15 May 2009

Useful stuff: Should I get a local mobile number for my trip?

If you are in the area for even a short trip, you may find it worthwhile to pick up a local SIM card for your mobile, especially if you'll be booking a lot of hotels, restaurants, etc. once you are on the ground. The deals offered by some of the operators can makes it very feasible (the editor has six different SIM cards from the region). Just make sure that your phone isn't locked, and if you are from the US, that it actually accepts SIM cards. Otherwise, you might want to see which operators have the best roaming deals with your provider.

Also, as this site covers parts of several countries, all phone numbers include the country code as well as the regional and local number. Ex: +123 (45) 678 912

To dial from outside the country in question, enter the entire number (with the "+" or "00" as appropriate). To dial from within the country from a cell phone, enter "0" plus the number in the parentheses plus the final digits. From our pathetic example above, to call from within the country you would dial "045 678 912".


For Croatia, you can get a prepaid VIPme SIM card for 100KN that includes 100KN of credits. Also, T-Mobile Croatia has the prepaid Simpa start package and they finally got their site up in English.

Users of either will be happy to know that you can recharge your phone at any ATM by selecting GSM Voucher. Also, both operators have various wifi hotspots around the country which can be accessed if you have Simpa or VIPme. And last but not least, you can use either operator to pay for parking in many cities and towns across Croatia, including Rovinj, Porec, Dubrovnik, and Split.


proMonte, a subsidiary of Telenor, has prepaid SIM cards for 5 Euros including the same amount in credits; they are available at Telenor shops and many kiosks. T-Mobile Montenegro also has prepaid services.

si.mobil offers the HALO prepaid packages and Mobitel has several prepaid packages. However, if you are travelling in Croatia for most of the trip, you may want to get a VIP Croatia card and use its roaming functions with si.mobil (they are both owned by MobilkomAustria, as are VIP Serbia and VIP Macedonia).

Bosnia & Herzegovina
BH Telecom offers the ULTRA pre-paid package for 15KM, which includes 10 KM of phone credits. Alternately, the HT Eronet !hej package costs 3 km more, but if you are in town for the Sarajevo Film Festival, HT Eronet users can reserve movie tickets via their phone. Recharge vouchers can be bought for either at various kiosks or their respective outlets.


Apparently the best deal at the moment in Macedonia is the VIP prepaid card priced at 400 denars and including the same amount in phone credits. They are available at kiosks or VIP shops. T-Mobile Macedonia start up cards come with 600 denars credit and are available at TMobile shops. ONE (part of the Telekom Slovenia Group) has prepaid cards for 190 denars, including 250 denars credit, but the price per minute is higher than for VIP so you may be better off sinking the initial 400 denars for VIP.


Telenor has some of the best deals going in Serbia, with four SIM card packages each going for 400 dinars. You can recharge with vouchers of 200, 300, 5oo or 1000 dinars or electronically at Telenor stands or many kiosks for any amount from 50 to 5000 dinars.  If in a group, their Moja Ekipa ("my team") gets you four SIM cards with 20 dinars credit each and free calls within the "team".  VIP Serbia offers prepaid cards as well.

The Slovenian operator IPKO offers the best prepaid deals; you can get them at many of the informal kiosks in Pristina. PTK's Vala network is supposedly improving in the face of the competition, but given their past record, who knows. Recharge vouchers can be purchased for either at the many informal kiosks.

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