How To Use Cell Phone In Malaysia: Traveler’s Guide To Stay Connected

Using a cell phone while traveling in Malaysia can be confusing for visitors.  This guide provides key information on options to use cell phone in Malaysia as a traveler, main Malaysian mobile carriers, how to set up mobile data for your phone, etc. Follow the tips here to seamlessly use your phone in Malaysia.

How To Use Cell Phone In Malaysia: Traveler’s Guide To Stay Connected

I. Highlights of Phone Compatibility, Frequencies, and Networks in Malaysia

Here are some typical aspects of the compatibility, frequencies, and networks of phones in Malaysia that we have just found for you:

  • Malaysia uses GSM networks. For 2G networks, it will operate at 900/1800 MHz. For 3G and 4G LTE networks, the system will operate at 2100 MHz. The fundamental standards are GSM, UMTS, and LTE.
  • There are four mobile networks in Malaysia. They are Celcom, Maxis, Digi, and U Mobile. Especially, Celcom and Maxis are known as the largest network coverage in Malaysia.
  • The widest coverage across Malaysia is 4G LTE. It can reach most urban and suburban areas. 5G networks can be accessed in certain cities and areas in Malaysia.
  • Both prepaid and postpaid plans are available from carriers. Prepaid SIM cards can be bought by anyone including foreign visitors. Moreover, international roaming is also supported for people visiting Malaysia.

II. Use Cell Phone in Malaysia – Will My Phone Work?

Use Cell Phone in Malaysia
You can use cell phone in Malaysia to connect with everyone.

Yes, your cell phone can work in Malaysia if it suits the frequency bands used in Malaysia. Moreover, you can check with the mobile operators to ensure your phone type can work well in Malaysia.

The first way to check your phone frequency bands is to use a tool. For example, there will be an app called Kimovil Frequency Checker to check your phone frequency bands. Let’s provide some detailed information about your cell phone model. This app will show the compatibility of your phone with networks in Malaysia. Plus, you also receive information on whether your phone is compatible with Malaysia mobile operators in Malaysia like Celcom, Digi, Maxis, and U Mobile.

You can refer to some details about the frequency bands of Malaysian mobile operators below:

Phone operatorsTechnology
Band 5GBand 4GBand 3GBand 2G
Celcomn26 (850), n28a (700), n28b (700), n78 (3500)B3 (1800), B7 (2600)B1 (2100)B3 (1800), B8 (900)
Digin26 (850), n28a (700), n28b (700), n78 (3500)B1 (2100), B3 (1800), B7 (2600), B8 (900), B28a (700), B28b (700)B3 (1800), B8 (900)
Maxisn78 (3500), n257 mmWave (28GHz)B1 (2100), B3 (1800), B7 (2600), B28a (700)B3 (1800), B8 (900)
U Mobilen26 (850), n28a (700), n78 (3500), n257 mmWave (28GHz)B3 (1800), B7 (2600), B28a (700)B3 (1800), B8 (900)

III. Do I Need An International Plan In Malaysia?

Yes. Everyone, especially tourists, should have an international plan in Malaysia. In Malaysia, buying a travel data package or getting a local SIM card will be a good option to manage your mobile costs. However, if you choose the option of providing international roaming plans from your home service, it will cost you a lot of money.

Although travelers can use Free Wifi to access the Internet, however, it still has some drawbacks. For example, it will be impossible for you to use wifi if you are not near a Wi-Fi hotspot. Especially, using Wifi is not safe enough to protect your personal information and security.

Hence, if you are considering using international data plans, you should know how to optimize your data to avoid roaming fees. For instances:

  • You can connect to Wi-Fi to look for free Internet surfing.
  • Before your trip, download offline maps of your destination using mapping apps like Google Maps or HERE WeGo!
  • You should remember to turn off automatic app updates and downloads as they can consume a significant amount of data. 
  • Let’s enable data-saving settings on your device and apps to save data usage.
  • You can consider using local SIM cards or travel data packages.

IV. What are International Plan Options for Using Cell Phone In Malaysia for Tourists?

Use cell phone in Malaysia
How many international plan options for using cell phone in Malaysia for tourists?

There are 03 main options for using cell phones in Malaysia: eSIM, SIM cards, and Pocket Wifi.

1. eSIM Plan for Malaysia

An eSIM plan is good for your Malaysia trip due to its conveniences. You do not need to wait for a long time for delivery or a complicated process like using a SIM card. Users can buy an eSIM online and activate it by scanning the QR code.

An eSIM is suitable for anyone, especially tourists and backpackers. However, you should check your phone to ensure the phone model can use an eSIM or not.

So, where to buy eSIM in Malaysia? You can buy Malaysian eSIMs from mobile service providers in Malaysia, such as Maxis, Celcom, Digi, and U Mobile. Plus, you can buy online from these providers or via GIGAGO eSIM – one of the top online eSIM operators.

Note: To use eSIM, your phone must be eSIM-compatible. See our updated list of eSIM supported devices.

2. International SIM card for Malaysia

An international Malaysian SIM card is also another choice for tourists. When using your phone with a SIM card, you can save your budget without costing too much for roaming charges. Moreover, there are many prepaid options and good network coverage in Malaysia.

However, your international SIM card can be limited by local phone numbers and the additional setup steps are quite complicated.

Tourists can buy a SIM card online platforms via SimOptions, TravelSim, and OneSimCard, as well as buy directly from kiosks or stores at Malaysian airports.

Travelers with unlocked devices, short-term visitors, and frequent travelers who visit multiple countries, including Malaysia are suitable to use an SIM card.

3. Pocket WiFi

The final option we would like to mention to you is to use pocket Wifi. Using pocket WiFi in Malaysia is convenient and portable for tourists to access the Internet access. Moreover, it provides for multiple devices with reliable connectivity. Plus, users can control costs over data usage and a pocket wifi is easy to set up.

However, users need to carry an additional device. And its power will be limited because of relying on battery energy. 

Tourists can buy pocket wifi from mobile service providers such as Maxis, Celcom, Digi, and U Mobile, as well as online platforms like Amazon to get Internet when they use cell phone in Malaysia.

A pocket Wifi will suit groups of travelers, digital nomads, and travelers with devices incompatible with local SIM cards or eSIMs.

V. Will My Local Network Work In Malaysia?

Use cell phone in Malaysia
Tourists can use cell phone in Malaysia with a local network but it is limited.

To know whether or not your home cellular network can work in Malaysia, you need to consider these factors: network compatibility, roaming costs, and alternatives.

Most likely possible. The compatibility of your local network in Malaysia will depend on your home service provider’s network technology and the frequency bands supported by your device. If your provider operates using compatible technology and frequency bands, your local network should work in Malaysia through roaming agreements.

However, some devices may not support the necessary frequency bands, resulting in limited or no connectivity when you use cell phone in Malaysia. It’s best to contact your provider to inquire about international roaming services and network compatibility. They can provide specific information and alternative options if your device is not compatible.

Most importantly, you have to pay extra fees or roaming fees to access the Internet when using cell phone in Malaysia. Plus, the roaming fee is quite high. If you do not notice, you have to pay more after finishing your trip. Hence, a better way should be purchasing a local SIM card or using an international roaming plan to optimize your budget.

VI. Gigago eSIM – An Alternative To Get Internet In Malaysia With Your Cell Phone

Malaysia eSIM by Gigago - ways to use cell phone in Malaysia

An eSIM will indeed be the main alternative option when you use cell phone in Malaysia to get Internet while traveling. It is worth buying because we can easily buy and set up an eSIM and there are several package plans to choose from for you to use cell phone in Malaysia.

So, which Malaysia eSIM provider should you choose for your trip?
Gigago eSIM is one of top providers that promises to offer you the plan that can fit your needs and budget. Gigago’s plans are the most diversifying in compared with other providers in the market.

Consider the eSIM plan features, the data allowance, the duration, and price, you can choose the most suitable one for your needs.

For Malaysia, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from a 5-day plan with 1GB per day for $5 as their most minimal plan. They also have 7-day, 15-day, and 30-day plans ranging from 1GB to 50GB of total data, or 1GB to 3GB per day, with prices from $5 up to $89.50.

See more details about Malaysia eSIM plans from GIGAGO.

VII. Extra Tips To Use Cell Phone in Malaysia

Here are some additional tips for you to use cell phone in Malaysia:

  • You should ensure that your phone is unlocked and compatible with the network frequencies used in Malaysia. 
  • You should remember to contact your home service provider to activate international roaming before you travel to Malaysia, which helps you use your existing phone number and enjoy seamless connectivity. 
  • You had better be aware of roaming charges because it can be expensive when you use cell phone in Malaysia.
  • Buying a local SIM card is worth considering in Malaysia for cost savings and better local network coverage.
  • You can take advantage of Wifi to save money and avoid data roaming charges when you use cell phone in Malaysia.

VIII. Conclusion

In conclusion, if you use cell phone in Malaysia, you should ensure compatibility and activate international roaming. Plus, you can purchase a local SIM card for better coverage and cost savings or connect to Wi-Fi hotspots to conserve data. Plus, buying an eSIM plan will be considered a good option for tourists to use cell phone in Malaysia.