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Best Tourist Sim Cards in Afghanistan in 2024

Choosing a sim card is hard. We've analysed the best tourist sim cards in Afghanistan across pricing, coverage and data. Find out the best pick!

If you’re planning a visit to Afghanistan, having a sim card is essential for staying connected during your travels. Access to the internet can greatly simplify navigating new cities, allowing you to find the best restaurants, get directions to your accommodation, book a taxi, and share photos with your family on the go.

While roaming is an option, the costs can quickly accumulate when traveling internationally. Therefore, we highly recommend opting for either an eSIM or a local sim card to take advantage of local phone rates.

Thankfully, acquiring either option in Afghanistan is incredibly easy, but it’s helpful to know which one is the most suitable for you. This comprehensive guide aims to provide all the necessary information, including current pricing and the absolute best sim card for your needs, to ensure a seamless experience when purchasing a sim card in Afghanistan.

Table of Contents

Best Sim Card in Afghanistan for Tourists

The best sim card in Afghanistan is the Afghan Wireless prepaid sim card combined with one of their weekly or monthly packs.

If you are visiting Afghanistan for 7 days or less then the 2.5GB weekly plan for 210 AFN ($2.5 USD) will be plenty. If you’re visiting for longer than a week then choose a monthly pack based on how much data you require. For most people, the 6GB pack for 400 AFN ($5 USD) is a great deal.

Another option is the Airalo Afghanistan eSim. The local sim cards are a much better deal than the Airalo eSim, however, the eSim is much easier to set up and saves you the hassle of visiting a store. If you value this convenience over the cheapest deal then you can get 3GB of data valid for 30 days. All you have to do is buy the eSim before you leave home and it will begin working when you arrive in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Sim Card Prices

A Tourist Sim Card in Afghanistan costs 210 – 400 AFN in February 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.

Alternatively, an eSim in Afghanistan will cost between $8 USD and $16 USD. This, again, depends on how much data you require and which eSim provider you choose.

I generally recommend this Airalo plan for most tourists visiting Afghanistan which includes 3GB of data which is valid for 30 days and costs $16 USD.

Afghanistan Sim Card Providers

In Afghanistan, there are three major SIM card providers that dominate the telecommunications market: Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, and MTN. Afghan Wireless is the oldest and one of the most popular providers, offering various calling and data packages tailored to different user needs. They have a wide coverage network and are known for their reliable service.

Etisalat, a UAE-based telecommunications company, is another significant player in the Afghan market. They offer competitive call, SMS, and data packages, with a focus on providing high-speed internet services to their customers.

Finally, MTN Afghanistan, a subsidiary of the South African MTN Group, also operates in the country. They provide reliable voice and data services, including attractive data packages for internet access.

These three major providers contribute to the telecommunications infrastructure in Afghanistan, offering competitive services to meet the diverse needs of their customers.

Afghan Wireless Tourist Sim

Afghan Wireless is a leading telecommunications company in Afghanistan that offers reliable tourist sim cards for visitors. Their sim cards provide seamless connectivity, enabling tourists to stay connected with loved ones and access the internet effortlessly. With extensive network coverage across the country, Afghan Wireless ensures reliable communication and data services. Their affordable packages cater specifically to tourists’ needs, allowing them to explore Afghanistan while staying connected to the world.

Afghan Wireless Afghanistan Tourist Sim Price

The price of a Afghan Wireless tourist sim card in Afghanistan is 400 AFN.

The plan offered by Afghan Wireless stores includes 6GB valid for 30 days.

Etisalat Tourist Sim

Etisalat, a telecommunications company in Afghanistan, offers convenient tourist SIM cards for visitors. These prepaid cards provide seamless connectivity and reliable network coverage throughout the country, ensuring tourists stay connected with their loved ones and explore Afghanistan hassle-free. With competitive call and data packages, tourists can enjoy affordable rates during their stay. Etisalat’s tourist SIM cards are a valuable companion for travelers seeking a smooth communication experience while discovering the beauty of Afghanistan.

Etisalat Afghanistan Tourist Sim Price

The price of a Etisalat tourist sim card in Afghanistan is 599 AFN.

The plan offered by Etisalat stores offers 9GB data valid for 30 days.

MTN Tourist Sim

MTN, a leading telecommunications company, offers tourist SIM cards in Afghanistan. These SIM cards are designed with attractive features to cater to the needs of travelers. With MTN’s reliable network coverage, tourists can stay connected with their loved ones, browse the internet, and access various applications effortlessly. Furthermore, MTN’s affordable data packages and international calling options make it a convenient choice for tourists exploring Afghanistan’s beauty and culture. Stay connected with MTN’s tourist SIM cards and make your journey memorable.

MTN Afghanistan Tourist Sim Price

The price of a MTN tourist sim card in Afghanistan is 499 AFN.

The plan offered by MTN stores includes 5GB data valid for 30 days.

How to Get a Sim Card in Afghanistan

Identify mobile providers: Afghan Wireless, Etisalat and MTN are your best options in Afghanistan.

Find your nearest store: Locate a store or retailer by searching on Google Maps for your nearest store or asking at your hotel reception. I’ve never had issues finding a store as they can usually be found in major cities, shopping centers, or tourist areas. If possible, I always recommend to to avoid airports and head in to an official store in the city.

Bring the necessary documents: It is always a good idea to carry your passport or identification documents for sim card registration purposes. We’ve found most providers will need to confirm your identity to provide a sim card and it can be a major hassle to head to a store only to have to come back again later with your passport.

Choose your plan: Either request the plan you are after or consult with the staff in the store to select the right plan for you. My recommendations at the beginning of this guide are a good starting point, but the staff will usually be able to suggest the best option.

Pay and activate your card: Pay for the SIM card and plan, and the staff will activate it for you.

Test: It’s always a good idea to check that you can access the internet before you leave the store. I always search for something on Google then refresh my Instagram feed to check it’s working fine.

Where to Get a Sim Card in Afghanistan

At the Airport

Buying a prepaid sim card for Afghanistan at the airport is usually considered the most convenient option for travellers arriving by plane.

However, airport stores selling sim cards are almost guaranteed to charge inflated prices, so if you are a cost-conscious traveller then you should definitely buy your sim card from a store in the city center.

In addition to this, we would argue that buying physical sim cards at all aren’t particularly convenient now that most people use esim compatible phones. If you are looking for the most convenient option, then buying an esim before you arrive or with the airport wifi is much easier and will save you having to queue up or communicate with staff.

If you must purchase a sim card at the airport in Afghanistan then you will be in luck. All major international airports in Afghanistan have stores selling sim cards. Despite the prices being higher than normal, the staff are knowledgable and will be able to get you set up with the correct sim card relatively quickly.

In Stores

If you want to avoid the inflated sim card prices you’ll find at the airport and your phone isn’t esim compatible, then you’re going to need to head in to a store to buy your sim card.

I recommend visiting one of the official retail stores of the mobile internet operators such as Afghan Wireless, Etisalat and MTN. Your best option is to enter their names into Google Maps and find the branch closest to your hotel or accommodation. Typically the staff in the official stores in Afghanistan are knowledgable and helpful which means you can ensure you’ll walk away with a functioning sim card.

Despite this, it’s always a good idea to check your internet is working before you leave the store by loading a Google search results page and your preferred social media app. You should also ensure you always bring your passport with you when purchasing a sim card in case they need to register it.

Online

If you like to be prepared and would prefer to arrive in Afghanistan with your sim card all sorted and your phone ready to connect to the internet immediately then you should look into purchasing a sim card online.

The first option is to buy your sim card in advance via SimOptions, which is a company that will prepare and ship a sim card directly to your door. It’s a reliable and effective service, but with the invention of eSims it’s becoming obsolete.

The better option is to purchase an eSim online. We’ve written more on that below!

Afghanistan eSim

An eSim is a digital version of a traditional sim card and is most likely the future of connectivity for mobile devices. The convenience of no longer visiting a store, handing over your passport and purchasing a physical sim card is quickly making physical sim cards obsolete in favour of eSims.

We recommend Airalo’s eSim when travelling to Afghanistan. The Airalo Afghanistan eSim offers fast internet speeds, wide coverage and extremely competitive prices making it a far more compelling option than purchasing a physical sim card from any of the local sim card providers.

In order to get set up with an Airalo eSim, all you need to do is visit Airalo here and purchase the eSim online (the $16 USD plan is suitable for most travellers). Once you’ve purchased the sim card Airalo will email you instructions and a QR code. Following these instructions should take just a couple of minutes, then you’ll have a sim card in Afghanistan without having to venture outside.

Airalo Afghanistan

Our preferred eSim provider in Afghanistan is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to Afghanistan and found the service to be equal to the local sim card but without the hassle of acquiring a sim card in a store.

Airalo’s Afghanistan eSim uses the MTN network to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the MTN networknetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in Afghanistan.

Here are the plans and prices for Airalo’s Afghanistan eSim:

1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $8 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $16 USD

For most travellers we recommend the 3GB data plan for $16 USD which is valid for 30 days. Some travellers may prefer a larger plan, whilst travellers visiting for just a couple of days may be fine with a smaller plan.

Holafly Afghanistan

An alternative eSim provider we can recommend is Holafly.

Holafly’s eSim is a suitable option for travellers who require large amounts of data, such as digital nomads and people who work online while they travel. All of Holafly’s Afghanistan eSims offer unlimited data.

Holafly’s Afghanistan eSim uses the network to provide data and connect users to the internet. This network will provide reliable speeds and coverage while in Afghanistan

Here are the plans and prices for Holafly’s Afghanistan eSim:

Unfortunately, the Holafly esim packages for Afghanistan are unavailable. We’ll add the prices back in here once they are available again.

What is an eSim?

The eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card that is integrated into a device, like a smartphone or tablet, instead of being physically inserted or removed. It can be activated and programmed remotely by a mobile network operator, allowing users to switch between mobile networks or plans without physically changing SIM cards.

This technology offers convenience and flexibility, especially for travelers or those who frequently switch networks. It eliminates the need to buy and install physical SIM cards, simplifying the management of multiple mobile connections on one device.

Activating an eSIM involves scanning a QR code or manually entering activation details provided by the network operator. Once activated, the device can connect to the selected mobile network and access voice, data, and messaging services like a traditional SIM card.

Why Use an eSim?

Using an eSIM can be beneficial for several reasons, such as convenience, dual SIM functionality, space-saving, remote provisioning, and future-proofing. The convenience of not needing to physically insert or remove a SIM card is particularly useful for travelers who switch networks or use local SIM cards in different countries. eSIM allows for dual SIM functionality, which is useful for separating personal and work numbers or managing multiple phone lines. As eSIMs are embedded within the device, it frees up space, allowing manufacturers to make devices smaller or use the extra space for other components. Activation and management of mobile plans can be done remotely over the air with eSIMs, providing greater flexibility and convenience. By using an eSIM-compatible device, users can take advantage of new services and offerings as they become available, ensuring future-proofing for mobile connectivity. Overall, eSIM technology offers flexibility, convenience, and future-proofing for mobile connectivity.

eSim Supported Phones

eSIM technology is becoming increasingly popular and is supported by a growing number of smartphones and other devices. Here are some examples of eSIM-compatible phones:

Apple iPhone series (iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, etc.): Apple was one of the early adopters of eSIM technology and offers support for eSIM on various iPhone models.

Google Pixel series (Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 5, etc.): Google’s Pixel smartphones also support eSIM functionality, allowing users to activate and use eSIMs.

Samsung Galaxy series (Galaxy S22, Galaxy Note 20, etc.): Many of Samsung’s flagship devices now come with eSIM support, enabling users to utilize eSIM technology.

OnePlus devices (OnePlus 7, OnePlus 8, etc.): OnePlus has included eSIM support in some of its smartphone models, offering users the flexibility of using eSIMs.

Motorola Razr (2020): The latest iteration of the iconic Motorola Razr features eSIM compatibility, enabling users to use eSIMs for cellular connectivity.

These are just a few examples, and the list of eSIM-compatible phones continues to expand as more manufacturers embrace this technology. There’s a very strong chance your phone supports eSims so if you’re unsure we recommend looking it up on our list of eSim supported phones.

How to Use an eSim

Using an eSim is new for many travellers, however, the good news is it’s surprisingly easy to get set up – even for the technologically challenged!

Here’s a general guide on how to use an eSIM:

Check eSIM Compatibility: Ensure that your device supports eSIM functionality. Many newer smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other devices are eSIM compatible including all iPhones produced since 2018.

Obtain an eSIM: There are multiple ways to acquire an eSIM. You can purchase an eSIM online from a provider like Airalo (which we recommend) or directly from a mobile network operator. Some devices also allow you to scan a QR code provided by your carrier to download the eSIM profile.

Activate the eSIM: Your eSim provider will send you instructions to activate the sim. This will usually involve scanning a QR code, entering an activation code, or downloading the eSIM profile directly onto your device.

Set up the eSIM: Once activated, your device will guide you through the eSIM setup process. This typically involves selecting the eSIM as your preferred mobile plan, configuring settings like data roaming, and entering any necessary authentication details.

Enjoy the Connection: Once the eSIM is set up, you can use it as you would with a physical SIM card. Make calls, send messages, browse the internet, and use data services as needed. You can also switch between eSIM profiles if you have multiple eSIMs installed on your device.

Mitchell

Mitchell

Hi, I’m Mitchell. I’m a full-time traveller, explorer and travel blogger. I've travelled all around the world, using and testing countless travel sim cards along the way. I'm the founder of and writer for Travel Sim Expert where I write guides to help travellers stay connected all around the world.

Hi, I’m Mitchell. I’m a full-time traveller, explorer and travel blogger. Travel Sim Expert is a blog dedicated to helping you find the best sim card for you, no matter where you are or what your budget is. 

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