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How to use a local SIM card in Central Asia & Mongolia

How to use a local SIM card in Central Asia & Mongolia

Alexandra 1 month ago
By Alexandra | Wednesday 30 October, 2019 30 October, 2019
Kazakhstan tours guides

How to get a local SIM card

We live in a time where the internet is essential for most travellers, to publish your blog posts, text or call using WhatsApp or check out new travel tips online. In most hotels and hostels in Central Asia and Mongolia Wi-Fi is available. But it strongly depends where you are. It is more convenient to buy your own local SIM Card and buy a data package to make local calls and have internet access. In general, SIM cards are quite cheap; see the costs for a data package below in the pictures. Here is a short guide how to get a local SIM Card in each country (except Turkmenistan). 

Using your mobile phone in Kazakhstan

Probably the easiest country to get a SIM Card. You just go to a cellphone shop and ask for a SIM Card. A registration with passport is only necessary after the first month of using it. Good providers are Active, Kcell or Beeline. If you need to add money, there are machines in coffee shops, restaurants and shops etc. Just choose your provider and enter your phone number. 

Using your mobile phone in Kyrgyzstan

Also in Kyrgyzstan it is quite simple to get a SIM card. Here you need your passport for the registration but they do it right at the shop. Just go to one of the little stands which are marked with one of the providers (O! or Beeline) and tell them you need a SIM card. You can also recharge the card at these shops. Just give them the amount of money you want to recharge and your phone number. Also you can recharge it almost in any small shop, just show them your telephone and say "Edinicy". In Big shops there are computer stands for recharging.

Using your mobile phone in Mongolia

If you arrive in UB just go to Mobicom, Unitel or Skytel in the State Department store (the biggest and most famous Department store right in the center) and ask for a SIM card. You need to bring your passport for the registration. If you want to recharge it, just go to a shop and ask the cashier to put more balance on your card. This is also be possible in the little stores in the countryside. 

Note: Reception is not good on the roads outside of the capital but in most cities and towns there is a signal. Usually, the nomads know where the signal is the strongest. 

Mobicom Data Packages

Using your mobile phone in Tajikistan

The reception is actually quite good in Tajikistan. But not every provider has the same good reception. There are several providers like Tcell, Megafon and Beeline. In an office of both providers it should not be a problem to get a SIM card but they need your passport and a local address. Just give them the address of your hotel in Dushanbe, that should work. If you have to recharge there are machines in shops to do that. 

Tcell doesn't really work in Rang Kul, KaraKul, Toktamush etc. And Megafon works in all villages. There's also Beeline, it works the same as Tcell but has sometimes better internet connection than Tcell & Megafon.


Tcell Data Packages

Using your mobile phone in Uzbekistan

Internet here is in general very slow and also the Wi-Fi in the 4 Star-Hotels is not always working. It is also a bit more complicated to get a SIM Card. It is more difficult to buy a local SIM Card in the towns outside from Tashkent. If you do need to get one, you have to ask somebody to buy one for you. However if you go to a Ucell shop in Tashkent, it should not be a problem to get a SIM Card with your passport and a registration slip of your hotel. To recharge it, just go to the shops with the sign Paynet. 

Note: WhatsApp calls are rarely possible because the connection is somehow not working properly. Try calling with Facebook messenger with video instead and immediately after connecting, turn off the camera option.

Ucell Data Packages

Comments (2)



4 years ago

very useful info



3 years ago

It's a great idea to have a local sim card when you travel as a backpacker or if you travel with a tour guide.  Local guides carry with them 2 or 3 sim cards at one time.  When one sim card does not work then they use another one.  Sim cards are cheap and can be a very helpful in case there is a problem or a person needs to get in contact with a guesthouse or tour service.  I always give sim cards to my clients when they arrive in Bishkek.