Buying a SIM Card in Manila for Travelers 2024: Guide from Locals

Buy a SIM card in Manila to stay connected during your travels in the Philippines’ capital city.

how to buy sim card in manila

This guide is written for travelers who plan to visit Manila, Philippines in 2024. It provides locals’ recommendations on where to buy a SIM card in Manila for affordable mobile internet access. Readers will know the top mobile carriers, best data plans, and prices, as well as locations to purchase a SIM card. This will allow travelers to conveniently communicate, navigate, and content while experiencing all Manila has to offer.

I. Why Buy a SIM card in Manila?

Buying a SIM card in Manila is as important as getting your accommodation and transportation sorted for your trip. Why?

  • Get cheap mobile internet right on your phone, no need for slow free WiFi around the city.
  • Move freely without the limits of rental WiFi devices.
  • Enjoy unlimited local calls and texts without worrying about roaming charges.
  • Use maps and translation apps easily with the internet as you explore Manila.
  • Easily reach out to friends, family, and hotels during emergencies when you’re away from WiFi.

In short, you must get a SIM card right after landing in Manila.

II. Which Mobile Internet Carrier is the best in Manila?

Manila has 3 main mobile networks: Smart, Globe, and DITO, plus some MVNOs using their infrastructure. Here’s a quick comparison.

CoverageWidest 4G coverage of over 90% of the population. Limited coverage in rural areas.Extensive 4G coverage in metro Manila and urban areas. Patchy in rural areas.Still expanding network but focus on metro Manila. Coverage is limited to key areas only.
SpeedCan deliver speeds over 50Mbps on a dedicated LTE network. Congested in high-traffic areas.Delivers speeds around 20-30 Mbps on LTE network. Also gets congested in busy locations.Newest network. Claims speeds over 1Gbps but actual speeds depend on coverage in specific locations.
ReliabilityMost reliable network. Minimal downtime was reported.Generally reliable but occasional disruption reported during emergencies or storms.Being a new network, reliability still needs to be proven over time with greater uptake.
PopularityLargest subscriber base with over 70M subscribers.Second largest with around 60M users.Still building a subscriber base since entering in 2021. Claimed 5M users by mid-2022.

Based on the table, you see that Smart is the best for tourists in Manila with its wide and reliable network. Globe and DITO are good too. And the decisions rely on you. 

III. Best Manila SIM Card Plans and Price

The prices of SIM card plans in Manila are generally not very expensive. We will offer you the overall table including all the best plans. 

OperatorClassifyPriceDataValid ForNote
Smart Smart GigaSurf Tourist~ $62GB3 days
Smart Traveller SIM Option 1~ $63GB + 300 on-net calls, 300 on-net texts, and 30 off-net calls to select countries7 days
Smart Traveller SIM Option 2~ $1110GB + unlimited calls and texts to Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers15 days
Globe Globe Tourist SIM Travel3~ $3250MB3 days
Globe Tourist SIM Travel7~ $91GB + ~ $2,23 credit7 days
Globe Tourist SIM Travel30~ $185GB30 days
Globe GoSURF~ $11GB3 days
DITO TelecommunityOption 1~ $0.711GB1 dayTechnically not an MVNO but a separate operator
Option 2~ $1.763GB7 days
Option 3~ $3,5310GB30 days
TM UnlimitedTM Unli Data for 1 day~ $0,6Unlimited data for 1 dayPer dayUses Globe’s network
TM Unli Data for All Apps~ $10.64Unlimited data for all apps30 days
GCash GInsureOptions 1~ $1.763GB7 daysUses Globe’s network
Option 2~ $2.6510GB30 days

The table shows different SIM cards and MVNOs for tourists. You can find SIM cards with more data and longer use based on your needs. Choosing tourist-specific SIMs can save you money on international travel. Consider the Globe network for its wide coverage and flexible plans for both short and long stays.

IV. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Manila?

There are 2 best places to buy a SIM card in Manila: at the Manila airport and in the city center. Let’s see more details about these two. 

1. Buy a SIM card at Manila Airport (NAIA)

manila airport map

Finding a SIM card at Ninoy Aquino airport is easy. You can find them at:

  • Globe Telecom: Inside the arrival hall on the 3rd floor, near the plane door.
  • Smart-Zuellig Terminal: In both departure and arrival areas.
  • SM Telecom Store: On the 3rd floor near gates 11-12, selling SIMs from Globe, Smart, and others.
  • 7-Eleven: All around the station area, offering a wide range of SIM cards.

Before buying a SIM card for your Philippines trip, remember:

  • For short trips (under a week), grab an eSIM or ready-to-use SIM card.
  • At airports, you might pay extra VAT.
  • Need a SIM right away? Airport shops are convenient but pricier (about 10-20% more).
  • Staying longer? Research and buy in the city for better deals and services.

2. Buy a SIM card in the Manila center

buy sim card in manila center

To get a SIM card with more choices than airport kiosks, check out these spots in Manila:

  • Carrier stores (Globe, Smart, DITO)
  • Supermarkets (7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Mini Stop)
  • Near universities (UP, Ateneo, La Salle)
  • Shopping malls (Robinson’s Galleria, SM Malls)
  • Online (Lazada, Shopee, Grab), or buy scratch cards and top-ups online (Paymaya, Gcash), or from local retailers and phone stores.

Note: Be sure to check the info before buying to avoid fakes or low-quality items from unauthorized dealers.

V. The Philippines eSIM card for Manila – Alternative to SIM Card for travelers

If your phone works with eSIM, choosing an eSIM is super handy compared to a regular SIM card when you’re off to Manila, Philippines. The big pluses of eSIM are how easy it is to get started and not having to fuss with changing SIM cards.

A bunch of network providers in the Philippines, like Globe, Smart, and DITO. Even though you might still need to show an ID or passport to get an eSIM, it’s usually less of a hassle than getting a traditional SIM card.

esim the philippines gigago

For the Philippines, Gigago offers multiple data plan options for eSIM, starting from 1GB/5 days with prices ranging from $10.50 . What’s great about Gigago’s Philippines eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $10.50$141.50 .

This means that regardless of the number of Internet users or the length of your trip in the Philippines, there is always an option that fits your needs with Gigago.

VI. What to Prepare to Buy a SIM card in Manila?

what to prepare to buy a sim card in manila

Below are things you must keep in mind when coming to Manila, Philippines:

  • Get your documents ready: Passport, recent photo, and a copy. Fill out any forms beforehand to speed things up.
  • Keep utility bills to show your foreign address if needed for legal reasons.
  • Ensure your phone works with GSM and 4G/LTE.
  • Look into daily or weekly data plans, they’re great for short trips.
  • Have an international credit/debit card ready, just in case cash isn’t an option.

VII. Extra Tips when Buying SIM card in Manila

Here are quick tips to make your trip better. These are just for recommendation – adjust them as you wish:

  • Think about getting a prepaid SIM card. It’s easy and helps control spending.
  • Ask for unlimited data deals. They’re great if you use a lot of data.
  • Try to talk down the price at small shops.
  • Download a local map app. Apps like Grab and Angkas make getting around easier.
  • Make sure the SIM works with your phone. Check the carrier’s tech details.
  • Consider a dual-SIM phone. You can use your home SIM and a local one at the same time.

Hope this helps!

VIII. FAQs about Buying a SIM card in Manila

Can I use my current SIM card in Manila?

Most likely, no. Your current SIM card may not work in the Philippines unless it’s an international roaming SIM.

Can I keep my current phone number with a Manila SIM card?

No, you’ll need to get a new local number when you purchase a SIM card in Manila.

How do I top up my Manila SIM card?

You can easily top up your Manila SIM card at authorized retailers, convenience stores, or through mobile apps.

IX. Conclusion

In a nutshell, getting a SIM card in Manila is a smart and cheap way for travelers to keep in touch. Look up your options, think about how much data you’ll need, and see if you can get an eSIM or unlimited data. Remember, you might need to show your ID to register. Follow the given tips for an easy time with your Manila SIM card, so you can enjoy your trip to the Philippines without any worries.