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Firstly, let’s cover the question – Do I need to get a sim card for India? My answer – YES!
Why? The WiFi situation in India is pretty good but when travelling India having internet on your phone makes it easier to book accommodation and transport wherever you are, it makes it easier to call your hotel or hostel if you’re lost, it makes it easier to check the status of your train, it makes it easier to work out what the Indian dishes are on menu, it makes it easier to stay in contact with locals and other travellers you make friends with, and it makes it much easier to avoid a lot of the old school scams in India, because so many of these do not work when travellers have mobile data sim cards in India!
Is it hard to get a Sim Card in India? You may have heard, or you may read online that getting a sim card in India as a foreigner is hard. This used to be the case and although it’s still not as easy as getting a sim card in Sri Lanka or getting a sim card in Thailand for example, but things are changing and it is getting easier and easier to buy a prepaid sim card in India so let me help you work out how to get a sim card to use in India.
VISA FOR INDIA!
Remember you need a visa to enter India. Luckily, these day’s the visa for India can be applied for online and they give you a 1-year visa straight away! Here’s my step by step easy guide on how to apply for an e-visa for India.
Buying a Sim Card in India.
Best Sim Card in India.
Airtel and Vodafone are India’s biggest network providers however because of how big India is the coverage is not the same all over the country.
I found that Vodafone works well in North India but Airtel worked better for me in South India than my Vodafone India sim card did. Jio is another popular network provider.
You must have an unlocked phone! If your phone is not unlocked you will not be able to get a sim card in India. Instead, your best choice for internet in India is a hiring a wireless device like this so you can still be connected in India!A lot of American’s have locked phones and you cannotbuy an Indian sim card in the USA so you will need to hire a wifi device like this:
1) Getting a Sim Card at an Airport in India.
As of 2019, you can now buy a sim card at Delhi Airport as you leave arrivals which is fantastic because the process is quick and easy and you’ll be connected with plenty of data with 2-3 hours of arriving in India.
Here’s my full blog post on how to get a sim card in Delhi airport with prices and packages.
Right now, the only Indian sim card provider at the airport is Airtel but the coverage and package they offer is pretty much the best sim card in India for tourists to get so that’s all you need.
If you’re flying into Delhi I 100% recommend buying your sim card here as it is the easiest way to get a sim card in India, you don’t need to bring copies of your passport and photos to them as you have to do in the options below, they do it all for you.
I’m not sure about getting a sim card in Mumbai Airport, getting a sim card in Goa Airport or getting a sim card in Bangalore Airport as I haven’t flown into these airports recently but I would suggest looking and asking as you leave arrivals to see if there is an Airtel store there, I can imagine it won’t be long before you can buy sim cards as a tourist in all airports in India!
Related Post: 10 Delhi Travel Tips to See & Enjoy Delhi as a Tourist!
2) Getting a Sim Card at your Hotel or Hostel in India.
Another good option and the second-best way to get an India prepaid sim is to ask your accommodation to help you.
This works best if you are staying in a hostel in India as they are set up for travellers arriving and wanting a sim card. For example, Backpacker Panda in Mumbai, Colaba offers this service which I used when I first arrived in India. Moustache Hostel New Delhi also offers this service. (I recommend both of these hostels as great places to stay in India by the way!)
Getting an India sim card for tourists this way will cost you a bit extra as they have to add on a commission for the hostel and you literally have someone from Vodafone Sim Card India or Airtel visit the hostel to complete the paperwork with you.
You will need photocopies of your passport and India visa, along with a passport photo to give to the sim card guy but the hostel can help you with these.
3) Getting a Sim Card in India from a Store.
Vodafone and Airtel are India’s largest network provider but I would avoid going into an actual Vodafone store or Airtel store which is how I initially assumed you would get a sim card as this is where you’ll likely be asked for more information like an Indian number and Indian address to register your sim.. which you do not have!
Instead, if you can’t get a sim card at the Airport, or through your accommodation, go to a small shop in a local market for example which seems to dabble in everything phone-related and lookout for signs that say they sell sim cards. This is what I did in Kochi and it was so easy. If you have trouble finding one be sure to ask your accommodation for help.
I asked for a sim, he gave me a card of the options. He copied my passport, I gave a passport photo, I filled in the contract, handed over the money (which was a much better price than my first time), put my sim in 1 day later, called the number he gave me to verify it was me using my passport number, and I had internet! However, this is still a more difficult option than the ones above as these stores are used to Indian people buying sim cards rather than foreigners looking for a mobile sim card in India.
Prices of Prepaid Sim Card in India.
When it comes to the cost of sim cards in India, there are different international sim card packages in India.
Generally, you can get packages for 28 days, 60 days, 82 days and 90 days. You may be offered a certain one, you may just be given what you’re given (which you’ll get used to in India!). If you are staying in India for a few months as I did for 4 months, make sure you get a 90-day sim card in India!
What I love about the data sim cards in India is that the data is PER DAY! For example, the Delhi Airport sim card package is:
900Rs / £10.00 / $12.50
1.4gb of data each day which refreshes each day.
Unlimited calls to Indian numbers.
Validity for 82 days.
There is talk about there being a Delhi Airport free sim card but I didn’t see this in Delhi Airport and wasn’t offered it at any point so I wouldn’t rely on this, to be honest.
Remember to read here how to get a Sim Card in Delhi Airport.
If you’d rather get a wifi device, especially if you’re phone is locked or you don’t want to deal with the hassle, you can rent a wifi device here for India and get it delivered to your home before your trip to India so you’ll be connected straight away!
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR INDIA
Have you got travel insurance for India yet? I am covered with World Nomad’s who I really recommend! They are designed by travellers, for travellers with excellent customer service and a range of cover options.
Get a free quote here while you’re thinking about it:
AIRBNB CREDIT FOR INDIA
India has some great Airbnb options, like these gorgeous houses in Jaipur! To get $30.00 off your Airbnb stay(which is 1-2 nights free accommodation in India!),open a new account using this promo code!
Make sure you check out these posts to help you plan your India trip further!