Being the social media and internet addict I am, I had to find a way to be connected with my phone when I was in Singapore. I spent a little time researching things and found a great resource that told me about data SIMs for Singapore. In case you aren’t technologically savvy, a SIM is a small computer chip that is inserted into each mobile phone. It is used to communicate with your network provider. When you travel overseas, you are using your domestic SIM which will charge you an arm and a leg for data wherever you go. If you are smart or lucky, you can get an unlocked phone. This will mean your phone can use any SIM and you can save a lot of money on roaming charges. In today’s connected world, you can easily do this in many countries but with various contracts, it can be difficult to get an unlocked phone from a mobile carrier. In Japan, thankfully Docomo will unlock any new phone for 3000 Yen, or around that. I did so because I want the freedom to use my phone when I am overseas and when I am at home and I’ll gladly pay up to 4000 Yen to keep connected for my stay.
The first thing to learn about getting a SIM in Singapore is to know what you want. I didn’t need to phone anyone so a data only SIM was enough. Most SIMs will come with a number anyways and it can be changed into a SIM with phone capabilities. Many carriers will want a contract, or a post-paid system where you pay for what you use. For travellers, you need a prepaid so that you can pay a single fee and then forget about it. In Singapore, you have a choice of Singtel, Starhub, and M1. There may be other companies but these 3 seem to be the biggest ones. When doing a price comparison, the 3 companies seemed to be pretty similar. The prices were almost the same but for me, M1 won because they were advertising the fastest speeds and a good 4G network. I can’t say if it is a good network or not, but if their marketing materials are to be believed, it is pretty good. The process of getting a SIM card is pretty simple, if you have what you need. I had a little trouble finding an M1 shop that could do it at first. I went to ION Orchard at first but they said their computer systems were down so I went to a shopping mall about 10 minutes away called Polygon. When I got there, I forgot one very important piece of information, my passport. In order to get a SIM card, you need a passport or some sort of Singaporean ID. I didn’t have either so I had to trudge back to my hotel and get the SIM card the next day. An inconvenience to say the least but I had to get my “fix”. It was pretty easy to get everything done. All I had to do was open up my phone, switch the SIM card, and they did the rest. Of course you can probably buy one at 7-11 as many told me to do, but I am not the best when it comes to these things. I basically paid and had them make sure it worked for me. I then walked out a happy internet addict.
When travelling the world, it can be important to stay connected. Having a data connection or even some talk time is essential. Having no phone, no internet, and no connection to the “world” made me realize how dependent I am on the internet these days and also to my smartphone. Having a data SIM on my first day would have helped me a lot as I wouldn’t have lost 20 minutes looking for my hotel as I would have had a map to my hotel at my fingertips. Having a data SIM would also have helped me keep on top of what was happening back home for the first couple days of my trip. In reality, at the time, I knew I could live without it. Now that my company is up and running, I really need to have a connection in order to process orders even when I’m on vacation. I’ll always work hard to find the best solution to keep connected wherever I go, but if I can’t, I know I can survive. Thankfully Docomo has made it much easier for me to keep connected by being the only carrier in Japan that unlocks phones for a fee. I’ll gladly pay that fee again, but if I choose not to, my current phone can still be my travel phone for wherever I go.