iPhone on a Macbook

Can I Use My Phone in Bali? A Simple Guide for Setting Up Your Phone in Indonesia

Before you start snapping those selfies and posting them to your social media accounts, you might be wondering: can I use my phone in Bali? Fear not, my friend! In this guide, we’ll give you all the info you need to stay connected on your Bali adventure.

To know what to do depends on how long you are planning to stay. If you are planning a shorter trip of less than 90 days, what you need to think about in order to use your phone in Bali is different if you’re taking a vacation from life in general and planning on staying longer than 90 days.

Can I use my phone in Bali?

Can I just do nothing and use my existing SIM & Phone?

Well, you could. But unless you want to end up with a phone bill that’s higher than the cost of your Bali vacation, it’s probably not the best idea. International roaming charges can be astronomical, and who wants to spend their holiday worrying about data limits?

Realistically, you could choose to ditch the data plan altogether and rely on the many cafes, restaurants, hotels, and villas that offer free Wi-Fi. Not only will this save you the trouble of getting a local SIM card, but it’s also a great way to disconnect from the digital world and immerse yourself in the beauty of Bali. 

Just be prepared for the eye-roll when you ask for the Wi-Fi password before the menu.

If you are staying in Bali for less than 90 days and want to use data:

Step 1: Get a local SIM card

Getting a local SIM card is the way to go. You can purchase one at the airport, at mobile phone shops all over Bali, or even at some convenience stores. The most popular mobile network providers in Bali are Telkomsel, Indosat, and XL Axiata. They all offer different data plans and we have a little more information later in this post. But if you’re in a hurry go for Telkomsel.

Step 2: Set up the SIM card

Setting up the SIM card is a piece of cake. Just pop it into your phone and follow the instructions. If your phone has a dual-sim you just need to make sure that the correct SIM is set to handle mobile data by default.

On Android go: Wi-Fi & Network > SIM & Network > (Default Sim for) Mobile data > Select your new Bali SIM card

On iPhones go: Settings > Cellular or Mobile Data > Cellular Data > Select you new Bali phone number

Most cards that you can get will have a data number and a time window. A standard one to choose when first getting set up is 5GB for 30 days. More on which SIM to get below.

But once that data runs out or the time limit expires you’ll be looking to top up again. To learn how to top up we have covered the main options here.

If you are staying in Bali for longer than 90 days:

First of all, congratulations on your extended Bali adventure! However, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days you’ve got a little bit of work ahead of you to ensure that you can keep up to date with your Mum’s Insta-stories when you’re on the move. It’s fairly straightforward but you don’t know what you don’t know, so we’re here to make sure you know what you need to know. Clear?

Step 1: Register your phone’s IMEI number

You’ll need to register your phone’s IMEI number with the Indonesian government. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it’s necessary to prevent the use of stolen phones in the country. You can register your IMEI number at the airport when you arrive in Bali, or you can do it online or at a mobile phone shop. Just make sure you get it done before your 90 days are up, or you may find yourself disconnected from the digital world.

Registering your IMEI at Ngurah Rai International Airport (Recommended)

The best and cheapest way to register your IMEI number is at the airport when you first arrive in Bali.

The IMEI registration room in Bali International Airport is located just after you have shown your QR Code. Yes, you have to have generated a QR code in order to enter Bali. It’s a bit unorthodox but you don’t have any choice.

In fact it is on the form that you fill out where you give details of your device that you would like registered.

We recommend that you fill the form out beforehand. Takes 5 minutes and saves you a final layer of bother before actually setting foot in Bali. The Customs Declaration form can be found by following this link.

So follow these steps:

Step 1a – Fill out the Customs Declaration form and generate a QR code.

IMPORTANT: On the form it asks you for the value of your phone. If the value of your phone is over $500 USD then you will have to pay 40% of the value over that. So if your phone is worth $600 then you will have to pay $40 (40% of $100 USD).

You can be a bit creative with the value of your phone, but if you are walking in with a brand new iPhone they aren’t going to believe that it’s only worth $500.

The form is here: https://bcngurahrai.beacukai.go.id/ecd/

Step 1b – Find the IMEI office 

The IMEI office is in the airport just after the “Anything to declare?” section, on the right, just before you enter the Arrivals hall. It’s easy to miss and you won’t be allowed to go back in after you have entered the Arrivals hall so make sure you are looking for it.

Step 1c – Register your phone

Be patient you will be seen to. Just make sure you get a ticket that holds your place in the queue.

If you have to pay anything you will be able to do so by cash (IDR or USD), debit card or credit card. 

(Top tip: if they see you are with a small child you might get lucky and jump the queue)

Step 2 – Get a local SIM

If you can I would recommend waiting until after you have left the airport and finding a VIVO or OPPO to buy your first local SIM card.

To get you up and running we recommend the Telkomsel 5GB 30 day card to get you up and running. Telkomsel are a little more expensive than the other 2 providers but they are the go to provider for most tourists and expats.

I’m not sure if my IMEI number has been registered before. How do I check?

Been to Bali recently but can’t remember if it was with you current phone or the last one? Don’t worry there is Avery simple method for checking.

Simply visit the the Official Customs and Excise website for Indonesia and there is a free form for you to use. Pop in your IMEI and they will check their database. Just remember that you might have 2 IMEI numbers to check if you have a dual SIM port in your phone.

To visit the Official Customs website this is the link: https://www.beacukai.go.id/cek-imei.html

Do I have to keep topping up my phone with credit?

In Bali, it is indeed necessary to keep topping up your phone with credit to ensure uninterrupted connectivity. Whether you’re making local calls, sending text messages, or using mobile data, maintaining a sufficient credit balance is essential. Bali operates on a prepaid system, which means you’ll need to purchase and load credit onto your phone to continue using its services.

To be clear you will be topping up your new Indonesian number not your original phone number. Often phones will allow for a dual sim. Just make sure you choose the right one when it comes to topping up.

How do I top up my phone with credit in Bali?

Topping up your phone with credit in Bali is a simple process that can be done through various methods. Here’s a quick list of the most popular ways to top up your phone with credit in Bali:

  1. Use Mobile Applications: Most service providers in Bali have their mobile applications, such as MyTelkomsel (recommended), MyXL, or MyIM3. Download the respective app for your service provider, create an account, and follow the instructions to top up your phone with credit directly through the app. These apps often accept various payment methods, including credit cards or digital wallets.
  2. Online Top-Up Services: Some websites or online platforms offer top-up services for Bali mobile phone providers. The most convenient of which is the GoJek app. Once set up with your Indonesian phone number go into the Gojek app and select “GoTagihan > Go Pulsa > Select the preferred Pulsa or Data Package“.
  3. Visit a Convenience Store: Look for convenience stores such as Indomaret, Alfamart, or Circle K, which often let you top up your mobile phone. Inform the staff of your desired credit amount and provide them with your mobile phone number. They will assist you in completing the top-up transaction. A key word for them to understand what you are after is “Pulsa” – this tends to help them to understand what you are there for.
  4. Visit a Phone Shop: Phone shops, like those operated by major service providers such as Vivo and Oppo, offer top-up services. Simply visit their outlet, provide your phone number, and request the desired credit amount. The staff will help you complete the top-up process.

Remember to check the validity period of the credit you purchase, as different top-up amounts may have different expiration dates. By keeping your phone topped up with credit, you can stay connected and enjoy a seamless communication experience while exploring the wonders of Bali.

Mobile Network Providers in Bali

There are three major mobile network providers in Bali: Telkomsel, Indosat Ooredoo, and XL Axiata. Telkomsel is the largest provider in Indonesia and has the widest coverage in Bali. Indosat Ooredoo and XL Axiata also have a strong presence in Bali and offer competitive rates.

It is recommended to use one of these major providers for the best coverage and signal strength in Bali. They offer a range of prepaid and postpaid plans with varying data allowances and validity periods.

As we have said elsewhere in this article ThisBaliLife recommends Telkomsel.

Roaming Charges

Travellers to Bali should be aware of roaming charges when using their mobile phones. Roaming charges are extra fees added to your phone bill when you use your phone outside of your home country.

If you plan to use your phone in Bali, it is important to check with your mobile provider to see what charges apply. Some providers offer international roaming plans that can help reduce costs, while others may charge high fees for data usage and phone calls.

As the above states; to avoid roaming charges you should purchase a local SIM card upon arrival in Bali. This will allow you to use a local phone number and avoid international charges. However, it is important to make sure your phone is unlocked and compatible with the local network before purchasing a SIM card.

Another option is to use Wi-Fi hotspots for internet access instead of mobile data. Many cafes, restaurants, and hotels offer free Wi-Fi, which can help reduce data usage and roaming charges.

iPhone on an orange cushion in the sun

Alternative Communication Methods

While mobile phones are a convenient way to stay connected while travelling, there are alternative communication methods that can be used in Bali. Here are a few options:

It’s a WhatsApp Wonderland

If there’s one thing that keeps Bali ticking, it’s WhatsApp! Seriously, you’d think WhatsApp is the official language of this island. Need to find a good Warung to satisfy your cravings for Nasi Goreng? Just ask the WhatsApp groups dedicated to foodie adventures in Bali, and you’ll have more recommendations than you can handle!

But it doesn’t stop there. Bali’s love affair with WhatsApp goes beyond food. It’s the ultimate tool for coordinating meetups, ordering a date swimming with dolphins, booking restaurants, ordering takeaway, bagging hotel stays, and even haggling with local vendors (yes, you can negotiate the price of that macrame wall-hanger via WhatsApp!). So, if you want to immerse yourself in the Balinese way of life, don’t forget to download WhatsApp and join the Bali WhatsApp brigade. Who knows, you might just make lifelong friends and discover the best-kept secrets of this island, all through a flurry of blue ticks and emoji-filled conversations.

Can I Use My Phone in Bali Conclusion

We hope this guide has put your mind at ease and given you the confidence to stay connected on your Bali adventure. Remember, getting a local SIM card is the most cost-effective way to use data while in Bali, and it’s a great way to keep in touch with loved ones back home (or brag about your Bali experience on social media). Happy travels!

Just make sure you bring along a portable charger, because Instagramming those beautiful Bali sunsets can really drain your battery!

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