When travelling abroad, it’s always cheaper to buy a local card and mobile internet data, rather than pay outrageous roaming fees from your usual provider back home. Fortunately, it’s an easy, relatively straightforward process (after you cut through the noise!) to buy a local prepaid SIM card in Indonesia, and even the most “expensive” cards and data are extremely affordable. I’ll lead you through the steps below.
Where to get a prepaid SIM card in Indonesia
The first thing you need to do is find a place that sells SIM cards! Since practically everyone in Indonesia owns a mobile phone, and a huge majority change numbers on a regular basis (thanks to the cheap promos), one is usually not much more than a stone’s throw away from a seller.
The most obvious place to find a SIM card in Indonesia is at a major airport, like in Jakarta or Bali. A number of cell phone companies will have little booths as you’re making your way out, and it’s easy to pick up cards here. They might be slightly more expensive than typical, but no more than a few dozen rupiah, and it’s certainly convenient as you can usually register the card on the spot (more on that later). Some even come preloaded with data, which will help simplify the process. Although, unless you plan on staying put in the location you buy the card, you need to be careful that advertised data is not just “Local Data,” which is only good in the specific area where it’s sold. If you plan to travel around, you’ll want “Flash.”
If you’re travelling more off-the-beaten path, like to us here in Kerinci, and there aren’t any SIM cards for sale at the airport, then look for shops that sell mobile phones. Many little neighborhood warung stores will also sell them, and it’s not uncommon to see booths set up on roadsides with a selection of cards as well. If you really are having a hard time finding one, ask a local. “Saya cari kartu SIM” (I’m looking for a SIM card). Remember that the letter “c” is always pronounced like “ch” in English, so “cari” sounds like “chari.” And don’t forget to roll that r.
Choosing a mobile phone provider
While considered slightly more expensive (but still very low-cost), Telkomsel has by far the best coverage across Indonesia, and generally the fastest speeds. This can vary slightly by region or the exact spot you’re in, but in general, Telkomsel’s your best bet. Their simPATI and Loop cards are popular choices.
The second most popular provider would be XL (which could be a good second choice, if you have a dual SIM phone). There’s also Smartfren, 3/Tri, Axis, Indosat/IM3, and a few others. If you plan on exploring one spot for a while, ask the locals what’s best, or check out coverage maps by clicking the links of each of the providers. An overall coverage map can also be found on the Open Signal website, which should be more or less accurate.
Buying a prepaid SIM card in Indonesia
No matter the provider, a SIM card in Indonesia is generally pretty cheap, sometimes starting as low as 10,000 IDR. Prices can vary depending on how much data is preloaded onto them, where you’re buying them, or even if the number is considered cantik – “beautiful.” Some people are willing to pay millions of rupiah for a simple, easy to remember, or “lucky” number!
It’s important to make sure the advertised data is useful to you. Sometimes there will be big signs advertising 30GB or more of data, but these often are useful for just a single area (“Local Data”), are good for only one day, can only be used after midnight, are for video streaming services like HOOQ, or only work with 4G (which, is useless if you’re in an area that doesn’t yet have 4G coverage, or if you only have a 3G phone). As mentioned above, make sure the data is “Flash,” useful throughout Indonesia at any time. Try to confirm with the seller if you’re not sure. If in doubt, just buy a cheap card and top it up later in the manner I’ll show you below.
Don’t forget to make note of your phone’s new number (although, if you forget it, dial *808# and it’ll be sent to you). Also, Indonesian numbers all start with 0 when used locally, but if giving your number to someone back in your home country, you’d replace it with the country code of +62. For example, the number 081260173651 becomes +6281260173651
Registering the Indonesian SIM card
As of 1 May, 2018, a new regulation has fully come into effect, requiring all foreigners to register their cards with either their Passport, or KITAS, or KITAP (the last two being long-term visas which the regular visitor doesn’t need to worry about). Unfortunately, this registration can not always be done at the point of sale, and if that’s the case when you buy it, you’ll have to go to an official Telkomsel gerai or GraPARI office. It’s quite inconvenient to say the least! Thankfully, these GraPARI offices are never too far of a drive away, so between driving and waiting in line, it shouldn’t take more than a few hours, hopefully much less. All you need to do it bring your passport to the office, tell the greeter at the door that you want to registrasi kartu, then wait for your turn. They’ll take down your info, punch it in to the computer, and you should be good to go. There are varying reports about the length of time it takes to get the SMS confirmation that you’ve successfully registered – sometimes pretty much instantly (as it was for me), sometimes a few hours, and sometimes as long as a day. Anything more than that, then it’s likely that for some reason it wasn’t successful, and you’ll have to return to the office and try again.
In the press, there have been reports that foreign guests will be able to register straight away at one of the Telkomsel kiosks in the airports, and it seems as though that has turned out to be true in some areas. But it’s hit and miss. Major international airports like in Denpasar and Jakarta have official Telkomsel stands and shops, so this is often the best, most convenient place to buy a card and register these days. If you have been able to register in a regular mobile phone shop outside of the official GraPARI offices, please let us know where in the comments.
Pre-registered cards still seem to be widely available in small, non-chain mobile phone shops. If you’re only here for a short time, finding one of these and not dealing with the hassle of registering yourself is probably the way to go.
When buying the card, if you like you can also ask them to add more data or pulsa (phone credit) onto the phone at this time. Generally, pulsa is purchased in sizes of 5,000 IDR up to 100,000 IDR. Sometimes in smaller shops and warungs, 100,000 IDR packets will be kosong, or all used up, so try for 50,000 or 25,000 instead if that’s the case. Most shops will charge around 2,000 IDR in addition to the amount of pulsa you’re loading on.
If your phone requires a nano or micro SIM, either snap out the appropriate size of the card, or ask the shop owner to cut it with their tool. Make sure it all works, and check your pulsa and data amount before you leave the store.
Checking the amount of pulsa and internet data on your phone
With Telkomsel (which I’m focusing on), there are two relatively easy ways to check this, one requiring some free messaging, the other requiring downloading the My Telkomsel App. The App is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll describe the other way below.
1. Dial *888#
You’ll get the result below telling you the amount of pulsa you have left, as well as the date it expires. There will also usually be some sort of promo advertisement underneath, which you can ignore.
2. Choose “3. Cek Kuota”
This will help you see what kind of data/calling/sms packages you currently have running. You’ll get something like the result below.
3. Choose “2. Cek Kuota Internet”
Here you’ll see how much data you have left. There may also be some extra numbers having to do with data available after midnight or other special times, as well as data related to the HOOQ video streaming service that Telkomsel keeps pushing. But those first numbers are what’s most important.
Topping up pulsa (credit)
As mentioned before, pulsa is the credit used when calling or sending SMS messages. You also need it when you want to buy data packages – if you use data outside of a data package, the rates are extremely high, and by using just a few MBs of data, you’ll quickly eat through all of your pulsa. So, if you do plan on using mobile data, make sure you purchase enough pulsa to then be able to purchase a data package (which I’ll get to in the next section), with enough pulsa left over to make calls or send text messages.
1. Like when purchasing the SIM card, find a cell phone shop or small warung advertising that it can isi (fill up) pulsa, or pulsa dijual (pulsa is sold here). Look for banners with logos of the various mobile phone providers as well.
2. Walk up to the attendant and request to “isi pulsa.” If there isn’t already a notebook filled with numbers on the counter, they’ll pull it out.
3. Write down your number (dial *808# if you’ve forgotten), and the amount of pulsa you want to buy. The attendant will type your number into their phone, and add the requested amount. You should almost immediately get a notification message from Telkomsel on your phone informing that you successfully added pulsa, although this can sometimes take a few minutes.
4. Expect to pay the attendant around 2,000 IDR on top of the amount of pulsa you purchased.
***Another way to top up credits on a prepaid SIM card in Indonesia is through the Traveloka app or website. This is especially nice when you’ve run out in the middle of the night, when you’re out of the country, when you need to pay by credit card for some reason, or if you just like contributing to modern society’s continued obsession with automation and human isolation (ok, I’ll stop ranting now). The app is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t go into detail. Just download it and open Top-Up & Data Packages and follow the steps.***
Topping up your mobile data | Purchasing a data package
Now that you have enough pulsa on your phone, you can purchase a mobile data package to go along with it.
1. Dial *363#
You’ll get something like the results below. You can read through the Promos for ones that might jump out at you, but you’ll probably want to just go with either Flash Bulanan (which lasts a month, unless you use up all your data before that), Flash Mingguan (good for a week), or Flash Harian (just one day).
2. For this example I’m choosing number 3, Flash Mingguan (good for a week), at which point I get the results below.
3. Now, choose the amount of data you want to purchase. I’m going with option #1, 1.5GB.
You won’t need that much because you’ll be enjoying this beautiful country, and not playing around on the internet all the time, right? RIGHT?? You’ll get something like the results below. This is also where you can see the price of the chosen package- 30,000 Rupiah in this case.
4. Make sure you still have that amount of pulsa left on your phone, otherwise it won’t work. Choose 2. Sekali Beli (One-time purchase).
You probably don’t want Langganan, which would make you auto-repurchase when the week is up. You’ll get the following message telling you that your order is processing, and to wait for a confirmation notification before using the internet.
4. You’ll receive the confirmation SMS below from Telkomsel, telling you that your data package is active, and the date your data expires. Now you’re good to go. FYI – if you haven’t already used up your purchased data, and you buy a new data package before that expiration date, then the data will stack and you’ll be able to continue using your previously purchased data.
***As above with filling pulsa, it’s also possible to bypass this whole process and buy data for your Indonesian SIM card directly through the Traveloka app.***
Oh, one final tip. If calling overseas with your Telkomsel number, add 01017 at the beginning of the number you want to call to get a greatly discounted rate. I’m not sure why anyone would do that these days with the ease of making calls over the internet, but to each their own!
Alright, so that’s pretty much it, you should now be a pro at using a local SIM card in Indonesia. Now, put down that phone, flee those pesky 4G signals, and get away from it all on a pristine beach or somewhere deep in the Sumatran wilderness!
If you have any questions, I can try to answer them in the comments below. Or join the Travel Indonesia Facebook group if you have other questions on travelling through this lovely archipelago.
You have written it so nicely and in such a tailor made way that it is definitely going to help anybody visiting Indonesia for many years to come. I hugely recommend it.
Take loads of gratitude.
Thanks, Shahab! Glad to hear it’s helpful :-)
I’m being told that since October 31st you need to register passport and KITAS. How is a tourist supposed to register a sim card? Any help is appreciated!
Yeah, this new regulation, and the way they are handling it, is not going to make it easy for tourists. You should only need your passport though, not a KITAS. But it seems you will need to go to an actual mobile network company’s office, and can’t register at the place you buy the sim card. Although in this article, the head of PPI, Ahmad Ramli, says that if sellers become some kind of partner with the mobile network company, they’ll be able to register when purchasing the sim. I imagine in places like Bali and Jakarta, they’ll make this a bit easier for travelers. We’ll see what happens for places more off the beaten path. I’ll try to update my post when it’s more clear. The real deadline is not until February 28, 2018. Will be interesting to see what happens.
I personally just got back from trying to register my sim card at the local office. After waiting about 30 minutes, and then sitting with the guy as he filled out the details and submitted it, I get a message that it failed to register, please try again in 24 hours! A bit frustrating. The employee said he would try again with the provided details, and that I wouldn’t have to return to the office. Again, will be interesting to see what happens…
Just a little update. For a few days after I attempted to register, as I mentioned above, I would periodically receive SMS notifications saying that the registration failed. I never received a notification saying registration was successful, but after a few days things were quiet again. I decided to follow up at the office once more, where they told me that there were able to finally enter my data and successfully register. Not really a big deal since I live here, but for the average visitor only in Indonesia for a few days, hopefully they get the kinks worked out and registering becomes a whole lot smoother! After the real deadline at the end of February, I’ll have to buy another card to test out if the process has improved at all. Fingers crossed!
Great thanks Luke!
Very useful information
Although Ive been going back quite frequently to my wife place in Purwodadi Central Java last few, buying sim cards is the most difficult part of my trip. I ve been rippoff once. This time, with your tips, i’m better prepared. Thank friend.
Sorry you were ripped off, Othman! Hope you don’t have any problems going forward.
Really useful post, well written :)
I have a question, though. What happens when someone throw it’s number away?
How long that number keeps active?
Will that number be transferred to someone else after a certain period of time?
So, the active period depends on how much pulsa has been loaded onto the card. For example, if you add 5,000 pulsa onto the card, then you get seven days added to the card’s active period. For 100,000 of pulsa, you get 60 additional days. And these active periods accumulate, up to a full year. My card personally is active all the way through December 2018, because I keep adding more pulsa to it before the active period is up. If I threw it out now, the number wouldn’t be resold for at least that long.
Now, if your active period is over, you have a 30 day grace period to throw some more pulsa on there to reactivate the card. If that 30 days is up and you’ve done nothing, then you lose the number and it will re-enter circulation to be resold to someone else.
thanks so much for your article! I will try to buy a SIM (and register) while changing planes in jakarta. I have rounda
bout six hours. Could it work out or is it utopic?
Also: i want to buy telkomsel and use it to call to europe for all in all maybe 2 hours inbetween 2cweeks and have like 1-2 gb of internet.
just to give me an idea, not to mis-use you to check concrete tarifs (which was not so easy for me and telkomsel did not respond to my email since three weeks or so): about how much should i topup?
Six hours should be more than enough to buy a SIM card. There are a number of little shops that sell them there, although of course you will pay a bit at the airport. But still pretty cheap.
You can see how much it costs to call a foreign country on Telkomsel’s website: https://www.telkomsel.com/roaming/sli/tarif-sli-01017
Keep in mind when searching that the countries names are in Indonesian, so Deutschland/Germany= Jerman. When using the 01017 prefix, they list the price as 2,400 IDR per minute.
To give you an idea for data costs, the Traveloka app/website has 800MB-1.5GB for 50,000 IDR. For 2.5GB-4.5GB, the cost is 100,000 IDR. The difference in amount depends on your location in Indonesia, with rural areas generally being more expensive than cities. There are also often promo deals if buying straight from your phone through the *363# code, although they can be confusing sometimes with all the choices and add-ons, like Midnight data, VideoMax, 4G, quickly expiring data, etc. But there is a nice promo right now on there where you get 10GB of data for 30 days, costing 80,000 IDR.
Thanks a lot, Luke, super helpful page.
Any updates on needing to register at an office post-28 Feb? Do you know if it’s possible to do at the airport?
I don’t think it is yet possible to register anywhere outside of an official office! But, I also haven’t come through any airports yet myself to know for sure. But if I hear anything, I’ll try to update (and hopefully if anyone gets first hand info, they can comment here as well, as I have no foreseeable plans to go through an international airport anytime soon). Unregistered SIM cards will continue to work, with limited capabilities, for a while longer. By April, outgoing calls and SMS messages won’t work. By mid-April, incoming calls and SMS messages will be blocked. And by May, internet data will cease and the number completely deactivated. I’ll need to see what the new process of buying a SIM card is like after that. Hopefully they develop a process a little more streamlined for visitors to the country, as surrounding countries seem to have figured it out.
I attempted to purchase a SIM card two days ago (March 6) for my unlocked smart phone. I was told not possible unless I purchased a month by month “plan” with Telkomsel. There are other sites suggesting you “borrow” an ID from someone, this however is greatly risky. My understanding is it is two years jail time and some amount of “fee” if that person is caught. I have an international plan on my Iphone, which I am currently using when absolutely necessary, and wifi when available. I hope they get this figured out soon as it really hampers tourism!
I doubt borrowing an ID from someone would really work for the average visitor, as locals are only allowed to register 3 SIM cards at a time. I don’t think they’d want to give that up to just anyone! Let alone the penalties if caught!
I’m very surprised you were told that about only being able to purchase a month by month plan. May I ask where you tried to buy a card? I might try again somewhere else if I were you. You should be able to buy any card you like, and then bring it to an official office (“gerai” or “graPARI”) to register. I hope they make some changes soon as well, I agree that it’s frustrating and harmful to tourism in the country.
Do you know of any reliable & legitimate apps/websites other than Traveloka (foreign credit card isn’t working) to top up Telkomsel at a reasonable rate? I’m overseas at the moment, so my options are limited to online possibilities.
I’m not sure of any others, or at least haven’t tried them. But, you should be able to clear up any problems with your foreign card with either a call to your bank or to Traveloka customer service. Occasionally it won’t work for me as well, but a call has always cleared things up.
Thanks! It took quite a few days of back and forth sending in ID and tweaking things on their end to accept my card, but they stuck with it until they got it working. I’m thrilled because the only other one that I could get working added a huge surcharge.
Glad to hear it worked out!
Luke, great write up, thanks. I’m arriving at Denpasar airport late morning, and staying first few days in Bukit. Is the savings worth it to wait until Bukit to get my sim, or does the convenience of getting it at the airport outweigh the savings?
Honestly, I’ve never looked at the prices at the airport – I’ve so rarely traveled to Bali. But I know people say they’re a bit more expensive. I can’t imagine it’s too much more than usual though, especially if you factor taking a special trip to buy a card. Even better if they can register it right there at the airport–but I’m not sure if they’re doing that yet. Let us know if they offer registration! If they do, that’s definitely worth it. Finding a GraPARI office and waiting in line to register is a huge hassle.
Just came through medan airport got sim ,and one month 25 gbs 270,000.15 minutes, didnt buy phone time so if you want to call make sure to buy as well
I need to add phone now, only have data.they had three plans.12gb, 225000, 25gb 270000. One other i think was 350000.they told me i could get shorter cheaper plans in city.its still pretty reasonable.
Feb 28 2018 used to be the deadline for prepaid sim card registration. By March and April if still not registered slowly all facility will be deactivated but data will keep working. And from may 1 everything will be fully deactivated. Lucky I told my Dad who is working here to go get it registered. He took his work visa and passport and have to go to the Telco office usually located inside malls. They just take photocopy and key into their system and that’s it at telkomsel and for 3 they just glanced at the document and keyed in immediately and that’s it. Am not sure whether validity is tied up to the expiry date of the work visa or not. As for those on tourist visa am not sure validity expires when visa expires or not. But this is a bit of a hassle but a good move to curb illegal activity. And yes each person can’t have more than 3 sim cards. By SMS and website and app can register but that’s only for Indonesian citizens as it is asking for family card and ktp number. Can’t try with tourist visa or work visa or passport number format on those platforms. Must go to Telco office that’s the only way.
Hi Luke, thanks so much for that info. I just need to add a smidgen of data for my last few days in Canggu. This was realllly helpful, ( barring all the prepaid SIM card registration stuff, which I’m choosing to ignore… haha). THANKS! ?
Glad it was helpful! Only about two weeks left for unregistered cards to lose all functionality, so I’ll have to make another update then about registering.
Enjoy the rest of your time in Indonesia!
Oh the irony! Re: my previous post- I received the dreaded text message today, my prepaid number has been blocked and I have to register it. I am actually extremely grateful that this happened at the end of my trip, as I leave in 4 days, rather than when I arrived 3 weeks ago. I’m going to a Telkomsel shop tomorrow to ask about it, but from what I’m reading on here, it doesn’t look like anything will be able to be done. Guess I’ll be hoping from wifi to wifi, as I use my data for GoJek. Surely something needs to be put in place for tourists.
Once again, thanks for the info, otherwise I would have had no idea what was happening. I feel like a magician, like I conjured this up! LOL.
Oh, I’m surprised! Do you know if it’s just your ability to send/receive calls? Or also your data? I had thought data would still be usable through the end of April (source).
But you can definitely still register it, if you bring your Passport to a “GraPARI.” If you’re still in Canggu, there are a few not too far away.
Hi Luke. Wonderfully written article!
We’re arriving in Bali on the 28th morning. I’m guessing getting a local sim from Telkomsel or any other provider is not practical anymore due to the registration issue. Thoughts on this?
Back to the activating expensive international roaming!
Thanks again for all the information. Even though we may not end up getting a local sim, it’s a good reference page.
I think it’s definitely still worth it, especially if you’re staying more than a few days. It shouldn’t take too long to go to a GraPARI and register. Would love to know if they’ve started letting people register right at the airport when purchasing there. Let us know if they do!
Re: Earlier comment – It seems it’s possible to get a sim card with just data on it. No calling or sms. However, with the likes of Whatsapp, Facetime calling, this could be a feasible solution.
No verified sources for this, but there’s a discussion thread over on TripAdvisor.
I think the only reason that data is still working is because the deadline to register is April 30. After which, it’s supposed to be completely cut – all calls, data, etc.
But, I also wonder if there will be some sort of grace period for registering when purchasing a new card. I’m waiting until May to to see what happens, and I’ll update this post accordingly.
Enjoy your time in Indonesia!
Decided not to activate IRoaming on my phone. The wife’s doing it so that should be enough. Going to try and get the local sim myself and register at the airport. Will keep you posted!
Best of luck!
Hi! I’ll be traveling to Bali on May 7 and will be there for a week. I’ll be visiting Lovina, Kintamani, Gili and Ubud. I wanted to get a sim card so I can contact my partner and family back in the Philippines.
Would like to ask if there have been updates, hopefully good news, on tourists trying to register and use local sim card. I’m eyeing booking a sim card through klook in advance but with these changes I’m hesitant and afraid that it will not work and I would just waste my money for it.
It’s really important for me to stay in touch with my family while I’m away.
Would appreciate any suggestions or recommendation.
Hmm, I’ve never heard of Klook, but I am wary of buying a sim card anywhere except in country. I would imagine the cost would be significantly more, plus you’d still have to go through the hassle of registering it once you’re in Indonesia. Anyway, tourists have definitely been able to register, but it seems for now only at official Telkomsel GraPARI offices. Google for a GraPARI close to your accommodations.
Hi Luke, thank you for the article – it is by far the best out there.
I am travelling from Medan to West Nusa Tenggara over three months (i arrive on Monday the 7th May). obviously i will need a sim card and Telkomsel by all standrads seem to be the way forward. I have five days in Medan when i arrive and was wondering if i should literally buy only enough Pulsa to top up my data allowance or will i need minutes/sms to get in contact, as when contacting home i will use whatsapp, FB messenger etc.
I think i will be using around 15gb- 20gb per month, do you think buying the biggest 30 day paket balanan is the wisest thing to do?
Sorry for the long text, any help is much appreciated
I think having at least 20,000 in regular pulsa for calling/SMS might be useful, as data, while widespread, is still not everywhere. I can also imagine scenarios where it might be useful to be able to call or SMS a driver, guide, or hotel.
I would be very surprised if you burned through 15-20GB in a month! Wifi is pretty common. Maybe buy 2GB or so at first, and see what your data usage is like. Then top up as needed if it seems like you’re going to use way above that.
And did they cut of the data as well?
I’ll be going in July and I still have the card, in the telkomsel app it still says its active
In the regulation, as well as various news articles, it says that the card will be completely blocked and the number lost after May 1st, and can’t be used again. But, this seems to not be what is actually taking place, as I’ve heard may reports of people registering blocked cards after May 1. So, I’m not sure how long the grace period actually is before your SIM card is obsolete. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to register it in July!
So it’s May. :) Any updates about registraton? I will be there around June, it is the only blog that mentioning that we need registration after purchesed the sim card. Thaks for the great summary.
Just wrote a little update! Unfortunately, still working on gathering as much information as possible from foreign visitors. I think they’re still working out the kinks…a lot of things still unclear.
I just got some information on this site;
We need only one person to confirm that. :)
“There will be outlets made available at airports. There is currently a Telkomsel outlet at terminal 3, which will be followed by other telecommunication providers later on,” said Noor.
Just now heard of someone successfully registering at the Telkomsel store in the Jakarta airport! I’m still waiting on confirmation for this in other airports, like Denpasar. But it’s only been a few days, so we’ll see….
How many card you can register as Tourist?
3 as the locals?
For locals, it’s three cards per mobile operator, but actually can be more if they register additional cards at the gerai/GraPARI of the operator. I don’t see anything in the rules that state it’s different for a foreigner, and since more cards can be registered by going directly to the operator, which foreigners have to do anyway, it could potentially be limitless? But I don’t know for sure…
I’m landing in Medan on Friday 25th May, and was planning to buy a SIM from the Telkomsel booth which I’m told is at the airport.
I will be getting a taxi straight from the airport down to Parapat and then ferry across to Samosir Island. I ‘ve only just heard about the registration needed for foreigners buying a SIM package, and can’t spen a dat stopping off in Medan city to do this.
What info do you have, or suggestions, regarding the best way for me to do this? I’ll only be in Sumatra for 10 days, but would like to have Internet and Calls available on my iPhone if / when required.
That Telkomsel booth in the airport will hopefully be able to register you. Let us know!
If you can’t do it there, Google says there’s a GraPARI in Balige, on the south shore of Lake Toba. Maybe you could try there? Or maybe you could try the GraPARI in Pematang Siantar, on the drive down from the airport? Other than that, not sure you have other options!
Good luck :-)
Great thread Luke!
For three weeks of data in Bali and Komodo do you recommend one of the “SimPATI Best Deal Internet” ,for example, the 27GB one (with 25GB or real data): https://www.telkomsel.com/en/packages/6marcorem22spmtzn8-best-deal-internet-27gb
It is only Rp 140k for 30 days. Do you know if this works all over Indonesia?
I plan to get a SimPATI sim at the red booth in arrivals at Denpasar with some basic amount of voice and text for maybe Rp50k-80k (is that about right?), and try to register the sim there too (if it is possible by then) and to ask them to add the 27GB deal. Total cost ~Rp200k.
At the booth, is there a specific package I should ask for if I want to do that (does the package have a name)? Can they add the 27GB deal at the booth or do I ask for a “sim only” (how do I ask for sim only; is there also a package with a specific name for “sim only”?).
If sim only, then do I use the link and add the 27GB package myself by credit card, or does that need pulsa to do that (from a store or from traveloka)?
My simple, naive, hope is to:
Arrive at Denpasar Intnl. Pick up SimPATI at booth in arrivals with the 27GB deal above on it for about Rp200k, register it and be on my way in 10mins! But I imagine that it will be more complicated.
Thanks for the advice!
Sure, seems like a good plan. That packet should work everywhere. The sim cards should be clearly displayed with their prices, so it’ll be obvious which ones are just basic, and which ones are pre-loaded with data. They might have some deals that are even better at the booth – just make sure you check that it’s not just Local Data. To buy the special offer you’ve mentioned, you’d first need to make sure you have enough pulsa on your phone (you should be able to top up at the booth). Then download the My Telkomsel app, click on Hot Offer, click the down arrow for BestDeal, and purchase it there.
Hopefully you’ll be able to register right there at the airport booth in Denpasar. I’ve gotten a few reports that it’s possible. Let us know if you’re able to! Good luck!
Yo. So after going to three mobile phone stores in Tomohan, we were told foreigners cannot register a SIM. I then found these instructions, followed them to the dot and the people who told me they can’t suddenly gave me what I needed.
Long story short: this guide is to the point and I wanted to thank you for your advice. Could not have done it without.
Bonus point: girlfriend spotted a market stall selling an unlocked 4G modem for 40 bucks.
Glad it worked out! So who ended up registering it? Just a seller at a regular shop, or an official Telkomsel GraPARI office?
Whatsup Peoples, i just arrived at Jakarta AirPort and was able to get my hands on a 12gb Telkomsel Sim for 300.000 and activation was immediately. IT took me longer to Find a Bluebird taxi and ATM. Maybe its cheaper elsewhere, but easy does it for me ?
Great, thanks for the update! Just curious – did they happen to have cheaper cards with no/lower data? Or was that your only choice?
Lots of choice, but i went staight to Telkomsel Flash 12Gb on your recomendation.
There was a small desk with an enlighted DATA Cellar logo, which couldnt be missed in the terminal.
Hi guys! I am going to Yogyakarta on the 27th and am planning to buy a local sim card so I can still be connected on the internet using my phone. I just want to ask if you can easily find and buy local sim cards in Adisucipto airport? Thanks in advance.
Yes, shouldn’t be a problem. Hopefully you can register it right there. Let us know if you’re able to!
Great information. Thank you. I am a frequent visitor to Indonesia but sometimes I can be outside of Indonesia for 6 months. Is there any way to top up one of these new SIM cards (that you need a passport to register) so they last until you come back to Indonesia. For example can I top up every day and it will extend the life of my SIM by x months? Or can you top up outside the country? Thanks again.
You can easily top up outside of the country by using the Traveloka app. Adding 5,000 Rupiah adds 7 days to the life of the card, and 100,000 Rupiah gives you 60 days (with a range in-between). And this accumulates up to a full year. So, if you top up 300,000 pulsa, that should keep your card active for six months.
I will be in Indonesia for two weeks in August.
I will stop in Jakarta and then go to Yogiakarta, then I will move between Java, Bali, Sulawesi.
I would like to buy a sim. From your very interesting article it is clear to me that I need FLASH, I have to load the pulsa and only then buy the data in addition, correct?
Is it possible to buy pulsa / data already with the SIM and you know if there are any convenient offers?
Are there registration points at the Jakarta airport?
Thanks in advance
Yes, generally you buy the pulsa (credit) first, and then use that to purchase the data. However, the Traveloka app allows you to purchase data packages without first buying pulsa. And yes, when buying new cards, it’s very common for them to have special offers on cards with data and pulsa pre-loaded. But just be careful that you know for sure it’s not Local Data, especially since you’ll be travelling around so much. And there is a an official Telkomsel outlet at the Jakarta airport where you can buy and register your card.
Hi Luke, I live in the US and will be in Surabaya, Indonesia for 3 weeks next month. I am planning to use my Verizon Galaxy Note 5 there, so reading your notes above, it seems that I need to switch the nano SIM card once I get to Surabaya and switch it back to when I leave. Do you think it is easy to do?
Also, on the way to Surabaya, I will be in transit in South Korean and S’Pore. Can I use Whatsapp to contact family in the US using available wi-fi in the airport without being charged extra by Verizon? Or due to my cell being from US (Verizon), will I be charged roaming fee no matter what? Is it better just to bring a tablet and connect to wifi and use Whatsapp that way to communicate?
One more question – since the voltage between US and Indonesia is different, what should I do about the phone/tablet charger (since both are Samsung, they use the same charger).
Any advise will be really appreciated. thank you.
Yes, it should be easy to switch out the SIM cards – but make sure you’re familiar with how to do it before you leave. And of course, be sure to buy an Indonesian SIM card that you can easily punch out into Nano size. Although, most sellers will also have the capability to cut it down to the right size with a tool.
One thing you might need to do is check with Verizon to see if your phone needs to be unlocked for overseas travel. It’s been more than a few years since I’ve lived in the States, but at least before with their contracts they would lock phones to their network. Not sure if that’s the case anymore, but worth a phone call.
If you’re connected to WiFi, you won’t be charged anything for using WhatsApp. Just make sure to kill your mobile network/put it in airplane mode so there aren’t unexpected connections to a roaming network if your WIFI disconnects unexpectedly. Or just pop out your SIM and leave it in the States.
Every charger I’ve ever seen is fine with both 110V and 220V. It should say on your charger what voltage it works with. Just make sure you have a travel adapter because the plug shape is different.
Hi Luke, thank you for this post.
I’ve been trying to add credits to my phone through the telkomsel app, but they dont seem to accept my card (mastercard), failing the transaction. They charge my card but then transaction is reverted due to failure. Any idea if there are restrictions to foreign cards? My card is Revolut Mastercard (though in the app there is option for CREDIT CARD (VISA, MASTER) and DEBIT CARD (VISA only). If yes, the best way to put it is to ask for pulsa in any store and buy the package myself, as I noticed some stores can charge high fees for the service.
Thank you and have a good day!
Yeah, the MyTelkomsel app usually doesn’t play nice with foreign credit cards. You alternatively can try the Traveloka app, which usually does work – although sometimes you need to clear it with your credit card company or even contact Traveloka to help it go through. Otherwise, yes, your best bet is to go to a small warung or mobile phone shop and top up pulsa credit there. I’m not sure what you’ve seen that would make you think they charge high fees for this-but I’ve never seen anyone charge more than 2,000 rupiah on top of the credits you’re buying. Big chain stores like OkeShop or Indomaret I don’t think charge anything at all.
your site is good. it helps well. Dear i want to know this that i want to buy mobile online by master card from jakarta. can i buy it? and which online shop company is good? plz help i want to gift this mobile my friend
You could try Traveloka.com or perhaps Lazada. But if you’re already in Jakarta, you can easily top up at most warungs and mini-markets!
I will begin traveling in 1 week and entering Indonesia within 4 weeks. Will start in Yogyakarta and then finish in Ubud & Sanur. Is there a location in JOG airport to buy & register a SIM “Flash” card that I will be able to use in all 3 locations ?
Any card you buy can be used across Indonesia. You just have to be sure when buying the data package, or choosing the card, that you do NOT buy “Internet Lokal,” which only works in the city or regency where you buy it. Buy regular “Flash” internet. If you do accidentally buy Internet Lokal, the card is still fine to work anywhere, but you’ll have to top up the data with regular Flash.
I haven’t been through the Yogyakarta airport in years, so I can’t say for sure if there’s a spot. But, I’m fairly confident there would be. If not, you’ll just have to buy it in town somewhere. Seems many sim card sellers, especially in touristy areas, have worked it out to be able to register visitors at the point of sale. If you can’t find one that will do it, it shouldn’t be that huge of a hassle to buy a card anywhere, and then just google the nearest GraPARI office and register there.
Enjoy your trip!
Thank-you so much for this info! So very helpfulk
Do you know:
1. I a will be looking for a card that has data and some voice minutes and cell SMS in case there is no wifi around – any recommendations ? Is a simpati or loop card best for this? (I saw a tourist starter pack on Telkomsel – unclear if the data is flash or not..)
2. Any updates on whether registration can be done at Denpasar airport?
1. Personally, I usually recommend just getting the most basic card you can find, without any extreme bonuses attached, and just filling it on your own with pulsa (credit) and buying a data plan from somewhere like the Traveloka App. Unless you’re comfortable with trying to read the fine print, and making sure you’re not getting data that’s useless for you (ie, VideoMax, Midnight, Local data), in which case go ahead as long as you’re sure, because there can be some good deals. I don’t think there’s really much difference between Simpati and Loop – it all uses the same Telkomsel network, and costs are basically the same.
2. You can definitely register at Denpasar airport. And it seems there are also many shops in at least Bali that now can register you straight away. In less touristy areas this isn’t always the case.
The packages at the airport at Denpasar are a rip off. If you peel back the sticker they all put on the SIM card package the starter packages match prices with the website. And they only have these over the top deals for 30gb. Unless you plan to stream videos this is not required at all. I ended up buying it from a local shop who still ripped me off but at least it was palatable. They charged 110,000 IRD for a 10,000 IRD sim. Did not mention about the registration requirement being discussed here. Been here for 3 days and everything including calling is working. Only here for another day and I have heaps for data credit available even though we have used a lot of social media, chat and maps. If you plan to stream video it’s best to get the video package after you buy the SIM, which just needs a top up of credit. Once you have credit use the app to buy the right package.
Good luck peeps.
I’ll be traveling to Bali for 7 days in the first week of January ’19 and will be arriving at the Denpasar airport. Would you mind mentioning which local shop you purchased your SIM card from and how long that process took? Was it regular shop or an official Telkomsel GraPARI office?
If you’re recommending not to buy from the Densapar airport, I’d like to know which local shops are being recommended for tourists just planning on staying for a short stay.
Thanks in advance.
Thanks for all the explanations. One feedback from Germany: Buying pulsa for Telkomsel Kartu As on Traveloka.com failed with Visa and MasterCard but Lazada.co.id worked fine with Visa.
It used to be easy to purchase sim cards as u didnt need to do proper registration.but my last visit to indonesia, my sim card didnt work anymore, i had no idea how to register (and unregistered a few other sim cards under my name- u can only have a few numbers under same name and ID). So i just bought a new one under my relative’s ID.
Honestly it is a hard to buy sim card in bali. There are limited numbers of kiosks in tourist areas, especially compared to Java, and the prices are extortionate. I bought before for $10, in java I can get it for $5 or less. If you are a foreigner and doesn’t mind to spend $15 or more, you can get it right outside the international airport in bali it is the easiest way.
If you want to keep it active, you can top up credit from Tokopedia or traveloka app. (If you can’t download the apps through google play , just download the .apk from your browser)
Also nice to know and for me another mystery solved: Extension of activity period depends on the kind of Telkomsel prepaid SIM card you have: SimPATI, Kartu As or Loop.
In the case of SimPATI you need to top up credit to extend the active period. Using Kartu As and Loop you only need a minimum credit usage (Rp 500/Rp 5000) in one period (30 days).
You can use this website and the translation of Google for information: https://dblognich.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/masa-aktif-kartu-as-loop-simpati-telkomsel/
Hope that will be helpful for you.
Is it possible to order a SIM card and register it before arriving in Indonesia? That’s what I did when I visited Japan, and just put the SIM card in phone when I landed.
Not that I’m aware of. But should be pretty easy to buy and register at the airport.
Hi Luke, just wanted to say thanks for this article! :) What I especially like is the first-hand experience combined with practical info, which is invaluable and real. I’m coming to Indonesia for the first time next month and need to stay connected so now I know what to expect and what pitfalls may occur.
I once ran a site in English for people visiting Greece, so the above article is something similar to what I’ve written before but in another country. It’s important, in my opinion, to acknowledge people who make life and travel easier. I now travel continuously and am nomadic, and figuring out sim cards in different countries has become an ongoing hobby (haha).
Cheers and keep smiling! :D
Thanks, Kat! Hopefully it’s as helpful when you’re here! Of course, the menu options change basically every week, but the principles should be sound enough.
Enjoy your time in Indonesia!
Arriving Jakarta on 16/01/2019. What can be the good bargain price for the Telkomsel sim card (pre-paid)? I could not find much information about the price of the Sim card.
Thanks in advance for the blog.
A basic Telkomsel/Simpati card with no (or very minimal) preloaded should go for around 20,000 to 30,000 IDR. Even 10,000 IDR or under at times.
Hi guys, I’ve recently been to Jakarta Hatta airport terminal 3. When you will pass all customs and other controls and you almost leave the airport building You can find Telkomsel shop in gate 3E in ground floor or little stand on 2nd floor next to Starbucks – same gate. I bought prepaied sim card with 17 GB valid 30 days for 100,500IDR same price as advertised on their website (6th June 2019). Friendly girl take your passport and register you and activate your sim. And you are done.
I hope it will help you as there are so few up-to-date information for planning your holidays in Indonesia.
Thanks a lot to Luke for this article.
Is Indonesian local needed fot purchasing a new sim card…?
No. But foreigners can’t register their cards without going to an official office of the mobile provider (GraPARI). Although it seems some vendors, especially in touristy areas, are able to assist you in registering on the spot.
Thank you Luke for this article, it has helped me a lot with my travel plan to Bali.
Thank you so much. SIM card with a lot of (fun) confusion was finally able to be bought and installed.
Hi, I’m a tourist here, it looks like now you also have to register you phone IMEI to be able to use a SIM card from Indonesia.
I’m in quarantine at a hotel and managed to get a Telkomsel SIM card with the help of a guy from the hotel, but it didn’t work. He had to go and register somewhere my phone IMEI and this made the SIM work, but paid him big money for this…damn quarantine.
Also received an SMS to register my number with NIK and KK, so I’m not sure how does this SIM work actually if it is not registered, something is strange, the SIM was somehow activated without owner info. Hope I don’t get disconnected until I can go outside and find a store to register.
Ah yes, I should probably update this. Some important changes since I wrote this a few years ago, especially for short term visitors. Last year Indonesia implemented a policy that requires registering the IMEI and paying the corresponding import tax (if the value of the phone is over $500 – potentially as high as 20% of the cost above the $500) on any phones brought into the country from abroad, in order to clamp down on the rampant black-market/gray-market phone industry. This can be done at the airport actually, but if you do miss it you’ll need to go to a Kantor Bea Cukai and get it registered/paid.
But there are actually SIM cards available exclusively for tourists on arrival in many airports that don’t require registering your IMEI and paying the tax. They have between 7 and 14-day validity, and can be renewed up to 5 times. More than that, or if you want to use regular SIM cards, and you’ll need to register the IMEI and pay. More info here: https://www.telkomsel.com/en/simpatitourist