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How to use cell service and internet when traveling in Nepal?

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The world is getting smaller with the internet connection being available in almost every corner of the world. But is it the same in Nepal? What’s the cost of the internet in Nepal? How do I connect home while traveling in Nepal? Is it cheap? Is it expensive? Let’s look at your options for cell service and internet when traveling in Nepal.

The internet has taken over. Making phone calls does not necessarily require landline facilities anymore. Thanks to the messaging and video calling applications like Whatsapp and Messenger. 

But what if I need to make a call that requires STD/ISD? You might ask. 

Well, I have good news. In Kathmandu, there’s at least one cybercafe within the radius of 200m, literally. The cost of STD/ISD in Nepal is inexpensive and you can instantly connect back home. 

However, once you head outside Kathmandu, you might find it hard to find an STD/ISD service when needed. Therefore, getting a SIM card is your best bet. 

SIM Cards/ Reception 

The mobile network coverage has significantly gotten better in Nepal. If you are traveling to a rural & isolated area, it’s better to use a CDMA SIM card. Keep in mind, you will require a CDMA compatible phone which can be bought in Kathmandu (around New Road). 

Don’t worry, the CDMA phones are cheap and available at almost every mobile outlets. It costs approximately USD20 for a keypad CDMA phone. Pair it up with the postpaid plan of USD20-50, and you are good to go. 

For GSM cell phones, there are two major telecom giants in Nepal that are mostly used. The cell service and internet in Nepal while traveling is easy with these.

NCELL

Ncell Axiata Limited is the first private mobile operator in Nepal. The company serves over 290 million subscribers. Ncell might be the best option for you if you want stable a data connection to use the internet. 

Ncell | CoreTreks
Image: Screenshot of Ncell (Website)

It’s been years since I have used Ncell and honestly, I’m pretty satisfied with the service. The network coverage is impressive and they offer a cheaper rate for calls within their network. 

For a traveler, it would be best to purchase either a weekly or a monthly plan. You’ll get 2GB of data for NPR.95.77/week. That’s the lowest weekly plan. A monthly plan, however, starts from NPR254.1/month in which you’ll get 1GB data with 1GB of streaming (YouTube) free and cheaper call rates. 

See the complete list of Ncell plans in Nepal, here

Nepal Telecom 

Nepal Telecom (NT) is the direct competitor of Ncell. The only difference is that it’s a government-owned company. Before Ncell, the company used to rule the telecommunication in Nepal. Nevertheless, Nepal Telecom is one of your best options to stay connected while traveling in Nepal. 

You remember the CDMA SIM I was talking about earlier? This is it. NT distributes the CDMA SIM cards in Nepal as well. The coverage is massive and you will most likely get reception even at a hilltop.

Image: Screenshot of NT (Website)

2GB all network + 8GB (4G) data from NT costs NPR.200. 

View the complete list of NT plans for GSM here

As I said, it directly competes with Ncell. Though, I’d still pick Ncell because of their customer service and uninterrupted internet connection. But honestly, I would not be surprised if you pick NT over Ncell. 

WiFi in Nepal

If you need to constantly be updated and work remotely, then I’d suggest using wifi at coffee shops or restaurants in Kathmandu. There are a bunch of coffee stations in Kathmandu that will keep you occupied in your spare time. The Himalayan Java (Nepal Brewed Coffee) is a good example. 

You can also surf the internet using your hotel’s wifi. However, they might no be just as fast since several people will use it at the same time. It should suffice for basic back and forth conversations and emails. 

So, there you have it. This is all you need to know regarding the cell service and internet service in Nepal. I suggest you buy a SIM card of your choice at the airport once you land and pick a plan that amuses you the most. Once at the hotel, you can switch to the wifi. 

Also read: Top 10 trekking destinations in Nepal (2020) list and How to travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is it best to get an international plan to use the internet in Nepal? 

Maybe not. You can easily purchase a SIM card in Nepal and the data plans are inexpensive. Therefore, it would be more convenient for you to just get a SIM card and use it as long as you stay. 

Where do I purchase a SIM card in Nepal? 

You can buy a SIM card in Nepal through different outlets and mobile shops. Plus, you can get to buy one at the airport upon arrival. It is also common in Nepal to purchase SIM cards from stationery shops or cyber cafes. You just have to ask. 

What do I require to get a SIM card in Nepal? 

To purchase a SIM card in Nepal, you will require a printed passport-size photograph and a copy of your passport. 

Can an iPhone from the US be used in Nepal? 

Yes, you can. However, you might need to unlock it which can be done at mobile shops that are adequately found in Kathmandu. 

Got more questions? Don’t hesitate to ask. Email us at info@coretreks.com and we will get right back to you. Happy Traveling!

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