Nepal is probably not the most popular travel destination in South Asia, but it still has a lot to offer.
Especially when it is a relatively affordable country for travel – and the mountains are stunning.
What you should not do, in many cases, is roam internationally in Nepal.
International roaming can be expensive, which is why using local and travel eSIMs is recommended to save money.
And if you get a travel eSIM, you do not have to deal with the SIM card registration bureaucracy and skip the queues in Nepal.
How much will a local or travel eSIM for Nepal cost you?
You can get an eSIM for Nepal for as little as 9.50 USD, with 1 GB of data for 7 days, up to 44 USD, with 6 GB data for 15 days, from Airalo (Patancell) & Holafly.
Those are some generous data allowances, right?
In this guide, I will go over the eSIM options offered by the Nepalese mobile operators, Airalo & Holafly. Let's do this.
Original publication: 31st of August 2022. Last updated: 27th of January 2023.
Table of Contents
eSIMs offered by the Nepalese Mobile Operators
To get the best service available, in terms of reception and speeds, you want to go with the local mobile operators directly instead of with a travel eSIM.
That is because you will have a higher priority on the network in case of network congestion.
However, that does not mean travel eSIMs will always be slow.
In fact, some mobile operators throttle (prepaid) on select plans or all plans for “optimization” reasons (read: we cannot be bothered to invest in our network).
You have several options for getting an eSIM for your trip to Nepal: Airalo (with Patancell) & Holafly.
Not only can you set up these eSIMs before arriving in Nepal and activate them upon landing, but you can also avoid Nepal's SIM card registration scheme, which is mandatory for anyone using Nepalese SIM cards and eSIMs.
While mobile data is already affordable in Nepal, getting a travel eSIM will not break the bank – not at all.
Plus, I have plenty of experience with Airalo & Holafly, and I can assure you they work well – and other Phone Travel Wiz readers also had pleasant experiences with them.
So let's see what these travel eSIM providers have to offer in Nepal, right?
Airalo eSIMs for Nepal (Patancell)
If I could only get a travel eSIM during my trip because I do not have the time or opportunity to buy a local SIM card or eSIM, then I would always get an eSIM from Airalo.
Airalo has eSIMs for around 190 countries, offers eSIMs at the lowest prices (on average compared to the competition) & has good service.
Airalo usually partners with the local mobile operator with the best coverage, the fastest speeds, or both.
And if it needs to partner up with multiple mobile operators, it does so, allowing you to have the best reception at all times.
Anyway, you can get a Patancell eSIM for 9.50 USD, with 1 GB of data.
Not too bad, right? But not amazing either 💀.
The Patancell eSIM uses the Ncell network.
Now, you may think this is a sad selection or that 1 GB of data is insufficient.
Both points are true… I agree – but you can make unlimited top-ups with the Patancell eSIM through the Airalo website or apps.
So if you need 5 GB of data, you can purchase the Patancell 1 GB eSIM and get four 1 GB top-ups.
Yes, it is a bit inconvenient for now; Airalo may offer 3 GB, 5 GB & 10 GB plans with a 30-day validity for Nepal soon, as it did for many other countries it supports.
The Airalo links will automatically get you the available Phone Travel Wiz exclusive offers – a code is unnecessary.
- Check out my Airalo eSIM reviews
Airalo Patancell eSIM Pros
Are there any other reasons why you should get the Patancell eSIM for your trip? For sure:
- You can activate your Patancell eSIM as soon as you land in Nepal
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to Ncell
- Patancell eSIMs are affordable (especially compared to roaming) and have generous data allowances
- You do not have to worry about SIM card registration with the Patancell eSIM, saving you time
- Out of data? You can simply top up online on the Airalo website and not worry about language barriers when dealing with local agents
There are many other small pros, but these are the major ones.
It would be disingenuous not to mention some cons, so here we go.
Airalo Patancell eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get the Patancell eSIM?
- The Nepalese mobile operators, including Ncell itself, have much more generous data allowances
- You cannot call or text with the Patancell eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
Airalo Patancell eSIM Overall Thoughts
Honestly, the Patancell eSIM is fine.
You get access to Ncell, without standing in queues or dealing with SIM card registration bureaucracy.
And everything, purchasing and topping up, can be done online on the Airalo website or Airalo app (downloading the app is recommended).
The main flaw, for now, is that you have to purchase multiple top-ups if you need more data than just 1 GB.
While getting a top-up is straightforward, some tourists, like myself, prefer to just buy one big data plan so that you do not have to worry about data allowances.
But besides that flaw, the Patancell eSIM is fine.
Remember, you cannot call or text with the Patancell eSIM, as it is a data-only eSIM.
Holafly eSIMs for Nepal
The last travel eSIM provider I recommend is Holafly.
I knew they existed when they offered travel SIM cards for the Spanish market only.
Then they pivoted to the global market, still offering travel SIM cards.
Eventually, they started offering travel eSIMs for the Spanish market only again before going global.
There are many travel eSIM providers nowadays – new ones pop up every week like mushrooms, so I did not bat an eye.
Until they did something revolutionary.
In 2022, Holafly started offering unlimited data plans for its eSIMs.
And these unlimited data eSIMs can be used in various Asian countries, almost all European Union member states (except for Liechtenstein) & a few other countries, like Canada and the United States.
Unfortunately, unlimited data eSIMs are not available in Nepal… yet.
I say yet because Holafly's goal is to offer unlimited data plans for every country it covers: 100+ countries.
And I can tell you that I get positive emails multiple times a week from Phone Travel Wiz readers that have used the unlimited data plans in East- and Southeast Asia, Europe & North America; they love these eSIMs.
For now, you have only one Holafly Nepal eSIM (which uses the Nepal Telecom network, by the way):
- Nepal 6 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 44 USD/47 EUR/34 GBP/67 AUD/59 CAD
Not much choice, as you can see.
As I recently started my collaboration with Holafly, you can get 5% off each purchase whenever you use code PHONETRAVELWIZ – awesome, right?
- Check out my Holafly reviews
Of course, there are some pros and cons with going with Holafly, so let's go over them.
Holafly Nepal eSIM Pros
So, why should you get the Holafly eSIMs? Well, because of the following:
- Holafly Nepal eSIMs are affordable compared to roaming
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to Nepal Telecom's network
- Unlike going with Nepal Telecom directly, you do not have to worry about SIM card registration because it is unnecessary
- You can activate your Holafly Nepal eSIM as soon as you land in Nepal
- The Holafly Nepal eSIM offers the most data
But it is not all good news with Holafly though – there are some disadvantages.
Holafly Nepal eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get a Holafly Nepal eSIM?
- You cannot call or text with the Holafly Nepal eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
- Nepalese mobile operators, including Nepal Telecom, have much more generous data allowances
- While you get full (4G/LTE) access to Nepal Telecom's network, your speeds may not be as fast as going with Nepal Telecom directly because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- You cannot top up your Holafly Nepal eSIM – you would have to buy another eSIM if you need more data
- There is no 5G NR access with the Holafly Nepal eSIM (yet)
Holafly Nepal eSIM Overall Thoughts
While you have only one option for the Holafly Nepal eSIM, it is the most generous eSIM (in terms of data) in this guide.
And the price for the Holafly Nepal eSIM is low compared to expensive Pay As You Go roaming rates for Nepal.
But it still is not cheap.
Best eSIMs for in Asia (not just Nepal)
Unfortunately, you cannot use your Airalo Patancell or Holafly Nepal eSIMs in any country than Nepal.
However, the three eSIM providers have eSIMs covering several East Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
I highly recommend these Asia/APAC eSIMs if you plan to visit multiple East- and Southeast Asian countries to save money!
Airalo recently heavily improved its Asia eSIM, which used to offer a meager 4 GB of high-speed data before allowing for unlimited data at snail speeds, following the popular Eurolink eSIM for 39 European countries.
The Eurolink eSIM is the most popular eSIM for Phone Travel readers, and I have no doubt that the Asialink eSIM will be popular too.
Just like in Europe, many readers tend to visit multiple Asian countries, so they would rather have a travel eSIM covering multiple countries than just one (like Nepal).
Sadly, Nepal is not one of them, but I still want to introduce them to you because they will be much cheaper than buying multiple eSIMs, or SIM cards for that matter, per country.
The Asialink eSIM can be used in the following 14 countries:
- Hong Kong
- Singapore 1
- South Korea
1 currently, newly bought Asialink eSIMs cannot be used in Singapore. Airalo is working on re-including Singapore in its Asialink offering
Below is an overview of how much each Asialink eSIM costs:
- Asia/Asialink 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 5 USD
- Asia/Asialink 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 13 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 20 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 37 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 50 GB eSIM for 90 days, costing 100 USD
- Asia/Asialink 100 GB eSIM for 180 days, costing 185 USD
Holafly & Nomad eSIMs for Nepal
Because of Airalo's previous Asia eSIM, I used to recommend Nomad's APAC eSIMs instead (to be used in 8 countries).
This eSIM can be used in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore & Thailand (1 GB/7 days/15 USD – 20 GB/30 days/69 USD).
As you can see, this eSIM cannot be used in Nepal, so it would be useless here but useful in the aforementioned countries.
The Holafly Asia eSIM has only one variant: 8 GB for 30 days, costing 47 USD/49 EUR/34 GBP.
This eSIM can be used in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam.
Basically, the same countries as the Airalo Asialink eSIM with just fewer options (1 variant (8 GB) vs. 6 variants (1 GB/3 GB/5 GB/10 GB/50 GB/100 GB) and much more expensive.
So yeah, the Asialink eSIM is superior, I would say.
Remember, the Airalo links above will automatically offer you the best deals.
Overview of the Best eSIMs for Nepal (Airalo vs. Holafly)
In this guide, I went over various eSIMs for Nepal: Airalo (Patancell) & Holafly.
Below is an overview of my recommendation order:
- Airalo's Nepal Patancell eSIM (best value for money)
- Airalo's Asia Asialink eSIM (best value for money when also visiting other East- and Southeast Asian countries)
- Holafly Nepal eSIM (generous data plans at premium prices)
- Holafly Asia eSIM (to be used in 13 countries)
Remember to use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for Holafly eSIMs – a code is not necessary for Airalo eSIM purchases.
Buying a SIM Card in Nepal
Want to just use a SIM card but not your current one because roaming will be criminally expensive?
Consider getting a Nepalese SIM card instead – local SIM cards are the cheapest way to stay connected abroad.
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