- Quick Facts
- Types of SIM Cards in India
- Which Company is the Best and Why
- Phone Specifications
- Where can I get an Indian SIM Card
- How Much Does an Indian SIM Card Cost
- How to Activate Your SIM Card
- How to Top Up Your Indian SIM Card
If you are traveling to India soon and need to stay connected to friends, family, and fellow travelers while you are out and about then you will need an Indian SIM Card. Getting a local SIM card when traveling grants you access to important services in the country such as shopping, ordering taxis, food delivery, maps, and mobile data.
There are four main phone service providers in India. Among the four, Vodafone-Idea and Airtel are the two biggest providers. SIM cards can be bought in the airport or outside the airport by providing your passport, visa, and passport photo.
- Airtel is the leading carrier in India. Travelers can select a plan that gives 3GB of LTE data and unlimited calls within the country for as low as 300 rupees (US$ 6), with a validity of 28 days.
- In most western countries, mobile phones are locked to the frequency of a single mobile service provider. It is useful to have a dual SIM phone or have your phone unlocked by your provider.
- Buying SIM cards at the airport is the most convenient way to get one. You can typically find kiosks selling SIM cards in the arrival hall which are located almost immediately after you clear customs.
- You will need to show your passport, visa, and passport photo to get a SIM card.
- Indian SIM cards need to be activated by the provider on their network. This can take anywhere from a few hours up to 48 hours.
Types of SIM Cards in India
You can choose between two types of SIM cards. One is the postpaid SIM Card where you pay for the services like calling and data after you have used them, usually at the end of the month. Another is the prepaid SIM card where you should pay first before using the services.
Postpaid SIM Card
A postpaid SIM card is one where the services like calling, data, and texting are paid after they are used. They cost more than prepaid plans and the bill is sent at the end of a month-long cycle. This type of SIM is not available for foreign travelers.
Prepaid SIM Card
A prepaid SIM Card is one where services like calling, data, and texting are paid in advance. Using this type of SIM Card is comparatively cheaper. However, there are some disadvantages such as need constant topping up and getting unwanted text messages.
Also, for Indians, the activation of the SIM card is almost immediate and is done through their ID number called Aadhar. For foreigners, the activation can take a long time. In some cases, it may even take up to 2 or 3 days.
Explore similar itineraries:
9-Day India Tiger Safari and Golden Triangle Tour
11-Day India and Nepal Tour
Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.
Ask for Victor!
If you are traveling to Bangkhok you need to request Victor. He made our trip amazing! My family completed bucket list items with his guidance. He knew exactly how to get us places, kept us on time, made us feel safe, educated us on history, spoke excellent English and was genuinely a nice man! Everyone we encountered was awesome- but Victor is the reason for my 5 star review!
Sandy, Jan 2024
Thank you Alisa for helping us plan a…
Thank you Alisa for helping us plan a wonderful trip to Thailand. We had a great time. The tour guides were wonderful as were the hotels you booked for us. We will definitely contact you to plan our next trip
Carol Yeung, Jan 2024
Ying was the best
Ying was the best. She was really knowledgeable and kind. Thank you Ying for wonderful experience in Thailand!
Sylvester Yeung, Jan 2024
Very well organized
Very well organized. Our tour guide, Ying, was amazing! She had full knowledge of every location we visited and made sure our itinerary was fulfilled as expected. She was extremely helpful for our airport experiences, and made sure we arrived at an appropriate time.
David M. Kang, Jan 2024
Family trip to Thailand
We were lucky to be greeted by Marie and her driver.In Marie, we have made a friend for life. She is incredibly smart and knowledgeable about her home country. From the vast number of temples to safely traversing Chinatown.She helped give us tips on our free days, locate left behind lost clothing and arrange for pickup. She even helped check us in for our flight to Chiang Mai.She prepared us ahead of time for every event we had scheduled and bonded with our kids, 3x 13 year olds.
Justin Levenbrook, Jan 2024
Thailand with and amazing tour guide Ying
I highly recommend Ying as a tour guide in Thailand. Her expertise in Thai culture, combined with her passion for food and genuine love for her country, made the tour an exceptional experience. If you're looking for a guide who will not only show you the sights but also immerse you in the local culture and help you discover delicious Thai cuisine, Ying is the perfect choice.
Diana Irizarry, Jan 2024
Asia Highlights Thailand trip
Asia Highlights provided us with a great travel trip. They made it very easy to navigate through Thailand with everything going very smoothly. From the easy transportation to the great day itinerary everything was awesome. Will definitely look to use this agency again in the future.
Taylor Jones, Jan 2024
Perfect 2 WK Thailand Trip for a Solo Female Traveler
Bank was our guide in Bangkok and he showed us around the city with ease and we were able to see and try things I never would have planned on my own. After Bangkok, our small group flew to Chiang Mai for Yi Peng lantern festival and that was a breathtaking experience that I will never forget! Pop was our guide in this city and she was knowledgeable, kind and caring which made our experience even more memorable.
Tia, Dec 2023
We recently have just returned from Thailand
We recently have just returned one from a 5 week trip to Thailand through Asia Highlights. We had a wonderful time and Asia Highlights went beyond our expectations. They truly tried their best to make sure everything went smoothly and we were taken care of! Everyone was amazing and we would definitely use them in the future!! Many thanks to everyone that helped to make this an incredible once in a lifetime experience!!
Karen Rocque, Dec 2023
On our 5th day of our trip with Asiahighlights. We felt well taken care of before and it hasn’t changed since we started from Bangkok to Hanoi (guide Kim was verrry knowledgeable!) to Halong Bay (spectacular scenery) to Hoi An (guide Nhieu Tran, giving great local (shopping) tips and insights).
Stefan Eisenhut, Dec 2023
Accommodations by Asia highlights have
Accommodations by Asia highlights have been terrific so far. The Khmer Residence in Siem Reap as well as Eastin Grand hotel in Bangkok. Both had excellent pools and breakfasts.Tours in Siem Reap were particularly well given with an amazing mix of culture, history and humor throughout (Mr Poly). Tours in Bangkok by Mr Banks were informative and well organized with samples of Thai fruit and treats throughout.
Chris Williams, Nov 2023
Seeing Bangkok with ease
In Bangkok, our tour guide, Ying, was wonderful. She navigated all the sights with ease, gave us interesting tidbits on Thai culture and history, helped us pick the right food at all the restaurants, and was just a pleasure to be around. We had a great time, and it was so nice to not have to worry about any of the details.
Diane Elkins, Nov 2023
Thailand- October 2023!
The team in Thailand was also great. Shout out to our tour guides (Monchai in Bangkok, Indy in Chang Mai and Sonia in Phuket) they were the best!! It was 6 of us and they make us all feel right at home! Kudos!
Mori P, Nov 2023
This so far has been an incredible
This so far has been an incredible trip. All accommodations are top notched and we love our guide Ms Mam. We have learned so much about the Thai Culture. The food is awesome and so were a lot of cool things we were shown by our knowledgeable guide. My husband loved seeing the monkeys as well.
Jaclyn Peresetsky, Nov 2023
This has been a wonderful experience!
We recently left Bangkok from a wonderful trip there. So many terrific experiences- the floating market, the beautiful temples, the train market just to name a few. As with other parts of our trip, AsiaHighlights did a great job organizing everything. In Bangkok, Ying was our guide. She really looked after us and made sure to do a little extra to ensure we had an outstanding time. Even made sure we were well taken care of as we moved on to our next part of the trip. Thanks, Ying!
customer, Nov 2023
Best tour and guides.
Sharonput together our trip and was very helpful. Her experience and great skills got us very good hotels and guides. In Bangkok, Ms Yin was very knowledgeble and beautiful smile all the time. Same in Chiang mai, where Ms Nan proved to be an excellent guide and took great photos of me and my husband during our great adventure in this beautiful country. Looking forwar to our next stop, Phuket.
Alice Arizpe Alberts, Nov 2023
30 days in Southeast Asia
Our accommodations were all excellent, and our guides were knowledgeable and passionate about their countries.If you are planning on visiting these cities I would ask for:Yingnoi - Bangkok, Thailand.Kunakorn (Poli) - Chiang Mai, ThailandPom - Luang Prabang, LaosHien - Hanoi, VietnamHoai Huong - Hue and Hoi An, VietnamTom - Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, and Chau Doc, VietnamLily - Phnom Penh, CambodiaPaul Rhet - Sien Reap, Cambodiaand last but not least Anna, in Bangkok, Thailand for our final excursion to the train market.
RoseMarie, Nov 2023
Thailand -insights, no stress and amazing team
My husband and my Thailand trip was fantastic, stress-free and educational thanks to the amazing team coordinated by Albee at Asia Highlights. The whole team was incredibly accessible, responsive, sensitive to our needs and lovely to work with. End-to-end, the trip was truly remarkable and the knowledgeable and dynamic tour guides and drivers made it especially memorable!
AndrewsFamily, Oct 2023
Informative & Thorough / Thanks Sharon!
Sharon the advisor that helped me was so thorough & informative and explained the details of the tour including questions about visas and what is included vs what is not included in the tour packages. I would recommend them to explain tour packages that would fit the schedule of your pending travels.
Chris, Sep 2023
Easy, fast responses
I worked directly with Monica in Asia Highlights. She was incredibly helpful and answered all of my questions quickly. Working with her made the whole process easy and we are so excited for our trip!
Diana B, Sep 2023
Which Company is the Best and Why?
There are four main service providers in India. They all offer 4G/LTE, but not all have good coverage across the entire country. The top two providers for network coverage are Vodafone-Idea and Airtel and most travelers should opt for one or the other.
Airtel is the leading carrier in the country, with over 300 million users. Travelers can select a plan that gives 3GB of LTE data and unlimited calls within the country for as low as 300 rupees (US $6). This is valid for 28 days from the time of purchase.
Other carriers have fairly strict requirements such as requiring foreigners needing to submit details of a local reference as well as their residence details within the country. Vodafone-Idea does not offer nationwide LTE coverage. If you use their service, there will be times when the connection will switch to 2G when traveling between states.
In most western countries, mobile phones are locked to the frequency of a single mobile service provider. You will not be able to insert another SIM or use it with another carrier unless you first get your phone unlocked by your provider.
Even if unlocked, your phone may still not work properly unless the GSM bandwidth of your phone is compatible. You will need a dual, tri-band, or quad-band phone that works on 900 MHz to 2500 MHz. Check first to see if your phone is compatible before buying a foreign SIM.
It is also useful to have a phone with dual SIM slots. This way, all you have to do is insert the new prepaid Indian SIM into the additional slot. Most service providers in India now offer micro-SIM cards.
8-Day Royal Rajasthan on Wheels TourDelhi - Jaipur - Udaipur - Jaisalme - Jodhpur - Agra
Where can I get an Indian SIM Card?
Buying a SIM card in India is quite an experience. Depending on where you buy it and the person selling it to you, the process may be relatively quick and painless or long and difficult. The best place to buy your SIM is in the arrivals hall of the airport although this is more expensive than buying a card outside.
Buying an Indian SIM Card at the Airport
If travelers are flying into an international airport, SIM Cards are available at kiosks in the arrival hall which are located almost immediately after you clear customs. Remember that you will need to provide your passport, visa, and passport photo to get a SIM Card.
The downside of this method is that it is more expensive than the SIMs you can get in the city. In the end, travelers will have to choose between cost and convenience.
Buying an Indian SIM Outside the Airport
Alternatively, SIM cards can also be bought from the stores or cell phone vendors in downtown areas and shopping malls. The procedure for activating the SIM is similar with both options. The benefits of buying a SIM card outside the airport are lower prices and more choices.
How Much Does an Indian SIM Card Cost?
When buying a SIM Card at the airport, Airtel typically charges 900 rupees (US$ 13). This price bundle includes 1.5 GB of data and 100 domestic texts per day, plus unlimited domestic calls which are valid for four weeks.
Buying the same bundle elsewhere will cost around 250 rupees. There is also an extra charge for the SIM Card, costing between 50 to 100 rupees. Internet packages are not subject to roaming charges in India. Incoming calls or outgoing calls within the same network do not include extra charges.
If you plan to make a lot of calls, consider purchasing a SIM card in the state where you intend to spend most of your time. Alternatively, there are some packages that include free calls throughout the whole of India.
7-Day Off the Beaten Path South India Tour Aurangabad - Mumbai - Hampi
How to Activate Your SIM Card
The Indian SIM Card needs to be activated by the provider on their network. This can take anywhere from a few hours to 48 hours.
To complete the activation process, the owner of the SIM Card needs to call a number and answer several questions including date of birth and the last four last digits of your passport number. Different providers will have different numbers to call. For Airtel, it is 59059.
This process usually requires the phone to be turned on and off several times. This will all be explained at the time of purchase by the vendor.
How to Top Up Your Indian SIM Card
If you run out of credit on your phone, you might continue to receive incoming calls, but will not be able to make calls or send messages. Topping up the SIM can be done from a kiosk of the service provider at any location in India.
It is always a good idea to check your balance after you buy the top-up and while still at the vendor. Each provider has a code for checking your balance. With Airtel, dialing *123*11# will give you a message showing your remaining data, call, and SMS credit.
17-Day India and Sri Lanka Tour Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - Negombo - Udawalawe National Park - Galle
Visit India with Asia Highlights
If you want to travel to India but don't know where to start, contact Asia Highlights. Our experts can give you recommendations on where to go and what to do as well as make all your bookings for you so you can skip the hassle. We specialize in making tailor-made trips according to your preferences.