Best Philippines SIM Cards for Tourists: Updated Prices & Where to Buy 2024

Are you going to visit the Philippines soon? Philippines SIM cards are essential for you to keep contact with your friends and family and access the Internet when you are abroad. If you haven’t got any information about SIM cards for tourists in the Philippines, then the following will give you a detailed guide, including its costs, data plans, selling places, and using instructions.

All the things you need to know about Philippines SIM card

I. Should You Get a Sim Card in Philippines?

Sim Card is among the most popular ways to access the Internet and stay connected in the Philippines. The following table will explain why Sim Card in Philippines is the best choice when comparing to other options like free WiFi and roaming:

 SIM CardFree WiFiRoaming
Price– Affordable– Free– Expensive
Convenience– Easy to purchase
– Immediate use
– Location dependence– Activation required
– Pre-planning needed
Availability– Widely availability
– Various operators
– Fixed locations only
– Limited coverage
– Only available in supported countries
– Limited to specific operators
Privacy– Private connection– Public network, potential security risks– Private connection

Considering those criteria, getting a SIM Card in the Philippines is undoubtedly the best option for tourists traveling to this country. It is not only budget-friendly, widely available but also easy to purchase, secure and reliable. Therefore, a SIM card will make it convenient and simple to access the Internet and keep in touch during your trip in the Philippines.

Getting a Philippines SIM card is vital for traveling to this country
Getting a SIM card in Philippines for a wonderful journey

Important Note:

  • A data-only SIM plan is recommended for those who don’t have the need to contact via traditional ways like phone calls and text messages. This is also a budget-friendly option for tourists in the Philippines.
  • Unless your phone is unlocked, you can’t use a Philippines SIM card. In case your phone is locked, you have to contact the operator to unlock your phone or use the roaming plan of your local network provider at high cost.

II. Types of Philippines SIM Card for Tourists – Which One is the Best?

Normally, SIM Card can be classified according to its forms and functions:

Forms:

  • Physical SIM: SIM in physical forms (standard SIM, micro SIM, nano SIM), used in both old and modern smartphones.
  • Virtual SIM: a digital chip embedded to replace physical SIM within the device, applied in some modern smartphone models.

Each form of SIM is classified basing on its functions:

  • Data-only SIM: SIM card that is used for data usage rather than making calls and sending messages in the traditional way. No phone number included.  
  • Voice and data SIM: SIM card that is utilized for connectivity and network-related actions. Phone number included.

Almost all SIM cards for tourists in the Philippines offer prepaid packages, which are in the form of both physical SIM and eSIM. Here are the comparison between two options:

1. Prepaid physical SIM card in Philippines

Prepaid physical SIM card is a SIM card in tangible form, coming with a predetermined data plan, which can be recharged once being used up. Depending on the function, there are 2 types of prepaid physical SIM cards for tourists in the Philippines: data-only SIM and voice & data SIM.

Prepaid physical Philippines SIM card can be installed in most smartphones
Prepaid physical Philippines SIM card

2. Prepaid Tourist Philippines eSIM

In general, eSIM is a virtual chip embedded directly into a device. Unlike a physical SIM card,   eSIM cannot be physically removed or replaced. To activate an eSIM, you can complete the process through QR codes or mobile apps. eSIM for tourists in the Philippines is also divided into two types based on its functions: data-only eSIM and voice & data eSIM.

While physical SIM cards can be inserted in all smartphone models, eSIM is used only in some modern smartphones which are eSIM compatible. The following is the pros and cons of Philippines physical SIM card and eSIM for tourists:

 Prepaid Philippines SIM cardPrepaid eSIM for Philippines
Pros– Compatible with all smartphone models
– Easy to replace, widely available 
– Widely available, can be purchased online
– Can be activated through QR code or mobile app
– No risk of physical damage or SIM loss
Cons– Physical handling required- High risk of SIM loss
– Unlocked devices required
– Compatible with some modern devices only
– Unlocked devices required

Our Recommendation:

On your trip to Philippines, your SIM card plan should be:

  • Prepaid physical SIM card if you need to stay connected by the traditional ways via phone calls and messages in the Philippines.
  • Prepaid eSIM with data-only plan in case you just need to contact via online apps and access the Internet for entertainment. Most tourists coming to the Philippines choose this SIM card package due to its convenience.

III. Best Philippines SIM Card Packages for Tourists and Price

There are various mobile operators in the Philippines providing SIM card packages for tourists, three of the best are Smart Communications, Globe Telecom and Dito. The following is some packages of those carriers:

1. Best Philippines Smart Communications SIM Card Plans and Price

  • 4 GB for 7 days: $6.50
  • 8 GB for 15 days: $13.01
  • 12 GB for 30 days: $18.59
  • 24 GB for 30 days: $27.90
  • 36 GB for 30 days: $37.21

Insight: Smart offers a variety of packages to suit different travel durations and data needs of tourists in the Philippines. In addition, Smart excels in the data speed, availability and consistency, which is suitable for those who want to travel around the Philippines for a long time.

2. Best Philippines Globe Telecommunications SIM Card Plans and Price

  • 10 GB for 7 days: $5.58
  • 20 GB for 15 days: $9.31
  • 40 GB for 30 days: $18.61

Insight: Globe provides tourists in the Philippines with pocket-friendly data plans, which offers outstanding experiences in network-related activities like watching video, playing games and voice chat. This provider is suitable for most travelers to the Philippines.

3. Best Philippines Dito Telecommunity SIM Card Plans and Price

  • 7 GB for 30 days: $1.78
  • 16 GB for 30 days: $3.59
  • 28 GB for 30 days: $5.39
  • 55 GB for 30 days: $8.99
  • 120 GB for 30 days: $18.00

Insight: Dito has attractive mobile and data packages that boast cost-effective call-text-data promos. Dito plans are suitable for tourists traveling in groups, who need to stay connected with each other via traditional phone calls and text messages.

Dito’s packages has competitive prices
Dito offers attractive data packages for tourists in Philippines

Our Recommendation:

Of all Philippines SIM card operators, Globe is the most suitable for tourists in the Philippines based on its competitive prices, stable connection, widely availability and reliability. In addition, Globe eclipses other operators when it comes to data-only promos, which specially matches with the SIM card needs of tourists in the Philippines.

Important Note: Data packages and prices are updated in 2024 Jan and may change from time to time

IV. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for the Philippines?

Tourists can buy a Philippines SIM card online before the trip, at the airports, or at the local SIM stores in the cities.

1. Buy prepaid Philippines eSIM online before departure

Tourists can get prepaid Philippines eSIM online upon arrival from the providers. The eSIM will be purchased and activated online via QR code or mobile app, which helps to save time when you arrive in the Philippines.

  • Pros: Time-saving. To get your eSIM, you don’t need to go to the SIM store or wait for your SIM card shipment. Your data package is also activated right away, so you can access the Internet as soon as you reach the Philippines.
  • Cons: Your device must be eSIM compatible. Your data plan cannot be changed in case you need more data during your trip.

► Check out our up-to-date eSIM supported phones to define whether or not your phone works with an eSIM.

2. Buy physical Philippines SIM card at Philippines airports

You can opt for a suitable SIM card and package at kiosks or stores, which are located at major international airports in the Philippines such as Manila, Cebu, and Clark. 

  • Pros: Convenient. If you don’t have much time to prepare, or don’t know where to buy, you can get a physical SIM card immediately at Philippines airports. 
  • Cons: More expensive than other ways. Limited options compared to retail stores.
Tourists can get a physical SIM card at Philippines major airports
SIM card kiosks at a Philippines airport

3. Buy physical Philippines SIM card online

Before your trip to the Philippines, buying a physical SIM card online is a good option. After being purchased, the SIM card will be shipped to your home, then the activation and package selection can be conducted online. 

  • Pros: Various options of operator and plans. Easy to purchase.
  • Cons: Time-consuming caused by delivery delays. Additional shipping fee needed.

4. Buy physical Philippines SIM card in the cities

Another way to get a physical Philippines SIM card is to buy at street-side stores or mobile phone shops in the cities of Philippines. This way is quite convenient since you can find various SIM card stores all over the cities of Philippines.

  • Pros: Widely available with plenty of options and reasonable prices. Tourists can get good advice on the best plans from the salespeople.
  • Cons: It takes time to find and get to the store. Language barrier might be a big deal.
Tourists can get to the SIM card store in the cities to buy a Philippines SIM card
Getting a Philippines SIM card at a street-side kiosk in the city

Our Recommendation:

Depending on your priorities and preferences, the best option of buying Philippines SIM card can be:

  • For those with eSIM compatible devices: buying an eSIM online before arriving offers convenience and immediate activation.
  • For those without preparation before the trip: buying a physical SIM card at local stores is both pocket-friendly and convenient.

V. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Philippines?

Acknowledging what you can do with 1 GB of data in the Philippines will be helpful for you to choose a suitable data plan in the Philippines.

Here is what 1 GB of data can cover in Philippines:

  • Social media browsing for 5-7 hours
  • Video call for 3 – 5 hours
  • Uploading or sending 150 – 200 photos via social media
  • Using online maps and GPS for 10 hours
  • Watching Youtube video (high definition) for 0.5 hour

Our data volume suggestion for tourists in Philippines:

  • Light data users (messaging, maps): 2-4 GB for a week-long trip
  • Medium data users (messaging, maps, social media use): 5-8 GB for a week-long trip
  • Heavy data users (social media use, watching video, uploading photos): 10-15 GB for a week-long trip.

Our recommendation:

  • You had better estimate your data volume consumption for a week in the Philippines, choose the most suitable plans to avoid data waste or shortage.
  • Getting slightly larger data than your expectation will be good to prevent data running out halfway.

VI. Philippines eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Card to Get Internet

There are many other ways for tourists to get the Internet and stay connected in the Philippines such as roaming, pocket WiFi, free WiFi, and prepaid physical SIM Card. However, Philippines eSIM has great advantages over those options:

  • Price: Philippines eSIM doesn’t require daily roaming charge or additional shipping fee. All the actions can be completed online.
  • Availability: Prepaid Philippines eSIM for tourists can be purchased and activated online. No extra device needed. No location dependence.
  • Convenience: No need to go to the SIM card store. No risk of SIM loss or damage.
  • Coverage: Philippines eSIM provides Internet connections everywhere and at all time, unlike WiFi that only has limited coverage.
  • Privacy: Prepaid Philippines eSIM for tourists uses private connection, which is more secure than using free WiFi.

Considering these factors, a prepaid Philippines eSIM for tourists is the best alternative to physical SIM card to get the Internet. This way is more convenient, widely available, economical and secure than any other options.

Of all the eSIM providers in the market, Gigago is the most outstanding thanks to its attractive packages. Gigago has both a data-only plan and voice + data plan for tourists in the Philippines, which is not only convenient but also cost-saving.

Gigago Philippines eSIM is the best alternative to physical SIM cards in Philippines
Gigago Philippines eSIM is the best option for Philippines SIM card

Gigago offers tailored plans for diverse requirements of tourists, which ensures stable and reliable Internet connection throughout the trip in the Philippines.

For Philippines, Gigago offers multiple data plan options for the Philippines, starting from a 5-day plan with 1GB per day for $10.50 as their most minimal plan. They also have 7-day, 15-day, and 30-day plans ranging from 1GB to 20GB of total data, or 1GB to 2GB per day, with prices from $10.50 up to $141.50. These plans are highly recommended for those who are seeking cost-effective and uninterrupted ways of connection.

► Visit Gigago Philippines eSIM to get more details.

VII. Which Philippines Mobile Networks Are the Best for Tourists?

There are 03 popular mobile network operators in the Philippines: Globe, Smart, and Dito. They all offer diverse packages with fast speed, large coverage and reasonable prices.

Here is a summary table comparing these three operators:

 GlobeSmartDito
CoverageBestBestGreat
SpeedFastFastFast
PriceAffordableAffordableAffordable
eSIM availableYesYesNo

1. Globe

Both the locals and tourists consider Globe as the most popular mobile network in the Philippines. This telecom carrier offers physical SIM cards and prepaid tourist eSIM for foreigners, along with various appealing data packages. 

  • Rank: #1
  • Speed: 16 Mb/s (2023)
  • Coverage: all over the Philippines
Globe is the most popular mobile network operator in Philippines
Globe’s coverage map in Philippines (nPerf, 2024)

2. Smart

As the second largest mobile network operator in the Philippines, Smart generates a wide and high-quality 5G network in major cities. Similar to other operators, Smart also provides tourists with traveler SIM card plans, which are valid for up to 30 days. 

  • Rank: #2
  • Speed: around 20 Mb/s
  • Coverage: all over the Philippines
Smart offers 5G connection in major cities and tourist attractions in Philippines
Smart’s coverage map in Philippines (nPerf, 2024)

3. Dito

Dito is an ongoing development operator in the Philippines, which offers the most consistent experience according to a survey. Dito provides tourists with a prepaid physical SIM card; its packages include data, call and messages. 

  • Rank: #3
  • Speed: over 20 Mb/s 
  • Coverage: major cities and tourist sites
Dito has coverage in major cities and famous destinations
Dito’s coverage map in Philippines (nPerf, 2024)

Our Recommendation:

  • Globe is the best choice for those who want reliable coverage, stable connection, good video watching and voice chat experience.
  • Smart is suitable for those who need fast download and upload speeds, reliable coverage and stable 5G network.
  • Dito is recommended for those who travel to major cities, want fast speed experience and contact via both mobile apps and phone number.

VII. How to Use Philippines Prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM

It is easy to use a prepaid Philippines tourist SIM card
Inserting a Philippines SIM card into your mobile

After choosing the best plan for your trip to the Philippines, it’s time to get to know how to use your Philippines SIM card. 

1. Using prepaid Philippines tourist SIM Cards

First, you need to purchase a physical SIM card. Then follow these steps to insert and use your SIM card:

  • Open the SIM tray of your phone then insert the SIM card.
  • Power on your device, follow the instruction steps included in your welcome message for activation.
  • Set up your Internet setting by inputting the APN provided by the network operator (if needed).
  • Check your balance and plan by dial specific USSD codes of the operator.
  • After being activated, your SIM card is ready to use.

2. Setting up and activating Philippines eSIM

To use an eSIM in Philippines, you should follow these steps:

  • Check your device to ensure that it is eSIM compatible.
  • Purchase an eSIM, choose your plan from a provider, then you will receive a QR code or activation details
  • Go to your device’s eSIM setting, scan the QR code or activation details provided.
  • Follow the instructions shown on your device to confirm eSIM activation and activate eSIM profile.
  • Check your device setting to ensure your eSIM is active. Now your eSIM is ready to use.

IX. FAQs

1. Can I use my foreign SIM card in the Philippines?

Yes, if your current mobile network allows. But due to the high cost of roaming, not many foreign tourists choose this way to contact during their trips to the Philippines. You had better purchase a Philippines SIM card, which is much more convenient and pocket-friendly.

2. Do I need to register a local Philippines SIM card?

Yes, to register a local Philippines SIM card, you have to show your identity card. But if you want to avoid these hassles, consider using an international Philippines travel SIM card or eSIM. No need to show your personal information.

3. Where can I get a tourist SIM card in the Philippines?

In the Philippines, you can easily get a tourist SIM card at stores and kiosks which are located at international airports, large malls, grocery stores, and even markets. In addition, you can opt for buying a physical SIM card or purchasing an eSIM online before going to the Philippines.

4. Can I make phone calls and send text messages with a data-only SIM card?

No. Data-only plan is designed for network-related actions only, so you cannot use it to contact via traditional ways. If you want to use a data-only SIM card to chat via video call or messages, the social network apps will be helpful for you.

X. Conclusion

In a nutshell, using a Philippines SIM card is the most convenient way among plenty of options to keep contact in the Philippines. Three largest mobile network operators in the Philippines are Globe, Smart, and Dito, who provide diverse packages for foreign visitors. Remember to consider your personal priorities and preferences to choose the best Philippines SIM card for your trip to the Philippines.