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Best SIM in the Philippines for Travelers: Globe, Smart or Sun Cellular?

Whether you’re a local or a foreign tourist, it pays to stay connected whenever traveling in the Philippines. Make sure to bring a cell phone with a reliable SIM, but if you’re a lost as to which is the best SIM in the Philippines for travelers – then we’ll break it down for you.

Why Purchase a Local SIM Card?

A SIM card has multiple uses, making it so beneficial for a traveler. For one, it can be used whenever you’re lost and you need GPS. You can easily go on a trip, open your device, and track your location on the map.

Foreigners can easily contact their family and friends overseas, should there be an emergency. Having a SIM card also allows you to transfer funds via online banking.

Travelers showing a SIM card

Good Wi-Fi may be hard to come by in the Philippines. This is why having a SIM card with sufficient balance is definitely a priority among backpackers.

Additionally, when you book a tour, the agency usually asks for your mobile number so they can easily relay details about the trip. By having a SIM card, you can also book a hotel or make an inquiry without any hassle.

Where to Get a SIM Card?

It’s not difficult to find a SIM card seller in the Philippines. The locals love phones and texting – you can even ask them where the nearest store is.

Inserting a SIM card

Here are some of the places where you can get a local sim:

1. Airport

You can find counters at the local airport selling SIM cards. Note that SIM cards are a little more pricey here.

2. Street-Side Stores

As mentioned earlier, SIM cards are easy to find in the Philippines. You can buy one at mini stores, grocery shops, and supermarkets. Roadside stores often have a display of local SIM banners – it’s quite impossible to miss them.

3. Phone Shop

There are various phone shops inside the malls in the Philippines. These shops also offer mobile gadget repair services and sell old cell phones of various models.

Choosing the Best SIM

SIM cards are cheap in the Philippines. You can usually buy one for only P20 to P40. There are currently three primary carriers to choose from – Globe, Smart, and Sun.

Check out how they compare based on their data offers, among others.

1. Globe Telecom

Prepaid customers will be charged a browsing rate of P5 per 15 minutes for time-based browsing or P2 per megabyte for volume-based browsing.

Postpaid customers, on the other hand, are charged P2 per megabyte. You may apply for a postpaid plan through Globe’s online store or through any of their branches.

Globe Telecom
Editorial credit: walterericsy /

• Data Packages

Currently, Globe offers data packages called GoSURF and SuperSURF. It’s highly recommended that you to choose the latter if you’re heavy on data. The former data package best fits tourists who use their cell phones for calling and casual internet browsing.

Refer to the tables below to see the data caps of these packages:

Rate Data Validity Rate Data Validity
P15 40MB 2 Days PHP50 800MB/Day 1 Day
P50 1GB 3 Days PHP120 3 Days
P299 1.5GB 30 Days PHP200 5 Days
P599 4GB 30 Days PHP999 30 Days
P999 8GB 30 Days

• Globe TravelSurf

Travelers may also avail Globe TravelSurf, a local service that offers free prepaid SIM packs tailored for tourists.

It is available in NAIA Terminals 1, 3, and 4, and domestic airports such as Cebu, Davao, Clark, and Caticlan. The offers include:

  • Travel3 with 250MB mobile data and a three-day validity (P150)
  • Travel7 with 1GB mobile data + P200 credit valid with a seven-day validity (P500)
  • Travel30 with 5GB mobile data with a three-day validity (P1,000)

Just text the code (those in italics) to 8888 and wait for the activation message.

2. Smart Communications

The standard mobile Internet rate for Smart is P5 per 15 minutes, regardless if the user has a prepaid or a postpaid account. You can make the most out of your money by subscribing to Smart’s data promos.

Visit Smart’s online store or any physical branch to apply for a postpaid plan.

Smart Communications
Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

• Data Packages

Smart Communications currently offers four data packages–Surf Max, Big Bytes, All Out Surf, and Giga Surf–all of which use 2G, 3G and 4G or LTE where available.

The following tables list the varying data caps for these packages:

SurfMax Big Bytes
Rate Data Validity Rate Data Validity
P50 800MB/Day 1 Day P5 15MB 1 Day
P299 7 Day P10 40MB 2 Days
P999 30 Days P15 40MB 2 Days
P30 100MB 1 Day


All Out Surf Giga Surf
Rate Data Validity Rate Data Validity
P20 150MB 1 Day P50 1GB 3 Days
P30 300MB 2 Days P99 1.5GB 7 Days
P50 500MB 3 Days P299 2GB 30 Days
P99 1GB 7 Days P499 3.5GB 30 Days
P799 3.5GB 30 Days

• The Smart LTE Tourist SIM

Show your passport to claim your free Smart LTE Tourist SIM upon arrival at any international airport in the Philippines.

Upon activation of this SIM card, you will receive 300MB of data valid for three days. You will also be given an additional 700MB if you refill your balance with at least P30 within three days of activation.

3. Sun Cellular

Sun Cellular is known for its generosity when it comes to data promos. It lets its users choose from regular to unlimited surfing as well as data combos.

• Data Promos: Prepaid vs. Postpaid

SunCellular prepaid subscribers will be charged P5 per 15 minutes or P15 for an hour of data usage. To get the most out of their money, prepaid users are advised to take advantage of Non-Stop Surf Plans. They only need to text the code to 247:

Code Rate Data
NONSTOP25 P25/Day 25MB
NONSTOP100 P100/5 Days 250MB
NONSTOP450 P450/3 Days 1GB

If you’re a local and have a postpaid plan with SunCellular, note that though they don’t offer as many options as their competitors. Their postpaid plans with data usage include:

Plan Data
Sun Bigtime Plan 399 1GB
Sun Bigtime Plan 599 2GB

Aside from the SIM’s data offerings, you have other factors to consider when choosing the best SIM to use. Every SIM performs differently depending on your location and the weather, to name a few factors.

It’s also advisable to use the same SIM most of your friends use, so you can save on the SIM’s balance whenever you send regular texts or make calls.


Travel around the Philippines with the best SIM you have thought of! Visit Traveloka for exciting deals on flight and hotel bookings!