When traveling to Manila, Philippines, the first thing you need to do is to buy a SIM card to be able to communicate and use the internet while here. However, the process of buying a SIM card in Manila can be somewhat complicated if you don’t know how. In this article, I will share the experiences and advice of locals so that you can easily purchase the most suitable SIM card when visiting Manila. Keep reading to learn specifically how to buy a SIM card in Manila, which network providers are the most reliable, as well as some tips to avoid any hassles during the SIM card purchase process.

How to buy sim card in manila

I. Which mobile operator is the best in Manila?

When you arrive in Manila, it’s not difficult to find suitable network providers for communication and easy access. Based on network coverage, reliability, speed, and price, here are the top suggestions you can refer to:

Manila mobile operator

Operator Coverage SIM Card Price Range Pros Cons
Globe Telecom The network covers the whole country including rural areas and island areas. $2 - $5 - The largest network in the Philippines- Fast internet speed- Many diverse packages - Rates are higher than other carriers - Customer service is not good
Smart Communications Strong network coverage like Globe, stable signal. Network speeds may gradually decrease in mountainous and island areas. $2 - $5 - The second largest network in the Philippines- Good service quality- Many attractive promotions - Rates are higher than other carriers - Difficulty in registering a SIM card
Dito Telecommunity Limited, concentrated mainly around large urban areas and densely populated towns. $1 - $3 - Cheap fares- The network is being expanded - Limited coverage- Service quality is not stable

Overall, Globe and Smart are considered better alternatives than Dito for travelers due to their more established and far-reaching networks. Both Smart and Metfone have reliable coverage, stable speeds even when you visit remote locations far from the city. Globe is currently a network operator with a variety of packages and flexibility, so visitors can consider choosing the most convenient option during travel and exploration.

II. Best Manila SIM Card and cost

Based on the information above, here are two recommendations for prepaid SIMs that provide an excellent combination of network quality, included data amounts, and affordability:

Operator Classify Price Data Valid For Note
Smart  Smart GigaSurf Tourist ~6$ 2GB 3 days
Smart Traveller SIM Option 1 ~6$ 3GB + 300 on-net calls, 300 on-net texts, and 30 off-net calls to select countries 7 days
Smart Traveller SIM Option 2 ~11$ 10GB + unlimited calls and texts to Smart, TNT, and Sun subscribers 15 days
Globe  Globe Tourist SIM Travel3 ~3$ 250MB 3 days
Globe Tourist SIM Travel7 ~9$ 1GB + ~2,23$ credit 7 days
Globe Tourist SIM Travel30 ~18$ 5GB 30 days
Globe GoSURF ~1$ 1GB 3 days
DITO Telecommunity Option 1 ~ 0.71$ 1GB 1 day Technically not an MVNO but a separate operator
Option 2 ~1.76$ 3GB 7 days
Option 3 ~ 3,53$ 10GB 30 days
TM Unlimited TM Unli Data for 1 day ~ 0,6$ Unlimited data for 1 day Per day Uses Globe's network
TM Unli Data for All Apps ~ 10.64$ Unlimited data for all apps 30 days
GCash GInsure Options 1 ~1.76$ 3GB 7 days Uses Globe's network
Option 2 ~2.65$ 10GB 30 days

The information provided in the table outlines the various kinds of SIM cards and MVNOs that are tailored for tourists. It’s worth noting that there are SIM cards available with greater data allocations and extended validity, depending on your specific requirements. Opting for tourist-specific options will make you eligible for multiple flexible benefits, allowing you to save more on connectivity expenses while traveling internationally. Giving a thought to the Globe network could be advantageous due to its extensive coverage and a wide range of adaptable packages, catering to both short-term and long-term stays.

III. Where to buy A SIM in Manila

Once you know which carrier to choose, the next step is where to buy them. It’s great, now you can easily buy a SIM card at the airport or right in the city.

1. Getting a SIM Card at Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Places to buy SIM cards at Ninoy Aquino airport are quite easy to find. Most major carriers have SIM card counters or representatives located in areas that tourists can easily see.

SIM card kiosk at Ninoy Aquino Airport
SIM card kiosk at Ninoy Aquino Airport. Source
  • Globe Telecom: Globe’s SIM card counter is right inside the arrival hall on the 3rd floor, near the plane door
  • Smart-Zuellig Terminal: This is the SIM card counter of the Smart network, located in the departure and arrival areas of reserved seats
  • SM Telecom Store: This is a mobile phone store located on the 3rd floor near airplane gates 11-12 (the store also provides SIM cards of major carriers such as Globe and Smart)
  • 7-Eleven: 7-Eleven convenience stores are widely distributed in the station area. This store also sells many SIM cards from major carriers to MVNOs.

Please consider the following factors before deciding whether to buy or not:

  • If you travel to the Philippines for a short time (less than 1 week), you should consider buying an eSIM or SIM card that is ready to connect immediately.
  • When purchasing SIM cards at airport counters, VAT may be charged
  • If you have not prepared a SIM card but need to use it immediately, buying one at the airport will be more convenient.
  • Prices at the airport are usually 10-20% more expensive than stores in the city
  • If you plan to stay in the Philippines for a longer period, you should carefully research the packages and wait to go to the stores to buy them at good prices and with better service.

2. Getting a Prepaid SIM Card in Manila

If you’d rather buy a SIM card after settling in and have more variety than the small kiosks at the airport, you’ll find plenty of options in the city. Here are some popular places you can buy SIM cards in Manila:

  • Stores of carriers (Globe, Smart, DITO)
  • Supermarket (7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Mini Stop)
  • Near Universities (UP, Ateneo, La Salle)
  • Shopping malls (Robinson’s Galleria, SM Malls)
Globe operator stores in Manila
Globe operator stores in Manila

In addition, you can also buy SIM cards online through e-commerce applications (Lazada, Shopee, Grab), scratch card purchase applications, online top-ups (Paymaya, Gcash), buy from retailers ( OLX Philippines), or phone stores in the city.

However, you need to carefully check the information before paying, because the risk of buying fake or poor-quality goods if you are not an authorized dealer is very high. You will not enjoy promotional programs and will not receive detailed advice about packages.


  • Convenience: eSIMs eliminate changing physical SIM cards, allowing easy set up with a QR code scan upon arrival in Manila.
  • Instant activation: Your eSIM data plan is activated immediately online so you have cellular connectivity without hunting for a local SIM.
  • Avoid roaming charges: eSIMs keep you connected across the Philippines on one device without expensive international roaming fees.
  • Flexible pricing: Providers like eSIM.com offer affordable packages from $9 for various durations matching your travel period.
  • Suitability for multiple destinations: eSIM makes connectivity seamless if visiting different locations or countries by avoiding physical SIM swaps.

IV. eSIM for Manila travelers – a smart alternative

Traveling today is much more convenient, instead of choosing a regular physical SIM card, just scan a QR code to connect and enjoy all the benefits of a SIM card, which is eSIM.

There are 2 extremely easy ways to own an eSIM when traveling to Manila:

1. Major carrier website

Most major carriers in the Philippines such as Globe, Smart, or DITO provide eSIM for tourists with data from 2GB – 15GB/month.

In addition, some virtual network operators (MVNOs) also provide eSIM that is flexible to travelers’ needs.

2. eSIM provider

You can consider buying an eSIM at Philippines eSIM.com for more convenience during your journey. Buy now here, you can:

  • Easily buy and activate your eSIM online without any proof.
  • Providing high-speed 4G/LTE data from leading Globe network in the Philippines
  • Compatible with most smartphones today.
  • After purchasing the eSIM package, you will immediately receive a QR code via email, and activate it just by scanning, scanning anywhere and anytime.
  • Many options for terms and data capacity with affordable prices from only $9 – $141 for a 20GB package for 30 days.
  • 24/7 customer service is available to answer questions.

Convenient, efficient, and hassle-free – eSIM is the best way to help you maintain a stable connection, saving you a lot of money compared to expensive roaming fees. Visit Philippines eSIM.com now to experience smooth digital connectivity.

Top recommended eSIM card providers for seamless connectivity across Manila include philippinesesim.com with diverse data packages, multi countries, and easy to install and use offering pay-as-you-go eSIM service.

Plan that may interest you

Philippines eSIM 10 Days Plan
Philippines eSIM 10 Days Plan
From $11.00
Philippines eSIM 15 Days Plan
Philippines eSIM 15 Days Plan
From $11.50
Philippines eSIM 30 Days Plan
Philippines eSIM 30 Days Plan
From $12.00

V. Things to prepare when buying SIM cards in Manila

  • Prepare documents such as a passport, latest passport photo, and passport photocopy (because some stores can save it) or advance application (can be downloaded and filled out to make it faster)
  • Utility bills may be retained as proof of foreign address if required by the carrier to comply with anti-money laundering laws.
  • Make sure your phone is unlocked and working with GSM and 4G/LTE.
  • Check available packages: Daily and weekly data packages are quite popular with short-term travelers
  • You should prepare an international credit/debit card for payment in case regular cash payment is not accepted.

VI. Tips and Recommendations

Below are some tips/suggestions to help make your trip experience more memorable and enjoyable. Note that the advice below is for reference only, you can adjust it yourself to best suit your needs:

  • Buying a SIM at the airport counter is convenient but may charge a higher price. Buying directly at a store in the city will be more economical but will take more time than buying an eSIM online.
  • Should buy from major carriers such as Globe, Smart. MVNOs may limit coverage.
  • Prepaid data packages usually include 1-2GB for 3-7 days, consider travel time to choose.
  • You should download network applications such as Globe One and Smart Bro to recharge, check your balance, and future packages.


What do I need to buy a SIM card in Manila?

To buy a prepaid SIM card, you’ll need your passport for ID verification. Carriers may also ask for a passport photo. Having cash is recommended as not all stores accept foreign credit cards.

How long does it take to activate a SIM card bought in Manila?

SIM card activation is usually instant as long as you have all required documents. However, you may have to wait 10-15 minutes for the registration process to be completed before you can start using data or call services. 

What payment methods can I use to buy a SIM card in Manila?

Major carriers accept cash and local debit/credit cards. Some stores located inside malls may accept foreign Visa, and Mastercard. Always have small changes in PHP (Philippines currency) handy as not all accept large bills.

Do SIM cards bought in Manila work outside the city? 

Yes, SIM cards from major carriers like Globe and Smart have national coverage. You can use it to get data and call/text anywhere within the Philippines.

How can I get SIM card delivery to my hotel in Manila?

Some carriers offer SIM card delivery services. You can order online, provide hotel details, and pay in advance. The SIM will be couriered to your hotel on the requested date. This avoids waiting at stores.

VIII. Conclusion

Buying a SIM card in Manila is now extremely convenient and easy if you prepare and plan in advance. Before buying any type of SIM card, consider carefully learning about data and customer service to best suit your travel time.

Ultimately, Manila is a great place to explore. A local SIM card ensures you can easily stay connected, enhancing your experience while enjoying this vibrant city. Hope these tips help you find and set up your SIM easily so you can focus on creating memorable memories.