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Best Tourist Sim Cards in Uganda in 2024

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

If you have plans to visit Uganda, having a sim card will be essential for your trip. Having access to the internet while traveling will make navigating new cities much easier. With a sim card, you can find the best restaurants, get directions to your accommodation, book a taxi, and even send photos to your family while on the go.

While roaming is always an option, the international fees can quickly add up. Therefore, we highly recommend either getting an eSIM or a local sim card in Uganda to take advantage of local phone rates. Thankfully, obtaining either option is incredibly convenient in Uganda.

To help you make the best choice, this guide provides you with all the information you need to know about purchasing a sim card in Uganda, including current pricing and the most suitable sim card for your needs.

Table of Contents

Best Sim Card in Uganda for Tourists

I recommend a prepaid sim card from either MTN or Airtel. Both mobile network operators own extensive mobile networks that work well across the entire country and offer similar, competitively-priced prepaid data bundles.

If you are visiting Uganda for 7 days or less I recommend the 3.5GB weekly data bundle from for 10,000 UGX from either MTN or Airtel. They both have the exact same bundle so pick whichever one has a more conveniently located store.

If you are staying for longer, then I recommend Airtel’s 12GB monthly plan for 30,000 UGX.

The Airalo Uganda eSim is, unfortunately, not at all competitively priced compared to local sim cards. It uses the same, reliable Airtel and MTN networks, but costs about 10x more for the same amount of data at $24 USD for 3GB valid for 30 days. This is about 90,000 UGX.

I can’t recommend this to most travellers, unless you really want the most convenient option and are willing to pay more to get it. eSims are always better than physical sim cards as they save you the hassle of visiting a store but in this case the cost is unrealistically inflated.

Uganda Sim Card Prices

A Tourist Sim Card in Uganda costs 10,000 UGX in June 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.

Alternatively, an eSim in Uganda will cost between $9 USD and $35 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 Uganda which includes 3GB of data which is valid for 30 days and costs $24 USD.

Uganda Sim Card Providers

In Uganda, the main sim card providers are MTN, Airtel, and Lycamobile. MTN, one of the largest telecom companies in the country, offers reliable network coverage and a wide range of services, including data plans and affordable calling rates. Airtel, another major player in the Ugandan market, offers competitive data packages and affordable international calling options. With its global presence, Lycamobile has also established itself as a notable sim card provider in Uganda, catering to the needs of both local and international communities with its affordable international calling rates and data plans. These three providers offer a variety of options and services which cater to the diverse needs of the Ugandan population.

MTN Tourist Sim

MTN is a leading telecommunications company in Uganda. They offer tourist sim cards that cater to the needs of travelers visiting the country. These sim cards provide affordable data, voice, and text services, ensuring tourists stay connected during their stay. With extensive network coverage, tourists can easily access the internet, make calls, and send messages while exploring Uganda’s beautiful attractions. MTN’s tourist sim cards are a convenient and reliable option for travelers seeking seamless communication during their visit.

MTN Uganda Tourist Sim Price

The price of a MTN tourist sim card in Uganda is 10,000 UGX.

The plan offered by MTN stores includes 3.2GB data valid for 7 days.

Airtel Tourist Sim

Airtel is a renowned telecommunications company offering reliable tourist SIM cards in Uganda. With excellent network coverage, visitors can enjoy seamless connectivity during their stay. Airtel’s tourist SIM cards come with competitive data packages, allowing travelers to easily access the internet for navigation, communication, and social media. Additionally, Airtel provides affordable call and messaging rates, making it the perfect choice for tourists exploring the beautiful sights of Uganda.

Airtel Uganda Tourist Sim Price

The price of a Airtel tourist sim card in Uganda is 10,000 UGX.

The plan offered by Airtel stores offers 3GB data valid for 7 days.

Lycamobile Tourist Sim

Lycamobile, a renowned mobile network operator, offers convenient tourist SIM cards in Uganda. These SIM cards cater to the needs of travelers with affordable rates and excellent network coverage across the country. With Lycamobile’s tourist SIM cards, visitors can make calls, send text messages, and access the internet hassle-free. Stay connected with loved ones and explore Uganda’s wonders without worrying about excessive roaming charges.

Lycamobile Uganda Tourist Sim Price

The price of a Lycamobile tourist sim card in Uganda is 8,000 UGX.

The plan offered by Lycamobile stores includes 5GB data valid for 7 days.

How to Get a Sim Card in Uganda

Identify mobile providers: MTN, Airtel and Lycamobile are your best options in Uganda.

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 Uganda

At the Airport

Buying a prepaid sim card for Uganda 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 Uganda then you will be in luck. All major international airports in Uganda 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 MTN, Airtel and Lycamobile. 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 Uganda 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 Uganda 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!

Uganda 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 Uganda. The Airalo Uganda 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 $24 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 Uganda without having to venture outside.

Airalo Uganda

Our preferred eSim provider in Uganda is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to Uganda 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 Uganda eSim uses the MTN and Airtel network to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the MTN and Airtel networknetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in Uganda.

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

1GB data valid for 7 days – Price: $9 USD
3GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $24 USD
5GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $35 USD

For most travellers we recommend the 3GB data plan for $24 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 Uganda

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 Uganda eSims offer unlimited data.

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

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

6GB data valid for 15 days – Price: $44 USD

What is an eSim?

The eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card built directly into devices like smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. Unlike physical SIM cards, there’s no need to insert or remove a physical card.

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 switch easily between mobile networks or plans without physically swapping SIM cards.

eSIM technology offers convenience and flexibility, especially for travelers or those who frequently switch networks or travel internationally. It eliminates the need to purchase and insert physical SIM cards, making it easier to manage multiple connections on one device.

To activate an eSIM, users simply scan a QR code provided by their mobile network operator or manually enter activation details. Once activated, the device connects to the chosen mobile network and can enjoy voice, data, and messaging services just like with a traditional SIM card.

Why Use an eSim?

There are several reasons why using an eSIM can be beneficial. Firstly, it offers convenience by eliminating the need to physically insert or remove a SIM card when switching between mobile networks or plans. This is especially useful for frequent travelers who need to switch networks or use local SIM cards in different countries.

Secondly, eSIM enables dual SIM functionality, allowing two active mobile numbers on the same device. This feature is helpful for separating personal and work numbers or managing multiple phone lines.

Additionally, eSIM saves space within the device as it eliminates the need for a physical SIM card slot. This enables manufacturers to make smaller devices or utilize the extra space for other components.

Another advantage of eSIM is remote provisioning, which allows activation and management of mobile plans to be done over the air. This means you can activate or switch to a new mobile plan without needing a physical SIM card or visiting a store, offering greater flexibility and convenience for managing your mobile connectivity.

Lastly, eSIM technology ensures future-proofing as more mobile networks and service providers offer support for eSIMs. By using an eSIM-compatible device, you can take advantage of new services and offerings as they become available.

Overall, eSIM technology provides flexibility, convenience, and future-proofing for mobile connectivity, making it a compelling choice for many users.

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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