When I first traveled way back in 2008, I spent about PhP 2000 in three days just for my roaming plan. I’ll call my mom and my friends, and after just about 5 mins, my 300 peso load would run out.
That was pre-Facebook era, and hotspots were just an obscure idea. Now, it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to stay on the grid away from home:
1. Free Wifi – this option is almost a given and may be too obvious to state, but for one, I’m talking about the you-don’t-have-to-pay to connect wifi, not the no-password wifi; and if it’s free, reliable and safe, might as well make the most of it!
At the Terminals – airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, Cambodia and KL’s Budget Terminal Airport offer free and fast connection. Changi‘s, Kansai and Incheon airports also have internet stations and kiosks that you can use for free
In other Public Spaces – Hong Kong offers extensive free wifi connection in tourist attractions and even in MTR stations, although by experience, I did have trouble connecting to them. I got the most of free wifi there at 7-11 establishments.
Free wifi is extensive in Singapore as well via Singtel, but you need to be a subscriber first (or at least have a prepaid SIM card) before being able to use it. You need to register as well.
A lot of restaurants in Phnom Penh offer free wifi too, just ask for the password from the staff.
2. Renting Pocket Wifi – I found several travel blogs recommending the rental of pocket wifi when in Japan. It’s convenient; you can pick it up from the airport or have it delivered to your hotel; up to at least 5 people can connect at a time; Japanese companies promises you can stay connected anywhere in Japan; and you can just drop it off a post office mailbox to return it. Rental roughly costs JPY 800 – 1800 per day.
3. Local Prepaid SIM Cards – If you’re traveling solo and/ or still need to make phone calls during your trip, get yourself a local prepaid SIM card. Hong Kong‘s and Singapore‘s tourist SIM cards offer reasonable bundles for data, local and international calls.
What I got for my Kansai trip was a SIM card only for data, but I found that it was a reasonable bargain (JPY 1500 good for 7 days, 1.4 GB worth of data).
One other plus of getting SIM cards is they make nice souvenirs too 😉
So that wraps up a few basics on staying connected while on the go. It got me roaming without my phone bill back home ballooning 🙂