Traveling to Nepal soon and looking for the best way to stay connected? Don't let slow overseas data roaming packages or high roaming costs ruin your trip. In a country with challenging logistics having a solid 4G connection is worth a lot. Trust me! This is a complete guide for buying a sim card for Nepal with where to buy a sim card, the best 4G/5G network coverage in Nepal, up to date prices as per August 2022, me recommendation and even info about international and e-sim cards for Nepal.
A Nepal sim card with data is CHEAP! Investing a couple dollars will make your trip to Nepal so much more convenient!
Over the last years Nepal became one of my favorite travel destinations in the world. I have returned multiple times to this country and would recommend anyone to meet the amazingly lovely people of Nepal and see its utterly stunning landscapes. As I am also on a quest to travel to every country in the world I get to a lot of new places constantly and the first thing I do is looking to buy a prepaid sim card to get connected. Therefore on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 prepaid sim card guides from all over the world: Dubai, USA, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Turkey, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Europe, Switzerland, etc.
Traveltomtom recommends a Nepal Telecom sim card as they have the most flexible prepaid sim card deal for tourists.
However, in all honesty it doesn't matter so much which sim card you get for Nepal. Local prepaid sim cards are cheap and it is very hard to determine who has the best 4G network in Nepal. In fact if you really need to stay connected all the time you buy 2 prepaid sim cards: one from Nepal Telecom and one from Ncell. That is what most locals do!
There is also the option of a global sim card with data that has coverage in Nepal. Check out my comparison of the best global sim cards with data in 2022 and pick the one that suits your trip the best.
E-sim cards for Nepal
The easiest way to stay connected when traveling in 2022 is an e-sim card for Nepal. You can arrange everything online without swapping a physical sim card or visiting a shop and it takes just a couple minutes. Check the following e-sim card deal for Nepal:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $9.5 USD
Click here to order a Nepal e-sim card directly online. With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number from home.
If you want a physical sim card and get it shipped to your home address before your trip then have a look at ordering an international sim card for Nepal online.
Flying into Kathmandu? Here is a complete guide for buying a sim card at Kathmandu Airport on arrival. Are you traveling to more countries in Asia then you might want to check out my article about the best sim cards for Asia travel in 2022.
Think about Google Maps, ordering taxis, booking hotels, killing endlessly long bus rides, waiting at the airport, etc. Bike sharing apps are popular btw., download Tootle and Pathao for bike sharing apps mainly in Kathmandu and Pokhara. A taxi app is Sarathi, but don't except Uber standards. :)
While traveling in Nepal I did a Kathmandu street food tour, highly recommended guys! I would have never found all those places myself as we ended up in hidden courtyards and got to try the most amazing Nepal street food. Check out the 5 minute video (300K on YouTube) in the link.
More Related Articles
What to bring when buying a Nepal sim card
I have done research about buying a sim card in many Asian countries: Pakistan, Maldives, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. and like everywhere you will have to bring your passport for identification. But when buying a Nepal sim card they also require a passport size photo. In case you don’t have one, don’t worry for 50 Rupees ($0.50) they will take one of you on the spot.
Tourists buying a prepaid sim card in Nepal will have to fill out a registration form as well, which looks like this.
Mobile internet operators in Nepal
This is the Nepal Telecom shop in Kathmandu.
There are only 2 main mobile internet providers in Nepal: Ncell, which is a private company and the state owned Nepal Telecom, also referred to as NTC Namaste. Both have an extensive 4G network and competitive prices when it comes to data packages.
Best mobile network in Nepal in 2022
To find the best Nepal sim card looking at the mobile network is something very important. I researched the internet to find coverage maps for both Ncell and Nepal Telecom, but could only find a 4G network map of Ncell.
Is there 5G in Nepal? As of August 2022 there is still NO 5G network in Nepal. According to a news article Nepal Telecom will start 5G trials as of June 2022. Well, first see then believe.
Based on my own experience it is hard to tell you which one of the two internet providers in Nepal has the best Nepal mobile network. I eventually bought an Ncell sim card and in and around Kathmandu there was a 4G signal and internet was reliable and pretty ok. In remote areas finding a good mobile internet connection was harder. Some of the porters and guides on my Langtang trekking had a Nepal Telecom sim card and basically encountered the same problem.
4G coverage Ncell
Here is what the 4G coverage for Ncell looks like end of 2021. Unfortunately there is no new data available for 2022 at the moment, but this looks pretty good!
4G Coverage Nepal Telecom
In January 2021 Nepal Telecom published an article about having extended their 4G network with more than 2,000 new towers across the country. Unfortunately I could NOT find a 4G coverage map of Nepal Telecom, but they do specify every region where they have a NT 4G network. Not a map, but a list. Pretty useless!
Therefore it is hard to tell you which mobile internet network in Nepal is the best. When traveling to Nepal and going off the beaten path just be prepared to be offline and in case you find a phone signal make the most of it!
Where to buy a Nepal sim card
As I mentioned already you can easily buy a Nepal sim card at Kathmandu Airport straight after you collect your luggage. I can already tell you that prices don’t differ too much than in the city and I totally recommend tourists to buy a sim card at Kathmandu Airport.
When for some reason it wasn’t possible to buy a Nepal sim card at the airport you will find them everywhere around Kathmandu. Souvenir shops, clothing shops, etc. Everyone seems to sell local sim cards.
But be aware that these sellers somehow have to make money too and they will charge you way more. This is an example of the prices they charged at a random shop in Thamel, the most popular tourist district in Kathmandu. Prices are often 50% higher than at the official shops.
You are better off heading to the official Nepal Telecom or Ncell shops across Kathmandu. In every shop you buy a Nepal sim card it will be activated for you on the spot.
Where to find them? Simply go to Google Maps and type in either: Ncell or Nepal Telecom. That is where I went and at both official shops I researched the available prepaid Nepal sim cards for tourists. The prices below are based on what they offered me in the official shops.
But if you want to support local shops then I recommend you to buy a Nepal sim card in any of the clothing shops. Remember that 2020 and 2021 were really hard years for Nepal tourism, so when traveling to Nepal in 2022 help the local shop keepers a little bit.
Pokhara sim card
If you for some reason want to buy a sim card in Pokhara then you can also find an official Ncell shop and a Nepal Telecom in Pokhara. They are a little bit away from the Lakeside, so you might just want to buy a sim card in Pokhara from one of the tourist shops around the lakeside area.
Prices Nepal sim card in 2022
Nepal Telecom prepaid sim card
At Kathmandu Airport they give away free sim cards to tourists. You only have to register, give a copy of your passport and a photo. In the official Nepal Telecom shop in Kathmandu city the same procedure will cost you 90 NRS ($0.80) and it comes with 50 NRS ($0.45) credit.
Nepal Telecom offers a wide range of data packages on their prepaid sim cards, but these are great ones for tourists:
Price: 250 NRS = $2 USD
- 7 GB data (1GB per day)
- 14 minutes calling time per day
- Valid for 7 days
Price: 850 NRS = $6.7 USD
- 28 GB data (1GB per day)
- 14 minutes calling time per day
- Valid for 28 days
As you can see the prices for Nepal Telecom data packages are super cheap. May be one of the cheapest prepaid sim cards in the world I have seen so far! If you buy the 28 GB data package you pay less than $0.30 per 1GB data. The same Nepal Telecom data package at Kathmandu Airport is $11, that is 50% more expensive, but we are talking about $3.50. :)
The above prices are up to date as per August 2022 and are a selection of the best ones. There are also social media packages for 3 days available with unlimited YouTube, etc. Check the Nepal Telecom website for the latest info and prepaid sim card offers and packages.
Ncell Nepal prepaid sim card
An Ncell Nepal sim card costs 110 NRS ($1) and you also have to register with a passport size photo and your passport copy. It does come with 30 NRS ($0,25) and 1 GB data for 3 days.
Ncell Nepal offers a lot of different data packages, but they have a special Ncell Visit Nepal SIM, see the picture for the rates. Ncell is way more expensive than Nepal Telecom. But these are special tourist sim cards that they also sell at Kathmandu Airport. Ask for a normal prepaid sim card and prices go down significantly.
For more info and the latest sim card deals check the Ncell Nepal website.
Best Nepal sim card in 2022
As you can see from the above it is pretty clear that Nepal Telecom offers bigger data packages and is even cheaper. Therefore it is pretty easy to come to the conclusion that based on the prices:
Nepal Telecom is the best Nepal sim card for tourists in 2022!
But as I said before, in case you want to be online as much as you can, just buy both sim cards and swap them over or bring an extra phone. Mobile data in Nepal is really cheap anyway!
Best sim card for Langtang Valley trek
The most amazing thing I did on my last trip to Nepal was the Langtang Valley trek. Being offline is one of the main reasons why I love hiking in the Himalayas so much but nowadays there is a phone signal almost everywhere. On the Langtang Valley trek there was only a Nepal Telecom phone signal available, as I had an Ncell sim card I was offline for 7 days! LOVED IT MUCHO :)
Best sim card for Annapurna Circuit
In 2013 I went trekking in the Annapurna region and back then there was no phone signal at all. Nowadays things have changed and I asked experienced guides that trek there every month and the best sim card in Nepal for trekking in Annapurna is Nepal Telecom. Much better phone reception than Ncell.
Best sim card for Everest Basecamp
On the contrary according to the guides and porters Ncell is the best sim card in Nepal for trekking to Everest Basecamp. So if you travel to Nepal for the Everest Basecamp Trek make sure to buy an Ncell sim card.
Basically the advice of the locals is to buy both sim cards! Most of them have Androids with dual sim, wish Apple finally catches up on Android with dual sim! Although…
Nepal tourism to me is actually all about being offline and being one with nature!
My experience buying a sim card in Nepal
On arrival at Kathmandu Airport I bought an Ncell sim card. Why? Ncell has no data restrictions per day like Nepal Telecom has, to me that is a big difference. Plus they also have much more flexible data package for the grab. Must say the price of Ncell is way more expensive than Nepal Telecom, but in fact it is only a couple dollars.
This is the Ncell sim card that I bought. It was on offer:
Price: 1045 NRS = $8.30 USD
- 16 GB data
- Valid for 28 days
- 60 min/day video (YouTube)
Buy a Nepal sim card online
There is also the option buying a sim card for Nepal online. Arrive prepared with an international sim card that covers Nepal. Order online and get it shipped to your home address before your trip. For example an AIS SIM2FLY prepaid sim card with 6 GB data = $19.90 USD. Click here to directly order this Nepal sim card deal online or find more info and offers in the link.
Also another last reminder that you can arrange a data sim card for Nepal online, simply by ordering an e-sim card for Nepal. No more swapping sim cards or visiting a store.
Does an Indian sim work in Nepal?
Something frequently asked is if Indian sim cards work in Nepal. Yes, they work, but only if you activate data roaming! You can’t use your Indian data bundles and calling minutes in Nepal, you will have to pay extra charges. Therefore also for Indian tourists it is better to buy a Nepal sim card when traveling in Nepal.
As a professional travel blogger I am traveling the world continuously since 2012 and the first thing I do when arriving in a new country is buying a sim card. As Nepal is one of the cheapest countries to travel in the world, buying a prepaid sim card is not going to break the bank. As per August 2022 I have visited more than 135 countries around the world.
I hope the above tips for finding the best Nepal sim card were helpful. I would be forever thankful if you could help me in return by sharing the link of this article online. Please share it in Facebook Group, tweet it on Twitter or pin it on Pinterest and you will make me smile big time! Thank you to the moon and back.
Enjoy your trip to Nepal!