If you haven't come across eSims yet then you’ve come to the right place!
eSims are exploding at the moment as more and more companies offer a new practical way of accessing the internet on your smartphone when travelling.
Brad and I started using eSims for international travel back in 2021 and it was a game changer for our travels. Gone are the days of having to walk around stores trying to get a local sim, handing your passport over, and sometimes having a few language barriers.
Not to mention, there’s now less chance of me losing my actual sim card (yes, this has happened almost quite a few times!).
Below we are going to take you through the BEST eSims for South East Asia.
A region where data is typically quite cheap, and these eSim choices reflect the best value deals for the convenience of travelling around SouthEast Asia.
But, first things first….
An eSIM is a form of SIM card that is embedded directly into the device.
So to put it simply, it’s a digital version of your standard SIM Card.
You can activate and use an eSIM by purchasing and installing an eSIM plan onto your phone, and then using this to connect to mobile networks all over the globe.
As it’s totally virtual and digital it means you don't need to insert a physical card into your phone, so you don't have to faff around with SIM card removal, and overall it makes the process quicker.
Unlike using portable WiFi, or a mobile WiFi hotspot, you don’t have to use any external devices to access the internet.
Kicking off this list of eSIM data plans is Jetpac.
They won an award for 2023 Travel Product of the Year with Asia Telecom Awards, so they can’t be a bad choice of Asia eSIM!
Jetpac offer a variety of different plans including a country specific plan, regional and global plan.
The plans also include a decent amount of data so you’re safe in the knowledge that you’ve got enough internet to keep you going throughout your trip.
Jetpack offers a couple of Southeast Asia specific plans, the backpacker and the explorer, which offer 5gb and 20gb respectively.
They cover the top 5 Southeast Asian destinations - Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
They also have a Global Globetrotter plan which operates in the 50 most popular destinations around the world.
Jetpac are unique in that they offer complimentary airport lounge access if your flight is delayed, through their ‘Smart Delay’ program.
If the airline announces a delay that meets the qualifying delay threshold, or if your flight is cancelled you’ll be sent a LoungeKey voucher which gives you access to a network of over 1000 airport lounges around the globe.
Check out our full review here.
Advantages of Jetpack Travel for South East Asia:
Disadvantages of Jetpack Travel for South East Asia:
Maya Mobile provides a great value service, and has to be one of the best priced eSIMS on the market.
There’s a lot of different options when it comes to Southeast Asian eSIMs, as they have a variety of different Asia packages.
You can choose from 5,10,15 and 30 day plans. Within each there’s a large choice of different data packages from as little as 3gb, all the way up to unlimited data.
Of course these gradually increase in price, but as people who work online full time, we found the unlimited package to suit us perfectly, and it didn’t cost us an arm and a leg.
Their Asia eSIMs cover 12 asian countries (and a few more too!): Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, and are inclusive of 5G (where available).
This is great as you could get a 30 day plan with unlimited data, and not miss out as you move between countries.
These longer plans also have auto-renew features so it simply rolls over if you’re travelling for longer periods, and you don’t need to worry about suddenly going offline.
Another great benefit of Maya Mobile is that you can hotspot the data, which not all eSIM providers allow.
Advantages of Maya Mobile for Southeast Asia:
Disadvantages of Maya Mobile for Southeast Asia:
Eskimo is a great choice for a straightforward Asia eSIM. They offer simple global data plans which work in over 80 countries, including the following in Southeast Asia - Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The global nature of the eSIM makes it super easy and convenient if you’re travelling for a long period and likely to be country hopping.
All of their sims are valid for 2 years which is an amazing feature, as you don’t need to worry about your internet expiring, and you don’t need to keep chopping and changing between SIMs every month or so.
Like Maya Mobile you are able to hotspot data from Eskimo to an unlimited number of devices, which is certainly essential for digital nomads like us!
Something that sets Eskimo out from the rest, is the data transfer feature.
This means you can share, transfer or split data with anyone, anywhere, so if someone you meet on the road needs to steal a bit of data, you can simply give them some of yours.
Check out our full review here.
Advantages of Eskimo for Southeast Asia:
Disadvantage of Eskimo for Southeast Asia:
Holafly offers a fantastic unlimited eSIM data plan, available from 5 up to 30 days.
Whilst in other countries Holafly offer longer plans, they don’t offer an eSIM for longer than 30 days in Asia.
There are 11 countries covered in the Holafly Asia SIM - South Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Laos.
Unfortunately there isn’t a hotspot option with Holafly. This won’t matter if you aren’t using multiple devices, however if you work on the road and use a laptop it might be a problem.
Advantages of Holafly for Southeast Asia:
Disadvantages of Holafly for Southeast Asia:
Rounding up this list of the best eSIM for Asia is Airalo.
They’re a well established company in the eSIM game. They’ve been around since 2019 and have garnered over 5 million users since then.
They’ve also become well-known for their great customer services, offering prompt and helpful responses.
Their Asia plans are available in 14 countries - Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
There are also local eSIMs for singular countries, as well as global options.
One of the best things about Airlo is their super user friendly app which allows you to switch between SIMs easily. You can also easily look through all your different eSIM options here, so you can be sure you’ve made the best choice.
Using the Airlo app means you can join their rewards system where you can collect credits to top up your eSIMs and collect points each time you purchase new plans.
Using an eSim means you can readily switch between different plans depending on your needs.
And you can easily make the switch by just virtually changing carriers on your phone.
When you’re travelling Southeast Asia it’s likely you’ll travel around numerous different countries, and the great thing about eSims is they work in multiple different countries.
As I said before, it’s likely you’ll visit numerous different countries during your Southeast Asia trip, and it can be a pain having to sort out a new SIM card whenever you arrive in a new country.
There’s enough going on at the arrivals terminal without having to think about a SIM card too!
eSIMS are already embedded onto your phone so you can get online as soon as the plane lands.
Using prepaid data plans when you travel saves a lot of time, and is ideal if you work online!
Physical SIM cards aren’t always the most cost effective way, and you’ll find you can get scammed at the airports, thinking you’ve got a good deal but actually there’s very little data for you to use.
You usually have to buy a data package alongside the actual SIM card, or if you opt for a roaming package with your current SIM these too can be really expensive!
eSIMS usually work out cheaper, especially if you’re travelling frequently and longer term.
The last thing you want to be doing in the airport is fumbling around with tiny SIM cards, and having an eSIM removes this hassle.
And there may have been one or two times where I’ve misplaced my actual SIM card which is never good!
So all the more reason to go for an eSIM.
There are lots of smartphones now which have a dual SIM card tray, but it can still be a bit of a hassle having to swap the cards out.
It’s always useful to keep hold of your number as it’s the contact number family, and friends have for you, and if you work abroad it’s likely a number you might need for business purposes.
If your phone was to stop working and you needed to switch your SIMs, this is hard with an eSIM as it is totally embedded in your device.
You’ll need to download the eSIM from the cloud which takes longer to complete than simply switching a physical SIM.
There are only certain models of smartphones which are compatible with eSIMs. We have a full list of these below.
All iPads with 4G connectivity that have come out since 2018 support eSIM:
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 4G or 5G is not compatible with eSIM.
Basically, if you’ve got a new phone, then an eSIM will work (probably even multiple eSIMS), but if your phone isn’t on the above list, or is older than the list, then the chances are it will not be compatible with an eSIM.
We hope you've found this eSIM guide useful! If you need eSIMs for other countries and regions, then check out our other guides.