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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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Asmit
Asmit
2020-07-16
Verified
Lifetime Experience We had a super time in Everest Base Camp last year. Trekking to this place was dream for many years which come true with the help CoreTreks and team members.
Lena B
Lena B
2020-03-06
Verified
Higly recommended I did the Langtang Valley trekk with Gosaikunda lakes included. The preparation and communication for that has been great all the time. Nim is an excellent and knowledgeable person. My Trekkingguide was Gorakh and i couldn't have hoped for a better one! I felt like i was in good hands throughout the trekk and he took care of my dietary needs. They also booked my bus ticket to Pokhara and asked the bus driver to pick me up at a place which was closer to my accommodation. Thank you so much Nim!! Next time i will do the Manaslu trekk with you :)
Hidayat Toda
Hidayat Toda
2020-03-04
Verified
Feel exeprience in nepal as a family Core track is a professional tour team and comapny, they treat you as a family, they prepare all the things you need, the team was very nice and warm, and also you will feel as in a family, just go and book with them
Michael S
Michael S
2020-01-19
Verified
Trek to Rara Lake in Nepal with CoreTreks My wife and I had been planning to visit Nepal since like a year ago. We are really happy and satisfied with our trek to Rara Lake in Nepal. The place is really chilling with beautiful scenery all around. Luckily the weather was fantastic and we got a clear view of the mountains and the lake. We are really humbled to be able to experience such a rare privilege. Our guides informed us that the weather is often bad especially because of the altitude. The alpine vegetation surrounded by mountains was really special to observe. I would like to thank CoreTreks for helping us throughout our journey to Rara Lake.
Noo
Noo
2019-12-12
Verified
Great service Beautiful temples and delicious food After touring around the Kathmandu valley, I’m inspired to explore more about Nepal. Unfortunately it will have to be during my next visit. The city is way busier than I expected it to be. As we drove outside the valley, we discovered some peaceful environment and beautiful temples. The Nepali cuisine in Kathmandu was something I would love to try again. They are spicy but delicious. I have to say that the people in Nepal are really friendly and welcoming. Everyone greeted us with love and treated us nicely. There was no fear for a lone traveler like me to get through the tour. Thanks to CoreTreks and the team for making this tour possible for me. I booked last minute but they helped me through everything. I really appreciate it. If you are looking to visit Nepal, I highly recommend that you book from CoreTreks they are the best.
Santivo
Santivo
2019-08-24
Verified
Kathmandu Tour and Memorable Memories After many Yes/No we decided to choose vacation plan for Nepal, then the journey of more confusing start. We start googling the best packages and tours operators in Kathmandu. We luckily found CoreTreks. They are really professional, trustworthy, reliable and responsive for their profession, this team made our Nepal visit absolutely memorable and experience. We strongly recommended anyone will to visit Nepal, can choose CoreTreks and enjoy your vacation.
ASTA
ASTA
2019-08-23
Verified
It deserves more than a 5 STAR for their services sweet words are easy to say, nice things are easy to bye, but good people are difficult to find. life ends when you stop dreaming...travel in Nepal to leave the best memories. thank you for everything coretreks for friendly smile,for the care during the journey. again, i want to go there return. i help all my friends to see Nepal with your help and support. you guys deserve more than a 5 star for excellent services for tours and trekking in Nepal. see you soon again!
Martin L
Martin L
2019-06-24
Verified
satisfied with the service and packages Dec 2018, we had plan to visit Nepal and book the packages with core treks, they guide us the best packages for ABC and we are fully satisfied with the service and packages. Thank you team, keep it up
Pedro R
Pedro R
2019-03-11
Verified
Friendly staff We did some trecking around Katmandu and we had a good time. The guide was friendly and available to support us with anything.
이홍래
이홍래
2019-01-24
Verified
Langtang Trekking 이제 돌아와서 한숨돌리고 적네요. 네팔이란 나라가 처음이고, 한국에서도 등산한번 하지 않았었는데, 갑자기 네팔이 가고 싶었습니다. 네팔에 가면 뭔가 꽉막힌 마음이 뚤릴것 같았고, 복잡한 머리가 정리가 될것 같았습니다. 다행이 CORE TREK 의 Nim을 만나 트레킹을 잘 마무리할 수 있었습니다. 랑탕 출발하기전 호텔 부킹이나 팀스 / 퍼밋 , 환전 및 준비물 구매 등 그리고 이런 일들을 하기위한 이동까지 꼼꼼하게 함께 챙겨 주어서 그나마 잘 준비하여 트레킹을 시작하였습니다. 그리고 트레킹 중간에 대부분이 3G를 사용하지 못해 가족들에게 연락이 되지 않았는데, 다행이 Nim과는 현지 폰으로 연락이 되어, 저 대신 가족들에게 연락도 가능하고, 중간 중간에 문제 있는지등 그리고 복귀 마지막날 뭔가를 잘못먹었는데 아파서 호텔에서만 누워 있었는데, 그래도 타국에 누군가 연락할 수 있다는게 많은 도움이 되더군요. 저는 포터 및 가이드 없이 혼자서 갔다왔고, 트레킹이야 혼자만의 싸움이였지만, 카트만두 출발전 / 복귀후에는 Nim이 많은 도움이 되었네요. 다음에 또 네팔에 오게되면 필히 Nim과 함께 하겠습니다.