Getting the best Mongolia SIM cards for travelers is important to easily navigate locations, access travel information and keep in touch with friends and family. This discussion covers where tourists can purchase SIM cards upon arrival in Mongolia, such as airports or cities, with the most updated price information. It provides a guide on which prepaid options offer the best value from network providers to suit light data needs while exploring destinations. Finding the most convenient way to buy a Mongolia SIM card and stay connected while traveling will ensure a smooth trip.

Mongolia SIM cards

I. Should I Get a SIM Card for Mongolia?

Can foreigners get a SIM card in Mongolia?

Yes. Tourists, especially short-term visitors, to Mongolia, can buy and activate a local SIM card for use during their trip in Mongolia. 

The two major mobile network operators in Mongolia – Mobicom and Unitel – offer SIM cards for international tourists through their stores across the country and affiliates like gas stations and convenience stores.

So, should you get a SIM card for Mongolia during your trip?

Yes. The reasons for getting a prepaid Mongolia travel SIM card are:

  • Avoid high roaming charges from using your regular carrier abroad: Data costs via roaming could really add up during your trip.
  • Cost effective: SIM packages are very affordably priced in Mongolia, often under $10 for 1-2GB of data valid for 7-15 days. This ensures you can comfortably use maps, translation and stay online.
  • Freely using apps like WhatsApp, Google Maps etc enhances the experience and helps you explore Mongolia with ease using your mobile internet.
  • Having reliable data coverage means you won’t miss out on photo opportunities because you can’t access online photo storage/sharing.

For convenience and cost effectiveness during a short trip focused on Mongolia, purchasing a SIM card from Mobicom or Unitel would likely be best. Being prepared with the right connectivity option will help you get the most from your rewarding trip to Mongolia.

II. Types of Mongolia SIM Card for Tourists – Which One is the Best?

Types of Mongolia SIM cards for tourists

There are 02 common types of Mongolia SIM card for tourists, divided by form. See details below.

1. Prepaid physical SIM card in Mongolia:

A physical SIM card that you insert into your phone upon arrival in Mongolia. You can buy it offline/online before departure at stores/websites providing travel SIM cards. If buying offline after arrival, it must be registered by showing your passport. 

  • Cost: $1-3 for the SIM card. Plans from $1-10 for 1-15GB valid 1-30 days.
  • Suitable for: Travelers who want reliable coverage, plan variety and don’t mind the registration process.
  • Pros: Wide availability, fast speeds, diverse plan options. Easy top-ups. No roaming charges.
  • Cons: Require visiting a store to buy. Must register a SIM card with passport details. Must swap your primary SIM to insert the new Mongolia SIM.

2. Prepaid Tourist Mongolia eSIM

An eSIM is a digital SIM profile that can be installed on compatible smartphones without a physical SIM card. 

You can purchase plans online before travel. Simply scan a QR code to install it on your mobile device. It only works in eSIM-equipped mobile devices.

  • Cost: from $9-45 for 0.5-10GB packages valid 1-30 days. Slightly higher than local physical SIM prices.
  • Suitable for: Those with eSIM-compatible phones who need connectivity upon arrival without buying a SIM card in Mongolia. Short term travelers.
  • Pros: Instant activation online anywhere before travel. No need to find a SIM card store. Reliable international roaming.
  • Cons: Limited Mongolia-only plan options from few providers. No local apps/support. Slightly more expensive than physical SIMs. Requires eSIM compatible device.

Our recommendation: Physical SIM cards are easily commonly available for Mongolia through both in stores or online. Virtual SIM cards (eSIM) will likely be more suitable for digital nomads or people on short trips.

III. Buy Best Mongolia SIM Card Packages for Tourists and Price – Which to choose?

1. Buy MobiCom SIM Card Plans and Price

Here are 03 MobiCom carrier SIM card plans for tourists:

  • 20,000 MNT plan – You get 5,000 units of credit, 600MB of data valid for 15 days, valid for 90 days.
  • 35,000 MNT plan – You get 10,000 units of credit, 1.1GB of data valid for 30 days, valid for 90 days.
  • 60,000 MNT plan – You get 15,000 units of credit, 5GB of data valid for 30 days, valid for 90 days.

These tourist SIM cards from MobiCom provide you data and call credits to use during your trip to Mongolia.

Regular MobiCom SIM cards start from 5,000 MNT which provides the basic connectivity.

2. Buy Unitel SIM Card Plans and Price

Unitel TourSIM plans have 03 plan options for travelers to Mongolia:

  • Tour SIM 5: 5000 units of credit + 3GB of data, valid for 5 days = 15,000 MNT.
  • Tour SIM 10: 10,000 units of credit + 5GB of data, valid for 10 days= 25,000 MNT.
  • Tour SIM 30: 20,000 units of credit + 20GB of data, valid for 30 days = 40,000 MNT.

Along with data, these plans also provide local call minutes within the Unitel network in Mongolia.

3. Buy Skytel SIM Card Plans and Price

Here is the information about 03 Skytel SIM card plans for tourists:

  • Basic Plan: 10,000 units of calls + 5GB of data, valid for 10 days = 30,000 MNT.
  • Standard Plan: 20,000 units of calls + 10GB of data, valid for 15 days = 50,000 MNT.
  • Premium Plan: 30,000 units of calls + 20GB of data, valid for 30 days = 75,000 MNT.

All the plans include unlimited calls within Skytel network. The data can be used for social media apps, messaging, navigation etc.

IV. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for Mongolia?

You have 04 main ways to buy a tourist SIM card for Mongolia:

1. Buy online before departure

You can buy a tourist SIM card for Mongolia before departure by selecting a package that fits your need from a prestigious travel provider on the Internet. Then, the SIM card will be shipped to your address after about 5-10 days. Remember to carry the SIM card package with you to Mongolia and insert it on arrival.

Pros: 

  • Avoid queues and higher prices at the airport on arrival.
  • Having an internet connection setup from the beginning of your trip.
  • Convenient to arrange from home country before the trip.

Cons

  • Delivery delays can happen.
  • Must remember to carry the SIM package while traveling to Mongolia.
  • Cannot change the plan if travel dates or duration is adjusted later.

In summary, online buying is most organized but risks of delays exist. Proper planning is needed if choosing this option.

buy sim at Mongolia airports - Mongolia SIM cards

2. Buy at airports

Mongolia SIM cards are available at Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar and other airports throughout Mongolia. Stands at airports sell SIM cards of all carriers like Mobicom, Unitel etc.

The price will be on average 10-20% more expensive than local stores in cities.

It is convenient as you can buy it upon arrival without any preparation.

Pros: No delays, instant activation.

Cons: 

  • More expensive than other options.
  • Less plan options than in cities
  • Less data than in cities
  • Must show passport for registration

3. Buy in Mongolia cities

It is estimated that over 90% of stores in main cities like Ulaanbaatar sell SIM cards. If using this way, you had better check official carrier stores or shops like grocery stores for best rates.

Prices are 10-15% lower than airports but require moving to the city.

Pros: Cheapest option, cash payment accepted. 

Cons:

  • Need to visit stores, 
  • Possible language barrier.

4. Buy eSIM online

This new version of SIM card is suitable for people with eSIM-supported devices. Though the price is a little bit higher than physical ones, it is worth the price. You can buy it before departure from anywhere, at any time you want. Buy and set it up online 100%. No need to go to the stores to queue up the line or wait for SIM delivery. Things can be done just at your comfort zone. 

Pros: 

  • Online 100%, easy to set up and activate
  • More security
  • Diversifying plan options to choose from

Cons

  • Only work with eSIM-supported mobile devices

Our recommendation: We would recommend buying an eSIM online before departure if your device works with digital SIM. While buying a physical SIM card at the airport or in the cities is convenient, eSIM provides the easiest setup without waiting in lines. As long as you have an eSIM-compatible phone, you can purchase a plan from anywhere and activate it immediately upon arrival in Mongolia through the emailed QR code. An eSIM also provides added security over carrying a physical SIM card throughout your travels. This is best for travelers who want hassle-free connectivity throughout their trip without any disruptions. 

V. How Much Data is Enough for a Prepaid Tourist SIM Card for Mongolia?

Most travelers get by with 1-2GB of data per week in Mongolia.

With this amount you can use maps, check emails, social media and browse websites.

The amount of data you should buy depends on your Internet usage habits. 

Here are some facts about using Internet you can consider:

  • If you are a heavy internet user who streams videos or makes video calls, you may need 3GB or more per week.
  • A trip of 1 week would need around 1-3GB depending
  • For a 2 week trip, 2-6GB would provide comfortable coverage.
  • Long trips of 3-4 weeks may need a plan with 6-12GB or more.

Pro Tip: 

  • Always keep some spare data in case you need it for navigation or emergencies.
  • WiFi exists in hotels and cafes of cities, which can help save your mobile data.
  • Consider buying slightly more data than your estimated usage to remain worry-free.

Pro Tip: 

  • Always keep some spare data in case you need it for navigation or emergencies.
  • WiFi exists in hotels and cafes of cities, which can help save your mobile data.
  • Consider buying slightly more data than your estimated usage to remain worry-free.

VII. Mongolia eSIM – Alternative to Physical SIM Cards to Get Internet in Mongolia

Mongolia esim of Gigago - Mongolia sim cards

If you want to buy an eSIM for Mongolia travel, then choose Gigago as your eSIM provider.

For Mongolia, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 1GB for 7 days with $9.90 . What is great about Gigago’s Mongolia eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, vary between $9.90$38.50 . Thus, it does not matter how Internet users you are and how long your trip is in Mongolia, there is always option for you with Gigago.

Some benefits you will receive when buying Mongolia eSIM of Gigago:

  • Easy Setup – Within minutes of purchasing online, you will receive the eSIM QR code via email. 
  • Instant Connectivity – With the eSIM activated, you will have internet right away without needing to locate a store. 
  • Wide Coverage – Gigago’s Mongolia eSIM uses the Unitel network, which has reliable coverage across the country including cities and towns
  • Competitive Pricing – At around $12-17 for packages of 3-5GB with 15-30 day validity, the pricing is very reasonable compared to roaming charges from your home network.
  • 24/7 Support – Should you have any issues, Gigago’s customer service is easily contactable via chat/email.

These plans are prepaid and can be purchased directly from Gigago eSIM Mongolia.

VIII. Which Mongolia Mobile Networks Are The Best for Tourists?

Best mobile network operators in Mongolia - Mongolia SIM cards

The two main cellular network operators in Mongolia are MobiCom and Unitel. Both provide good coverage across major cities and tourist areas.

1. Unitel

Unitel has the widest 4G coverage spanning rural provinces. It will be a reliable choice if you plan to travel off the beaten path.

  • Rank: Unitel is the largest network operator in Mongolia with the widest coverage.
  • Coverage: extends to most tourist sites and campgrounds but speeds may be lower in remote locations.
  • Speed: Unitel’s network supports 4G/LTE speeds across major cities. Speeds average 10-25 Mbps in cities and 5-10 Mbps in smaller towns.
  • 5G network: Unitel launched 5G services in Ulaanbaatar in 2021.
  • Plans for tourists & rates: Prepaid SIM cards with 1-3 GB data cost $5-15 and are valid for 30 days. Daily data bundles are also available. Unitel SIM cards work well for travelers.
Unitel coverage map in Mongolia - mongolia sim cards
Unitel coverage map in Mongolia (source: nperf)

2. MobiCom

MobiCom’s network may be slightly slower than Unitel in remote areas but still usable.

  • Rank: MobiCom is the second largest network in Mongolia.
  • Coverage: Strongest coverage is in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. It also covers other main cities and provinces along main roads.
  • Speed: Provides 4G/LTE coverage in Ulaanbaatar with average speeds of 10-25 Mbps. Speeds of 5-10 Mbps in other cities.
  • 5G network: MobiCom has started 5G trials in 2021 but full commercial launch is still pending.
  • Rates: Prepaid plans provide better value, like 1GB for $5 valid 30 days.
  • Plans for tourists & rates: Affordable prepaid data bundles from 500MB-3GB for $2-10 valid 30 days. Good coverage for tourists in cities.
Mobicom coverage map in Mongolia (source: nperf)
Mobicom coverage map in Mongolia (source: nperf)

3. Skytel

  • Rank: Skytel is the smallest network operating only in a few provinces.
  • 5G network: Skytel does not have a 5G network yet.
  • Average speed: Lower 4G speeds of 5-15 Mbps due to smaller infrastructure than other operators.
  • Plans for tourists & rates: Not many plans suitable for foreign visitors. Best to avoid this network for travel usage.

Our recommendation: Unitel provides the most reliable and widest coverage across Mongolia for travelers through its varied prepaid SIM card packages at affordable prices.

IX. How to Use Mongolia Prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM

1. Using prepaid Mongolia tourist SIM Cards

Follow these steps to use Mongolia travel SIM cards effectively:

  • Insert the SIM into your unlocked phone and turn on mobile data.
  • You may need to select the Mobicom or Unitel network manually in settings.
  • Disable data roaming on your regular SIM to avoid toll charges while using the Mongolian SIM.
  • Remove SIM before leaving Mongolia to avoid ongoing charges after validity.

2. Setting up and activating Mongolia eSIM 

Here are the steps to use a Mongolia tourist eSIM card:

  • Check if your phone model supports eSIM
  • Buy an eSIM plan suitable for your travel dates and data needs from Gigago.com or other providers 1-2 days before travel.
  • Receive an email within 5-10 mins containing eSIM activation QR code, details and instructions.
  • Go to Settings > General > About and check if your carrier supports eSIM activation.
  • Tap “Add Cellular Plan” or “Install Profile” and scan the QR code
  • You can now use data services without a physical SIM card.
  • Optional: Change carrier name displayed to eSIM provider name for identification.
  • When leaving Mongolia, remove the eSIM from your phone settings to avoid further charges (if any)

X. FAQs

Is it cheap to use data in Mongolia?

Yes, data rates in Mongolia are very affordable due to competition. Prepaid plans offer 1-3GB for $5-10 valid 30 days. Daily data bundles from 500MB-1GB are also cheap starting at $1-2.

Do I need to unlock my phone for Mongolian SIM?

Yes, your phone needs to be factory unlocked or network unlocked for international use in order to accept a Mongolian SIM card.

Can I use my SIM card outside Ulaanbaatar?

Yes, the major network operators MobiCom and Unitel have nationwide coverage beyond the capital Ulaanbaatar. Reception is generally available throughout the country along main roads and tourist attractions. Remote areas may have poorer signals.

XI. Conclusion

To sum up, using a prepaid SIM card for Mongolia travel gives affordable and convenient connectivity for tourists visiting Mongolia. On the other hand, an eSIM is a handy option for instant data access upon arrival. With both physical and virtual SIM solutions available, you will have reliable choices to stay connected while exploring Mongolia.