Madagascar is, as many claim, a wildlife paradise. There are so many types of animals in the country that it is impressive. Let's not forget about the Malagasy nature and attractions.
Unfortunately, no penguins live in Madagascar, as the movie you were thinking about claim to be. Instead, you can find lemurs, chameleons, tigers, giraffes, and hippos. Those are also cool (and dangerous).
Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, has the beautiful Lake Anosy. Head to Nosy Be for a clear-water beach. Also, check out the Lokobe Reserve and Lemuria Land Park while there. Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve has impressive-looking limestones. Being bored in Madagascar? No way!
You probably want to share your Madagascar experiences with your friends and family on social media. Roaming with your provider in Madagascar can be expensive, so you would be better off getting a local SIM card, like a Madagasy one.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Madagascar. Let's get started, shall we?
Telecom Providers in Madagascar
Madagascar has 4 telecom providers: Airtel Madagascar, Telma, Orange Madagascar, and Bip by Blueline. All operators have 2G, 3G, ad 4G network.
Blueline, which owns Bip, also started offering 3G and 4G/LTE services, but only in the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo. They are, therefore, not recommended for travelers, which is why they will not be discussed in this article.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Madagascar? If you want to buy a SIM card in Madagascar, I would recommend going with Airtel because they have the best coverage and speeds, although coverage is mainly in the populated area. Telma can be considered as a cheaper alternative.
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Like most countries in Africa, you have to register yourself when buying a SIM card. The store may take a photograph of you as well. This was not done consistently in the past, but it may be right now.
If you fly to Antananarivo Airport, you can buy a SIM card from Airtel Madagascar, Telma, and Orange Madagascar with no surcharge.
There is not much more to say about Madagascar, so let’s see what the country has to offer to us.
Airtel Madagascar, just Airtel, is the largest operator in Madagascar. Although they are good, coverage with Airtel can be a hit or miss. Your service will be reliable at the places where you do have coverage, though.
Airtel SIM cards are sold for 2000 MGA ($0.55) in Airtel shops at authorized dealers. Top-up cards can be found there too.
Airtel has various NET M’LAY plans, which are their data plans. They are sold in 3 variants: daily, weekly, and monthly. Most of these plans come with bonus data that can be used between 11 PM until 5 AM.
Airtel NET M'LAY Daily Plans
The following 5 daily NET M’LAY plans are available:
- 100 MGA: 10 MB. Activation: dial *114*68#
- 200 MGA: 20 MB. Activation: dial *114*41#
- 500 MGA: 30 MB and 30 MB at night. Activation: dial *114*47#
- 1000 MGA: 65 MB and 65 MB at night. Activation: dial *114*4#
- 2000 MGA: 135 MB and 135 MB at night. Activation: dial *114*48#
Airtel NET M'LAY Weekly Plans
Need a plan that will last you a week? There are 4 NET M’LAY weekly plans to choose from:
- 3000 MGA: 200 MB and 200 MB at night. Activation: dial *114*6#
- 6000 MGA: 425 MB and 425 MB at night. Activation: dial *114*8#
- 10 000 MGA: 725 MB and 725 MB at night. Activation: dial *114*9#
- 12 500 MGA: 1 GB and 1 GB at night. Activation: dial *114*69#
Airtel NET M'LAY Monthly Plans
Finally, you have 5 NET M’LAY plans that are valid for 30 days:
- 25 000 MGA: 2 GB and 2 GB at night. Activation: dial *114*62#
- 30 000 MGA: 2.44 GB (2500 MB) and 2.44 GB at night. Activation: dial *114*11#
- 49 000 MGA: 4 GB and 4 GB at night. Activation: dial *114*12#
- 80 000 MGA: 6.5 GB 6.5 GB at night. Activation: dial *114*14#
- 199 000 MGA: 55 GB and 50 GB at night*. Activation: dial *114*20#
* Night time data can be used between 8 PM and 6 AM with the 199 000 MGA NET M’LEY plan.
Telma is the second-largest operator in Madagascar. Unlike with Airtel, where service is reliable where they have coverage, Telma’s coverage is unreliable as soon as you leave bigger towns.
Telma SIM cards can be bought for 500 MGA in Telma stores. Recharge cards are sold from 1000 MGA to 50 000 MGA, or you can top-up online. Dial *358# to check your Telma credit balance and *358*14# to check your data balance.
Telma has various combo packs that include data and data-only packs. Only the combo packs that come with data will be highlighted below.
Telma M'ora M'ora
Telma M’ora & M’ora is one of the combo packs Telma offers. The data allowances in these packs are small:
- 500 MGA: 20 MB and/or 20 SMS for 1 day. Activation: dial #322*20#
- 800 MGA: 80 MB and/or 80 SMS for 1 day. Activation: dial #322*26#
- 1000 MGA: 20 MB and 20 SMS for 1 day. Activation: dial #322*21#
- 2000 MGA: 50 MB and 50 SMS for 2 days. Activation: dial #322*32#
- 5000 MGA: 150 MB and 100 SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial #322*35#
The 2000 MGA and 5000 MGA plans come with a night bonus, although it is unclear how much this bonus is.
Telma Offre First
Telma Offre First are Telma’s combo plans that include minutes as well. Some of these plans have a data allowace that can be used at night, which is between 9 PM to 6 AM. The following 5 bundles are available, which are all valid for 30 days:
- 10 000 MGA: 150 MB (100 MB anytime and 50 MB at night), 5 minutes, and 100 SMS. Activation: dial #322*91#
- 15 000 MGA: 400 MB (200 MB anytime and 200 MB at night), 5 minutes, and 150 SMS. Activation: dial #322*92#
- 30 000 MGA: 1 GB (500 MB anytime and 500 MB at night), 15 minutes, and 500 SMS. Activation: dial #322*93#
- 50 000 MGA: 2 GB (1 GB anytime and 1 GB at night), 30 minutes, and 1000 SMS. Activation: dial #322*95#
- 100 000 MGA: 5 GB, 60 minutes, and 500 SMS. Activation: dial #322*96#
- 200 000 MGA: 20 GB, 60 minutes, and 1200 SMS. Activation: dial #322*97#
Telma Net Plans
Only need data? Consider these Telma Net plans:
- 1000 MGA: 50 MB and 50 MB at night (10 PM – 6 AM) for 1 day. Activation: dial #322*6#
- 3000 MGA: 150 MB and 150 MB at night for 7 days. Activation: dial #322*70#
- 6000 MGA: 350 MB and 350 MB at night for 7 days. Activation: dial #322*71#
- 10 000 MGA: 750 MB and 750 MB at night for 7 days. Activation: dial #322*72#
- 10 000 MGA: 250 MB for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*7#
- 12 500 MGA: 1 GB and 1 GB at night.Activation: dial #322*73#
- 15 000 MGA: 500 MB for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*80#
- 25 000 MGA: 2 GB and 2 GB night bonus for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*8#
- 50 000 MGA: 3 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*12#
- 75 000 MGA: 6 GB and 6 GB night bonus for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*13#
- 99 000 MGA: 8 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*14#
- 115 000 MGA: 10 GB and 10 GB night bonus for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*9#
- 149 000 MGA: 20 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*10#
- 175 000 MGA: 30 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*11#
- 195 000 MGA: 50 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*15#
- 429 000 MGA: 150 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #322*150#
Orange Madagascar, just Orange, has good 2G coverage throughout the country, which is useless for data. 3G can be found in around 200 towns, and 4G/LTE in an increasing number of towns and Antananarivo. Some Malagasy friends of mine claim Orange has the best coverage, while others say they are the worst.
Orange SIM cards, called SIM orange, can be purchased for 1000 MGA, although the prices are sometimes more. Recharge cards can be bought throughout Madagascar.
Orange data packs are called Be Connect. These plans last from 1 day up to 60 days:
- 200 MGA: 10 MB for 1 day
- 500 MGA: 20 MB for 1 day
- 1000 MGA: 50 MB for 1 day
- 3000 MGA: 100 MB for 3 days
- 7200 MGA: 250 MB for 5 days
- 13 500 MGA: 500 MB for 7 days
- 34 500 MGA: 1 GB for 21 days
- 77 500 MGA: 2 GB for 30 days
- 97 000 MGA: 5 GB for 30 days
- 148 500 MGA: 8 GB for 30 days
- 175 000 MGA: 10 GB for 30 days
- 220 000 MGA: 20 GB for 45 days
- 245 000 MGA: 30 GB for 60 days
- 275 000 MGA: 50 GB for 60 days
Bip by Blueline is the newest operator in Madagascar. They offer coverage in all regions, but their coverage is even more limited than the other operators.
Bip SIM cards, called Tongasoa, are sold for 1000 MGA in Bip stores.
Bip TSIK’ TSIK’
Bip has TSIK’ TSIK’ offers, which are their 4 combo plans that all come with free Facebook:
- 1000 MGA: 20 MB, 6 minutes, and 6 SMS for 48 hours. Activation: dial *320*1000#
- 2000 MGA: 30 MB, 10 minutes, and 10 SMS for 72 hours. Activation: dial *320*2000#
- 5000 MGA: 50 MB, 20 minutes, and 20 SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial *320*5000#
- 20 000 MGA: 200 MB, 60 minutes, and 60 SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial *320*20000#
Bip Extra Data
If you only need data, consider one of Bip’s Extra Data plans:
- 100 MGA: 10 MB for 24 hours. Activation: dial *390*100#
- 1000 MGA: 50 MB for 48 hours. Activation: dial *390*1000#
- 2500 MGA: 100 MB for 7 days. Activation: dial *390*2500#
- 3500 MGA: 250 MB for 7 days. Activation: dial *390*3500#
- 11 000 MGA: 1 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *390*11000#
- 20 000 MGA: 1 GB + 1 GB bonus for 30 days. Activation: dial *390*20000#
- 42 000 MGA: 3 GB + 2 GB bonus for 30 days. Activation: dial *390*42000#
- 109 000 MGA: 10 GB + 5 GB bonus for 30 days. Activation: dial *390*109000#
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Madagascar
So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Madagascar. However, that is not the only way to be online in Madagascar. 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 Madagascar 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 AirtelTigo from Ghana, then you would be roaming with AirtelTigo in Madagascar.
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 Madagascar, 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 Madagascar, 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 Madagascar
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 Madagascar. 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 Madagascar, you will not find many hotspots. Those you will find will be slow.
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 Madagascar
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, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi 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. Travelwifi offers Teppy, the name of the pocket WIFI, starting from $7 per day. All these 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 Madagascar
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 Madagascar. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.
International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Many countries in Africa 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 Madagascar
Getting a SIM card from Airtel or Telma would do you well when considering a Malagasy 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 like OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots like Skyroam, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Going to other countries in East Africa and Southeast Africa? Check out my East Africa SIM card buying guide, covering other East African nations, such as Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eswatini (Swaziland) Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
What about other places in Africa? My Africa SIM card buying guide covers all African destinations, such as Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, and Tunisia.
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 Madagascar
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 Madagascar. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Madagascar drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Madagascar
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 Madagascar. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Malagasy hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Madagascar
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 Madagascar, 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 local currency 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!