It’s a matter of fact that since I’ve been a regular contributor to Howard Forums I’ve travelled to Hong Kong, Malaysia, the USA, Australia, Taipei and Mauritius. And as you’d probably guess, I’ve done my fair share of travelling before that. It’s my jam.
But I’m not here today to brag (honest!), only to reiterate that the best prepaid SIM I’ve ever had the pleasure of using in any foreign country is the Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card. Just pop it in your phone, reboot and you’re done.
If only the last two SIMs I had to use were as easy to set up as this…
UK – EE
If you’re flying into London Heathrow as I did, you’ll have no shortage of places to secure yourself a local SIM—if you’re on British Airways you’ll even see an ad on your IFE for a service called Lebara. But if it’s just data you want at the best available price, avoid the Vendpoint SIM-vending machines, pass right on by the crowded SIM Local shop and find yourself a humble WHSmith in the Arrivals Hall—there you’ll be able to get an Everything Everywhere SIM with 2GB of LTE data for the entirely reasonable (for the UK) price of £15.
On the store receipt was an activation code that I was to text to EE to start the service but strangely, said service started working right away. It got my girlfriend and I through the gruelling bus ride from Heathrow to Gatwick and then suddenly locked us out. I suspect that EE provides its prepaid users with just enough service to set up an account on their phone and text in the necessary activation codes. But here I was like a chump with no data or SMS whatsoever, and had to call in the codes over the phone, navigating through a labyrinth of voice prompts before finally speaking to a human being. And then doing it all over again for the other SIM.
When you’re operating on only a few hours of sleep this isn’t fun.
Mauritius – EMTEL
According to TripAdvisor you can obtain a prepaid SIM from local carrier EMTEL at an airport Post Office. But as we arrived early on a Sunday morning we weren’t sure if it would be open, and the prospect of some 200 other passengers spilling out of our plane also looking for SIMs gave us pause. We decided instead to have our taxi driver make a stop at a local convenience store en route to our hotel. There we were able to purchase a pair of SIMs with 3GB of data for Rs 649 each (about $25.75 CAD). And of course there were no included instructions on how to set them up. And the shopkeepers had no idea what an APN was.
So again I had to make a call to customer service, navigate through another maze of voice prompts (these ones in French) before finally getting the information I needed to get the SIMs up and running. For a brief moment I thought of educating the shopkeepers on setting up data on an Android device—until I saw their old school flip phones and knew it would be a waste of time for all.
For anyone wondering, the APN is “web”; enter “WEB” as the new APN, “web” in the APN field and save. That’s it.
So yes, of all the tourist SIMs I’ve used in all the faraway places I’ve visited, the Discover Hong Kong SIM is still by far the easiest to set up. You just have to make sure you put the right one in your phone. 🙄