Georgia is a country in both Europe and Asia, you could. It intersects both the European and Asian continents. There are plenty of things to do in Georgia, such as seeing the scenic ruins of an old fort in Narikala, explore a cave in Vardzia, or see the Gergeti Trinity Church. Georgia is full of history.
What about Abkhazia? The Republic of Abkhazia is a sovereign state in Georgia. It is partially recognized as a republic on the east coast of the Black Sea by the international community. However, some may not even know the republic even exists. The state has many beautiful lakes, mountains, and rivers to explore. Do not forget about Anaklia Beach.
Many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card in both Georgia and Abkhazia because it is much cheaper than to roam with your provider. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which travelers would rather spend in these two nations. Unless you have a Russian operator, you would not be able to roam in Abkhazia, so you have no choice there.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in both Georgia and Abkhazia. I will start with the 3 providers in Georgia, followed by the 2 in Abkhazia. Let’s do this.
Telecom Providers in Georgia
Georgia has 3 telecom providers: MegtiCom, Geocell (Silknet), and Beeline Georgia. Silknet used to be a standalone operator with a CDMA network, but they have merged with Geocell.
If you have a CDMA phone, then you can use Silknet’s CDMA network, which is still in use. Unfortunately, I do know how extensive the CDMA network is. For everyone else, all operators have GSM networks, which is what almost every phone use. 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE can be used with all networks.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Georgia? If you want to buy a SIM card in Georgia, I would recommend going with MagtiCom because they have the most extensive network and best speeds. If you are on a budget, Beeline Georgia would be an option if you are staying in populated areas.
What SIM Card should you get in Abkhazia? If you want to get a SIM card in Abkhazia, then I would recommend getting one from Aquafon because they are the largest provider and have the lowest rates.
Just like other countries in the Caucasus, you have to show your passport when buying a SIM card.
Do note that all providers will charge you a monthly fee of 0.20 GEL ($0.07) for the Georgian emergency services regardless of the package or provider you choose.
This article will also cover Abkhazia, which is an autonomous region in Georgia. Abkhazia has 2 telecom providers: Aquafon and A-Mobile. All Abkhazian providers use Russian Rubles (RUB) instead of Georgian Lari (GEL). 10 RUB is 0.16 USD. More about these providers will be discussed after covering Georgia.
With that said, let’s see what Georgia has to offer to us.
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MagtiCom is the largest provider in Georgia with the best coverage and speed. Their 4G/LTE network covers more than 90% of the population, making it the most extensive 4G/LTE network in Georgia.
MagtiCom SIM cards are sold for 3 GEL in MagtiCom stores and from vendors. You will get 1 GEL credit for free for calls and SMS.
The following MagtiCom data packs can be added:
- 0.20 GEL: 10 MB, throttled to 2G speeds after full use, until midnight
- 0.50 GEL: 70 MB, throttled to 2G speeds after full use, until midnight
- 5 GEL: 1 GB for 30 days
- 9 GEL: 3 GB for 30 days
- 12 GEL: 5 GB for 30 days
- 30 GEL: 20 GB for 30 days
- 150 GEL: Unlimited data for 30 days
Since recently, MagtiCom sells tourist SIM cards, called the Georgian SIM card, in Georgian airports (both Tbilisi Airport and Kutaisi). The following two variants are available:
- 15 GEL: 5000 MB and unlimited domestic SMS
- 30 GEL: 3000 MB, unlimited domestic calls and SMS, and 30 international minutes
Geocell, or Silknet, is Georgia’s second operator. Their coverage is decent, and they have a CDMA network for those who have a CDMA phone. Geocell SIM cards are sold for 5 GEL and come with the same amount in credit. The following monthly data packs can be added:
- 3 GEL: 500 MB
- 5 GEL: 1.2 GB
- 7 GEL: 2 GB
- 10 GEL: 4 GB
- 15 GEL: 6 GB
- 30 GEL: 15 GB
You can also get Geocell’s tourist SIM card called All Inclusive. For 20 GEL, you get 2 GB, unlimited domestic minutes and SMS, and 30 international minutes, which is a good deal if you are interested in calling and texting.
Beeline Georgia, just Beeline, is the smallest operator in Georgia. Their coverage is decent, but the “worst” of all Georgian providers. You can get a Beeline SIM card for 3 GEL, which will give you 3 GEL in credit as well. The following data packs can be added:
- 1 GEL: Unlimited data for 3 hours
- 2 GEL: 700 MB for 7 days
- 3 GEL: 1.5 GB for 14 days
- 4 GEL: 1 GB for 30 days
- 5 GEL: 2.5 GB for 14 days
- 9 GEL: 4 GB for 30 days
- 10 GEL: 10 GB for 14 days
- 16 GEL: 8 GB for 30 days
- 25 GEL: 30 GB for 30 days
Telecom Providers in Abkhazia
As introduced in the introduction, the Republic of Abkhazia has its own 2 telecom providers: Aquafon and A-Mobile. The republic uses Russian Rubles instead of the currency of Georgia, which you should keep in mind.
Do note that if you plan on visiting Abkhazia, you cannot roam with your provider unless your provider is one of these Russian operators: MTS Russia, Beeline Russia, and MegaFon Russia.
Unlike Georgia itself, you do not have to show a passport when buying a SIM card in Abkhazia.
Let’s see what Aquafon and A-Mobile have to offer.
Aquafon is the largest operator in Abkhazia. They have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. Aquafon SIM cards are sold for 50 RUB in Aquafon stores. You are, however, to top up at least 100 RUB in store.
To take advantage of favorable data packages, you have to purchase their My Choice plan, which costs 350 RUB and requires a top-up of 630 RUB. Then, you can buy any of these monthly data packs:
- 600 RUB: 1 GB
- 1100 RUB: 3 GB
- 1450 RUB: 6 GB
- 1750 RUB: 9 GB
- 2000 RUB: 12 GB
- 2250 RUB: 15 GB
- 3000 RUB: 25 GB
- 3500 RUB: 35 GB
If converted to USD, data packages are much more expensive in Abkhazia than Georgia itself.
A-Mobile is the other operator in Abkhazia with its own 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE network. A-Mobile SIM cards are sold for 50 RUB, but you have to pay a 200 RUB connection fee. Sometimes, they have promotions where they give you up to 500 MB for free.
A-Mobile sells the following daily unlimited data packs, which gets throttled to 2G speeds after full use:
- 30 RUB: 100 MB
- 55 RUB: 200 MB
- 75 RUB: 300 MB
The following monthly A-Mobile data packs are available;
- 150 RUB: 100 MB
- 360 RUB: 300 MB
- 500 RUB: 500 MB
- 800 RUB: 1 GB
- 1400 RUB: 2 GB
- 1650 RUB: 3 GB
- 1800 RUB: 4 GB
- 2000 RUB: 5 GB
- 3500 RUB: 10 GB
- 4500 RUB: 15 GB
- 5000 RUB: 20 GB
- 6000 RUB: 30 GB
- 7500 RUB: 50 GB
A-Mobile also sells tourist SIM cards called Guest. They cost 250 RUB and come with 200 RUB in credit. The following packs can be added:
- 333 RUB: 1 GB, 50 on-net minutes, and 10 minutes to Russia for 7 days
- 555 RUB: 3 GB, 100 on-net minutes, and 30 minutes to Russia for 14 days
- 777 RUB: 4 GB, 200 on-net minutes, and 50 minutes to Russia for 30 days
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Georgia and Abkhazia
So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Georgia and Abkhazia. However, that is not the only way to be online in Georgia and Abkhazia I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.
Roaming in Georgia with Your Provider
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is Bakcell from Azerbaijan, then you would be roaming with Bakcell in Georgia.
As mentioned earlier, unless you have a Russian SIM card, you cannot roam in Abkhazia with your operator. Luckily, you can in Georgia in most cases.
You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.
Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in Georgia, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in Georgia, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.
Using Free WIFI connections in Georgia and Abkhazia
This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.
First, you need to find hotspots in Georgia and Abkhazia. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.
In the case of Georgia, you can find plenty of hotspots in the big cities. It may be a challenge to find free WIFI in towns, though. In Abkhazia, however, you will not find many hotspots.
Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now or learn more about NordVPN.
Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in Georgia and Abkhazia
Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.
Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.
I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.
Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in Georgia and Abkhazia
International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.
All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Georgia and Abkhazia. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, and Surfroam.
Not many international SIM cards work in Abkhazia – just be aware of that.
International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Many countries in the Caucasus require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.
My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Georgia and Abkhazia
Getting a SIM card from MagtiCom would do you well when considering a Georgian SIM card. For Abkhazia, Aquafon would be the best. 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.
What about other places in Europe? My Europe SIM card buying guide covers all destinations in Europe, including those not part of the European Union/EEA, such as Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
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 Georgia or Abkhazia
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 Georgia or Abkhazia. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Georgia or Abkhazia drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Georgia or Abkhazia
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 Georgia. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Georgian hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Georgia
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 Georgia, 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 the currency of your destination 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!