Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Bangladesh Guide

Bangladesh is the world's 8th-most populous country in the world while being the 92nd largest country in the world. You can expect it to be crowded on the streets in Bangladesh, but that should not discourage you from visiting the country.

There are plenty of things to do in Bangladesh. You can visit the Lalbagh Fort, which is a 17th-century fort, or the Ahsan Manzil Museum. Additionally, Jaflong has a nice waterfall, and you cannot forget about visiting Samoapura Mahavihara, a UNESCO-listed ancient Buddhist temple.

What you perhaps should not do is roaming with your provider in Bangladesh. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a Bangladeshi SIM card.

Depending on where you are from, data prices in Bangladesh are cheap, which is another reason why travelers wish to purchase a SIM card in Bangladesh.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Bangladesh. Let's get started.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Albania. Let's do this.

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Telecom Providers in Bangladesh

Logos of Telecom Providers in Bangladesh: Grameenphone, Banglalink, and Robi-Airtel

Bangladesh has 4 telecom providers: Grameenphone, Robi-Airtel, Banglalink, and Teletalk. All operators have 2G and 3G networks. Grameenphone, Robi-Airtel, and Bangalink have started to develop their 4G/LTE networks. Teletalk has yet to get started.

Although Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh merged into one company in 2017 called Robi-Airtel. They still operate as separate brands for the time being.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Bangladesh? If you want to buy a SIM card in Bangladesh, I would recommend going with Grameenphone because they have the best coverage throughout the country.

Do note that you will pay for the reliability and service for Grameenphone because they are the most expensive operator. However, compared to many other countries, data prices in Bangladesh are cheap.

Teletalk is a state-owned company and is the most unreliable operator in Bangladesh, their coverage is bad, and their market share is minuscule. As a result, they cannot be recommended. However, the Bangladeshi government is currently trying to improve their network and their image through various means. Perhaps they can become a solid competitor in the future, but that will not be the case anytime soon. As a result, Teletalk will not be discussed in this article.

Like most countries in South Asia, you have to show your passport when buying a Bangladeshi SIM card. Additionally, you need to have over a passport size color photo, a copy of your passport, and a copy of your Bangladeshi visa. Together with Pakistan, Bangladesh has one of the strictest requirements for buying prepaid SIM cards.

SIM cards can be bought in official stores, from authorized resellers, or in convenience stores. I would recommend going to an official store or an authorized reseller, as you do not want your passport data to be in the hands of the wrong person.

Bangladesh does not actively censor the internet, but the government has blocked social media apps every now and then. Most notably, back in 2015. According to Freedom on the Net, the internet in Bangladesh is considered to be partially free.

With all of this, I would recommend using a VPN to browse the web in peace. I use NordVPN because I get high speeds with their servers. They have around 5500 servers in 59 countries. They have servers in India, Malaysia, and Thailand (there are many more, but these are the closest to the Bangladesh). You can get up to 70% off your NordVPN subscription if you get yours today!

Some operators do not display their prices with the necessary taxes (21% in total – 15% VAT, 5% telecom tax, and 1% supplementary duty). If a provider does not do this, then I will do it for you and will clearly mention it when I have done so.

With that said, let’s see what Bangladesh has to offer to us.

Grameenphone

Grameenphone Logo

Grameenphone is the largest operator in Bangladesh with a market share of almost 50% of the customers. If you are a frequent traveler, then you may recognize the logo because it is the Telenor logo, which is a company from Norway. Grameenphone is a joint venture between Grameen Telecom and Telenor.

Grameenphone expects to cover 100% of the population with its 3G network in 2020. Right now, it covers more than 95% of the population. 4G/LTE can be found in places like Dampara, Chittagong, Narisabad, and Khulshi.

There are several Grameenphone starter packs you can choose from, such as djuice, Bondhu, and Nishciento. It does not matter which one you choose if you are only interested in data. A Grameenphone SIM card should cost you 100 BDT ($1.20). I say should because some stores, especially convenience stores, may try to sell it for much more.  

Recharge cards are sold in almost every corner store or at Grameenphone stores.

Grameenphone sells many data packs. I have grouped them into short-term packs, up to 7 days, and long-term packs, up to 30 days). The company has incorporated all the necessary taxes into its prices, including the price for SIM cards. You can select and deactivate a pack by dialing *121*3000#, online, or with the USSD activation code that will be listed behind each plan.

The following short-term Grameenphone data packs are available:

  • 2.50 BDT: 5 MB for 2 days. Activation: dial *121*3002#
  • 12 BDT: 35 MB for 3 days. Activation: dial *121*3003#
  • 31 BDT: 250 MB for 3 days. Activation: dial *121*3083#
  • 37 BDT: 85 MB for 7 days. Activation: dial *121*3004#
  • 86 BDT: 1 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *121*3056#
  • 104 BDT: 1.5 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *121*3344#
  • 129 BDT: 2 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *121*3058#
  • 179 BDT: 4 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *121*3084#

If you are in love with Facebook, then you are in luck. Grameenphone sells Facebook data passes that come with unlimited Facebook usage. The following passes are available:

  • 1.5 BDT: unlimited Facebook and 20 MB for 1 day. Activation: dial *121*3022#
  • 6 BDT: unlimited Facebook and 75 MB for 7 days. Activation: dial *121*3023#
  • 18 BDT: unlimited Facebook and 300 MB for 28 days. Activation: dial *121*3024#

Robi-Airtel

Robi-Airtel Logo

Robi Axiata and Airtel became the second-largest operator after merging into one company back in 2017. Before that, Robi was the third-largest, and Airtel was the fourth-largest. Network integration is still underway, even 3 years later, and the Robi and Airtel brands will still be used for a while. For now, I will discuss each operator separately.

Robi Axiata

Robi Axiata Logo

Robi Axiata, just Robi, is part of the Axiata group from Malaysia. If you explored other places in Southeast Asia and South Asia, then you may recognize the logo. Robi’s 3G coverage has improved significantly since they integrated their networks with Airtel. Before that, their coverage was not the best but usable.

Robi SIM cards are sold for 100 BDT in Robi stores. Recharge cards can be bought from 10 BDT to 1000 BDT. To activate a reload voucher, you have to dial *111*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *111*123456#. You can check your balance by dialing *222#.

Robi has many data packages, which are all inclusive of the necessary taxes. There are over 30 of them, but I will mention a few. I have grouped them into short-term data packs, up to 7 days, and monthly data packs (30 days). The following short-term Robi data packs are available:

  • 3.44 BDT: 10 MB for 1 day. Activation: dial *123*004#
  • 12.20 BDT: 45 MB for 1 day. Activation: dial *123*782#
  • 20 BDT: 200 MB for 1 day. Activation: dial *123*0020#
  • 27 BDT: 2 GB for 2 days. Activation: dial *123*027#
  • 41 BDT: 3 GB for 2 days. Activation: dial *123*041#
  • 101 BDT: 1.5 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *123*101#
  • 108 BDT: 4 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *123*0108#
  • 129 BDT: 6 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *123*0129#
  • 199 BDT: 10 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *123*0199#

You can also choose from any of these monthly Robi data packs:

  • 119 BDT: 500 MB. Activation: dial *123*0119#
  • 316 BDT: 2 GB. Activation: dial *123*085#
  • 649 BDT: 7 GB. Activation: dial *123*7168#
  • 911 BDT: 20 GB. Activation: dial *123*0996#

All Robi data plans auto-renew if there is enough credit. To deactivate a plan, dial *8444#. You can stack up multiple data plans if you want. You can check your data balance by dialing *8444*88#.

Airtel Bangladesh

Airtel Logo

Airtel Bangladesh, just Airtel, was always a small player in Bangladesh. It was, luckily, bigger than Teletalk, but Airtel had a market share of 7% before they merged with Robi. Since then, their coverage and speeds have improved, which is also how they managed to get more customers over the years.

Airtel SIM cards are sold for 100 BDT and come with 50 MB valid for 10 days and 5 BDT in credit for 90 days. These SIM cards can be bought in Airtel stores. Recharging can be done at recharge kiosks, or you can buy a top-up card.

Just like any provider in Bangladesh, Airtel has many data packages. I have grouped them into short-term packages, up to 7 days, and long-term packages, 28 days. I have added the taxes to the prices, which is why they may look odd.

The following short-term Airtel packages are available:

  • 20.57 BDT: 60 MB for 3 days
  • 32.67 BDT: 150 MB for 7 days
  • 42.35 BDT: 1 GB for 2 days
  • 107.69 BDT: 1 GB for 7 days
  • 192.39 BDT: 3 GB for 7 days
  • 216.59 BDT: 4 GB for 7 days

These long-term Airtel data packages, 28 days, can be bought:

  • 252.89 BDT: 1.5 GB. Activation: dial *123*209#
  • 277.09 BDT: 2 GB. Activation: dial *123*299#
  • 360.58 BDT: 3 GB. Activation: dial *123*298#
  • 481.58 BDT: 4 GB. Activation: dial *123*398#
  • 602.58 BDT: 5 GB. Activation: dial *123*498#
  • 1087.79 BDT: 10 GB. Activation: dial *123*899#
  • 1692.79 BDT: 15 GB. Activation: dial *123*1399#
  • 2055.79 BDT: 25 GB. Activation: dial *123*1699#

You can check your balance by dialing *8444*88#.

Banglalink

Banglalink Logo

Banglalink is the last operator to be discussed in this article and are, if seeing Robi-Airtel as one company, the smallest operator on this list. Banglalink has a market share of around 26% and is active in all 64 districts.

Banglalink SIM cards are sold for 100 BDT in Banglalink stores. They have several starter packs, like Play, 1 sec pulse, and Desh, but it does not matter which one you get if you only care about data. Recharge cards are sold from 10 BDT to 1000 BDT in Banglalink service centers, but you can also top-up online with a credit card.  

It is a trend that all Bangladeshi providers have more than 20 different data packs. I will list a handful of them below, which are inclusive of the necessary taxes:

  • 13 BDT: 50 MB for 1 day
  • 26 BDT: 150 MB for 7 days
  • 36 BDT: 250 MB for 7 days
  • 209 BDT: 1.5 GB for 30 days
  • 399 BDT: 3 GB for 30 days
  • 499 BDT: 5 GB for 30 days

You can check your data balance by dialing *5000*500#.

  • 200 ALL: 5 GB for 1 weekend (Saturday 12 AM until Sunday 11:59 PM). Activation: text W1 to 138
  • 600 ALL: 20 GB for 4 weekends (Saturday 12 AM until Sunday 11:59 PM). Activation: text W4 to 138
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The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Bangladesh

Getting a SIM card from Grameenphone would do you well when considering a Bangladeshi SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.

You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.

Visiting other countries in South Asia? Check out my South Asian SIM card buying guide, covering other South Asian countries, such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

What is next?

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Book Your Flight for Bangladesh

It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Bangladesh. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Bangladesh drop.

Book Your Accommodation for Bangladesh

I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Bangladesh. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Bangladeshi hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Bangladesh

You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Bangladesh, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.

Get a Travel Debit Card

Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to Bangladeshi Taka for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.

Enjoy your trip!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 6 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region in Asia, in particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently lives in Tainan, Taiwan due to the current pandemic and does not have any travel plans for after his stay in Taiwan.

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