So you have arrived on Bali and probably one of your first questions is “how do I get mobile internet!” on my phone. Well let me help you sort that out!
The good news is that mobile internet/data on Bali is cheap. Follow this guide and for as little as 75.000 IDR (5 Euro / 5,5 USD) you will have 4 Gb of high speed 4G internet for a month. Enough make all your friends and followers back home jealous of your latest adventures! Or to keep your business and projects going while you are working with your feet in the sand and a cold Bintang in your hand.
But first ask yourself do you need mobile internet? If you come on holiday it might be nice to go offline for a while… On Bali Wifi is readily available in hotels, restaurants and bars. So even if you would like to be disconnected from it all, there are still enough possibilities to go online if needed.
To get mobile internet access with a local provider you will of course need an unlocked phone. And if you’re reading this you are most likely a visitor to Bali so we’ll focus on pre-paid plans.
The main mobile operators in Indonesia are:
You will see their mobile SIM card often sold under the ‘IM3’ branding.
XL Axiata offers their mobile service SIM card often under the ‘XL Baru’ branding.
The SIM cards from Telkomsel are offered under the ‘simPATI’, ‘Kartu As’ and ‘Loop’ branding. The most used is the main ‘simPATI’ brand and offers the highest internet speeds. They also have a post paid product known as ‘Kartu Halo’ which is harder if not impossible to get for visitors.
Telkomsel is usually slightly higher priced than the other providers but offers better coverage especially in less populated areas of Indonesia. The pricing model of Telkomsel is divided into 12 different geographical zones with Bali being in the cheapest zone.
In Bali, as in most populated/urban areas of Indonesia, most of the providers will have good mobile phone coverage. Telkomsel has the largest number of subscribers and has the best coverage in also the more remote areas of Indonesia. This is especially important if you are considering traveling further around Indonesia.
The mobile internet coverage can be different than basic mobile (phone & text) coverage. On Bali itself and the Gili and Lembongan islands you will have 3G internet coverage in most more populated/urban areas. The internet speed can be less in some of the remote parts. Sometimes the internet connection will drop back to slower methods like Edge or GPRS. You can try a map by a crowd-sourced service like OpenSignal or Sensorly to see what coverage is available where you are planning to go.
High-speed 4G internet coverage is currently only available in the south area of Bali. The map below shows in pink the Telkomsel and in purple the Indosat 4G coverage as published by the providers per July 2016.
As long as you stay in Bali all providers will give you good coverage, especially in the more populated/urban area, However due to the best overall coverage I would recommend using Telkomsel. The rest of this post will cover the Telkomsel service only.
Where to buy
As soon as you leave customs on arrival at Bali airport you will find a Telkomsel booth in the arrivals hall. In my opinion the prices here tend to be quite a bit higher than normal. So I would only recommend this if you are in a hurry.
You will also find enough cell phone shops in the main tourist streets and shops. Again I found that these generally overcharge for the cost of the SIM card and internet packages.
My recommendation is to go into some of the smaller streets and find a more ‘local’ shop. You can easily recognize them by banners and other branding. Your (taxi) driver can also most likely find a good place to get it all sorted. I would also recommend just buying a basic SIM card and purchasing some credit for it (100.000 IDR or so) and sort out internet yourself. It is very easy to do and ensures you get the package you want at the normal price.
SIM card & activation
Most Telkomsel SIM cards sold now are the newer 4G cards as identified on the cover. These SIM cards are pre-cut into normal, micro and nano format so suitable for all phones.
The fair price of a SIM card will be anywhere around 10.000 to 40.000 IDR (0,60 to 2,60 Euro) depending on the shops pricing. There is usually a small amount of credit on it, like 10.000 IDR. Also sometimes you will pay more if it is a ‘good’ (easy) number. For instance in the photo below the ‘good’ numbers are 5.000 IDR more. Also you can see a shop closer to the main tourist street charges 35.000 IDR for the Telkomsel SIM card and one a bit further away only 25.000 IDR.
Once you have purchased the card, the salesperson will help you put it in your phone and activate the SIM card with the network. Of course be sure your phone is unlocked so it can be used with other providers.
You can easily activate an internet package on your phone. Just dial *363# and you will get a menu with several options you can follow. It will all be in Bahasa Indonesia but it is quite easy to see what the packages are. Look for the ‘FLASH’ menu options. The *363# menu per July 2016:
Some key words for the menu:
ribu/rb = means 1.000. So 49 rb means 49.000 IDR.
hari = day
minggu = week
bulan = month
The Telkomsel website has a full overview of the available packages. Look under the ‘Paket Flash 4G LTE’ header for the internet packages.
Internet promo offers
Currently (July 2016) I found the best offers are accessed by dialing *363*46# or *363*300#.
1,5 Gb for 40.000 IDR
4 Gb for 70.000 IDR
4 Gb for 49.000 IDR
16 Gb for 99.000 IDR
Unfortunately I have not been able to find out what the differences in these promos are. It might have to do with the Telkomsel regional pricing zones. Or it might be a time based usage policy (for instance higher speed or more data at night time). I have been using the *363*46# 4 Gb offer since I’ve arrived in Bali and it has been working perfectly fine.
The following settings should be set automatically if you put the Telkomsel SIM card in your device. However if you have any problems check these settings in your phone.
Mobile Data / Personal Hotspot
Username: leave empty/none
Password: leave empty/none
MMS Proxy: 10.1.89.150:8000
MMS Max Message Size: 307200
Calling & text messaging
For calling and text messaging there are also various packages available. These can be accessed by dialing *999# on your phone and follow the menu options. My call and text usage is quite limited as everybody here seems to use internet messaging services like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. Therefore I just pay ‘on the go’ for local calling and text messaging. The costs for this are very reasonable.
If you want a combination of data and local voice/text, there is the following for 150.000 IDR (July 2016). This package can be activated through *363#, select option ‘Flash 4G LTE’ and then ‘Paket Bulanan’.
With Telkomsel by dialing 01017, 01018 or 01019 before your country code you can get cheaper rates for overseas calling. Dial as follow for example 01017:
01017 + country code + phone number
The rates page also has the country code (‘Kode Negara’)
By dialing *888# you can get your credit balance, and with *889# your remaining internet data on your package, You can also install the ‘My Telkomsel’ app on your smartphone (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry) to see your credit balance, and the remaining quotas of internet, voice and text messaging package. Through the app you can also activate some data/voice/text packages although this seems a smaller selection than can be accessed with the *363# and *999# menus.
Also as you charge your phone with credit, you will get points (POIN). You can exchange these points for services including Telkomsel voice and internet packages. Dial *999# and select the POIN menu item.
Share your experience!
If you have any tips or experiences about mobile internet in Bali, please share your information using the comments. Thanks!
Menno has had the travel bug ever since spending his childhood in the tropics. In 2013 he left his office career and is now diving and sailing the world.
He enjoys sharing the beautiful underwater world and exploring remote islands. He gets his kicks when he can help fellow travelers have an amazing life-changing experience.