NCell Sim Card counter at Kathmandu Airport

How To Buy A Local SIM Card In Nepal? (For Foreigners)

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In today’s era, it’s not difficult to stay in touch with your friends and family, even when you’re abroad. You could top up your phone with an international plan or buy a local SIM card. When we went to Nepal, we opted to purchase the local SIM card. If you’re wondering how to buy a Nepal SIM card, don’t worry, we’ve got you. In this blog, we discuss the different types of SIM cards, their benefits, the process of buying one, and more.

How To Buy A SIM Card In Nepal?

Types Of SIM Cards

Physical SIM Card

Physical SIM cards are the most popular choice among locals and tourists in the country. The SIM Cards usually come in three different sizes: 

  • Standard 
  • Micro 
  • Nano

Digital SIM Or eSIM

eSIM or digital SIM cards are still not used in Nepal. The concept and technology are yet to be introduced in the country.

Benefits Of Purchasing A Nepali SIM Card

  • You get decent network coverage even in remote villages and valleys.
  • The prices are lower than the hefty roaming charges, and Wi-Fi charges you might incur while trekking.

Reliable Network Providers In Nepal

NCell, Nepal Telecom (NTC), and Smart Cell are the three main network providers in Nepal. While all three have mobile apps that are accessible and affordable, NCell and NTC are the most popular. And all three networks provide good 4G in the cities.

NCell

NCell is the best provider, especially for trekking in the Khumbu region. We got intermittent signals at the highest settlement in Gorakshep, at 5164 m or 16950 feet.

Nepal Telecom

Nepal Telecom, or NTC, is a fully government-owned network operator that offers equally good services. NTC works best in the Annapoorna region of Nepal.

Everest Link

Everest Link is popular among trekkers as it provides coverage throughout the trek all along the trails.

Documents Required

Ncell SIM Card registration form for tourists at the Kathmandu Airport
Ncell SIM Card registration form for tourists at the Kathmandu Airport
  • A passport-size photograph
  • Passport
  • Visa (if applicable)

How Is The Internet Speed In Nepal?

In cities, you can get 4G speed, but in remote or in the mountains, your speed will range from poor to moderate. We got a signal whenever we reached valleys or villages during our EBC and Three-Pass trek.

What Are Prepaid And Postpaid Plans?

You can only opt for a prepaid plan as a tourist or foreigner in Nepal. Prepaid is when you have to pay beforehand for the services you’ll be using later. Postpaid plans do exist but are only accessible to Nepalese citizens.

How Much Does It Cost?

Below are the charges of NCell as of September 2023. If you don’t have a photo, you’ll have to pay NPR 50 extra.

ValidityDataCostTalk Time
7 Days15 GBNPR 50050 Mins
15 Days25 GBNPR 70060 Mins
28 Days20 GBNPR 70050 Mins
28 Days88 GBNPR 1200100 Mins
28 Days20 GBNPR 599150 Mins

The price of an Everest Link SIM card is NPR 0.15 per MB used.

Where To Get A SIM Card?

Everest Link SIM card is not available at the airport. You can get Everest Link prepaid SIM cards from exclusive outlets in Kathmandu, Namche, and Dingboche. 

At The Airport

Nepal TeleCom (NTC) SIM card counter at the Kathmandu airport

Both NCell and NTC have counters at the airport. Upon filling out a form with basic details like your name, country, passport number, and VISA, you will be asked to provide a few documents as mentioned above. Once you do, you’ll need to pay based on the plan you choose. The officials at the counter will help you activate your SIM card within minutes.

Please note that only Nepalese Rupees (NPR) are accepted, and no card payments are accepted at the counter. You can exchange your money in the nearby currency exchange shop. 

For Indians traveling to Nepal,

Indian Rupees are not accepted in any Nepal currency exchanges. It is better to bring a few USD or Euros with you.

At Exclusive Retail Outlets

You can get a SIM card at retail outlets spread across the country. You’ll need to follow a similar procedure to that of the airport – Fill out a form, submit a photo, make the payment to purchase a SIM, and activate it.

At Local Vendors

Tourist SIM cards might not be available at local vendor stores. But you can recharge or top-up your existing prepaid plans.

How To Activate The SIM Card?

If you’re buying a SIM card at the Airport, they’ll activate it. If you’re buying at the retail outlets or the local vendors, wait for some time at the store and get it activated. It’ll take only a few minutes.

Validity

If the validity of the main balance ends, you can recharge again to resume your services. By recharging, NCell prepaid customers can extend the validity, even when away from Nepal. If unused, the incoming and outgoing services of the card will be halted after 90 days. 

NCell SIM cards can be extended up to a maximum of 1000 days by recharging for NPR 1000, and you no longer have to worry about the Ncell SIM card being closed or whether you can continue using Ncell services.

Is 4G Available In Nepal?

Yes. Nepal provides 4G services in 30+ major cities, including Kathmandu, Pokhara, Patan, Biratnagar, Bharatpur, Janakpur, Dhangarhi, Butwal, Mahendranagar, Hetauda, Mepalgunj, Bhairahawa, Gulariya, to name a few.

Helpful Tips

  • The country code of Nepal is +977, followed by a 10-digit mobile number.
  • You can download the app to check your current plan and data balance. You can also recharge the SIM online via their app or website. 
    • For NCell, The following numbers come in handy. 
      • To check balance and data – *144#
      • To check your number – *903#
      • To know about voice packs – *17118#
      • To know about data packs – *17123#
    • For NTC, 
      • To check balance and data – *400#
      • To check your number – *9#
      • To know about the latest offers – *1415#
      • For customer support – 1498
  • If you want to charge your device, most sockets are Type C, Type D, and Type M plug types. It is advisable to purchase a universal adapter that can be used in 150+ countries, including India.
  • When approaching a vendor to recharge or top-up, be specific about your prepaid plan.
  • Although banners displayed FREE Wi-Fi and steps to connect at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, they were not working. We were not able to connect even after multiple attempts.

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