Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Sri Lanka Guide

Logos of Telecom Providers in Sri Lanka: Airtel, Mobitel, Dialog, and Hutch

Sri Lanka is known for its majestic islands. Which makes sense, because Sri Lanka is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, Southwest of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast of the Arabian Sea.

A lot of travelers think Sri Lanka and India are basically the same, which is simply not true. Both countries are unique and have different things to offer. Although both Sri Lankan and Indian citizens are friendly, they are different from each other.

Most travelers start their journey in Colombo, which is a good start. The capital city has the national museum, the Gangaramaya Temple, and beautiful beaches on the west coast.

Besides visiting the capital, you should also explore rural Sri Lanka, such as Galle, another coastal city that is known for Galle Fort and the Galle Lighthouse, Nuwara Eliya, a highland city with the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, and Negombo, known for its Dutch Fort. There is plenty to do in Sri Lanka.

What may not be fun is getting a high bill from your operator because you decided to roam with your provider. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card in Sri Lanka.

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

Telecom Providers in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has 4 telecom providers: Dialog, Mobitel, Hutch, and Airtel Sri Lanka. All providers, except for Airtel Sri Lanka, have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. Airtel Sri Lanka is the only operator without a 4G network in the country, but that will be changing in May 2020.

Do note that Hutchison and Etisalat Sri Lanka merged into one network as of 2018, which became the Hutch brand. Etisalat SIM cards are not sold anymore, and it is unlikely you will see Etisalat logos when traveling throughout Sri Lanka.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Sri Lanka? If you want to buy a SIM card in Sri Lanka, I would recommend going with either Dialog or Mobitel. Both operators have great coverage throughout the country and fast speeds.

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Like most countries in South Asia, you have to show your passport when buying a Sri Lankan SIM card.

You will find a lot of corner stores with the logos of the telecom providers on their windows. Those stickers are to show you that they can recharge your phone there.

There used to be a policy where stores would take a photograph of you. However, this policy seems to be outdated, as it does not seem to happen anymore. 

With Sri Lankan providers, you get anytime/daytime allowance and nighttime allowance. As the names imply, you can use your daytime allowance during the day and nighttime allowance at night. If you are out of daytime allowance, then you cannot use data during the day anymore.

Nighttime allowance should be seen as a separate allowance category, which does not affect your anytime allowance. When you are out nighttime data and are browsing the web at night, then you will be using your anytime data (unless the provider has a clear separation between daytime and nighttime data). I know it sounds confusing, but it will make sense once I talk about the packages.

Additionally, some providers have 4G bonuses, which is an allowance that can only be used on 4G/LTE. Once you are out of 4G/LTE data, then your phone will fall back to 2G/3G speeds.

Lastly, it is important to know what all Sri Lankan operators like to spam you with either text messages or system (USSD) messages. Even if you decide to block a number from the operator, they will text you from another number anyway. Airtel sends system messages, which you cannot disable, it seems.

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

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Dialog

Dialog Axiata Logo

Dialog Axiata, simply known as Dialog, is the largest telecom operator in Sri Lanka. Together with Mobitel, they have the best coverage in Sri Lanka, although I believe that Dialog has better speeds than Mobitel.

Dialog SIM cards are sold for 150 LKR ($0.85) in Dialog service centers or from authorized resellers. Dialog top-up cards can be bought from 50 LKR to 1000 LKR in many shops throughout Sri Lanka.

Below are the Dialog data packs. All packs come with an anytime allowance and nighttime allowance (from 12 AM until 8 AM). Some packs come with 4G/LTE bonus, which can be used on Dialog’s 4G/LTE network.

The first three packs include a bonus of 10% for both the anytime and nighttime allowances because they do not get 4G/LTE bonuses. For example, the 30 LKR pack comes with 120 MB + 12 MB (132 MB) anytime data and 30 + 3 MB (33 MB) nighttime (10% bonus for each allowance):

  • 29 LKR: 132 MB (+33 MB at night) and 5 SMS for 3 days. Activation: text INT29 to 678
  • 49 LKR: 275 MB (+110 MB at night) and 5 SMS for 7 days. Activation: text INT49 to 678
  • 99 LKR: 550 MB (+220 MB at night) and 50 SMS for 21 days. Activation: text INT99 to 678
  • 199 LKR: 1 GB (+1 GB at night) + 0.5 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT199 to 678
  • 349 LKR: 2 GB (+2 GB at night) + 1 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT349 to 678
  • 499 LKR: 3 GB (+3 GB at night) + 1.5 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT499 to 678
  • 649 LKR: 4 GB (+4 GB at night) + 2 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT649 to 678
  • 949 LKR: 7 GB (+7 GB at night) + 3.5 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT949 to 678
  • 1449 LKR: 12 GB (+12 GB at night) + 6 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT1449 to 678
  • 1949 LKR: 16 GB (+16 GB at night) + 8 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT1949 to 678
  • 2949 LKR: 25 GB (+25 GB at night) + 12.5 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT2949 to 678
  • 3949 LKR: 35 GB (+35 GB at night) + 17.5 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT3949 to 678
  • 6449 LKR: 60 GB (+60 GB at night) + 30 GB 4G bonus for 30 days. Activation: text INT6449 to 678

To activate a plan, you text INT with the package name (price of a package) to 678. For example, if you want the 199 LKR 1 GB package, you would text INT199 to 678.

If you are a night owl, the following two Dialog night packages are available:

  • 95 LKR: 275 MB daytime data and 3.3 GB nighttime data for 21 days
  • 1499 LKR: 5.5 GB daytime data and 55 GB nighttime data for 30 days

Daytime data can be used from 8 AM until 12 AM. Nighttime data is to be used from 12 AM until 8 AM.

You can also get the Dialog tourist plan for 1299 LKR at Colombo International Airport or by topping up 1299 LKR (or dial #778# if the tourist plan does not activate automatically). The Dialog tourist plan comes with 10 GB (6 GB anytime and 4 GB morning data from 12 AM to 6 AM), 350 local minutes, and 600 international minutes, all valid for 30 days.

RELATED: I recently tested out a Dialog SIM card when I traveled to Sri Lanka. You can read my entire review in this post.

Mobitel

Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel Logo

Mobitel is the mobile brand of Sri Lanka Telecom. It is the second-largest operator in the country and has good coverage and speeds throughout Sri Lanka.

Mobitel SIM cards are sold for 200 LKR in Sri Lanka Telecom service centers. This is the operator that may take photos of you at certain service centers, but it does not happen frequently. Mobitel recharge cards are sold from 50 LKR to 1000 LKR in many stores in the country. You can check your balance by dialing *100#. Dial #170# to check your data balance.

Mobitel offers the following Prepaid Daily Plans, which expire at midnight and automatically auto-renew. Nighttime data applies between 12 AM until 9 AM (this applies to all of Mobitel’s data plans):

  • 5 LKR: 65 MB (40 MB anytime and 25 MB nighttime). Activation: text ACT DR5 to 7678
  • 7 LKR: 120 MB (60 MB anytime and 60 MB nighttime). Activation: text ACT DR7 to 7678
  • 9 LKR: 160 MB (80 MB anytime and 80 MB nighttime). Activation: text ACT DR9 to 7678
  • 15 LKR: 280 MB (140 MB anytime and 140 MB nighttime). Activation: text ACT DR15 to 7678
  • 25 LKR: 500 MB (250 MB anytime and 250 MB nighttime). Activation: text ACT DR25 to 7678

To activate a Prepaid Daily Plan, text ACT, leave a space, add DR in front of the package name (the price of the package) to 7678. For example, if I want to activate the 9 LKR 160 MB plan, I would text ACT DR9 to 7678. To stop the auto-renewal, replace ACT with DCT. In this case, DCT DR9 to 7678.

You can activate the same plan multiple times without a limit or combine different plans. If you combine multiple plans, Mobitel will prioritize the plan with the lowest price package first. For example, if I subscribed to the 5 LKR, 15 LKR, and 25 LKR plans and have only 25 LKR in credit left, Mobitel would activate the 5 LKR plan first, then the 15 LKR plan – not the 25 LKR plan.

The following Mobitel Mini Internet plans are available:

  • 5 LKR: 43 MB for 24 hours. Activation: text D5 to 7678
  • 29 LKR*: 326 MB (163 MB anytime and 163 MB nighttime) for 3 days. Activation: text D29 to 7678
  • 49 LKR*: 896 MB (326 MB anytime and 326 MB nighttime) + 244 MB 4G bonus for 7 days. Activation: text D49 to 7678
  • 99 LKR*: 1.75 GB (652 MB anytime and 652 MB nighttime) + 489 MB 4G data for 21 days. Activation: text D99 to 7678
  • 199 LKR: 3.82 GB (1413 MB anytime and 1413 MB nighttime) + 1087 MB 4G data for 30 days. Activation: text D199 to 7678
  • 299 LKR: 5.976 GB (2.17 GB anytime and 2.17 GB nighttime) + 1.629 GB 4G data for 30 days. Activation: text D299 to 7678
  • 399 LKR: 7.1 GB (2.5 GB anytime and 2.5 GB nighttime) + 2 GB 4G bonus data 30 days. Activation: text D399 to 7678
  • 699 LKR: 15.8 GB (6.1 GB anytime and 5.1 GB nighttime) + 4.6 GB 4G data for 30 days. Activation: text D699 to 7678
  • 999 LKR: 22.52 GB (8.1 GB anytime and 8.1 GB nighttime) + 6.1 GB 4G data for 30 days. Activation: text D999 to 7678
  • 1999 LKR: 55.96 GB (20 GB anytime and 20 GB nighttime) + 15 GB 4G data for 365 days. Activation: text D1999 to 7678

To activate a plan, you text D with the package name (the price of a package) to 7678. For example, if you want the 199 LKR 3.82 GB package, you would text D199 to 7678. You can also dial #170# and select a package from the menu.

Packages highlighted with a * will automatically activate if you reload the correct amount on your account. For example, if I want the 99 LKR 1.75 GB package, I would have to load 99 LKR on my account, and the package would activate automatically.

You can also get one of Mobitel’s monthly Best Value Pre-paid Internet plans, which are mentioned below:

  • 399 LKR: 7.6 GB (2.71 GB anytime and 2.71 GB nighttime) + 2.17 GB 4G data. Activation: text D399 to 7678
  • 499 LKR: 10.84 GB (4.31 GB anytime and 3.25 GB nighttime) + 3.25 GB 4G data. Activation: text D499 to 7678
  • 699 LKR: 16.84 GB (6.15 GB anytime and 5.43 GB nighttime) + 4.88 GB 4G data. Activation: text D699 to 7678
  • 999 LKR: 23.90 GB (8.62 GB anytime and 8.62 GB nighttime) + 6.51 GB 4G data. Activation: text D999 to 7678
  • 1999 LKR: 59.76 GB (21.73 GB anytime and 21.73 GB nighttime) + 16.20 GB 4G data (for 365 days). Activation: text D1999 to 7678

Lastly, you have the Mobitel Time Based plans, which give you unlimited data for a certain period. Unfortunately, it is not truly unlimited because a Fair-use Policy (FUP) applies to some packages. The prices for these plans are advertised without tax (e.g., 20 LKR + 12.24%) I have added the tax to the price, which is why the prices look weird:

  • 22.45 LKR: unlimited data for 30 minutes (no FUP)
  • 67.34 LKR: unlimited data for 3 hours (no FUP)
  • 106.63 LKR: unlimited data for 5 hours (500 MB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward)
  • 223.46 LKR: unlimited data for 12 hours (1.5 GB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward)
  • 436.61 LKR: unlimited data for 24 hours (2.5 GB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward)

You cannot stack several Mobitel Time Based plans when one is already active.

You can also get one of the 2 Mobitel Tourist SIM cards. One for 499 LKR and one for 999 LKR. These cards offer free local and international calls to mobile and fixed-line numbers, free data, and free Mobitel WIFI hours, all for 30 days. Unfortunately, Mobitel does not state their FUP policy related to all these free allowances. They do, however, have these 2 tourist offers:

  • 1999 LKR: 40 GB (20 GB daytime and 20 GB nighttime) for 365 days
  • 23 USD: 500 MB, 60 local minutes, 200 local SMS, 500 LKR credit for international calls, 40 international SMS, and a phone, all for 30 days

For the second plan, you can any of the regular data packages if 500 MB is not enough.

RELATED: I recently tested out a Mobitel SIM card when I traveled to Sri Lanka. You can read my entire review in this post.

Hutch

Hutch Logo

Hutch is the third-largest operator in Sri Lanka and has the lowest rates available. A Hutch SIM card is sold for 100 LKR. However, you can get it for free if you are lucky (or if you order it online to get it delivered to a Sri Lankan address).

Just like Dialog and Mobitel, Hutch has many types of packages. All, except for their 2G plans, will be listed below. All plans will activate automatically depending on how much you recharge (except for the non-stop internet plans).

However, you can also activate your plans by texting the activation code to 101, dialing the USSD number and select the plan of choice through the menu, or by dialing the USSD activation code.

For example, if you recharge 290 LKR, the 290 LKR plan that gives you 5 GB (2.5 GB daytime and 2.5 GB nighttime) will automatically be activated. You could also text i290 to 101 or dial *131*6*8# to activate this plan.

Unlike all the other providers, you do not get 4G/LTE bonus data. Instead, the full allowance can be used on Hutch’ 4G/LTE network if 4G/LTE is available.

Additionally, if you check the Hutch website, you will notice that you can often get more data than what I list below. Hutch often has promotions for its data packs, which will give you more data for the same price. However, their base price and allowance stay the same. Instead of updating the data allowance each time Hutch has a promotion going on (which is often), I will just mention the base price. Any extra data you get is a nice bonus for you.

The following Hutch plans are part of their standard plans, known as Pocket Internet and Value Internet. The nighttime data for these plans can be used from 12 AM until 9 AM:

  • 3 LKR: 22 MB for 1 day. Activation: text i3 to 101 or dial *131*3*1#
  • 14 LKR: 85 MB for 2 days. Activation: text i14 to 101 or dial *131*3*2#
  • 29 LKR: 160 MB and 100 SMS to Hutch numbers for 3 days. Activation: text 29 to 101 or dial *131*3*3#
  • 89 LKR: 660 MB for 15 days. Activation: text i89 to 101 or dial *131*3*5#
  • 195 LKR: 825 MB and 100 LKR in credit for calls for 30 days
  • 198 LKR: 2.5 GB (1.5 daytime and 1 GB nighttime) for 30 days

The following plans are part of Hutch’ Day & Night Internet plans, which sometimes gives you more data at night than during the day. Daytime data can be used 24 hours, while nighttime data will count from 12 AM until 9 AM:

  • 6 LKR: 80 MB (35 MB daytime and 45 MB nighttime) for 2 days. Activation: reload 6 LKR, text i6 to 101, or dial 131*6*1#
  • 18 LKR: 220 MB (120 MB daytime and 100 MB nighttime) for 4 days. Activation: reload 18 LKR, text i18 to 101, or dial 131*6*2#
  • 39 LKR: 300 MB (245 MB daytime and 55 MB nighttime) for 7 days. Activation: reload 39 LKR, text i39 to 101, or dial 131*6*6#
  • 48 LKR: 470 MB (320 MB daytime and 150 MB nighttime) for 10 days. Activation: reload 48 LKR, text i48 to 101, or dial 131*6*3#
  • 99 LKR: 1.2 GB (660 MB daytime and 550 MB nighttime) for 14 days. Activation: reload 99 LKR, text i99 to 101, or dial 131*6*4#
  • 198 LKR: 2.7 GB (1.7 GB daytime and 1 GB nighttime) for 30 days. Activation: reload 198 LKR, text i198 to 101, or dial 131*6*7#
  • 290 LKR: 5 GB (2.5 GB daytime and 2.5 GB nighttime) for 30 days. Activation: reload 290 LKR, text i290 to 101, or dial 131*6*8#
  • 490 LKR: 10 GB (5 GB daytime and 5 GB nighttime) for 45 days. Activation: reload 490 LKR, text i490 to 101, or dial 131*6*9#
  • 649 LKR: 13.5 GB (6.5 GB daytime and 7 GB nighttime) for 45 days. Activation: reload 649 LKR, text i649 to 101, or dial 131*6*10#

Hutch also has Day Time Blast Internet plans, which will give you much more data during the day than at night. Daytime is considered to be from 12 AM until 6 PM. Nighttime data can be used 24 hours:

  • 7 LKR: 55 MB (44 MB daytime and 11 MB nighttime) for 2 days. Activation: reload 7 LKR, text i7 to 101, or dial *131*5*4#
  • 17 LKR: 145 MB (110 MB daytime and 35 MB nighttime) for 4 days. Activation: reload 17 LKR, text i17 to 101, or dial *131*6*3#
  • 97 LKR: 825 MB (715 MB daytime and 110 MB nighttime) for 15 days. Activation: reload 97 LKR, text i97 to 101, or dial *131*6*1#
  • 197 LKR: 2.2 GB (1.6 GB daytime and 0.55 GB nighttime) for 30 days. Activation: reload 197 LKR, text i197 to 101, or dial *131*5*2#
  • 1970 LKR: 50.2 GB (48 GB daytime and 2.2 GB nighttime) for 30 days. Activation: reload 1970 LKR, text i1970 to 101, or dial *131*5*6#

If you want a lot of data, then the Value Mega Internet plans by Hutch may be interesting. Daytime data can be used 24 hours, while nighttime data will count from 12 AM until 9 AM:

  • 195 LKR: 900 MB (anytime) and 100 LKR in credit for calls for 30 days. Activation: reload 195 LKR, text i195 to 101, or dial *131*6*12#
  • 998 LKR: 17 GB (11 GB daytime and 6 GB nighttime) for 30 days. Activation: reload 195 LKR, text i998 to 101, or dial *131*3*7#
  • 1690 LKR: 31 GB (21 GB daytime and 10 GB nighttime) for 45 days. Activation: reload 195 LKR, text i1690 to 101, or dial *131*6*13#
  • 2490 LKR: 42 GB (32 GB daytime and 10 GB nighttime) for 45 days. Activation: reload 195 LKR, text i2490 to 101, or dial *131*6*15#

If you live at night (or are recovering from jetlag), then you can get Hutch’ Ghost Internet plans that can be used from 2 AM until 6 AM:

  • 45 LKR: 2.2 GB for 3 days. Activation: reload 45 LKR, text i45 to 101, or dial *135*7*4*1#
  • 75 LKR: 4.4 GB for 7 days. Activation: reload 75 LKR, text i75 to 101, or dial *135*7*4*2#
  • 175 LKR: 11 GB for 15 days. Activation: reload 175 LKR, text i45 to 101, or dial *135*7*4*3#

If you purchase 3 of the same Ghost Internet packs within 15 days, then you will get the 4th Ghost Internet pack for free. To be eligible for this plan, you have to activate the Ghost Internet plans through SMS or USSD.

Hutch also has a Ghost Non-Stop Internet plan for 299 LKR that comes with unlimited data from 1 AM until 6 AM. To activate this plan, text i299 to 101 or dial *131*7*3*1#. Reloading 299 LKR will NOT automatically activate this plan.

You can also get Hutch’ “Anytime” Non-Stop Internet plans that give you unlimited data for a few hours. Even though the same implies that you can use these plans whenever you want, Anytime Non-Stop Internet plans are valid between 12 AM and 6 PM:

  • 25 LKR: unlimited data for 1 hour. Activation: text pti25 to 101 or dial *131*7*1*1#
  • 45 LKR: unlimited data for 2 hours. Activation: text pti45 to 101 or dial *131*7*1*2#
  • 70 LKR: unlimited data for 5 hours. Activation: text pti70 to 101 or dial *131*7*1*3#

If you want unlimited data during off-peak hours, then you can get Hutch’ Off-Peak Non-Stop Internet Plans that can be used between 1 AM and 6 AM:

  • 19 LKR: unlimited data for 1 hour. Activation: text ti19 to 101 or dial *131*7*2*4#
  • 25 LKR: unlimited data for 2 hours. Activation: text ti25 to 101 or dial *131*7*2*1#
  • 45 LKR: unlimited data for 4 hours. Activation: text ti45 to 101 or dial *131*7*2*2#
  • 70 LKR: unlimited data for 10 hours. Activation: text ti70 to 101 or dial *131*7*2*3#

RELATED: I tested Hutch out when I was in Colombo. You can read my Hutch review here.

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Airtel Sri Lanka

Airtel Logo

Airtel Sri Lanka, also known as Airtel Lanka, but I will call them Airtel from now on, is the smallest operator in Sri Lanka. The company is owned by an Indian company called Bharti Airtel. Besides being the smallest operator, it also has the “worst” coverage and does not have a 4G/LTE network. Rumors state that they are planning on launching their 4G/LTE network in Colombo mid-2020.

Airtel SIM cards are sold for 100 LKR in Airtel stores. Top-up cards are sold from 30 LKR to 1000 LKR. You can check your balance by dialing *550#.

Unlike the other providers, Airtel does not have that many data packages, which makes choosing one easy.

Do note that Airtel packages are advertised without the 12.24% government tax on data packages. I have added the tax into the prices listed below, which is why they may seem odd.

The following 2 Airtel Downloader Range packages can be added:

  • 66.22 LKR: 1011 MB (330 MB daytime and 475 MB nighttime) + 206 MB “app bonus with 8% tax benefit) for 4 days. Activation: reload 59 LKR, text D59 to 155, or dial *59#
  • 133.57 LKR: 178 GB (660 MB daytime and 1.09 GB nighttime) + 53 MB “additional bonus for tax revision) for 14 days. Activation: reload 119 LKR, text D119 to 155, or dial *119#

Airtel nighttime data allowance counts from 1 AM until 7 AM.

You can also get any of Airtel’s Anytime packs that do not have any time restrictions:

  • 132.44 LKR: 1.08 GB (1 GB + 82 MB “additional bonus for tax revision). Activation: reload 118 LKR
  • 200.91 LKR: 2.11 GB (1.5 GB + 623 “app bonus with 8% tax benefit) for 14 days. Activation: reload 179 LKR or dial *179#
  • 537.63 LKR: 6.9 GB (5 GB + 1946 MB “app bonus with 8% tax benefit) for 30 days. Activation: reload 479 LKR only
  • 1121.28 LKR: 12.9 GB (12 GB + 983 MB “additional bonus for tax revision) for 30 days. Activation: reload 999 LKR only

RELATED: When I was in Sri Lanka, I tested out Airtel Sri Lanka. You can read my entire review in this post.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Sri Lanka

So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Sri Lanka. However, that is not the only way to be online in Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka 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 Jio Reliance from India, then you would be roaming with Jio Reliance in Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lanka, 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 Sri Lanka, 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 Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lanka. 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 Sri Lanka, do not expect to find many WIFI hotspots, not even in Colombo.

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 Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lanka. 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 South Asia 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 Sri Lanka

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

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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, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan. 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 Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lanka. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Sri Lanka drop.

Book Your Accommodation for Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lanka. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Sri Lankan hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lanka, 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 Sri Lankan Rupees 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, and plans on exploring Oceania and more of East and Southeast Asia.

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