People often ask us what is the best way to get internet connection in the Philippines. They are right to worry of the limited possibilities in developing countries. The Philippines notoriously has Asia’s slowest internet, but currently standing at a 4.5mbs average it is improving every year. You can’t realistically expect to enjoy high speed connection in most places outside Manila, but it should be good enough.

Typically almost all places you visit should allow for at least the standard 3G services, even if at lower speeds. Only at the most remote and secluded islands there is no coverage at all, and you might be limited to a laggy 2G connection which only allows texting. Luckily, there are enough solutions you can consider and prepare in advance. That way, you can enjoy relatively solid internet throughout your whole trip. Continue reading below for a full description of all the best options, and how we can help you with each.

Prepaid SIM cards

Globe and Smart logos
There are two major suppliers – Globe and Smart. It is an endless debate here which of the two is better, and it’s honestly very hard to judge. From our experience, Smart have better coverage in rural areas and islands, while globe is better for big cities such as Manila or Cebu.

You can find these SIM cards at any airport upon arrival, whether it’s Manila or any of the smaller airports at the islands. The cards are also available at any store which sells mobile related equipment and gadgets. These stores are typically found in every mall. Once the prepaid package is fully used, you’ll need to buy cellphone loads. You can load up your phone by buying these load cards which come in different denominations from 1PHP to 1000.

You can buy Load cards at any convenience store, and they are quite easy to use. There are instructions written at the back of the card. Just note you need to scratch the grey area at the back of the card to reveal your PIN number. If you are having trouble activating your load, just contact us. We will walk you through the process and make sure everything is fine.

The downside of prepaid SIMs are relatively minor but still worth mentioning. They don’t work in the most remote places, and sometimes you’ll face no coverage or slow connection if you have the wrong provider for the area. Some areas are Smart-friendly and some are Globe, and it’s impossible to know. The biggest issue however is that the load runs out pretty quickly and you will find yourself running to the 7 Eleven way too often. Also important to note that overseas calls using this SIM are extremely expensive, so make sure you make these using some instant messaging up such as Facetime, Viber or Whatsapp.

Renting a pocket WiFi

This is actually a great solution, ass it allows you to enjoy a relatively stable connection anywhere. Please note making local calls using the pocket wifi will cost just as overseas, unless you use an app. The pocket WiFi can be found at the airport, offered by Philippines airlines but they charge a ridiculous amount (between 7 and 15 dollars a day, depending on required bandwidth). It is only recommended to use PAL’s services if you need an urgent solution and don’t have any time to leave the airport.

A better solution would be to use a pocket WiFi provided by either Smart or Globe. These are much cheaper and just as good. The downside is you will have to go to one of the major selling centers to find them. Luckily for you, we already did! We provide these to our clients at no cost as part of our package services. So, just let us know if you want to use it. The Downside is, of course, you will be fully responsible for the device and must return it in good shape. This is something not everybody will feel comfortable with, so let us know if you are interested.

Free WiFi and internet shops

All resorts and hotels will offer free WiFi to their guests, especially in the popular destinations. Don’t expect to have a solid connection, but it’s usually decent enough. In smaller islands, where accommodation is very basic, there is usually just one place everyone goes to to get a connection. It is typically a pub or a coffee shop, just ask us before going and we’ll give you all the directions you need.

Malls and airports will almost always have a free WiFi zone. In larger malls, especially in Manila, you can also find internet cafes where you can surf online and even play games at a very low hourly rate. Obviously most people don’t want to spend their vacation hanging out at the mall, but its a good option in case you are stuck without a connection and need it badly.

8 Comments

  1. Alkynna Ticsay

    Hello my name is Alkynna I will be traveling to the Philippines pretty soon and I am interested in one of your pocket WiFi. How much will it cost me and where can I pick one up?

    Posted on April 10, 2018 Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Alkynna,

      Thanks for the question. We are a travel agency and not an internet service provider, pocket WiFi are a complimentary service we provide to our clients if they are interested. This is part of the VIP treatment we give as part of our service.

      If you are interested in booking a package through us, please check our available vacation packages here. You can also contact us directly by filling our inquiry form, and we’ll help you build a custom package.

      Otherwise, you can just go to any major mall in Manila and buy it there. I recommend the globe device which usually has better signal in most parts of the Philippines. Check out their plan for pre-paid pocket WiFi here.

      Good luck and have fun on your trip!

      Posted on April 11, 2018 Reply
  2. James

    hello there..i hope to travel to your country in next augest.so i really want to know about your internet facilities.aslo cost of internet packages.moreover speed.

    Posted on June 6, 2018 Reply
    • Admin

      Hi James,

      The internet here is pretty bad. Manila is OK but most islands you will have very weak and slow signal.
      The best company is Globe – check their site here and see what package you like the most.

      If you need help with planning your trip to the Philippines, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

      I hope you will have a wonderful trip here!

      Posted on June 7, 2018 Reply
  3. Paul

    Hello,

    I’m traveling to the Philippines next month, and I’m looking for a good internet solution. I was there in both 2016 and 2017 and tried the Smart Pocket WiFi, but it was nowhere close to acceptable. It would work okay early in the morning, then as people wake up, it seems the network gets clogged pretty fast. BTW – this was in Batangas City, which is where I’ll be again. My questions are:

    1. Has Smart’s Pocket WiFi network improved at all?

    2. Can Globe really deliver up to 42Mbps speeds from a pocket WiFi device? Based on my past experiences, this seems pretty unrealistic.

    Thanks much for your help!

    Paul

    Posted on June 14, 2018 Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Paul and thanks for the good questions.

      To be honest we are also struggling with internet being slow, despite having our office in the best part of Manila where infrastructure is supposedly modern.
      In Batangas, as with all provinces, the internet is always slow and unstable – this isn’t necessarily due to providers but more about not having the right infrastructure to support high bandwidth. To briefly answer your questions:

      1) I can’t really attest to Smart’s improvement but it is pretty much a consensus that Globe are the much better company. Try them out instead this time around.

      2) You are correct, it’s unrealistic. We have higher bandwidth here theoretically but in reality the internet is quite slow, and downtime happens a lot. Pocket Wi-Fi are of course even less stable. There are a lot of good articles online on how to optimize signal quality, find a frequency that’s not clogged by other Wi-Fi’s in the area and so on – just google it and find one of the leading tech blogs – they’ll give you plenty of advice you can follow if you are relatively tech-savvy.

      Ultimately you just have to accept the internet in the Philippines is one of the worst in the world. If you are coming here for work, or you really need high quality streaming for some reason, then the only places you could stay at are certain parts of Manila (basically BGC and Makati).

      Another option is to find a 5 stars hotel, those usually have good connection even in smaller islands such as Palawan/Boracay etc…

      Posted on June 15, 2018 Reply
  4. Paul

    Hello Again,

    Thanks for the thorough answers to my questions – you confirmed what I already suspected. We are looking into installing signal-based Globe broadband in the house we are staying. It’s not a wired landline DSL, they say it’s just a modem placed in the home that picks up internet from an LTE signal. It’s not pocket WiFi either as you can’t transport the modem to another location. I’ve never heard of this type of service in the Philippines before. Have or anyone you know had experience with it?

    Posted on June 22, 2018 Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Paul,

      I’m afraid i’m not an expert on this and it’s hard to give the right advice considering i have no idea how long you’ll be staying here and where exactly in Batangas.

      Everyone i know of uses a wired landline DSL – provided by either PLDT or Sky Cable. If the place where you stay already has cable TV, setting up sky is very easy and their internet is quite good so to me it seems the simplest option.

      You can mail me at info (at) philippinestravelpackage (dot) com and i’ll try and give more specific help if you need it. You could also look up some expat forums / philippines tech forums / Facebook groups and post this questions there instead.

      Posted on June 25, 2018 Reply

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