‘Is it hard to get a sim card in India?’ Not anymore! Well, if you fly into Delhi Airport anyway, because you can buy a sim card in Delhi Airport in a matter of minutes with one of the most competitive plans in the world!
Here is everything you need to know about the Delhi Airport Sim Card!
Airtel is India’s largest network provider and works well in the majority of the country and right now, they are the only sim card provider located out of Delhi Airport and the Airtel Delhi Airport opening hours are 24 hours, making it easy to get a sim card when you land in Delhi as a tourist to India no matter what time you land.
Note – This information was from early 2020. I haven’t been back to India since the pandemic so things may have changed.
Not flying into Delhi Airport?? Here are 3 other ways to get a sim card in India as a tourist!
Delhi Airport Sim Card
Best Time to Visit India
Before we get into this India travel blog, it’s worth thinking about the best time to visit India as the country get’s very hot and wet in the middle of the year. November to March are the best times to visit both North & South India.
South India will be warmer than North India in the winter months of December and January, Delhi and further North actually get cold in these months but are still enjoyable to visit with the right clothing.
Outside these months, you can still visit but you’ll find that the heat and humidity will be much higher, especially as you go further South.
Airtel Store in Delhi Airport Location
Indira Gandhi Airport aka Delhi Airport has 3 terminals but terminal 3 is where you will most likely fly into because all international flights are operated out of terminal 3.
International Arrivals and Domestic Arrivals are located next to each other in terminal 3 Delhi Airport.
On exit, once you have collected your bag, you will see a Costa Coffee straight in front of you leaving both International Arrivals and Domestic Arrivals (there are 2 cafes).
The Airtel Store in Delhi Airport is located between exit 4 and 5, opposite the International Arrivals exit and next to Costa Coffee.
I have been told by the staff at the Airtel Store in Delhi Airport is open 24hours. It looks like this:
SIM CARD FOR INDIA
I really recommend having a sim card in India as it makes travel in India so much easier! You may have heard that it’s hard to get a sim card in India but you can get a sim card in Delhi Airport, read this post to see how to buy a sim card in Delhi Airport or if you fly in elsewhere 3 ways to buy a sim card in India and you’ll be connected in just a few hours!
WHAT TO WEAR IN INDIA
If you are a woman, here’s what I recommend you pack and wear in India. Technically you can wear what you like in India in most places but to get fewer stares and feel more comfortable, read my post!
DON’T GET SCAMMED IN DELHI
Most people arrive for the first time into Delhi and get scammed within a few hours! Read my Delhi Travel Tips to help you enjoy Delhi, and the best places to stay in Delhi which is so important!
Remember you need a visa for India. Here’s my Step by Step Guide on How to Apply for an Indian Tourist Visa!
Before you get your sim card you will probably need to get some cash!
There are a few ATM’s in Delhi Airport but SBI Bank is the ATM I suggest you use as it takes international bank cards and charges minimal fee’s.
Note that in India, the maximum amount of cash you can get withdraw from an ATM is 10,000 Indian Rupee’s which is approximately £105.00 and $1250.00 USD.
Luckily, SBI ATM Delhi Airport is attached to the Airtel Store next to exit gate 4:
Airtel Prepaid Sim Card Delhi Airport
Note – This information was from early 2020. I haven’t been back to India since the pandemic so things may have changed.
There is only one prepaid sim card option in Delhi Airport but that’s ok because it’s a good one.
(Note the Sim used to be 900Rs but has now changed to 615Rs! It might have changed again recently so keep this in mind)
- The India Sim Card deal is:
- 615Rs / £6.65 / $8.65
- 1.4gb of data each day which refreshes each day.
- Unlimited calls to Indian numbers.
- Validity for 2 months
This means no matter if you are in India for 2 weeks or 2 months, this sim card will last you the whole duration of your India trip.
**IMPORTANT NOTE – THERE’S A 99% CHANCE THEY WILL NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT CHANGE, MAKE SURE YOU COUNT IT OR TELL THEM IT’S WRONG, EVEN IF YOU DON’T KNOW, BECAUSE THEY’VE DONE IT TO ME TWICE AND LOTS OF OTHER PEOPLE HAVE TOLD ME THEY DID IT TO THEM TOO! THEY MAY TRY TO DISTRACT YOU TOO SO YOU FORGET ABOUT THE CHANGE ALL TOGETHER SO KEEP A WATCH ON THIS!**
BOOKING TRAINS IN INDIA
India is best travelled by train because its the quickest, cheapest and best way of getting to know the country. For an EASY option of booking trains in India use 12GO to search and book trains really easily. If you’ll be in India for awhile, you can use the local booking system, it’s a bit tricker but possible, here’s my post on how to book trains in India as a tourist.
BEST ACCOMMODATION IN INDIA
I always use Booking.com to book my hotels in India and Hostelworld to book my hostels. India has a great range of accommodation with brilliant hostel chains like Moustache, Zostel and Backpacker Panda as well as homestays to luxury hotels.
GUIDED TOURS IN INDIA
Many cities in India are best seen with a guide, even if it’s just a half day tour on your first day. Cities in India are chaotic and complex and what better way to taste the food and get to know the city than with a local. I recommend Get Your Guide & Viator for the best tours in India!
2 Important things to note about Delhi Airport Sim Cards
1 – 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 wireless device!
If you are on a contract in your home country, check with your network provider if your phone is locked or unlocked before you travel to India.
2 – MAKE SURE YOU COUNT YOUR CHANGE and do not get shortchanged!
I’m telling you this again, the men that work on at the Airtel Shop in Delhi Airport seem to do this to everyone, everytime, from what people have told me and they did it to me!
They give you a lot of notes which looks like the right change but isn’t, or they make you try to forget about your change altogether by distracting you with questions!
These men know you are new to India and might not know the currency!
The ATM will give you either 500Rs notes or big 2000Rs so look out for 385Rs change if you give 2x500Rs notes, or 1385Rs change if you give 2000Rs.
Delhi Airport Free Sim Card
In addition, I read that there is a Delhi Airport free sim card for tourists when you show your e-visa on arrival but I have never seen signs for this and from what I read there is only minimal data on it -1.5mb which is not a good deal even if it was free and given out, so forget about this India sim card on arrival option!
There’s no international sim card at Delhi Airport either or Vodafone in Delhi Airport.
- More of my India and Delhi blog posts to help with your stay in Delhi!
- Where to Stay in Delhi. Best Hotels & Hostels for all Budgets!
- 10 Delhi Travel Tips to See & Enjoy Delhi as a Tourist!
- 24 Places to Visit in India Perfect For Your First Trip to India!
- How To Book Trains in India as a Tourist Online!
How else can you get a Sim Card in India?
It is 100% possible to get a sim card in India away from the airport however it is much harder which is why I really recommend getting a sim card in Delhi Airport, even if the queue is long and it’s late!
The biggest benefit of getting a sim card in Delhi Airport is that you don’t need to provide any extra paperwork, photos or documents.
Here are 2 other ways to get a sim card in India!
But when using the Airtel Store in Delhi Airport, you give them your passport for them to make copies, they take a photo of you and you fill in a few parts on a big form.
How long does a sim card take to activate in India? Just a few hours!
This means you will not be able to use it straight away in Indira Gandhi Delhi Airport but the airport does have wifi (although it doesn’t always work).
You will just need to have a sim card in your phone that has a signal (your sim card from home, or from a country you’ve just been to) as they text you an access code to access the wifi in Delhi Airport.
How to get from Delhi Airport to the City?
This also means that it’s not as easy to get an Uber from Delhi Airport into New Delhi because you will have to rely on wifi which doesn’t reach to the Uber car park in Delhi Airport.
Here are other ways to get from Delhi Airport to the city safely:
Firstly, if you haven’t booked a hotel yet, or even if you have and it has a cancellation period, have a read of this post for the best hotels, hostels and Airbnb’s in Delhi because if you have good accommodation in Delhi in a good area you are much more likely to enjoy your stay!
If this is your first time to Delhi I’d suggest booking an airport pick up from Delhi Airport in advance to your hotel in Delhi, so you do not have to bargain with the taxi men at the airport door.
Just remember you’ll need an extra 30 minutes or so to get cash and a sim card in case there is a line for sim cards.
If you don’t want to prebook a transfer or taxi, the next best option is to get a pre-paid taxi from Delhi Airport and email your accommodation beforehand to ask how much a taxi should cost so you have an idea.
Leave arrivals out of gate 4 which is next to the Airtel store and head to the yellow booth, tell them where you’re going and they will give you a fair price.
You pay them upfront (make sure you get the right change) and you will be taken to a driver. The only downside to this is that they may not use GPS and may not know where your hotel is if it’s a smaller hotel, this happened to me once and I had to guide the taxi to my Delhi Hotel.
There are many taxi drivers outside of the arrivals doors on the road offering you a taxi but from experience, they will not go down as cheap as the pre-paid taxi’s or the price that your hotel told you to pay!
HELP WITH YOUR INDIA ITINERARY
I’ve spent many months travelling India in the last few years visiting over 50 places around the country, here are my recommended itinerary posts for India to help you plan your trip!
2 WEEK INDIA ITINERARY, PERFECT FOR YOUR FIRST TRIP!
2 WEEK SOUTH INDIA ITINERARY – GOA & KERELA
1 MONTH NORTH INDIA ITINERARY IDEAS!
1 MONTH SOUTH INDIA ITINERARY IDEAS!
2 MONTH INDIA ITINERARY IN THE NORTH & SOUTH
Things To Do in Delhi
Delhi is a pretty crazy city and a lot of tourists often leave with a bad impression after being scammed or being overwhelmed but it is actually a really great city so after a few visits I put together these 10 points of how to enjoy Delhi as a tourist! Make sure you read this straight away!
One of my top Delhi Travel Tips, along with getting a sim card in Delhi Airport, is to book on a tour so you can learn about the city with a local, these are the best Delhi Day Tours to book online and it will give you one less thing to think about when you arrive if you book in advance:
I hope this has helped you understand the Delhi Airport sim card.
- For more of my India posts and to help you plan your India trip further, have a look at:
- Packing List For India & What To Wear in India as a Female!
- A 2 Week India Itinerary For Your First Trip To India!
- HERE ARE ALL MY INDIA BLOG POSTS.
Sunday 7th of May 2023
The SIM at the airport is currently 400 INR, at least that's what they charged me and the people in front of me - there is nowhere an indication of the price or what package you get, but the salesperson told me it's valid 1 month and you get 1,5Gb per day. I've been waiting for 2 hours now and it's not yet activate though ...
Monday 8th of May 2023
Thanks for letting me know!
Tuesday 25th of April 2023
1. As I had a proper phone (iPhone 11) I bought eSIM BEFORE I enter India - from https://www.airalo.com/india-esim. My eSIM was from singapore with roaming all over india. 2. You can buy a SIM at the airport, but but in the city buying a SIM is more convenient, . We asked owner of our hotel where we could buy a SIM - within 1 hour an Airtel salesman arrived, activated us a SIM card with a lot of GB, free calls throughout India and it cost about 600 rupees. An interesting thing - when we were going to another state, we had to turn on roaming for SM to work.
Wednesday 22nd of February 2023
Would you be able to purchase the SIM card with a credit card? I have a travel card with no foreign transaction fees
Thursday 23rd of February 2023
I'm not sure if they take card. If not, there is an ATM next to the shop you can use. In India you will need to withdraw and pay for most things in cash, not on card anyway :)
Sunday 5th of February 2023
Thank you for such a super helpful post. We’re landing in DEL next weekend, so will let you know if the setup is still the same post covid, incl being open 24 hours etc.
Wednesday 15th of February 2023
@TheWanderingQuinn, hello I am going Delhi next eeek can’t my Uk sim work in india
Monday 6th of February 2023
Tuesday 10th of January 2023
Just the information I was looking for! Now I feel a bit more prepared for the trip. Thanks for sharing