Is a 4G sim device in addition to phone advisable in SE Asia?

#1

I’m planning a visit to Chiang Mai and Bali starting in April. I have a Google Nexus which has worked flawlessly in Mexico at least. Assuming it will work just as well in CM and Bali? If I decide not to work in a coworking space, but rather Airbnb w/wifi and/or Coffee shops wifi, would a dedicated 4g sim card device be worth spening $75 USD to purchase, plus local sim, plus potential SIM hassle, or just rely on Nexus hotspot + airbnb and coffee shop Wifi?

#2

When you say you have a Google Nexus… do you actually mean you use Google Project Fi on your device and plan on using that while in Thailand and Bali?

Anyway, Tourist sim cards are cheap and readily available in both Thailand and Indonesia. You can put those in your unlocked phone or tablet and viola hotspot (yes they allow tethering). Coverage is very good and speeds are excellent (most places, certainly around CM and most of Bali… 10-20Mbps on average, sometimes more sometimes less).

Cafe WiFi in Chaing Mai is usually very good.
Cafe WiFi in Bali is usually pretty poor*.

  • Personally I tethered to my own hotspot (Ipad with TelkomSel SimPATI Sim) more often in Bali at cafes than I relied on their flaky WiFi.

CoWorking spaces (yes I know you said you weren’t going to them) are excellent in CM and Bali, some of the best anywhere in the world IMHO. If you didn’t at least visit PunSpace and Hubud fora day or two you’d be doing yourself a disservice.

To your specific question (if you can’t/don’t want to pop a sim in an existing device) then in Indonesia at least I’d recommend a hotspot device if your own.

Personally I have T-mobile (US) on my iPhone and kept that active globally, then I pop a data sim in my iPad for tethering… or on occasion swap sims back and forth in the iPhone.

Bonus: In Thailand if you get a True or AIS sim card is they often come with free public wifi which is pretty plentiful in major areas… DTAC less so… but has better coverage some places in the south.

I don’t recall public wifi tied to TelkomSel/SimPati cards in Indonesia on Bali or elsewhere… but maybe it’s a thing though… certainly not plentiful like True/AIS wifi spots in CM/BKK.

Have fun!

#3

Bali’s wifi is either terrific or terrible. And that can change from day to day. It depends on whereabouts you’ll be, and what kind of accommodation you’ll be in. Wifi in Canggu is awesome. Ubud - variable. Roam and Outpost (air conditioning) are great co-working spaces. Tethering to a hot spot also has variable success - I use my phone when I need to. 4GB data is IRP100,000 with Telekomsel.

#4

Right…so I have a Project FI Nexus 6. $10/GB in 120 countries is claimed. I’m quite sure much cheaper data rates through the local carriers you mention, and likely more reliable. I’m not at all certain if the devices I see listed here on Amazon:

would work with the SIM cards I would buy in CM or Bali tho? Perhaps, I could buy a device in CM and test it on the spot to see if it works?

Thanks for the thoughts on coworking spaces…I’ve not written them off entirely.

#5

12GB DTAC in Thailand = 799THB (US$22)

6 GB TelkomSel Simpati Flash in Bali = 200,000 IDR (US$20)

In short… local data is crazy cheap compared to US/EU rates…

Most countries rent 4g hotspots, but I don’t know it’s a good deal for long term stays. As for SIM card compatibility… I don’t know, but I doubt there would be issues anymore. Everything over there is GSM/LTE. As long as you avoid CDMA and WiMax you should be fine.