Sri Lanka is a popular travel destination because of its location, nature, and affordability. Whether you plan on staying in Colombo or explore the jungle in the middle of nowhere, there is something for every type of traveler in Sri Lanka.
You will want to share your amazing Sri Lanka experiences on the web, and you would need a Sri Lankan SIM card for that. Sure, you could roam with your provider in Sri Lanka, but roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card, such as a Sri Lankan one.
Moreover, mobile data rates are low in Sri Lanka compared to (South) Asian standards and the world’s average.
With that said, you are interested in buying a SIM card in Sri Lanka and want to know what provider is the best. I had the same question, so I went to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and bought all Sri Lankan SIM cards, including Mobitel, besides Dialog, Hutch, and Airtel Sri Lanka, and tested them.
Let’s see how my experience with Mobitel was, and how your experience could be when visiting Sri Lanka. Let’s get started.
Telecom Providers in Sri Lanka
Before I talk about Mobitel, I need to inform you about your options in Sri Lanka. If you have read my Buying a SIM Card in Sri Lanka Guide, then you know what Sri Lanka has 4 Telecom Providers: Dialog, Mobitel, Hutch, and Airtel Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has no (prepaid) Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), which makes it easy to select a SIM card for your adventure in the country.
Mobitel is the mobile brand of Sri Lanka Telecom, which is one of Sri Lanka’s largest companies. Mobitel itself is the second-largest operator behind Dialog.
Mobitel is known for being cheaper than Dialog while having good coverage and speeds throughout Sri Lanka.
Let’s see how my experience with Mobitel was and whether you should consider them when visiting Sri Lanka or not.
Mobitel Video Review
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What Frequencies does Mobitel Use?
Mobitel uses primarily Asian/European frequencies, which are:
- 2G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
- 3G: 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 850 MHz on Band 5, 900 MHz on Band 8, 1800 MHz on Band 3, and 2100 MHz on Band 1
To learn whether your device supports these frequencies or not, go to this site to find out.
As always, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator.
How do I Buy a Mobitel Prepaid SIM Card?
You can buy a Mobitel SIM card in many Mobitel stores throughout Sri Lanka. There is also a Mobitel booth at Colombo Airport (Bandaranayake International Airport). When I was there, they only sold the most expensive plans. I do not recall whether they were only tourist plans or just a selection of costly plans.
That is why I decided to get a Mobitel SIM card at a Mobitel store so that I did not have to overpay on data.
In Sri Lanka, you have to show your passport and register it with the provider. When you buy your SIM card at a Mobitel store, the salesperson will handle all of this for you, but you do have to bring your passport with you if you intend to buy a Sri Lankan SIM card.
The Mobitel store I went to was located in a remarkable place. It looked like your typical Sri Lankan residential area. Out of nowhere, you see a large office building planted in the middle. At first, I thought it was one of Mobitel’s head offices for office employees, but I could buy my SIM card there.
A Mobitel SIM card will cost you 100 LKR. The salesperson will ask you whether you want to top-up or buy a plan. I decided to go for one of Mobitel’s Anytime plans that costs 99 LKR and comes with 786 MB and 768 MB for their 4G/LTE network for 21 days. For the money spent, that data package was a good deal.
Although I knew Mobitel offered multiple types of plans, like the Mini Internet Plans, Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans, and Time Based Plans, the salesperson told me I could only select any of the Anytime plans, which was weird. Still, I got a plan I liked, so I did not complain.
One thing Sri Lankan operators like to do is to split your data allowance into groups. Some have anytime data, which can be used whenever, others have daytime data, nighttime data, and even 4G bonus data, which can only be used on the 4G/LTE network.
This applies to Mobitel as well, which will become clearer once I list all the data plans Mobitel offers in the package section.
I am not a fan of this system because I want to use my data whenever I want to. I do not want to worry about how much anytime/daytime/nighttime/4G data I have.
Anyway, once you have paid for your SIM card and package, you get your SIM card, insert it in your phone, and will receive an activation message like this. You may have to restart your phone before your Mobitel SIM card works, but you do not have to wait hours or days before it gets activated.
How do I Activate my Hutch SIM Card?
The Mobitel salesperson will activate your SIM card upon purchase and registration. Remember to bring your passport with you if you decide to buy a SIM card in town instead of at the airport.
What Prepaid Packages does Mobitel Offer, and How do I Activate One?
As highlighted earlier, Mobitel has a few different types of data packages to choose from, which are:
- Mini internet plans
- Anytime Plans
- Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans
- Prepaid Daily Plans
- Time Based Plans
Let’s go through each one.
Mobitel Mini Internet Plans
The Mobitel Mini internet plans are data plans that come with anytime data, nighttime data (12 AM – 9 AM), and 4G Bonus, which is an additional data allowance for when you use Mobitel’s 4G/LTE network. They come in the following 6 variants, which can be activated by dialing #170#, sending an activation code to 7678, or reloading a certain amount:
|Price||Anytime Data||Nighttime Data||4G Bonus||Total Data||Validity||Activation|
|5 LKR||43 MB||N/A||N/A||43 MB||24 hours||Text D5 to 7678|
|29 LKR||163 MB||163 MB||162 MB||326 MB||3 days||text D29 to 7678 or reload 29 LKR|
|49 LKR||326 MB||326 MB||244 MB||896 MB||7 days||text D49 to 7678 or reload 49 LKR|
|99 LKR||652 MB||652 MB||489 MB||1.75 GB||21 days||text D99 to 7678 or reload 99 LKR|
|199 LKR||1413 MB||1413 MB||1087 MB||3.82 GB||30 days||Dial #170#|
|299 LKR||2.17 GB||2.17 GB||1.629 GB||5.976 GB||30 days||Dial #170#|
These data allowances seem to have been pulled out of thin air. That is not the case. The Sri Lankan government revised the tax for mobile communications to 12.24%. Therefore, many Sri Lankan operators increased their data allowances to give their customers the benefit of recent tax revisions, which is quite nice.
Mobitel’s Anytime Plans do not have dedicated daytime/anytime and nighttime data. You can use your data whenever you want. You do, however, get a dedicated 4G-only allowance.
Mobitel Anytime Plans
There are 3 Mobitel Anytime Plans, which can be activated by dialing #170#, option Internet Plans, and option Anytime Plans, or by sending an activation code to 7676:
|Price||Anytime Data||4G-Only Data||Total Data||Validity||Activation|
|49 LKR||375 MB||375 MB||750 MB||7 days||text A49 to 7676|
|99 LKR||768 MB||768 MB||1536 MB||21 days||text A99 to 7676|
|199 LKR||1690 MB||1690 MB||3380 MB||30 days||text A199 to 7676|
Mobitel Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans
Next, we have the Mobitel Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans, which are more expensive than the previous 2 plans, but come with much more data. The plans are split up into anytime data, nighttime data (12 AM – 9 AM), and 4G Bonus. Although it says Bonus, the 4G allowance can only be used on Mobitel’s 4G/LTE network.
There are 5 Mobitel Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans, which can be activated by dialing #170#:
|Price||Anytime Data||Nighttime Data||4G Bonus||Total Data||Validity|
|399 LKR||2.71 GB||2.71 GB||2.17 GB||7.60 GB||30 days|
|499 LKR||4.34 GB||3.25 GB||3.25 GB||10.84 GB||30 days|
|699 LKR||6.15 GB||5.43 GB||4.88 GB||16.84 GB||30 days|
|999 LKR||8.62 GB||8.62 GB||6.51 GB||23.90 GB||30 days|
|1999 LKR||21.73 GB||21.73 GB||16.20 GB||59.76 GB||365 days|
Mobitel Daily Plans
You also have Mobitel Daily Plans, which are plans that renew daily. These plans come with anytime data and nighttime data (12 AM – 9 AM), which reset at midnight. You can buy the same Daily Plan multiple times, and Daily Plans can be combined. Priority will be given to the plan with the smallest data allowance. The following 5 Daily Plans are available:
|Price||Anytime Data||Nighttime Data||Total Data||Activation||Deactivation|
|5 LKR||40 MB||25 MB||65 MB||Text ACT DR5 to 7678||Text DCT DR5 to 7678|
|7 LKR||60 MB||60 MB||120 MB||Text ACT DR7 to 7678||Text DCT DR7 to 7678|
|9 LKR||80 MB||80 MB||160 MB||Text ACT DR9 to 7678||Text DCT DR9 to 7678|
|15 LKR||140 MB||140 MB||280 MB||Text ACT DR15 to 7678||Text DCT DR15 to 7678|
|25 LKR||250 MB||250 MB||500 MB||Text ACT DR25 to 7678||Text DCT DR25 to 7678|
Mobitel Time Based Plans
Finally, you have the Mobitel Time Based Plans, which are advertised as unlimited plans. However, most of these plans come with a Fair-Use Policy. Additionally, these are the only plans that are advertised without the necessary taxes included. As a result, an extra column with the total price will be inserted into the table.
The following 5 Mobitel Time Based Plans are available, which can be activated by dialing #170#:
|Price||Price with Tax||FUP||Validity|
|20 LKR||22.45 LKR||No FUP||30 minutes|
|60 LKR||67.34 LKR||No FUP||3 hours|
|95 LKR||106.63 LKR||500 MB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward||5 hours|
|199 LKR||223.46 LKR||1.5 GB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward||12 hours|
|389 LKR||436.61 LKR||2.5 GB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward||24 hours|
Mobitel Tourist SIM Cards
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.
What Speeds will I Get with Mobitel in Sri Lanka?
I did 4 speed tests when I was in Sri Lanka: 3 in Colombo itself and in an area near Colombo called Labugama, where I was enjoying a secret waterfall. In Colombo, I did a speed test at my Airbnb (Colombo 5), at a Bubble Tea place called Bubble Me Bubble Tea (Colombo 5), and Colombo International Airport.
Those are some good speeds. Sure, they may not be the fastest speeds if compared to the rest world, but these are good for Sri Lankan standards. Even then, you can browse the web with ease, download large files relatively quickly, and stream videos on HD quality without (much) buffering.
The speeds in Labugama actually surprised me. The waterfall was in a remote area, and I was not expecting any coverage there. Well, I did, and the speeds were quite good.
Do I Recommend Mobitel to Travelers Visiting Sri Lanka?
I would recommend Mobitel to those visiting Sri Lanka. I got good speeds with Mobitel, and the coverage was quite good, even outside of Colombo. Sure, coverage may be nonexistent if you decide to go deep into the jungle, but that is to be expected.
Together with Dialog, Mobitel has the best coverage and speeds in Sri Lanka, which is why I recommend both in case you plan on going to rural Sri Lanka and not stay in the cities and major towns.
Getting a Mobitel SIM card was easy, so was selecting a package. I like how they have just enough packages. Not too many, like Hutch, and not too little either.
The reason why I give Mobitel 4.5 stars out of 5 is that the whole anytime data/nighttime data/4G-only data/4G Bonus data allowances are annoying and unnecessary. I know it is common with the Sri Lankan operators, but I firmly believe that one should be able to use one’s data whenever they want.
If you get a data plan that is advertised as 5 GB, you should be able to use the 5 GB whenever you feel. Not that 1.75 GB can be used anytime, 1 GB to be used between 12 AM and 9 AM, 1 GB 4G bonus, which is not a bonus and will be depleted when using 4G, and 1.25 4G-only data. Sure, this example may be a bit too much, but that is how things are in Sri Lanka.
Even then, Mobitel is an excellent operator in Sri Lanka. Although their coverage is a bit worse than the one of Dialog, the market leader, and they are also a bit slower than Dialog, Mobitel is still a good candidate, while being somewhat cheaper. As a result, Mobitel deserves their 4.5-star rating.
Best International SIM Cards for Sri Lanka
Even though buying local SIM cards is often the cheapest way to stay connected while abroad, some travelers prefer to buy international SIM cards so that they do not have to pay expensive roaming bills while being reachable on one phone number.
TrueMove H Smart Light SIM Cards
TrueMove H is a Thai operator that is known for offering attractive international roaming packages for in the Asia Pacific region and for affordable international SIM cards, like their Smart SIM cards. TrueMove H has 1 SIM card that covers Sri Lanka. This SIM card comes with a Thai number (+66).
The TrueMove H Smart Light SIM Card costs $20 and comes with 6 GB that is valid for 10 days.
You cannot call or SMS with the TrueMove H Smart Light SIM card nor receive them. Additionally, once the SIM card has been activated (when you put it in your device), the SIM card will expire once the credit validity hits, meaning that you cannot top-up your TrueMove H SIM card.
You can use your TrueMove H Smart SIM card in the following 20 destinations, including Sri Lanka:
- Hong Kong
- The Philippines
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
Surfroam is my to-go international SIM card that acts as a bridge between me arriving in a new destination and before buying a local SIM card. Often, airport WIFI is slow, and the SIM cards offered at the airports are overpriced.
Surfroam is a data-only SIM card. You get a UK number (+44) and can receive SMS, but you cannot call or text. The SIM card will not expire as long as you top up once a year. The Surfroam SIM card is free, but you have to top-up at least €15 (or €20 for the eSIM variant) upon purchase.
Depending on where you are, you pay a minimum of €0.01 per MB (or slightly more than €10 per GB), which is cheaper than data packages in various countries around the world.
In Sri Lanka, you will pay €0.01 per MB when using your Surfroam SIM card on the Mobitel network.
Surfroam has agreements with operators in more than 200 destinations around the world, including Sri Lanka, which means that it will always have your back.
3 Smart SIM Cards
3 Hutchison is an international telecom operator active in various countries in Europe and Asia. The 3 Smart SIM cards are issued by 3 UK and come with a UK number (+44). They come in 4 variants:
|SIM Card||Price||Data||Calls||SMS||Credit Validity|
|3 Smart Silver||$30||10 GB||None||None||30 days|
|3 Smart Gold||$40||12 GB||None||None||30 days|
|3 Smart Platinum||$60||12 GB||None||None||1 year|
|3 Smart Platinum X||$80||24 GB||None||None||2 years|
You cannot call and text with any of the 3 Smart SIM cards. You can, however, receive calls and SMS for free if you are in an eligible destination (shown below).
All 3 Smart SIM cards can, besides Sri Lanka, be used in the following 22 destinations:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- Sri Lanka
- United States
- US Virgin Islands
Recharging these SIM cards is only possible with cards registered to a UK address our 3 UK top-up vouchers.
AIS Smart SIM Cards
For Sri Lanka, they only have 1 SIM card, called AIS Smart Traveler, which costs $20, comes with 6 GB, and is valid for 10 days. You cannot call or text with this SIM card, nor can you receive calls and SMS.
Besides Sri Lanka, the AIS Smart Traveler SIM card can be used in the following 24 destinations:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
Best Mobile Hotspots for Sri Lanka
Mobile hotspots, also known as Pocket WIFI, are useful for those traveling to Sri Lanka as a group or family. Buying data packages for everyone can add up quickly, which is why mobile hotspots can be a good alternative.
Just like international SIM cards, many companies are offering mobile hotspots, but there are 2 companies I would recommend for Sri Lanka.
Skyroam is a popular portable hotspot because they rent their Skyroam hotspot with unlimited data from $6 a day, and up to 10 devices can be connected to the hotspot. It works in more than 130 countries.
In Sri Lanka, you will pay $9 per day for unlimited high-speed data if you rent it, which is incredible.
Both devices offer fast and secure WIFI speeds and allow you to connect to 10 devices. The Solis X also has a remote camera, speaker, microphone, Bluetooth, and a Smart Assistant. Neat.
Vision Global Wifi
Vision Global WIFI is another mobile hotspot provider that has a good reputation among travelers.
Vision Global hotspots cover more than 130 destinations around the world – Sri Lanka included. Their service comes in 3 variants:
- Unlimited 4G Basic: $8.80/day – 500 MB high-speed data per day, then unlimited normal speed
- Unlimited 4G Advanced: $14.90/day – 1 GB high-speed data per day, then unlimited normal speed
- Unlimited 4G Max: $25.90/day – Unlimited high-speed data every day
The prices drop if you plan on using a Vision Global device for more than two weeks.
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!