If you want to use your phone for internet or calls in Indonesia and Bali, probably the best way to go about it is to buy a SIM card from one of the local operators.
Our quick guide to SIM cards in Bali will help you decide on which package to use on the island.
Bali Tourist SIM Cards Vs Bali Prepaid SIM Card
There are a bunch of online deals for tourist SIMs that you can pre-purchase before coming to Bali with promises of delivery at the airport or your hotel.
We can’t see any real advantages over standard prepaid SIM Cards in these offerings, they aren’t any cheaper and it’s so easy to get a SIM card at the airport on arrival that you don’t really need to trek around looking for a pickup point.
Physical SIM Card VS E-SIM Card In Bali
An E-SIM is a virtual SIM card that can be used in certain handsets. Unfortunately, e-SIM isn’t commonly available in Bali, yet and most networks here don’t supply an E-SIM.
Smartfren does have an E-SIM but it offers less coverage than other networks and isn’t as reliable.
Where To Buy A SIM In Bali?
There are plenty of places to buy a Bali SIM card on the island and you can easily find your new SIM card at any of the following places:
Denpasar Airport/Ngurah Rai International Airport Booth – as you might expect, there are plenty of places to buy a SIM card at Bali Airport. As you leave the luggage claim area at Denpasar Airport and pass through customs, you will find booths from all major telecom providers on the island. They usually offer a special tourist SIM Card deal and it’s very quick to buy and set up a prepaid SIM card at the airport. Last time we did this, we bought a pair of SIMs and we were both set up in less than 10 minutes.
Local Provider Shops & Booths – if you don’t pick up a Bali SIM Card at the airport, there are plenty of branded booths and shops around Bali. You can find a Tekomsel booth, for example, at the supermarket just up the road from FINNS, the world’s best beach club. These offer similar data package deals as you would find at the airport and normally have no queues at all. If you decide you want to use a local internet package and didn’t set up your data plan at the airport, this is the easiest way to stay connected.
Local Phone Stores – local phone stores are also a good way to get your Bali SIM Card set up. However, we’d recommend using a big brand store as some of the smaller stores may not have English-speaking staff or worse, they may have a compromised card machine that clones your payment card.
Street Vendors – you may save a buck or two by buying a Bali SIM card from a street vendor. However, you need to ensure that the registration process is 100% complete before you leave the vendor and we’d recommend that you only pay in cash.
You can use Google Maps to find any of these vendors and Google Maps is a great way to navigate around Bali too once you’ve got a data package up and running.
The Biggest Providers Of Prepaid SIM Cards In Bali
Generally, we’d recommend that you opt for a Telkomsel SIM Card while you’re here.
They offer a top-quality network and a choice between data only and calls and data packages.
If your trip to Bali is also going to include time in Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, or other parts of Indonesia, you will be glad you chose this provider for your data needs as they will keep you online almost everywhere.
Their stand at the airport is bright pink and you can’t miss it.
Find the details of their latest tourist offers here.
XL Axiata is a decent provider with the best service in Bali in Badung and Denpasar.
Their network is expanding and they are racing to catch up with Telkomsel.
However, their coverage in Ubud is still patchy.
It’s worth noting that they have the best app of any network in Bali and it makes checking data usage, your balance and topping up super easy.
The network’s packages are much more limited than Tekomsel and the lower price reflects that.
You can find the latest XL Axiata deals here.
You won’t get 5G internet from this provider, but they will keep you online using the 4G backbone on the island.
Their coverage isn’t great but they are very cheap and you get very good value top-up packages from them too.
If you’re looking for a backup SIM card and intend to use free WiFi as your main option in Bali, this could be a good choice.
Find the latest Indosat Ooredoo offers here.
If you want an e-SIM Card then you will need to use Smartfren, for the moment, their coverage isn’t great but they are good value for money.
You also get unlimited WhatsApp use for free! So, if that’s your favourite messaging client, you’ll be very happy.
Learn more about Smartfren deals here.
Using An International SIM Card in Bali
You can easily stay connected using international SIM cards, assuming your mobile network at home supports roaming, however, you’re going to find that data usage and mobile internet charges tend to be much higher than using data packages on a local SIM Card.
Calls are likely to be even more expensive unless you use a Voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) app to use your data package rather than running up your call bill.
If you want to use your usual SIM card rather than buying prepaid SIM cards in Bali, make sure to contact your network operator before you leave and see that your roaming service has been activated.
Don’t Forget The Abundance Of Free WiFi
While prepaid SIM cards are better value than using SIM cards from back home, there’s no doubt that in an age of free WiFi, you don’t necessarily need a SIM card at all.
If you’re only planning to stay in your resort and rarely, if ever, make trips to the more remote areas of Bali, you can easily rely on free WiFi services.
It’s not as convenient as using SIM cards, but it’s way cheaper than phone credit, internet packages, etc. on a Bali SIM too.
Which SIM Is Best In Bali?
We don’t sell SIM cards. However, in our experience, Telkomsel is the best network in Bali. It tends to offer the best coverage, particularly in the popular parts of the island, and that’s the most important thing when it comes to staying connected.
Their internet packages are reasonably priced and their mobile internet services are reliable. You can easily pick up one of their SIMs at Bali airport and they offer tourist packages that can help you save money over their standard data plan.
The only downside of tourist SIMs is that they expire after 90 days and cannot be renewed.
This only matters if you’re looking for the best SIM card for long-term use as an expat, as a holidaymaker, it won’t matter, you will just bin the SIM when you’re done with it.
Is It Worth Getting A SIM Card In Bali?
Yes, we would recommend that you stay connected by buying a local SIM card in Bali. It’s going to be the cheapest way of making phone calls, sending text messages and using the Internet while you’re here on the island. Well, apart from public WiFi points, that is. They’re usually free.
Can I Use My Australian Mobile In Bali? Can I Use My Australian Phone In Bali?
There are two answers to this question. If you intend to use the SIM card from your Australian network provider, you just need to ask your network to enable roaming services and you’re free to use the phone in Indonesia.
However, if you want to use the best SIM card from the local SIM cards (or travel SIM cards) then you need to ensure that your handset has been unlocked from your network.
To get a handset unlocked, you will normally have to have paid for the handset in full and have reached the end of the initial contract with your Australian network.
Your Australian network will be able to advise on whether they can unlock your handset and if so, whether there are any fees that you need to pay for this service.
In some cases, it may be cheaper to buy a low-cost “SIM-free” handset rather than pay to unlock your usual phone for use in Bali.
We would note that using your home SIM card is often expensive compared to a travel SIM Card or local SIM card.
Even if you’re visiting multiple countries, it’s often cheaper to buy a local SIM card from other providers in every place you visit than to run on data only from your home network.
What Documents Do I Need For A Sim Card In Bali?
The only document you need to buy a prepaid SIM card in Bali is your passport.
The vendor will make a copy of your main passport page when you buy your Bali SIM Card and then submit it to the network to activate your SIM card.
This process is secure and your internet package and any call time are usually activated within 2-3 minutes of your purchase being processed.
Final Thoughts On SIM Cards In Bali
It’s always a good idea to have a local data package in Bali, it makes staying connected cheaper and easier than using your data plan from back home.
It can be a challenge to know exactly how much data you have with the local networks but as top-ups are cheap here, that’s not the end of the world.
We think your trip to Bali (or Indonesia as a whole) is going to be better if your phone and date needs are met for a fair price.
So, pick up a SIM card at the airport and then come and let your hair down at FINNS rather than worrying about facing a huge roaming bill when you get home.