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 for 1 GB data (7 days) and 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: 18th of October 2023.
Table of Contents
In a Hurry? A Quick Introduction
I will write about four eSIM options in Nepal (and explain why they are included).
But if you want to quickly check out what the best eSIMs are for Nepal without my analysis and explanations, here is an overview of the eSIMs covered in this guide:
- Airalo's Nepal Patancell eSIM with one 1 GB option (best value for money)
- Airalo's Asia Asialink eSIM with six choices between 1 GB and 100 GB (best value for money when also visiting other East- and Southeast Asian countries)
- Holafly Nepal eSIM with unlimited data for 5 to 30 days (unlimited data plans at premium prices – use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for 5% off)
- Holafly Asia eSIM with two choices between 6 GB and 10 GB (to be used in 13 countries)
Note: the promo codes mentioned above can also be used for regional and global eSIMs (they are not restricted to country-specific eSIMs only). In other news, the eSIM providers are in alphabetical order per grouping (Nepal-only, regional & global) – not in order of preference (you would have to read the complete guide to find out which eSIMs I love the most for Nepal 😜).
Let's truly get started, shall we?
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.
Fortunately, unlimited data eSIMs are available in Nepal.
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.
You have the following six Holafly Nepal eSIM options (which uses the Nepal Telecom network, by the way):
- Nepal unlimited data eSIM for 5 days, costing 27 USD/29 EUR/24 GBP/44 AUD/37 CAD
- Nepal unlimited data eSIM for 7 days, costing 37 USD/37 EUR/34 GBP/54 AUD/47 CAD
- Nepal unlimited data eSIM for 10 days, costing 44 USD/44 EUR/37 GBP/64 AUD/57 CAD
- Nepal unlimited data eSIM for 15 days, costing 47 USD/47 EUR/39 GBP/67 AUD/64 CAD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Nepal unlimited data eSIM for 20 days, costing 59 USD/59 EUR/49 GBP/84 AUD/77 CAD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Nepal unlimited data eSIM for 30 days, costing 79 USD/79 EUR/67 GBP/114 AUD/104 CAD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in October based on data up to the 11th of October (2023 data only).
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
I love that Holafly decided to innovate and offer unlimited data plans (although unlimited should be written as “unlimited” instead).
I was not a fan of Holafly when it had travel SIM cards (discontinued) because they were crazy expensive (I am talking about 20 USD for 1 GB of data in some Caribbean nation expensive).
Luckily that is not the case with its eSIMs, so I have used Holafly eSIMs in many countries and counting.
Be sure to use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for 5% off each Holafly purchase (yes, you can use it multiple times)!
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
- South Korea
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
Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in October based on data up to the 11th of October (2023 data only).
I aim to use the Asialink eSIM in all supported countries in 2023 (and probably 2024 too), giving you insights into how the eSIM performs in each nation.
As this will be ongoing until I finish somewhere next year, I suggest you check out the review every now and then to see if I have used it in the country you plan on visiting.
I also list my East- and Southeast Asia travel plans for the year and when I expect to write the review for the relevant country too!
- Check out my Airalo Asialink review ((being) tested in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, (Singapore), South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam
So yeah, you can say I (will) have some experience with the Asialink eSIM 😏.
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 (unlimited data eSIMs)
- 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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