If you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka, having a sim card is essential. Having internet access while traveling makes navigating new cities a breeze. From finding the best restaurants to getting directions to your accommodation, booking a taxi, and sharing photos with your family, having a sim card allows you to stay connected on the go.
While roaming is an option, the fees can quickly add up when traveling internationally. Therefore, we highly recommend either getting an eSIM or a local sim card to access local phone rates.
The good news is that obtaining either an eSIM or a local sim card in Sri Lanka is incredibly convenient. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide all the information you need to know about purchasing a sim card in Sri Lanka, including updated pricing and the best sim card options available.
The best sim card in Sri Lanka is the SLT Mobile (Sri Lanka Telecom) prepaid sim cards. Their prepaid internet plans offer the best value where you can get 20GB of data valid for 30 days for 535 LKR – this is super cheap! You can also opt for a tourist plan if you prefer, however, these are significantly more expensive but still affordable compared to other countries at around 2,000 LKR.
Dialog is also great with roughly equivalent network coverage and reliability to SLT but they usually slightly more expensive plans, with their tourist sim package priced at 2,450 LKR. You really can’t go wrong with either.
A Tourist Sim Card in Sri Lanka costs 545 LKR in February 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.
Alternatively, an eSim in Sri Lanka will cost between $7 USD and $15 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 Sri Lanka which includes 3GB of data which is valid for 30 days and costs $15 USD.
In Sri Lanka, the main sim card providers include Mobitel, SLT (Sri Lanka Telecom), and Dialog. Mobitel, owned by SLT, is one of the leading mobile service providers in the country. It offers a range of pre-paid and post-paid packages, along with 4G and 5G services, catering to the diverse needs of its customers. SLT, on the other hand, is the national telecommunications service provider and also offers sim card services through its subsidiary, Mobitel. Dialog, a subsidiary of Axiata group, is another prominent mobile service provider in Sri Lanka. It offers a variety of plans, packages, and value-added services, ensuring seamless connectivity for its users. All three providers are known for their extensive coverage, network reliability, and competitive pricing.
Mobitel and SLT are leading telecommunication providers in Sri Lanka, offering convenient and reliable services to both locals and tourists. Their tourist sim cards are designed to cater to the needs of travelers, providing cost-effective plans with extensive coverage and fast internet speeds. These sim cards also offer numerous benefits such as discounted rates for local and international calls, SMS, and data usage. With Mobitel and SLT, tourists can stay connected and enjoy their journey in Sri Lanka hassle-free.
The price of a Mobitel (also SLT) tourist sim card in Sri Lanka is 920 LKR.
The plan offered by Mobitel (also SLT) stores includes 14GB data valid for 30 days.
SLT Mobitel is a leading mobile telecommunication provider in Sri Lanka. They offer hassle-free tourist sim cards tailored to meet the needs of travelers visiting the country. Their sim cards provide reliable coverage and fast internet speeds, ensuring seamless communication and connectivity throughout your stay. With affordable data and call packages, SLT Mobitel ensures tourists can stay connected, explore various destinations, and make the most of their time in Sri Lanka.
The price of a SLT Mobitel tourist sim card in Sri Lanka is 535 LKR.
The plan offered by SLT Mobitel stores offers 20GB data valid for 30 days.
Dialog is one of the leading telecommunication companies in Sri Lanka, offering reliable and affordable solutions to tourists. Their tourist sim cards serve as a convenient option for travelers to stay connected during their visit. With extensive coverage across the country, Dialog ensures seamless network connectivity while exploring Sri Lanka’s breathtaking landscapes. The sim cards provide various data packages, making it easy to access the internet and stay connected with loved ones. Dialog’s reliable network and competitive prices make it a popular choice for tourists in Sri Lanka.
The price of a Dialog tourist sim card in Sri Lanka is 2450 LKR.
The plan offered by Dialog stores includes 50GB data valid for 30 days.
Identify mobile providers: Mobitel (also SLT), SLT Mobitel and Dialog are your best options in Sri Lanka.
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 Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka then you will be in luck. All major international airports in Sri Lanka 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 Mobitel (also SLT), SLT Mobitel and Dialog. 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 Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka. The Airalo Sri Lanka 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 $15 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 Sri Lanka without having to venture outside.
Our preferred eSim provider in Sri Lanka is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka eSim uses the Dialog and Mobitel networks to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the Dialog and Mobitel networksnetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in Sri Lanka.
Here are the plans and prices for Airalo’s Sri Lanka eSim:
1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $7 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $15 USD
For most travellers we recommend the 3GB data plan for $15 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 Sri Lanka eSims offer unlimited data.
Holafly’s Sri Lanka eSim uses the Mobitel / Dialog Axiata Plc / Hutchison Telecommunications Lankanetwork to provide data and connect users to the internet. This network will provide reliable speeds and coverage while in Sri Lanka
Here are the plans and prices for Holafly’s Sri Lanka eSim:
Unlimited data valid for 5 days – Price: $19 USD
Unlimited data valid for 7 days – Price: $27 USD
Unlimited data valid for 10 days – Price: $34 USD
Unlimited data valid for 15 days – Price: $47 USD
Unlimited data valid for 20 days – Price: $54 USD
Unlimited data valid for 30 days – Price: $64 USD
Unlimited data valid for 60 days – Price: $84 USD
Unlimited data valid for 90 days – Price: $99 USD
An eSIM, also known as an embedded SIM, is a digital version of a SIM card that is built directly into a device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. This eliminates the need for a physical card to be inserted or removed.
Instead, the eSIM is part of the device’s hardware and can be remotely activated and programmed by a mobile network operator. This allows users to easily switch between different mobile networks or plans without the need to physically change SIM cards.
The use of eSIM technology offers convenience, flexibility, and simplicity, especially for travelers or individuals who frequently switch between different mobile networks or travel abroad. It eliminates the requirement to purchase and insert physical SIM cards, making it simpler to manage multiple mobile connections on a single device.
To activate an eSIM, users can either scan a QR code given by their mobile network operator or manually enter the activation details. Once activated, the device connects to the chosen mobile network, providing access to voice calls, data usage, and messaging services, just like a traditional SIM card.
There are several benefits to using an eSIM:
– Convenience: No need to physically insert or remove a SIM card when switching networks or plans. This is especially helpful for travelers who switch networks or use local SIM cards in different countries.
– Dual SIM functionality: Allows for two active mobile numbers on the same device, useful for 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 within the device for smaller designs or additional components.
– Remote provisioning: Activation and management of mobile plans can be done over the air, without a physical SIM card or store visit. Offers flexibility and convenience for managing connectivity.
– Future-proofing: As eSIM technology gains support, users can take advantage of new services and offerings as they become available.
Overall, eSIM technology offers flexibility, convenience, and future-proofing for mobile connectivity, making it a compelling choice for users.
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.