How to use your phone in Myanmar?

Phone Roaming Myanmar Yangon travel tourism

If you are preparing your future trip to Myanmar, you may be wondering how to communicate with your friends and family during your trip.

Whether you just want to update your relatives on your journey or show off your fabulous photo shots on Instagram or Facebook, you need to be able to communicate at some point in time.

Myanmar used to be a very close destination where mobile roaming was impossible, and a local SIM would cost you up to $1,000.

Luckily it is not the case anymore. since the telecom liberalization in 2013, you can enjoy mobile internet almost everywhere in the country.

How to use your phone in Myanmar?

There are different approaches here and each of these has pros and cons. It is really up to you to decide which one will best suit your needs.

Mobile roaming in Myanmar

The most straight forward way to use your mobile phone in Myanmar is international roaming. Roaming allows you to use your phone outside of your home mobile network. Roaming can become very expensive if your home country does not have an agreement with the destination country. If you are traveling from Europe or the US, we strongly discourage you to activate Internet roaming as it can become outrageously expensive.

If you decide to use your mobile device in roaming mode, you should first contact your mobile provider before your trip and ensure that the option is activated with your contract.

Once done, you can follow the below tutorial to activate mobile roaming on Android and IOS phones.

How to Handle Roaming on an Android Smartphone

How to Activate Roaming on Apple iPhone

If you are traveling from Asia, you may get lucky and enjoy affordable roaming rates. The best way to proceed is to once again contact your mobile provider before your travel.

For instance, Telenor Myanmar belongs to Telenor Group which is also present in Malaysia under the brand Digi or in Thailand under the brand DTAC. If you own a SIM from DTAC or Digi, there is a high chance you can roam on Telenor Myanmar for cheap!

Likewise, Mytel Myanmar is part of Viettel Group which is present in Vietnam or Lao PDR.

Get a local SIM!

If roaming is not an option for you, the best shot is to source a local sim card.

And don’t worry, it is very cheap! You can buy a local SIM card for $1 directly from most of the points of entry into Myanmar like Yangon or Mandalay Airport.

If you live in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, or Singapore, you can also pick up a Myanmar 4G SIM Card directly from your airport of departure. Visit Klook for more details.

Some of the mobile operators in Myanmar offer a Tourism SIM. This is simply a package that aims to make the visitor’s life easy and pain-free.  Telenor Tourism SIM costs Ks 6,500 (a bit less than $5 as we speak) and comes with 5GB of mobile data and Ks 1000 of balance for your voice calls.

Telenor Tourism SIM Tourist Hotel Yangon Myanmar Mandalay internet roaming travel

But Tourism SIM is just an option and you can decide to go for a standard prepaid SIM.

To buy a prepaid SIM, you would have to register so do not forget to bring your passport with you to the shop.

A prepaid SIM simply means that there is no contract and you simply pay your communications upfront, as you go. To credit your SIM, you would have to buy mobile top-ups. Mobile top-up can be purchased mostly everywhere in Myanmar. You can buy top-up vouchers also known as scratch cards to keep for later, or you can recharge electronically through a point of sales. Most of the supermarkets or retail stores in Myanmar can help you to recharge your mobile phone, look for the mobile operator sign on the door.

Once you have topped up your account, we recommend you to subscribe to a data package. That is more cost-effective than consuming data directly from your mobile wallet. On average, 1GB of data will cost you less than $1 in Myanmar. The package’s validity period ranges from 1 day to 30 days.

You have your SIM Card, great! That is the first step.

Here once again there are multiple options to benefit from the best digital experience when traveling through Myanmar.

Use a local SIM Card on your phone

That is probably the easiest option. You would have to make sure your smartphone is unlocked. If you are not sure, please contact your mobile provider before your trip.

Invest in a mobile hotspot

If you only care about data, you can invest in a mobile hotspot device. This device is super useful for group travelers as it allows you to share a single mobile connection between a group.

The device creates a small Wi-Fi network that is available on a limited range (a hotel room for instance).

Most of the hotspot devices are equipped with a battery that makes them portable.

Therefore, you can buy a local Myanmar Simcard at the airport and simply plug it into your hotspot.

If you wish to use your phone while traveling, simply attach your handset to your hotspot network and you are good to go!

The mobile hotspot is quite cost-effective and price from $50 to $150.

Here is a good selection of mobile hotspot devices available on Amazon.com

Huawei E5573Cs-609 Unlocked 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot Router 150 Mbps

Huawei E5577Cs-321 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot

If you run out of time, don’t worry, you can also buy this type of device in Myanmar.

There are two stores that we would recommend to shop for electronics in Myanmar: Yangon Mobile Store and Unique Computers. You will find below all their locations in Myanmar:

  1. Yangon Mobile Stores in Myanmar
  2. Unique Computer Stores in Myanmar

Invest in a cheap smartphone

This option is truly my favorite. If you are traveling on your own as opposed to a travel tour, you would likely have to call people in Myanmar whether this is to hail a ride, reach your hotel or book a table at a restaurant. Therefore, you might need the capability to place domestic calls.

Myanmar is best visited by road or train. Skip the flight and take the time to experience the countryside. Traveling by bus is easy and cheap in Myanmar. Bus routes are managed by a wide range of private companies serving most parts of Myanmar. Myanmar buses are comfortable and mostly safe. Nowadays, you can even book your bus ticket online.

yangon bus myanmar tourism tourist phone travel tour guide

Bus Yangon – Mandalay

If you decide to hit the road, you may experience from time to time spotty coverage despite the major progress achieved by mobile operators over the years. That is why it could be wise to invest in a Dual Sim smartphone.

This will allow you to use two local SIM cards from two different operators and swap from one to the other if you experience a lack of coverage.

If you don’t know which local telecom operator to choose, you can take a look at the latest report from OpenSignal. As per October 2019, Mytel and Telenor were the best two networks in Myanmar in terms of 4G availability.

Remember that this cheap smartphone can also be used as a hotspot if you still wish to continue using your regular phone for your daily use.

When it comes to choosing a cell phone for Myanmar, make sure to not buy a phone under a contract that will probably be sim locked.

Xiaomi is a brand extremely popular in Myanmar. As such, you can go wrong with this brand whether you buy it before or during your trip. If you are not too tech-savvy, you can be sure that people on the ground know their way around Xiaomi mobile phones and would be able to help you, may you face any challenge with the technology.

These are a few cell phones that you can invest in before your trip:

Under $100:

Xiaomi Redmi 7A

  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 439 Octa-core processor
  • 4000mAh day battery
  • 12MP AI Sony IMX486 rear camera
  • 13.8cm (5.45) HD+ display
  • 3G HSDPA and 4G LTE band, Dual SIM Slots
  • Support 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS, Face Identification

Around $150:

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8

  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 665
  • 4000mAh high-capacity battery
  • 48MP AI quad camera
  • 90% high screen-to-body ratio
  • 3G HSDPA and 4G LTE band, Dual SIM Slots
  • Support 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS, Face Identification

If you run out of time, once again, electronics in Myanmar are cheap! You will find a better deal on the ground than in your home country. Rest assured that if you buy a smartphone in-country, you will be able to use it back home.

Visit Yangon Mobile Store or Unique Computers to shop for electronics.

Conclusion

“Not all those who wander are lost.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Myanmar is an extraordinary country to visit. As you take your journey on the road to Mandalay or sailing the Inle Lake, your memories will be best shared with your friends and family.

But don’t forget to switch off. A lack of coverage can be a real pain but also a blessing to disconnect for a while and truly enjoy the moment.


Make the best out of your trip with our 5 best free apps for traveling in Myanmar.

Did you pick your hotel in Yangon? Take a look at our Top 10 Hotels in Yangon!

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