Mobile Phones in Yangon

There are two options for using a local SIM card in Myanmar.

Option #1: Temporary SIM card

Short-term visitors to Yangon can rent a SIM card and handset at Yangon Airport for $10 per day. On top of this, you will need to buy your own top-up cards for credit. This option isn’t really worth the money if you’re staying for more than two weeks, unless you really want to avoid the hassle of buying a permanent SIM card of your own.

Option #2: Permanent SIM card

A ‘permanent’ number still costs a good deal in Myanmar. Permanent GSM and CDMA SIM cards cost around 60,000 kyat (approx $65) while WCDMA SIM cards cost up to $100. Although WCDMA is recognised as the better technology, in practical terms in Myanmar there is little difference between the two.

Technically, foreigners cannot have a permanent SIM card. So you will need a Myanmar citizen to purchase it on your behalf. Alternatively, if you go to enough shops selling them you might eventually find one that will simply register the SIM card in the name of someone they know.

The great advantage of a permanent SIM card is that you can get data access. This does not come as standard when you purchase a permanent SIM – you will need to request it. It requires a visit to the office of the service carrier (again by the person the SIM card is actually registered to) in order to activate it. Speeds are quite decent – better than most wi-fi connections you will get in Yangon. And you can use your smartphone to create a wi-fi network to then use on your laptop. Rates for data are also quite cheap at 4 kyat per minute. Yes, you get charged by the minute, not by the MB, so remember to turn data off when you’re not using it.

Given the exorbitant costs of setting up internet at home in Myanmar, this is probably the most economical way to access the internet in Yangon.

Where to buy a SIM card in Yangon

There are a plethora of shops selling SIM cards in Yangon – the concentration of shops on Latha Street is a good option. Another area to try is along Anawrahta St, between Sule Pagoda Rd and Pansodan St and on some of the streets that run south from Anawrahta. Expect to have to visit a few before you find a shop that (a) has them in stock, and (b) will sell to a foreigner.

“Mr Mobile”, on the corner of Anawrahta St and Mahabandoola Garden St, is a good option.

Mr Mobile, Yangon

The Future

In mid-2013, Myanmar Post and Telecoms started selling cheap, 1500 kyat SIM cards through a lottery system. The natural consequence of this was that the people who won them then sold them off at close to the price that they used to be on sale for (SIM cards cost around 210,000 kyat immediately before the lottery system was introduced). They are now (March 2014) selling for under 100,000 kyat and as low as 60,000 kyat. The price drop is due to the recent announcement that international companies Ooredoo and Telenor plan to begin selling SIM cards as soon as July or August 2014.

International companies Ooredoo and Telenor are set to enter the Myanmar market in Q3 2014, which should dramatically decrease the price and hassle of purchasing a SIM card, and hopefully also provide superior network quality.

1 review

  1. kinhvanhoa, July 11, 2013 5:11 pm - Phone

    Does anyone recommend any store (I cannot find Mr Mobile recommended in the article) for buying a GSM sim card (permanent or temporal) in Yangon?

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