If you’re planning a trip to Kenya, having a sim card is essential for staying connected during your visit. Whether it’s finding your way around unfamiliar cities or keeping in touch with loved ones, having internet access on the go can make your travel experience much more convenient.
While roaming is an option, the costs can quickly add up, especially when traveling internationally. Therefore, we highly recommend either getting an eSim or a local sim card to take advantage of local phone rates.
Thankfully, obtaining either option in Kenya is hassle-free. To help you make the best choice, this guide provides all the information you need to know about purchasing a sim card in Kenya, featuring updated pricing and the ultimate sim card option for your needs.
The best sim card in Kenya is the Safaricom prepaid data bundle plan. For 1,000 KES (around $7 USD) you will get a hefty 7GB data which is valid for 30 days. This should be plenty of data for most visitors, but if it’s not enough for you it is still cheap enough to buy 20GB for 2,000 KES (around $14 USD).
Safaricom, besides having a fun name, offers the best and most extensive 4G and 5G mobile networks in Kenya. This just means that with them you will have the best chance of connecting to the internet as well as the fastest download speeds, which is why they are easily my number one recommendation in Kenya.
If you value convenience then you should also check out the Airalo Kenya eSim. eSims are always better than physical sim cards, however, I can’t recommend an eSim in Kenya if you’re looking for the best value. They are not at all competitively priced so you will be paying more for less data.
A Tourist Sim Card in Kenya costs 1,000 KES in February 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.
Alternatively, an eSim in Kenya will cost between $9 USD and $36.50 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 Kenya which includes 3GB of data which is valid for 30 days and costs $23.50 USD.
In Kenya, Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom are the main sim card providers, offering a wide range of services to meet the communication needs of the population.
Safaricom, the largest mobile network operator, is well-known for its extensive coverage and reliable services. Their products include voice calls, SMS, data plans, and mobile money services through M-Pesa, which has revolutionized the financial landscape in Kenya.
Airtel, another major player in the market, competes with Safaricom by offering affordable voice and data plans. They have expanded their coverage and provide excellent network speed and quality service.
Telkom, on the other hand, focuses on delivering affordable and accessible internet connectivity solutions. They offer a variety of data bundles and packages that cater to both individual and business customers.
Overall, these three providers provide competitive services and continuously innovate to stay ahead in the Kenyan market.
Safaricom is a leading telecommunications company in Kenya, providing a range of services to locals and tourists alike. For tourists, Safaricom offers convenient tourist sim cards that ensure seamless connectivity during their visit to Kenya. With competitive rates and extensive network coverage, these sim cards allow tourists to stay connected, make local and international calls, browse the internet, and access popular social media platforms. Safaricom’s tourist sim cards make communication hassle-free and contribute to an enjoyable travel experience in Kenya.
The price of a Safaricom tourist sim card in Kenya is 1000 KES.
The plan offered by Safaricom stores includes 7GB data valid for 30 days.
Airtel is a leading telecommunication company in Kenya, offering tourist sim cards for travelers. Their sim cards provide seamless connectivity to explore the beautiful country. With affordable data and call rates, tourists can stay connected with their loved ones and access important information easily. Airtel ensures excellent network coverage even in remote areas, making it convenient for tourists to navigate and stay connected. Experience hassle-free communication with Airtel tourist sim cards during your visit to Kenya.
The price of a Airtel tourist sim card in Kenya is 1000 KES.
The plan offered by Airtel stores offers 12GB data + free whatsapp valid for 30 days.
Telkom is a leading telecommunications company in Kenya, offering reliable connectivity solutions. Their tourist sim cards are tailored to meet the communication needs of travelers visiting the country. With affordable data plans and reliable network coverage, Telkom ensures tourists have seamless internet access and can stay connected throughout their stay in Kenya. These sim cards are easily obtainable and provide a hassle-free solution for tourists to navigate the country and stay in touch with loved ones.
The price of a Telkom tourist sim card in Kenya is 1000 KES.
The plan offered by Telkom stores includes 30 GB (1GB daily) data valid for 30 days.
Identify mobile providers: Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom are your best options in Kenya.
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.
Buying a prepaid sim card for Kenya 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 Kenya then you will be in luck. All major international airports in Kenya 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.
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 Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom. 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 Kenya 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.
If you like to be prepared and would prefer to arrive in Kenya 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!
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 Kenya. The Airalo Kenya 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 $23.50 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 Kenya without having to venture outside.
Our preferred eSim provider in Kenya is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to Kenya 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 Kenya eSim uses the Airtel network to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the Airtel networknetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in Kenya.
Here are the plans and prices for Airalo’s Kenya eSim:
1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $9 USD
2GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $16.50 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $23.50 USD
5GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $36.50 USD
For most travellers we recommend the 3GB data plan for $23.50 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.
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 Kenya eSims offer unlimited data.
Holafly’s Kenya eSim uses the Airtelnetwork to provide data and connect users to the internet. This network will provide reliable speeds and coverage while in Kenya
Here are the plans and prices for Holafly’s Kenya eSim:
6GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $44 USD
An eSIM, or embedded SIM, refers to a digital SIM card that is already built into devices like smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. Unlike traditional physical SIM cards, there is no need to physically insert or remove an eSIM.
Instead, the eSIM is integrated directly into the device’s hardware and can be remotely activated and programmed by a mobile network operator. This enables users to easily switch between different mobile networks or plans without the hassle of physically swapping SIM cards.
The advent of eSIM technology offers users convenience, flexibility, and simplicity, particularly for individuals who frequently switch between mobile networks or travel internationally. It eliminates the need to purchase and insert physical SIM cards, making it more convenient to manage multiple mobile connections using a single device.
To activate an eSIM, users can scan a QR code provided by their mobile network operator or manually input the activation details. Once activated, the device can connect to the selected mobile network, providing access to voice, data, and messaging services just like a traditional SIM card.
There are several advantages of using an eSIM:
– Convenience: No need to physically insert or remove a SIM card when switching networks or plans, which is especially helpful for frequent travelers.
– Dual SIM functionality: Allows for two active mobile numbers on one device, separating personal and work numbers or managing multiple phone lines.
– Space-saving: Embedded eSIMs eliminate the need for a physical SIM card slot, freeing up space in the device for other components.
– Remote provisioning: Activation and management of mobile plans can be done remotely, without a physical SIM card or store visit.
– Future-proofing: As eSIM technology gains traction, more networks and providers offer support, ensuring access to new services and offerings.
Overall, eSIM technology offers flexibility, convenience, and future-proofing for mobile connectivity.
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.
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.
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.