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How to find the best prepaid SIM card when visiting Nepal

Two major providers can help you cut down on roaming charges.

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Home to 8 of the world’s 10 tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, Nepal is no stranger to foreign visitors. If you are visiting this South Asian country, you can cut down your expenses by investing in a local prepaid SIM card during your stay. You can get a starter pack with 60 texts, 40 domestic minutes and 20MB of data for NPR99 (US$0.95).

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Name Product Number of countries Data range Shipment time
SimCorner
80+
1GB-Unlimited
1-12 business days
SimCorner's prepaid SIM cards offer local call, text and data rates in dozens of countries around the world. Choose from a range of data packages, including unlimited data in the USA.
Flexiroam X
150+
1GB-7GB
3-7 business days
Attach the Flexiroam X ultra-thin microchip sticker to your current SIM card to access data roaming in over 140 countries.
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10 tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, Nepal is no stranger to foreign visitors. If you are visiting this South Asian country, you can cut down your expenses by investing in a local prepaid SIM card during your stay. You can get a starter pack with 60 texts, 40 domestic minutes and 20MB of data for NPR99 (US$0.95).

SIM card regulations in Nepal

Nepal is one of a growing number of countries taking extra steps to prevent prepaid SIM cards from being used in criminal activities. You must have your passport with you when you visit a store to buy a SIM card. The company will make a copy of your passport and take your photo as well. The office equipment in these stores is not always up to par, so if you want to ensure you’ll get everything done properly the first time, consider bringing a photo of yourself roughly the size of your passport, as well as a photocopy of the face side of your passport.

Smartphone network operators in Nepal

There are three principal smartphone network operators in Nepal. They are:

  • Ncell
  • Nepal Telecom
  • Smart Telecom

All three operate on 900 MHz for 2G and on 1800 MHz for 3G. In 2016, the country’s government began the conversion process of 3G to 900 MHz to free up 1800 MHz for new 4G/LTE offerings. In 2017, both Nepal Telecom and Ncell launched 4G/LTE services.

To help you compare the three major telcos, we’ve provided details of their offerings below.

Ncell

Formerly Mero Mobile, Ncell was sold to Malaysia’s Axiata Group in 2015 and given a new logo and name. Its 2G network reaches 90% of the population while its 3G is mainly available in the top 20 most populated towns. As the site’s coverage map shows, a lot of Nepal gets no coverage at all because of the prodigious mountain ranges. Its 4G network launched in June 2017 in the Kathmandu Valley region, which includes the cities of Dhulikhel, Banepa and Nagarkot.

The Ncell starter package costs NPR99 and comes with NPR50 in credit, along with 60 domestic texts, 40 domestic minutes and 20MB of data. There are top-up scratch cards available for purchase starting at NPR10. If you spend more than NPR100 on a top-up, you’ll get a bonus credit of 5-12%. Because of Nepalese tax rates, you don’t actually get the whole amount of your top-up. For instance, a NPR50 top-up only gains you NPR49.02 of credit.

Ncell data bundles

Since the Ncell default rate for data is NPR3.39 per MB, it makes sense to seek out a better deal. All the packages listed below included free trips to both Twitter and Wikipedia.

Price Anytime data Daytime data
(5am-5pm)
Nighttime data
(11pm-5am)
NPR9 20MB 40MB 80MB
NPR20 50MB 100MB 200MB
NPR100 300MB 600MB 1,200MB
NPR150 500MB 1,000MB 2,000MB
NPR250 1,000MB 2,000MB 4,000MB

To activate, dial *123#. To check your balance, dial *901#.

Ncell also offers three “unlimited” data packages, although they are throttled when you hit the maximum. They are:

Data Duration Rate
1GB 30 days NPR789.87
5GB 30 days NPR2,258.87
10GB 30 days NPR3,338.87

Activate these plans by dialing *17123#. Speed is throttled to just 32 Kbps after the limit is reached.

One more option is a data-only SIM that connects to a USB dongle. This package is called Ncell Connect. The dongle goes for NPR2,699 (plus 13% tax) and has 500MB included. There are three monthly packages available:

Data Rate Activation
500MB NPR450.87 Activation: Text “500MB” to 9009
1GB NPR789.87 Activation: Text “1GB” to 9009
5GB NPR2,258.87 Activation: Text “5GB” to 9009

APN: web

Website: http://www.ncell.com.np

Nepal Telecom

This is Nepal’s state-owned provider. It has the country’s monopoly on landlines and broadband connections. It’s a decided second behind Ncell when it comes to coverage, with 3G only partially available in Kathmandu and Pokhara. It started Nepal’s first 4G/LTE network on 1800 MHz in 2017 in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara. At present, iPhones 6 and 7 do not work with Nepal Telecom’s 1800 MHz LTE network. Make sure you call ahead to see if this has been remedied before your visit.

Its prepaid card is called “Namaste” and is available throughout its stores and other retailers. It costs NPR90 and includes NPR50 airtime. Your account activates when you make your first call or by dialing 1414.

You can recharge your card in five different denominations: NPR50, NPR100, NPR200, NPR500 and NPR1,000.

Nepal Telecom data bundles

Nepal Telecom’s standard data rate is NPR1 per MB (plus 13% taxes). The following packages offer better deals. The activation text code number is 1415 and prices do not include a 13% tax rate.

Price Data Validity Activation code
NPR8 10MB 2 days DATA10MB
NPR35 50MB 10 days DATA50MB
NPR130 200MB 30 days DATA200MB
NPR300 500MB 30 days DATA500MB
NPR500 1GB 30 days DATA1GB
NPR1,290 3GB 60 days DATA3GB
NPR1,800 5GB 90 days DATA5GB
NPR2,800 10GB 180 days DATA10GB

APN: ntnet

Website: http://www.ntc.net.np

Smart Telecom

Smart Telecom got a license in Nepal in 2013 but its coverage is sporadic and only in 2G. It got a license for 4G in 2017 and indications are that it will come online at the end of the year. Check out a coverage map to see where Smart Telecom is hoping to deploy its 4G network. If you can’t acquire one of the other options, Smart’s starter package costs NPR99 with NPR25 credit. There are no bundles for sale. The data rate is NPR2 per MB in the daytime and NPR1 per MB from 10pm to 6am.

APN: not available

Website: https://smart.com.ph/corporate

Advice from TripAdvisor about SIM cards in Nepal

TripAdvisor is well known for its hotel and attraction reviews, but it has forums dedicated just to SIM cards and telco networks as well. Here’s some advice from recent visitors to Nepal.

“I can say that NCell coverage will be poor to zero. Thus, Namaste (Nepal Telecom) is really your only choice, with little guarantee of decent coverage.”

“The Namaste card is the best choice among others. You can buy a Namaste card at the airport itself. You will need a photocopy of your passport, visas and a passport-size photograph. The process is quite simple and the SIM activates instantly. For top-ups, you can buy recharge cards anywhere.”

“There are two Sim card booths inside the arrival Building in Tribhuvan International Airport; Nepal Telecom and Ncell. I personally use Nepal Telecom which has pretty good coverage in ABC Trek.”

Pros and cons of Nepal’s top SIM card operators

Nepal has two major SIM card providers battling for customers while a third is trying to expand its market. Here are some of the positives and negatives about these companies.

Pros:

  • Ncell has flexible data rates for daytime versus nighttime usage.
  • Fledgling 4G networks should only get better as time goes on.

Cons:

  • Coverage outside the major cities is almost impossible given the high mountain ranges.
Need travel insurance for Nepal?

Switch to a cell phone plan with international calling

Name Product Data Minutes Texts Can I bring my own phone? Cell phone plans starting at:
Sprint
Starting at 2 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$25
Get unlimited data, calls and text or a customized plan on a 5G network. Eligible plans come with Hulu, Amazon Prime or Tidal subscriptions.
SIMPLE Mobile
Starting at 2 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$30
30-day phone plans that allow you to cancel your service at anytime. Choose from five different talk, text and data options with the choice to add international calling for $10/month.
FreedomPop
Starting at 500 MB
Starting at 200 minutes
Starting at 500 texts
Yes
$0
Bring your own phone for a free plan with 500MB of data, 200 minutes and 500 texts per month using Sprint's CDMA Network. Prepaid plans with more data, talk and text start at $9.99/month.
NET10 Wireless
Starting at 1 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$20
30-day plans with unlimited talk and text and the option to choose how much data is right for you. Add-on rollover data is available starting at $5/500MB.
Straight Talk Wireless
Starting at 3 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$35
Choose from several different plan options with no contracts, no fees and coverage on the same networks as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
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SIM card regulations in Nepal

Nepal is one of a growing number of countries taking extra steps to prevent prepaid SIM cards from being used in criminal activities. You must have your passport with you when you visit a store to buy a SIM card. The company will make a copy of your passport and take your photo as well. The office equipment in these stores is not always up to par, so if you want to ensure you’ll get everything done properly the first time, consider bringing a photo of yourself roughly the size of your passport, as well as a photocopy of the face side of your passport.

Smartphone network operators in Nepal

There are three principal smartphone network operators in Nepal. They are:

  • Ncell
  • Nepal Telecom
  • Smart Telecom

All three operate on 900 MHz for 2G and on 1800 MHz for 3G. In 2016, the country’s government began the conversion process of 3G to 900 MHz to free up 1800 MHz for new 4G/LTE offerings. In 2017, both Nepal Telecom and Ncell launched 4G/LTE services.

To help you compare the three major telcos, we’ve provided details of their offerings below.

Ncell

Formerly Mero Mobile, Ncell was sold to Malaysia’s Axiata Group in 2015 and given a new logo and name. Its 2G network reaches 90% of the population while its 3G is mainly available in the top 20 most populated towns. As the site’s coverage map shows, a lot of Nepal gets no coverage at all because of the prodigious mountain ranges. Its 4G network launched in June 2017 in the Kathmandu Valley region, which includes the cities of Dhulikhel, Banepa and Nagarkot.

The Ncell starter package costs NPR99 and comes with NPR50 in credit, along with 60 domestic texts, 40 domestic minutes and 20MB of data. There are top-up scratch cards available for purchase starting at NPR10. If you spend more than NPR100 on a top-up, you’ll get a bonus credit of 5-12%. Because of Nepalese tax rates, you don’t actually get the whole amount of your top-up. For instance, a NPR50 top-up only gains you NPR49.02 of credit.

Ncell data bundles

Since the Ncell default rate for data is NPR3.39 per MB, it makes sense to seek out a better deal. All the packages listed below included free trips to both Twitter and Wikipedia.

Rate Anytime data Daytime data (5am-6pm) Nighttime data (11pm-5am)
NPR9 20MB 40MB 80MB
NPR20 50MB 100MB 200MB
NPR100 300MB 600MB 1,200MB
NPR150 500MB 1,000MB 2,000MB
NPR250 1,000MB 2,000MB 4,000MB

To activate, dial *123#. To check your balance, dial *901#.

Ncell also offers three “unlimited” data packages, although they are throttled when you hit the maximum. They are:

Data Duration Rate
1GB 30 days NPR789.87
5GB 30 days NPR2,258.87
10GB 30 days NPR3,338.87

Activate these plans by dialing *17123#. Speed is throttled to just 32 Kbps after the limit is reached.

One more option is a data-only SIM that connects to a USB dongle. This package is called Ncell Connect. The dongle goes for NPR2,699 (plus 13% tax) and has 500MB included. There are three monthly packages available:

Data Rate Activation
500MB NPR450.87 Activation: Text “500MB” to 9009
1GB NPR789.87 Activation: Text “1GB” to 9009
5GB NPR2,258.87 Activation: Text “5GB” to 9009

APN: web

Website: http://www.ncell.com.np

Nepal Telecom

This is Nepal’s state-owned provider. It has the country’s monopoly on landlines and broadband connections. It’s a decided second behind Ncell when it comes to coverage, with 3G only partially available in Kathmandu and Pokhara. It started Nepal’s first 4G/LTE network on 1800 MHz in 2017 in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara. At present, iPhones 6 and 7 do not work with Nepal Telecom’s 1800 MHz LTE network. Make sure you call ahead to see if this has been remedied before your visit.

Its prepaid card is called “Namaste” and is available throughout its stores and other retailers. It costs NPR90 and includes NPR50 airtime. Your account activates when you make your first call or by dialing 1414.

You can recharge your card in five different denominations: NPR50, NPR100, NPR200, NPR500 and NPR1,000.

Nepal Telecom data bundles

Nepal Telecom’s standard data rate is NPR1 per MB (plus 13% taxes). The following packages offer better deals. The activation text code number is 1415 and prices do not include a 13% tax rate.

Price Data Validity Activation code
NPR8 10MB 2 days DATA10MB
NPR35 50MB 10 days DATA50MB
NPR130 200MB 30 days DATA200MB
NPR300 500MB 30 days DATA500MB
NPR500 1GB 30 days DATA1GB
NPR1,290 3GB 60 days DATA3GB
NPR1,800 5GB 90 days DATA5GB
NPR2,800 10GB 180 days DATA10GB

APN: ntnet

Website: http://www.ntc.net.np

Smart Telecom

Smart Telecom got a license in Nepal in 2013 but its coverage is sporadic and only in 2G. It got a license for 4G in 2017 and indications are that it will come online at the end of the year. Check out a coverage map to see where Smart Telecom is hoping to deploy its 4G network. If you can’t acquire one of the other options, Smart’s starter package costs NPR99 with NPR25 credit. There are no bundles for sale. The data rate is NPR2 per MB in the daytime and NPR1 per MB from 10pm to 6am.

APN: not available

Website: https://smart.com.ph/corporate

Advice from TripAdvisor about SIM cards in Nepal

TripAdvisor is well known for its hotel and attraction reviews, but it has forums dedicated just to SIM cards and telco networks as well. Here’s some advice from recent visitors to Nepal.

“I can say that NCell coverage will be poor to zero. Thus, Namaste (Nepal Telecom) is really your only choice, with little guarantee of decent coverage.”

“The Namaste card is the best choice among others. You can buy a Namaste card at the airport itself. You will need a photocopy of your passport, visas and a passport-size photograph. The process is quite simple and the SIM activates instantly. For top-ups, you can buy recharge cards anywhere.”

“There are two Sim card booths inside the arrival Building in Tribhuvan International Airport; Nepal Telecom and Ncell. I personally use Nepal Telecom which has pretty good coverage in ABC Trek.”

Pros and cons of Nepal’s top SIM card operators

Nepal has two major SIM card providers battling for customers while a third is trying to expand its market. Here are some of the positives and negatives about these companies.

Pros

  • Ncell has flexible data rates for daytime versus nighttime usage.
  • Fledgling 4G networks should only get better as time goes on.

Cons

  • Coverage outside the major cities is almost impossible given the high mountain ranges.

Need travel insurance for Nepal?

Switch to a cell phone plan with international calling

Name Product Data Minutes Texts Can I bring my own phone? Cell phone plans starting at:
Sprint
Starting at 2 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$25
Get unlimited data, calls and text or a customized plan on a 5G network. Eligible plans come with Hulu, Amazon Prime or Tidal subscriptions.
SIMPLE Mobile
Starting at 2 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$30
30-day phone plans that allow you to cancel your service at anytime. Choose from five different talk, text and data options with the choice to add international calling for $10/month.
FreedomPop
Starting at 500 MB
Starting at 200 minutes
Starting at 500 texts
Yes
$0
Bring your own phone for a free plan with 500MB of data, 200 minutes and 500 texts per month using Sprint's CDMA Network. Prepaid plans with more data, talk and text start at $9.99/month.
NET10 Wireless
Starting at 1 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$20
30-day plans with unlimited talk and text and the option to choose how much data is right for you. Add-on rollover data is available starting at $5/500MB.
Straight Talk Wireless
Starting at 3 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$35
Choose from several different plan options with no contracts, no fees and coverage on the same networks as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ValerieSeptember 22, 2018

    I’ll be visiting Nepal for approx. 3wks trekking to EBC. Was wondering if there was a sim card option that I can purchase at the Kathmandu airport where I could call back home in the U.S.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaSeptember 25, 2018Staff

      Hi Valerie,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      According to forums I read, you can easily find stores that sell SIM cards for travelers in the Kathmandu airport. However, you might need to present your passport and other documents. To be sure, you can confirm by calling the Kathmandu airport.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  2. Default Gravatar
    gurungSeptember 13, 2018

    i want to similarly number ex.98142222200 can i get like this num?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      CharisseSeptember 13, 2018Staff

      Hi Gurung,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      If what you are pertaining to is being able to choose your own phone number or have the same digits on your phone number, you need to contact your service provider to know if it is possible.

      There are some providers which may allow you to choose your own number for an additional fee if you will be subscribing to a postpaid mobile service. However, if you are using a prepaid mobile service, the phone numbers are already pre-designated so it will not be possible to change it.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

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