Getting a prepaid SIM card & Internet Data in Kuching or any division in Sarawak for that matter (Like Samarahan, Serian, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri, Limbang) is never easy if you are not familiar with the place.
But at this age, we all need to stay connected, and I know for a fact that it is difficult to choose which telco could serve you best when you are roaming Kuching.
Knowing that, I’ve decided to write this basic guide for those of you interested to get a prepaid SIM for your use in Kuching, and Sarawak. Note that the info here is correct at post time.
TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES IN KUCHING
Well, like the rest of Malaysia, Kuching has a generous number of telecommunication companies (telcos) providing communication services which include data/internet quota for your use. The main ones are Maxis (Hotlink), Digi, Celcom (Xpax), Umobile and recently, Unifi Mobile. Adding to those major four are MVNOs like Altel, OneXOX, Tune Talk, XOX Mobile, RedONE, Friendi mobile and Buzzme.
NETWORK COVERAGE FOR INTERNET DATA IN KUCHING
Nationwide (Malaysia), Celcom (Xpax) has the best 2G & 3G coverage, while Maxis has the best 4G/LTE coverage. Coverage for Internet Data in Kuching in rural areas for all telcos remains patchy but reasonably good in major towns. Locals consider Celcom as having the widest coverage, while Maxis has the fastest. If you are spending most of your time in the city, I would highly recommend Maxis (Hotlink) for their speeds, but if you are going and and out of the city, Celcom is your best bet. Interestingly however, Digi is strong in Lundu/Sematan, so consider getting them if you are spending the majority of your time at that area.
REGULATIONS BEFORE USING A SIM
Buying a new SIM is easy but it is noted that the Malaysian government makes SIM card registration mandatory and you can only activate your SIM once your information has been submitted. This means, tourist and locals must send in their personal information upon buying a SIM Card in order for them to use a particular telco service/number.
BUYING A SIM CARD IN KUCHING
If you are travelling by air, the fastest way to get a new SIM Card is by getting one at the Kuching International Airport. Here, SIM’s are sometimes offered for free by telcos, but if they aren’t, it is the best place to seek ‘tourist SIMs’ which would be better suited for a couple of days stay. If you failed to get a SIM at the airport, then local 7 Elevens and telco shops also sell SIM cards at your convenience.
If you want to beat the hassle of finding the best telco, you can arrange with local tour agents to pick you up at the prepare your 4G SIM Card upon pick up at the Kuching international Airport.
RELOADING/RECHARGING YOUR SIM
Reload coupons are extremely easy to find, with each coupon typically coming in the form of RM5, RM10, RM30, RM50 and RM100. Other than that, reload coupons are also sold online by the telcos themselves without extra charges, though the process may be tedious.You can also reload online here in which you will be asked to pay in either Paypal or credit card, with a service charge of only USD0.99. Internet Data in Kuching is largely cheap to be honest with most telcos being quite generous on data quota allocation.
GETTING HELP FOR YOUR SIM
Generally, all telcos aren’t complicated to use as most telcos in Malaysia provide you with English guidelines with your starter SIM pack. If the guidelines are too basic, calling the telco helpline will give you more options. Their customer service officers do converse in English so it should be easy. Else, you can just ask the shop where you bought the SIM to help. Most telcos have their own app which can be used with ease to check your internet balance, free calls and reload, provided you are on their network.
I hope the brief guide above helps. If you are looking to book a hotel in Kuching, then my listing of Kuching Hotels might help as they are listed according to location and also places of interest.
If you want to know more about Kuchng, I’ve also written a post about all you need to know about Kuching for your reference.