.1
These plans do not come with any calling minutes. For more info check the Yes Malaysia website.
Unifi - Bebas
Another small mobile internet provider is Unifi. Their prepaid data deals are called Bebas and they offer Unlimited data packages:
- 12 RM = Unlimited data for 7 days - $2.8
- 35 RM = Unlimited data for 1 month - $8.3
For more info check the Unifi/Bebas website click on the link to check out their website.
Best 4G/5G network in Malaysia
Sim card prices are important when determining the best Malaysia sim card, but so is the network coverage. Imagine traveling on long bus rides or staying in the beautiful Perhentian Islands and having no phone signal. Therefore I compared the Malaysia 4G/5G coverage maps from all mobile internet providers in Malaysia for you.
Is there 5G in Malaysia?
Surprisingly 5G in Malaysia is not as developed as you had wished. Nearby countries Thailand and Singapore offer some of the best 5G coverage in the world, but Malaysia is far behind. As of April 2023 there are some tourist destinations in Malaysia with a 5G signal, but not everywhere and not with every sim card.
Celcom 4G/5G coverage map
DiGi 4G/5G coverage map
Maxis 4G/5G coverage map
U Mobile 4G/5G coverage map
Unifi 4G/5G coverage map
Yes 4G/5G coverage map
From the above mobile internet coverage maps we can clearly see that Yes, Unifi and U Mobile have a lot to catch up when we compare their network strength with Maxis, DiGi and Celcom. Especially when you decide to travel in Borneo it is not recommended to buy a sim card from either Yes, Unifi or U Mobile as their 4G/5G network coverage in Borneo is very limited.
Overall Celcom has the strongest network coverage and therefore the best 4G/5G network in Malaysia. When looking for the best sim card for traveling to Borneo you should either buy a Celcom or a Maxis/Hotlink prepaid sim card.
Best prepaid sim card in Malaysia in 2023
As you have seen prices for data sim cards in Malaysia are very affordable and for $10 you can already get unlimited data for the whole month. But be aware that you can buy data packages with different internet speed. Unlimited internet obviously sounds the best, but max data speed is 6 Mbps for example with Celcom, Maxis/Hotlink.
Personally, I would always choose that sim card that does not have a speed cap.
At first it seems like the Celcom, Maxis/Hotlink and the U Mobile prepaid sim cards are great deals with unlimited internet for around $10 - $12 USD but the max speed of 6 Mbps puts me a little off.
Therefore Traveltomtom rates Digi as the best prepaid sim card for tourists in Malaysia as they have no speed caps and truly high speed internet. They also have an amazing deal of 30 GB data for just $8 USD and the Digi 4G/5G network in Malaysia is very extensive.
Traveltomtom does not recommend a Unifi or Yes prepaid sim card for traveling in Malaysia because of their weaker mobile network.
Since prices for prepaid sim cards for tourists are so low there is no point in comparing e-sim cards for Malaysia with local prepaid sim cards. The e-sim cards you order on the internet have the advantage that you can arrange everything in just a couple minutes and you do it online. Which means when the plan lands you are already online. No more visiting a sim card shop and installing a physical prepaid sim card.
Read more about e-sim cards in my guide with everything you need to know about e-sim cards for traveling to Malaysia in 2023.
Buy a sim card for Malaysia online
If your phone is not e-sim compatible you do not have to wait until you arrive in Malaysia to buy a prepaid sim card. You can already order an international prepaid sim card on the internet and arrive in Malaysia prepared.
Check out the following sim card deal for Malaysia via Simoptions:
- Orange: 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD
The above international prepaid sim card will be delivered as a physical sim card to your home address and is automatically activated from its first use. It is like plug and play, no need to update settings or anything like that.
I am sure some of the above tips for buying a sim card for tourists in Malaysia were helpful for your upcoming trip. If you still have questions please let me know in the comments below, I am more than happy to help you out, also with other Malaysia travel related questions.
Want to be fuelled by wanderlust with uncountable travel tips then check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow my road to visit every country in the world. As of October 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.
Enjoy your trip to Malaysia!
Some links in this article about the best prepaid sim cards for traveling to Malaysia are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate links I earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!