Data roaming guide - how to stay online during your holiday

Data roaming guide - how to stay online during your holiday

Nowadays, staying connected when you travel is incredibly easy. One might argue that you go online to seek the instant gratification of the fun you're having when you share a holiday post.

Most major hotels airports and restaurants offer free internet connection. Even Airbnb accommodations provide free Wi-Fi connection as one of their amenities.

It is understandable, however, that the more remote the destination you travel to, the less likely you get online. This prompts you to decide on whether you keep your local Singaporean SIM card open overseas, or have a tourist prepaid sim card instead.

However, travelers are still undecided over the best way to get connected during their trip.

Some opt to stay with their telco's data roaming for the convenience. Others prefer to use their holiday destination's SIM cards for cheaper packages.

To make your decision easier, here is a guide for you to make the right choice in terms of staying connected overseas.

Making the case for data roaming

For most travellers, data roaming is the quickest and most fuss-free method to stay connected while they're overseas

Setting up your data roaming is pretty simple, done either through your telco's customer service hotline, through an SMS or via the telco's app.

The real challenge is deciding if you should activate your telco's data roaming feature.


Instead of purchasing additional data for overseas use, M1 users can activate Data Passport to tap into their existing data bundle in 62 countries from as low as $10 per month.

Excess usage of local data bundles will be charged at $10.70 / GB with a monthly cap of $188.32.

Single Destination Multiple Destinations
M1 Data
Destinations M1 Data
$10 Data Passport Choose one of the destinations:
• Australia • Bangladesh
• Cambodia • Hong Kong
• Indonesia • Laos
• Macau • Malaysia
• New Zealand • Saudi Arabia
• South Africa • Sri Lanka
• Taiwan • Thailand
• United Arab Emirates • USA
Data Passport
Use across all 9 destinations:
• Brunei • Cambodia
• Indonesia • Laos
• Malaysia • Myanmar
• Philippines • Thailand
• Vietnam
$25 Data Passport Choose one of the destinations:
• Brazil • China
• Germany • India
• Italy • Japan
• Netherlands • Russia
• South Korea • Spain
• United Kingdom
$50 Asia
Data Passport
Use across all 23 destinations:
• Bangladesh • Brunei
• Cambodia • China
• Hong Kong • India
• Indonesia • Israel
• Japan • Laos
• Macau • Malaysia
• Myanmar • Nepal
• Pakistan • Philippines
• Saudi Arabia • South Korea
• Sri Lanka • Taiwan
• Thailand • United Arab Emirates
• Vietnam
$50 Europe
Data Passport
Use across all 35 destinations:
• Albania • Austria
• Belgium • Croatia
• Czech Republic • Denmark
• Estonia • Finland
• France • Germany
• Greece • Hungary
• Iceland • Ireland
• Italy • Jersey
• Latvia • Lithuania
• Luxembourg • Malta
• Montenegro • Netherlands
• Norway • Poland
• Portugal • Romania
• Russia • Slovakia
• Slovenia • Spain
• Sweden • Switzerland
• Turkey • United Arab Emirates
• United Kingdom
One time activation charge of
$2 per Data Passport
Flat $5 monthly charge for Multi-SIM users
(Regardless of number of Data Passports subscribed)

Alternatively, if you're close to busting your local data bundle, you can also tap into M1's unlimited data roaming plans.

This, however, is based on a flat fee per day, rather than a given amount of data.

Daily Data Charges Available Destinations
$15 Unlimited
Data Roaming
• Bangladesh • Cambodia • China
• Hong Kong • India • Indonesia
• Laos • Macau • Malaysia
• Saudi Arabia • Sri Lanka • Taiwan
• Thailand • USA
$25 Unlimited
Data Roaming
• Philippines • Japan • South Korea
• Aircraft Satellite
$10 Unlimited
Data Roaming
• United Arab Emirates
(Limited Period Only)


Singtel offers the ReadyRoam roaming bundles in four packages:

ReadyRoam Plans Price per GB Countries
Malaysia $5/GB Malaysia
9 Destinations $12/GB*
(U.P. $15/GB)
Australia, Brunei, Cambodia,
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia,
New Zealand, Philippines
and Thailand.
18 Destinations $20/GB Australia, Brunei, Cambodia,
China, Hong Kong, India,
Indonesia, Japan, Laos,
Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar,
New Zealand, Philippines,
South Korea, Taiwan,
Thailand and Vietnam.
56 Destinations $35/GB Australia, Austria, Bangladesh,
Belgium, Brunei, Canada,
Cambodia, China, Croatia,
Czech Republic, Denmark,
Egypt, Fiji, Finland, France,
Germany, Ghana, Greece,
Hong Kong, Hungary, India,
Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy,
Japan, Kenya, Laos, Macau,
Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia,
Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines,
Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia,
Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain,
Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland,
Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey,
UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam.

With the ReadyRoam, Singtel subscribers can get connected without spending for connectivity rentals, switching to foreign number or finding a local sim overseas.


StarHub provides roaming packages in 4G network to 230 destinations worldwide with its DataTravel roaming service.

  DataTravel Asia Pacific
Data Bundle 1GB for $5 over 3 days -
2GB for $15 over 30 days 2GB for $40 over 30 days
3GB for $20 over 30 days 3GB for $50 over 30 days
Supported destinations Asia Pacific:
Australia, Cambodia, China,
Hong Kong, Indonesia, India,
Japan, Korea, Myanmar,
Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand,
Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand,
Asia Pacific:
Australia, Cambodia, China,
Hong Kong, Indonesia, India,
Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Macau,
Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines,
Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

USA, Canada, United Arab Emirates

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria,
Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark,
Estonia, Finland, France, Germany,
Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland,
Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta,
Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway,
Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia,
Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK

Similarly, it also has an unlimited data roaming option to choose from with its DataTravel Unlimited plans.

StarHub DataTravel Unlimited Supported Destinations
$19/day Australia, Brunei, Cambodia,
Gabon, Hong Kong, India,
Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Macau,
Madagascar, Malaysia, Niger,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines,
Seychelles, South Korea, Sri Lanka,
Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda
$25/day Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda,
Bangladesh, Barbados, Cayman Islands,
Chile, China, Costa Rica, Dominica,
El Salvador, Grenada, Guernsey,
Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Luxembourg,
Montserrat, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama,
Papua New Guinea, Peru, Saudi Arabia,
St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent,
Turks and Caicos, Vietnam*, Uruguay
$30/day Albania, Argentina, Austria,
Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium,
Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands,
Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia,
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Croatia,
Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), Czech Republic,
Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt,
Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France,
Germany, Ghana, Greece,
Guam, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau,
Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland,
Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan,
Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania,
Macedonia (former Yugoslav), Malawi,
Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway,
Oman, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico,
Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa,
Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia,
South Africa, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago,
Turkey, U.A.E, UK, Ukraine,
US, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu,
Venezuela, Zambia

You will be able to monitor your usage since StarHub allows for alerts in three situations:

  • when you have 200MB remaining, when your full data is used
  • 24 hours before the expiration of your plan
  • 1 hour before the expiry of your bundle.

Getting a local SIM card? Take note of these points

Singaporean tourists who do not wish to use their data roaming bundles can always opt to buy SIM cards native to their destinations.

However, here are a few things you need to know.

Know your country of destination

After booking your flight, spend time reading about the places you are travelling to. Knowing the connectivity information of your destination will help you decide early on. You can also manage your expectations regarding connection speed and stability.

Requirements to purchase

Some countries require valid identifications before you can buy SIM cards while others make you go through a tedious registration process that may take up to two days before activation.

Check the compatibility of your mobile phones

Make sure that your phone works overseas. GSM phones are widely used abroad while CDMA technology may not always be supported. You won’t have any problems if your mobile phone supports 850/900/1800/1900 MHz bands specifications.

To combat terrorism, satellite phones are restricted in China, Cuba, India, Libya, Myanmar, and other destinations. In Nigeria, for instance, satellite phones are prohibited in Borno, Nigeria after militants used these in planning their attacks.

There are countries that do not allow the use of satellite phones – a kind of phone designed explicitly for world travellers.

Moreover, if you are using the non-satellite regular phone, make sure it is unlocked to use SIM cards from international networks.

Keep a lookout for free SIM cards at the airport

There are local network providers in some countries that provide free sim cards for tourists. Japanese start-up WAmazing offers tourist welcome packs with free sim car, reservation information and tour guide app. Foreign tourist with e-visas can also get pre-activated local sim cards for free. The free kit will have 50MB data and talk time of Rs50.

Tips to protect your data usage

Whether you are using roaming or local connection data, understand that getting connected while travelling comes with a lot of risks. Some destinations monitor everything even phone calls and transmittal of information. For your protection, make sure you:

  • Backup all your personal and financial information before travelling.
  • Do not loan your device to anyone.
  • Disable Wi-Fi when not in use primarily during free connections in public areas
  • Disable Bluetooth when not in use as individual devices or drives may lead to devise infections
  • Make sure you have protection for your password and apps are timed out after inactivity in all devices including tablets and laptops.
  • Refrain from using connections that are not encrypted with WPA
  • Avoid online shopping and banking when travelling out of the country
  • Report stolen or lost devices. Let your airlines, company, hotel, mobile provider or insurance company know that your mobile device is stolen. This will detect login information with certain apps and may lead to locating your lost phone.
  • If your mobile phone is compromised, change all personal and business passwords using another device.
  • Be careful with physical computers in internet cafes and public areas as these may have keystroke logging or other means of generating your personal information.
  • Test your phone for malware upon return to Singapore.
  • Monitor your bank accounts for suspicious transactions

Choosing between roaming data and local data packages should be easy if you consider your budget, the type of connectivity offered and the ease of use offered by these choices.