Flying to Kathmandu? Get yourself a Nepal prepaid sim card on arrival or an e-sim card for Nepal and don't let your trip be ruined by high roaming costs or slow overseas data roaming. Buying a sim card at Kathmandu Airport is easy, simple and quick. This is a complete guide where to buy a sim card, up to date prices as per August 2023, the best e-sim cards for Nepal and everything else you need to know.
Getting connected to the internet is one of the first things I do when I arrive to a new country. As a professional travel blogger I am constantly updating my social media channels and I don’t want to rely on slow WiFi. Therefore I bought a Nepal sim card at Kathmandu Airport.
As I am on a journey to visit every country in the world I constantly get to new places and therefore you can already find more than 200 prepaid sim card guides on Traveltomtom from all over the world: Asia, Europe, USA, Austria, Italy, Europe, London, Paris, Rome, New York, Canada, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and many more.
If for some reason you are unable to buy a sim card at Kathmandu Airport have a look at my complete guide for buying a sim card for Nepal in 2023. Buying a local prepaid sim card on arrival in Kathmandu too much hassle then have a look at my recommendations for travel sim cards for Asia in 2023.
WiFi in Kathmandu and Nepal is widespread and most bars, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses offer free WiFi. I must say it is often ok, but I simply can’t deal with slow internet, so having a prepaid Nepal sim card with a 4G connection is a must for me when traveling.
Buying a Nepal sim card is also the best way to kill long bus rides, waiting in traffic, getting directions, etc. It makes your trip to Nepal much easier, trust me!
Interested in trekking in Nepal? Read my travel blogs about Langtang Valley, Poonhill, etc. But what you should definitely read now that you are about to travel to Kathmandu is my Nepal street food tour in Kathmandu. So much recommended! Yummy food, hidden courtyards, unknown food stalls and so much fun. Click on the link to read the article and see the video. Or curious what a Nepal packing list looks like? In the link you read all I bring with me for my trip to Nepal.
Traveling to several countries on your trip to Asia then have a look at buying an international sim card. Check my comparison of the best travel sim cards in 2023 in the link.
Arriving at Kathmandu Airport
Be prepared for a little chaos when arriving at Kathmandu Airport. This is not the newest airport and everything is not that well organized. There is only one international arrival hall and baggage claim so that makes things easier. In the baggage hall you will already see advertisement for buying a Nepal sim card.
Where to buy a Nepal sim card at Kathmandu Airport
It might all seem a bit chaotic in the baggage hall but after you collect your luggage it is easy to find a Nepal sim card. But with recent developments there are now sim card stores inside the terminal. You can not miss the signs, see the photo above.
When walking out of the baggage hall and walk through the customs check there is a sliding door to a covered outside area. On your right hand side you will see a Nepal Telecom and an Ncell shop next two each other. You can’t miss it.
There are only two mobile internet operators in Nepal: Ncell and Nepal Telecom. Nepal Telecom is sometimes also referred to as an NTC Namaste sim card.
To buy a Nepal sim card you need a passport photo and your passport. Don’t worry, in case you don’t have a passport photo they take one for you for 50 NRS ($0.40) at the shop itself. For buying a Nepal sim card you will have to fill out a registration form, which looks like this.
You will also need to bring Nepalese Rupees. USD and Euros are not accepted. However, the easiest way to pay for your new Nepal sim card is to use your international credit card. Visa and Mastercard are accepted!
Also great is that the sim card shops at Kathmandu Airport are open for every incoming international flight from early morning till after midnight.
Prices Nepal sim card at Kathmandu Airport in 2023
All the info and prices are updated in August 2023. Below prices are in Nepalese Rupees and per August 2023: $1 USD = 131 NPR and 1 NPR = $0.76 USD.
Nepal Telecom prepaid sim card for tourists
As mentioned before you can get a free Nepal Telecom sim card at Kathmandu Airport. Just go to the NTC counter, fill out the form and you will receive one. The sim card does not come with any credit though.
At Kathmandu Airport you can buy the following Nepal Telecom data packages:
- 1 GB per day for 7 days + 60 minutes = 500 NRS - $3.70 USD
- 1 GB per day for 28 days + 100 minutes = 1,200 NRS - $9 USD
- 4.5 GB data for 28 days + 60 minutes = 700 NRS - $5.3 USD
- 12 GB data for 42 days + 60 minutes = 1,200 NRS - $9 USD
Which Nepal Telecom data package is the best for you depends on the length of your stay.
Ncell Nepal prepaid sim card for tourists
An Ncell Nepal sim card at Kathmandu Airport cost 110 NRS ($1.2 USD) and can be bought after you fill out their registration form. For tourists there are a wide array of prepaid sim cards plans and data packages available:
- 10 GB data for 7 days + 40 minutes = 500 NRS - $3.70 USD
- 20 GB data for 15 days + 40 minutes = 700 NRS - $5.30 USD
- 28 GB data for 28 days + 280 minutes = 1200 NRS - $9.00 USD
- 40 GB data for 30 days + 80 minutes = 1300 NRS - $9.80 USD
- 30 GB data for 60 days + 40 minutes = 1700 NRS - $12.80 USD
- 50 GB data for 90 days + 40 minutes = 2200 NRS - $16.60 USD
Ncell Nepal has a little more variation plus they don’t limit your usage to 1GB a day.
Best Nepal sim card at Kathmandu Airport in 2023
It is hard to determine the best Nepal sim card at Kathmandu Airport as it totally depends on the length of your stay. If you for example stay 7 days only, then a Nepal Telecom sim card is $1 cheaper, but they limit your data usage to 1GB per day. Personally I would not want that restriction for that extra dollar.
For longer stays a Nepal Telecom (NTC Namaste) is significantly cheaper and is more value for money, but again it comes with a limited 1GB per day restriction.
In all honesty it is hard to decide which is the the best sim card for tourists at Kathmandu Airport in 2023!
Another important factor is to have a look at the 4G coverage maps. Some areas there is only a Nepal Telecom signal available, some areas only have an Ncell signal. For example I went trekking in Langtang Valley and there was only a Nepal Telecom signal available.
For a complete overview of the 4G coverage in Nepal check out my article about the best sim card for Nepal in 2023.
My advice for buying a sim card for Nepal in 2023 is to buy a sim card from both operators, especially if you have two sim card slots.
Best e-sim cards for Nepal
The easiest way to stay connected when traveling abroad in 2023 is an e-sim card. No more visiting stores and swapping sim cards. With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number from home. Check out the following Nepal e-sim card deal:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $9.5 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Nepal directly online or find more info in the link.
Visa on arrival Kathmandu Airport
If you are eligible for a visa on arrival than there is nothing to worry about because as soon as you land you will be directed to one of the many visa machines. You fill out all the required information, print out your visa entry receipt and head to the cashier. Depending on the length of your stay you pay between $25 and $100 USD. You can pay in Euros too. There is an ATM next to the cashier, but it charges $5 extra to withdraw Nepalese Rupees.
On the visa entry receipt they already mention that a Nepal sim card is available after the custom counter! :)
How to get from Kathmandu Airport to the city
Nepal is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel and therefore there is no need to tell you all the possible ways to get to the city. It is really simple: just grab a taxi. The taxis in Kathmandu all have a meter but as you can guess it is hard to find one who wants to use that meter. Ask around you might be lucky! A normal fair from KTM airport to Thamel (the popular tourist district) is around 600 - 900 NRS ($5 - $8).
There's no Uber yet in Nepal, but there are some alternatives. Bike sharing apps are popular. Those are handy, but not from and to the airport of course. Download Tootle and Pathao for bike sharing apps and Sarathi for taxis, but this last one doesn't really work.
I hope the above tips for buying a sim card at Kathmandu Airport were handy. Please return the favor and help me by sharing the link of this article on the internet. Share it on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter or pin it on Pinterest and I will be forever thankful!
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 August 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.
Enjoy your trip to Nepal!
Some links in this article about the best sim cards for traveling to Kathmandu are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. This is at absolutely no extra cost to you.