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Getting connected in Malaysia again

Posted on: April 22, 2016

This is the latest addition to my “Getting connected in…” series on overseas prepaid SIMs.

In my previous Getting connected in Malaysia, I recommended the prepaid Digi SIM.

This week I tried Maxis Hotlink while I was there for a conference. I had done my research online beforehand and targetted the 1GB for RM10 plan (less than SGD3.50 at the current exchange rate).

My flight took me to KLIA Terminal 2 and there were prepaid SIM kiosks right before the immigration counters. I found out that it would actually cost RM30 for the plan because I did not already have a Maxis SIM.

Most folk would recommend buying the SIM outside the airport, but here are some reasons I ignored that advice.

  1. I avoided the hassle of trying to find a SIM kiosk outside the airport. I have found that convenience stores often offer only top-ups or have a poor stock of prepaid SIM packs.
  2. RM30 is about SGD10 and this is less than what I would pay for a rented travel router from Changi Recommends (CR). CR charges SGD12 a day and has a daily data cap of 400MB.
  3. I wanted to be connected as soon as possible. How much faster could be even before I cleared immigration?
  4. Unlike the tedious setups I experienced the previous times I went with Digi, the setup for Maxis Hotlink was even quicker than UK’s Three prepaid SIM. After quickly registering with my passport, the salesperson at the counter popped the new SIM into my iPhone and it was ready even without restarting it.

Maxis Hotlink app interface

Note: In the screenshots, my iPhone has Digi in the top left because that was the roaming network my Singapore SIM was on. I was using wifi via my travel router which housed the Maxis Hotlink SIM.

I had expected only what my plan offered. However, there were three bonuses.

  1. I received data bonuses by virtue of arriving on a weekend. The plan also came with RM15 credit that allowed me to get even more data (500-750MB depending on what I chose).
  2. Maxis has an excellent mobile app that allowed me to monitor my data quota and purchase more data without fiddling with an SMS menu system.
  3. The prepaid SIM worked flawlessly in my travel router. The SIM also did not have to be in my phone for the mobile app to work.

Maxis Hotlink app interface

I did not get to test a fourth benefit. Apparently Maxis allows throttled access after your data quota runs out. This is a boon if you rely on text-heavy social media apps like WhatsApp, Twitter, or Facebook.

Here is some general advice that bears repeating.

  1. Use a travel router if you have one. This way you can share the connection with more than one device. A travel router is likely to have a battery that lasts the whole day or come with interchangeable batteries.
  2. Bring a spare or dual SIM phone if you do not have a travel router. The spare can be a cheap device for sharing bandwidth, is less tempting to would-be robbers, and allows you to receive calls at your normal number.
  3. Keep your home country SIM in your original phone. Sometimes the foreign telco carrier will force setting changes or downloads that can make your phone misbehave when you return home.
  4. Most of your contacts already have your phone number, not your new SIM number. While you save them some money if you get a local SIM, you have to remember to update all of them. This might be furthest from your mind as you travel.

Disclaimer: I was not asked or paid to promote Maxis. The information I provide is meant to help travellers and is accurate at the point of sharing. I also provide opinion along with facts that could change over time. Caveat emptor.

1 Response to "Getting connected in Malaysia again"

🏼 Agree – I’ve tried all of them. Maxis is my telco of choice too. 👍


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