Are you planning a trip to Philippines and wondering if you can buy a sim card for traveling in Philippines on arrival at Manila International Airport? The answer is yes! This is a complete guide for buying a sim card at Manila Airport including up to date prices as per December 2023, my recommendation, the best e-sim cards for Philippines and everything else you need to know before buying a sim card to stay connected when traveling to Manila.
Traveling with a working data connection on your phone is so much more convenient. Looking for the best way to stay connected when traveling abroad is a vital part of my travel planning. To save money on high roaming costs you can order a sim card for Philippines on the internet and arrive prepared or buy a Philippines prepaid sim card at Manila Airport on arrival.
E-sim cards are super convenient, but often also more expensive. Depending on how much data you need it is worth ordering an e-sim card for the Philippines on the internet before your trip, just like I did.
Traveltomtom is on a journey to travel to every country in the world and everywhere I go I write sim card guides for other travelers to find the best ways to stay connected. That is why on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world: Hong Kong, China, Shanghai, Thailand, Bangkok, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Sydney, New Zealand, Auckland, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Europe, London, United Kingdom, Rome, Italy, USA, Canada and many more.
Traveltomtom also wrote an extensive guide for the best Philippines sim card for tourists in 2023, including 4G/5G coverage maps, all about e-sim cards for Philippines and everything else you need to know.
Are you traveling to multiple countries in Asia then you might want to look into buying an international sim card or e-sim card for Asia.
So next time you are planning your trip abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination. Bookmark me!
Traveltomtom recommends buying a Smart sim card at Manila Airport. For around $17 USD you get 73 GB data.
That said, you can also already order you Philippines e-sim card on the internet and arrive prepared. In fact ordering an e-sim card online is even cheaper as e-sim cards for Philippines start from $4 USD.
But if you are intended to use a lot of data then Traveltomtom advices to keep on reading and buy a prepaid sim card for Philippines on arrival at Manila Airport.
If you want to cheapest sim card deals you should not buy a local prepaid sim card for Philippines at Manila Airport, but in the city somewhere in a local phone shop. It will save you a couple dollar, check out my complete guide for buying a sim card for the Philippines in 2023 for more info.
If you are traveling to multiple countries on your trip to Asia then check out some of the international prepaid sim cads for traveling abroad. These physical prepaid as well as e-sim cards are valid in multiple countries around the world, so they could be great for your next holiday.
Be aware that the local prepaid sim cards you buy in Philippines, as well as e-sim cards and international sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If your phone is locked make sure to unlock your phone before your trip to Philippines. Contact your mobile internet provider in your home country if you are not sure about this.
Best e-sim cards for Philippines
Local prepaid sim cards are not the only way to stay connected when traveling to the Philippines. The easiest way to get data on your phone when traveling to Manila in 2023 is by ordering an e-sim card online.
No need to visit a sim card store anymore on arrival in Philippines and no need to buy a sim card at Manila Airport. As soon as the plane lands you are already online. The e-sim card for Philippines you buy on the internet needs to be installed on your phone in a couple simple steps. Then once installed the e-sim instantly connects to an available network as soon as the plane touches the ground.
You can order an e-sim card for Philippines directly on the internet, you process the payment, you receive a QR code, you scan it, follow the instructions and instal the e-sim card in a couple simple steps. You are all set in less than 2 minutes.
Airalo is a recommended e-sim card provider that Traveltomtom has used multiple times. Check out the following e-sim card plans for Philippines from Airalo:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $9.5 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $13 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $32 USD
Click here to directly order a Philippines e-sim card from Airalo.
The Alpas e-sim cards for the Philippines operate on the Globe network. They are not 5G ready, 4G/LTE only and it is a data-only sim card. Incoming and outgoing calls are not supported.
SimOptions is another e-sim card provider, they offer also e-sim cards for Philippines. Traveltomtom uses SimOptions a lot but their Philippines e-sim cards are much more expensive than Airalo.
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $7.90 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $14.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 30 days = $17.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $39.90 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $64.90 USD
Click here to directly order a Philippines e-sim card from SimOptions.
The SimOptions data-only e-sim cards are only valid in Philippines. SimOptions does not disclose which network operator in thye use in Philippines. These e-sim cards do not support incoming and outgoing phone calls and 5G is also not suppported.
Another recommendation for e-sim cards in Philippines is Nomad and they have some great e-sim data-only plans for tourists.
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $7 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $10 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
- 15 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $27 USD
- 30 GB data for 30 days = $35 USD
- 40 GB data for 30 days = $40 USD
- 50 GB data for 30 days = $49 USD
Click here to directly order a Philippines e-sim card from Nomad.
The above e-sim cards from Nomad are from Joytel and they operate on the 4G/LTE network of Globe. Incoming and outgoing calls are not supported and Joytel e-sim cards are not 5G ready.
For a complete guide about using e-sim cards when traveling to the Philippines and a comparison of the best e-sim cards for Philippines in 2023 click on the link and read all my tips.
Before ordering an e-sim card for Philippines make sure your phone is first of all unlocked. E-sim cards only work in unlocked phones. Second, make sure your phone is e-sim compatible. Pretty much all newer smartphones are e-sim card compatible.
Arrival at Manila International Airport
Manila is the capital city of Philippines and most international flights arrive at Manila International Airport. Manila Airport with airport code MNL is also called Ninoy Aquino International Airport - NAIA.
There are 3 terminals. Terminal 1 is mostly for domestic flights and low-cost carriers, Terminal 2 is used only by Philippines Airlines and pretty much all other major international airlines like Emirates, Qatar, Turkish Airlines, Qantas and all European airlines arrive and depart from Terminal 3.
There is free WiFi at Manila Airport but you need a phone number and be able to receive an sms to login, which can be a pain. When you manage to connect it actually works pretty fine.
As soon as you walk out of the plane a long hallway will direct you to passport control. There is only one way, so don’t worry you won’t get lost. You will walk past duty free and then around the corner there is immigration. You are required to fill out a health declaration form, which can be done online and there is WiFi available in this area. So while I was queueing up I filled out the health declaration form. Surprisingly, no one asked me or checked the QR code generated by filling out the health declaration.
Passport control was fairly busy but the wait wasn’t too long. After passport control you take the escalator down into a huge baggage claim hall. In the baggage claim hall there are no facilities, all ATM’s, money exchange, sim card shops, banks, tour agencies, car rental companies, etc. are in the Arrival Hall.
There is a luggage check x-ray machine, but only for carry-on luggage, it is a small machine. In my case everyone could walk past on my arrival and no bags were checked. Then finally you arrive in the Arrival Hall.
Where to buy a sim card at Manila Airport
It is very easy to find the sim card shops at Manila Airport where they sell tourist sim cards for Philippines. As soon as you walk into the Arrival Hall you can either go left or right. On both ends there is the exact same shop.
There are two sim card desks together in one sim card booth. One desk is from Smart and the other desk is from Globe. These are the main mobile internet providers in the Philippines.
The sim card shops are very easy recognizable as staff will be in front of them with signs for buying a sim card and trying to attract people by loudly screaming: ‘buy your prepaid sim cards for Philippines here’.
Great thing is that the sim card shops at Manila International Airport are open 24 hours and they accept international credit cards as well as cash. So no matter what time you arrive you can always buy a sim card at Manila Airport.
Prices prepaid sim cards Manila Airport
All the information below is updated in December 2023 and prices are in Philippines Pesos. $1 USD = 55.5 PHP and 100 PHP = $1.80 USD.
Expect to pay tourist prices for sim cards at Manila Airport. If you want the cheapest Philippines prepaid sim card deals then you have to buy a sim card in a phone shop in Manila City center and not at the airport. At the airport they sell tourist sim cards for tourist prices.
At the Globe shop they sell 5 different prepaid sim card plans for tourists which are all valid for 30 days:
- 45 GB data + unlimited calls & text = 1,000 PHP
- 100 GB data + unlimited calls & text = 1,500 PHP
- 160 GB data + unlimited calls & text = 2,000 PHP
- 220 GB data + unlimited calls & text = 2,500 PHP
- 285 GB data + unlimited calls & text = 3,000 PHP
The Globe prepaid sim cards are 5G ready. Globe does NOT provide e-sim cards, they only have physical prepaid sim cards available.
At the Smart shop they have 8 different prepaid sim card plans for tourists:
- 73 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 1,050 PHP
- 72 GB data (no expiry) + unlimited calls & text for 60 days = 1,550 PHP
- 122 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 1,550 PHP
- 144 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 1,550 PHP
- 192 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 2,050 PHP
- 240 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 2,550 PHP
- 288 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 3,050 PHP
- 336 GB data + unlimited calls & text for 30 days = 3,550 PHP
The Smart prepaid sim cards are 5G ready and Smart also offers e-sim cards for tourists. Physical prepaid sim cards are also available. You choose the sim card you want.
Best sim card for tourists at Manila Airport
When we look at the prices we see that there is no difference between the Smart and Globe prepaid sim cards plans for tourists. The cheapest sim card plans for both Smart and Globe are $1,000 PHP which equals $17.5 USD.
Although the same price, Smart gives you 73 GB data but Globe only gives you 45 GB data.
So the first match is won by Smart. Based on the prepaid sim card plans and prices Smart is the best sim card you can buy at Manila Airport.
Sim cards with data plans in Philippines are very big and although I am a very heavy data user even on a crazy day I barely use more than 5 GB. On average I use about 1.5 - 2.5 GB per day, mostly on social media apps like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.
For my research about the best sim cards for traveling in Philippines I also compared the network coverage maps of Smart and Globe. Both have a pretty decent 4G/5G network around the country and it seems like pretty much all the best places to visit and tourist destinations in Philippines are covered with a 4G and even often a 5G signal.
However, after my comparison I came to the conclusion that Smart has a more advanced 4G/5G network in Philippines than Globe. For more info check out my complete guide for finding the best prepaid sim card for Philippines in 2023.
On top of that Smart offers e-sim cards as well as physical prepaid sim cards for tourists and Globe does only offer physical sim cards.
All in all it is a fairly easy conclusion that Smart is the best sim card at Manila Airport.
Order a prepaid sim card for your trip to Manila online
Remember that e-sim cards can only be used in e-sim compatible phones. If your phone is not e-sim compatible and you want to order a sim card for Philippines on the internet then you have to look into buying an international prepaid sim card for Philippines.
These pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards will be delivered to your home address before your trip. You put them in your phone during your flight and you are online as soon as the plane touches the ground in Manila and your international sim card connects to an available network.
Unfortunately at the moment there are very few choices when it comes to international prepaid sim cards for the Philippines:
- 1 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD
This is prepaid sim card is course not worth the money. As soon as I find better international sim card plans for Philippines I will add them.
A last reminder though that you can easily order an e-sim card for the Philippines on the internet through either Airalo, Nomad or SimOptions. Nomad has amazing deals and the cheapest e-sim card for the Philippines that already start from $4 USD only.
My experiences buying a sim card at Manila Airport
Unfortunately it was already my second time in 2023 that I was in Manila for just 1 day, basically on a long stopover. I have traveled in Philippines extensively for several months on different trips back in the days of backpacking. But I really wish I had more time to travel again in this incredible country.
Since I knew I was staying in Manila only for like 16 hours and I did not need so much data I bought an e-sim card online from Airalo with 1 GB data for just $4.5 USD. It was the perfect match for what I needed and as soon as we landed in Manila I had a working data connection on my phone.
However, for research purposes to get you the most detailed and up to date information I went all around the airport and filmed my experiences arriving at Manila Airport and created the vlog below to show you what it is like buying a sim card at Manila Airport.
However, when you ask me it is much better for your wallet to buy a sim card at Manila city center, but are you ready to wait a little bit or are you choosing convenience and buy your sim card at the airport?
I am sure some of the above tips on how to stay connected when traveling to Manila were helpful. If you have any additional questions then please leave me a comment below or reach out to me on social media.
Curious what the road to 197 / visiting every country in the world looks like then head to my Instagram @traveltomtom and follow along. As of December 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still more than 40 to go, but no rush.
Enjoy your trip to Manila!
Some links in this article about buying a sim card at Manila Airport are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you.