Planning your trip to Kenya and flying to Nairobi and wondering if you can buy a prepaid sim card on arrival at Nairobi Airport? Don’t waste money on high roaming charges or rely on slow overseas data roaming plans. This is a complete guide with everything you need to know before buying a prepaid sim card for Kenya on arrival at Nairobi Airport.
Find out where to buy a prepaid sim card at Nairobi Airport, the best e-sim cards for Kenya, up to date prices as per February 2024, my recommendation, a vlog about my experiences on arrival at Nairobi Airport, information about international sim cards and more.
One of the first things I do when planning my next trip is looking for the best way to stay connected. In the past that always meant buying a local prepaid sim card on arrival in the country, but nowadays I mostly use e-sim cards to stay connected.
As I love to document all my travel tips and I am also on a journey to visit every country in the world you can already find more than 200 sim card guides on Traveltomtom from all around the world: Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Cameroon, Douala, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Egypt, Cairo, South Africa, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Europe, London, UK, New York, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Asia and many more.
Of course Traveltomtom also wrote a complete guide for buying a sim card for Kenya in 2024.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid and e-sim card advice for your next holiday destination. Bookmark me and let me help you save money!
Traveltomtom recommends buying a Safaricom sim card at Nairobi Airport. Although more expensive than Vodafone and Telekom, Safaricom has by far the best 4G/5G network. For around $7 USD you get 5 GB data for 1 week.
Buying a prepaid sim card at Nairobi Airport is easy, ordering an e-sim card even easier. You arrive prepared and you arrange everything on the internet within just a couple clicks.
E-sim cards for Kenya are more expensive than local prepaid sim cards.
There are also travel sim cards with data and worldwide coverage and some of them are great for traveling to Kenya. Check out my comparison of the best international sim card for traveling in 2024 and pick the one that suits your trip the best. Some of these sim cards are valid in up to 130 countries.
Best e-sim cards for Kenya
The easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Kenya in 2024 is an e-sim card. You arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a phone store and swapping physical prepaid sim cards.
You order an e-sim card for Kenya on the internet, you receive a QR code, scan it, follow the simple steps and within less than 2 minutes you have a Kenya e-sim card installed on your phone.
Upon arrival in Kenya it automatically connects you to an available network and you enjoy data on your phone pretty much when the plane lands.
Make sure your phone is e-sim compatible before ordering an e-sim card for Kenya.
Airalo is a very reliable e-sim provider that sells e-sim cards from pretty much every country in the world. Check out the Airalo e-sim card plans for Kenya in 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $9 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $16.5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $23.5 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $36.5 USD
Click here for more info or to order a Kenya e-sim card via Airalo.
The above data-only Kenya e-sim cards from Nakuru Mobile are only valid in Kenya. Nakuru Mobile operates on the Airtel 4G/LTE network in Kenya.
SimOptions is a reliable e-sim provider and Traveltomtom has used SimOptions in more than 50 countries around the world and never faced an issue.
The SimOptions e-sim cards are more expensive than Airalo, but these are international e-sim cards, valid in up to 141 countries around the world. Here are the SimOptions international e-sim card plans for Kenya for 2024:
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $39.90 USD
Click here for more info or to order an international e-sim card for Kenya via SimOptions.
Another trusted and reviewed e-sim provider is Nomad and Traveltomtom has used Nomad now in more than 10 countries. Nomad sometimes has amazing competitive e-sim card plans with cheap prices.
Here are the Nomad e-sim card plans for Kenya in 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $10 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $23 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $37 USD
Click here for more info or to order an e-sim card for Kenya via Nomad.
The Nomad e-sim cards for Kenya operate on the 4G/LTE network of Airtel.
If your phone is not e-sim compatible then you can order a physical prepaid sim card for Kenya on the internet. For $49.90 USD you get 10 GB data for 14 days and you can order this prepaid sim card via SimOptions and get it delivered to your home address.
Why buying a sim card for Kenya
There is Uber in Kenya, but you won’t be able to order an Uber without a working data connection on your phone. A very simple example right? But what about getting directions from Google Maps, finding a nearby restaurant with good reviews. Simple things that won’t be able without an internet connection.
WiFi in Kenya? Well, this is Africa. Don’t expect things to be working like back home. Simply do NOT rely on public WiFi, it is not everywhere available and often it is very slow. Also keep in mind that public WiFi is through an UNSECURED network.
Getting a local sim card is easy in Kenya and it makes traveling so much more convenient.
If you do not prefer to swap your sim card and change to a new phone number then a pocket WiFi could be a solution to stay online when traveling. Personally, a portable WiFi does not have my preference, read my HONEST review in my article how to get WiFi when traveling.
Arrival Nairobi International Airport Jomo Kenyatta
The main international airport for traveling to Kenya is the Jomo Kenyatta Nairobi International Airport. I expected a much bigger and more modern airport to be honest but Nairobi Airport is rather small for international arrivals.
It is a bit messy when it comes to arrival halls as there are multiple ones. For example flights from Egypt Air, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, etc arrive at terminal 1E. Basically all non Sky Team Airlines. Highly inconvenient for those who want to buy a prepaid sim card at Nairobi Airport, because at Terminal 1 there is only a simple coffee shop outside and nothing else.
Terminal 1A is used for the international arrivals of Kenya Airways and all other Sky Team partners. Outside of Terminal 1A is where you find the sim card shops.
Where to buy a sim card at Nairobi Airport
It is very easy and impossible to miss if you arrive at Terminal 1A. As soon as you go through the last customs bag check and you exit through the sliding door you are outside. Right in front of you there are 3 little shops next to each other: Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel. See in the vlog how easy it is.
Buying a local sim card for Kenya at the airport is the easiest way to get connected on arrival. For this convenience you pay a little extra but not much. The prices for sim cards at Nairobi Airport are very decent compared to what you pay for prepaid sim cards in Nairobi city center. Therefore if you are willing to buy a prepaid sim card in Kenya on arrival then Traveltomtom recommends to instantly get one at Nairobi Airport.
The Airtel and Telkom shop are open 24 hours, the Safaricom shop is NOT open 24 hours and closes around 9.00 pm. That kind of sucks because Traveltomtom rates Safaricom the best prepaid sim card for tourists in Kenya in 2024.
All 3 mobile provider shops accept credit cards so there is no need to change money or go to an ATM first. However, there is an Absa Bank ATM opposite as well in case you want to get local money.
Check out my vlog above about my arrival at Nairobi Airport and my experiences buying a prepaid sim card for Kenya.
Prices sim cards Nairobi Airport
All the sim card shops will charge you 200 KES (around $1) for a Kenya prepaid sim card, and they come with 150 KES credit or so called Airtime which you can use to turn into data or use it for making local phone calls.
At the Safaricom store at Nairobi Airport they sell e-sim cards for tourists if you are lucky. I experienced also one time already that they said they were not available and one other time they said the system was down. So out of 3 times, I only 1 time got an e-sim card from Safaricom. A Safaricom e-sim card cost 250 KES extra.
Telkom and Airtel do NOT offer e-sim cards, but only physical prepaid sim cards.
Safaricom prepaid sim card
As said in the beginning of the article I recommend a Safaricom sim card for traveling in Kenya, However, they are much more expensive and their data packages give you much less Gigabytes.
Although the paper above suggests differently, they only offer 5 packages at Safaricom Nairobi Airport. They are valid for 30 days and they all include free Whatsapp:
- 5 GB data + 400 minutes = 1,000 KES - $6.1 USD
- 15 GB data + 1000 minutes = 2,000 KES - $12.3 USD
- 25 GB data + 1500 minutes = 3,000 KES - $18.5 USD
- 35 GB data + 400 minutes = 5,000 KES - $30.8 USD
- 50 GB data + 400 minutes = 10,000 KES - $61.5 USD
Telkom prepaid sim card
Prices for data packages at Telkom are significantly cheaper than Safaricom. Packages are also valid for 30 days:
- 12 GB data + 100 minutes = 1,500 KES - $9.2 USD
- 2,500 KES = 30 GB data + 100 minutes = 2,500 KES - $15.4 USD
- 50 GB data + 100 minutes = 3,500 KES - $21.5 USD
- UNLIMITED data + 100 minutes = 4,500 KES - $28 USD
They also have data only packages, see the photo above:
- 12 GB data = 1,000 KES - $6.1 USD
- 30 GB data = 2,000 KES - $12.3 USD
Remember that the prepaid sim card already comes with 150 KES credit which you can use for calling, so a data-only package would actually be my recommendation.
Telkom also offers weekly data packages:
- 10 GB data + 150 minutes = 1,000 KES - $6.1 USD
- 25 GB data + 400 minutes = 2,000 KES - $12.3 USD
Airtel prepaid sim card
The Airtel prices for prepaid sim cards at Nairobi Airport are pretty much equal to Telkom.
- 10 GB data + 400 minutes = 1,000 KES - $6.1 USD
- 24 GB data + 1200 minutes = 2,000 KES - $12.3 USD
They also have a bunch of data-only packages and a weekly package, see the photo above.
Best sim card at Nairobi Airport
When looking at the prices only, Safaricom is much more expensive compared to Telekom and Airtel. However, I still recommend a Safaricom sim card for traveling in Kenya and that is because of their extensive mobile network. The Safaricom 4G/5G network is by far the best in Kenya.
For more info check out Traveltomtom's guide for the best prepaid sim card in Kenya in 2024.
If you visit multiple tourist destinations in Kenya and will be on the road a lot during your Kenya trip then definitely get yourself a Safaricom prepaid sim card.
If you will only be visiting Nairobi then there is no need to buy an expensive Safaricom prepaid sim card. But keep in mind that Safaricom is the only mobile internet operator that offers 5G in Kenya.
Airtel and Telkom have very similar prices but offer literally 100% more value for money than Safaricom. As a comparison for 1,000 KES ($6 USD):
- Airtel and Telkom give you 10 GB
- Safaricom gives you just 5 GB.
If this all sounds like way too much hassle than another reminder that you can also order sim cards for Kenya online. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for Kenya via SimOptions, Nomad or Airalo.
How to get from Nairobi Airport to the city
Actually I already gave you the best option: Uber. An Uber ride from Nairobi Airport to the city center is a little over $10 USD and takes around 30 minutes. There is public transport, but I would not recommend it. Not that it is not safe, but come on… $10 USD for a 30 minute taxi ride is CHEAP!
Ordering an Uber to get from Nairobi Airport to the city is by far the easiest, fastest and most convenient way to travel. However, you need a prepaid sim card or an e-sim card so you have data on your phone.
I hope the above tips for buying a local sim card for Kenya at Nairobi Airport were helpful for your upcoming Kenya trip.
Need some more Kenya travel tips then have a look at my 10-day Kenya itinerary or my list of the best things to do in Kenya. My biggest travel tip for Kenya? Visit the last two northern white rhinos in the world in Ol Pejeta. Yes, that is right… THE LAST TWO! :(
Curious what it looks like trying to visit every country in the world? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along. As of February 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.
Enjoy your trip to Kenya!
Some links in this article about buying a sim card at Nairobi Airport are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link in this article I earn a small commission. This is at absolutely no extra cost to you!