Buy SIM Card In Riyadh For Tourists 2024: Guide From Locals

Buy SIM card in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia can be a crucial step for travelers visiting the city, providing access to reliable communication and internet services.

sim card in riyadh

This guide is tailored for travelers to Riyadh, offering insights from local experts on the best options when you buy SIM card in Riyadh. Readers can expect to learn about the top mobile carriers, competitive SIM card plans, and the most convenient locations to acquire a SIM card, as well as alternative solutions like eSIM cards for those seeking a hassle-free experience.

I. Why Buy SIM Card In Riyadh?

Buying SIM card in Riyadh is a smart and essential option for travelers exploring the city to stay connected. When compared to other connectivity options, a local SIM card offers various benefits:

  • Reliable Internet Access: Riyadh SIM card = stable, high-speed internet for navigation, map access, and staying connected.
  • Cost-Effective Communication: Local SIM cards = competitive rates for calls and SMS, more affordable than international roaming.
  • Convenience and Flexibility: Riyadh SIM card = manage data and calls without relying on spotty public Wi-Fi or global roaming.
  • Enhanced Productivity: Local SIM card boosts productivity for emails, video calls, and accessing work resources on the go.
why buy sim card in riyadh

II. Which Mobile Internet Carrier Is The Best In Riyadh?

Riyadh has three big mobile network operators: STC, Mobily, and Zain. Let’s check out how these operators stack up in Riyadh when it comes to coverage, speed, reliability, popularity, and tourist-friendly plans:

CriteriaSTCMobilyZain
CoverageExcellent nationwide coverageWidespread coverage across RiyadhGood coverage, with some gaps in rural areas
SpeedFastest 5G and 4G LTE networksReliable 4G LTE speedsSlightly slower than STC and Mobily
ReliabilityConsistently stable and dependableGenerally reliable, with occasional service disruptionsReliable, but may experience more interruptions than the top two
PopularityMost widely used network in RiyadhSecond-largest market shareThird-largest provider in the city
Tourist PlansWide range of prepaid SIM card options with generous data allowances and validityCompetitive prepaid plans for tourists, including data-focused packagesLimited tourist-specific SIM card offerings compared to STC and Mobily

Recommendation: STC and Mobily are top choices for travelers in Riyadh, offering excellent coverage, reliable high-speed internet, and various prepaid SIM card options tailored for tourists.

III. Best Riyadh SIM Card Plans and Price

Best Riyadh SIM cards are usually covered by major mobile network operators in Saudi Arabia, which are STC, Mobily, and Zain. Here are the top SIM card plans and prices of these network carriers.

STC Prepaid SIM Card Plans:

  • 30-day plan with 10GB data, unlimited local calls/SMS – $10
  • 30-day plan with 20GB data, unlimited local calls/SMS – $15
  • 90-day plan with 50GB data, unlimited local calls/SMS – $30

Mobily Prepaid SIM Card Plans:

  • 7-day plan with 5GB data, 100 local minutes/SMS – $5
  • 30-day plan with 15GB data, unlimited local calls/SMS – $12
  • 90-day plan with 40GB data, unlimited local calls/SMS – $25

Zain Prepaid SIM Card Plans:

  • 7-day plan with 3GB data, 50 local minutes/SMS – $4
  • 30-day plan with 10GB data, 200 local minutes/SMS – $8
  • 90-day plan with 25GB data, unlimited local calls/SMS – $20

Note: Plans and prices may change, so travelers should verify current offerings before buying a SIM card in Riyadh

IV. Where to Buy SIM Card in Riyadh?

The best places to buy a SIM card in Riyadh include the airport and the city center. 

1. Buy a SIM card at Riyadh airport

buy sim card at riyadh airport

Purchasing a SIM card at Riyadh Airport is a convenient option for many travelers. To buy a SIM card at the airport, you’ll need to have the following ready:

  • Passport or valid ID
  • Cash or credit/debit card for payment

Pros:

  • You can get a SIM card right when you arrive
  • You can set up your phone and get connected quickly
  • Vendors offer customer support

Cons:

  • Prices might be higher than other places in the city
  • Not as many plan choices as in other SIM card stores

You can find SIM card stores and shops at different spots in Riyadh Airport. These stores are run by big network providers like STC, Mobily, and Zain, so you can easily grab one.

  • Terminal 1: Arrivals Hall, near the baggage claim area
  • Terminal 2: Departures Hall, near the check-in counters
  • Terminal 5: Arrivals Hall, close to the exit

2. Buy a SIM card in the Riyadh center

buy sim card in riyadh center

In addition to purchasing a SIM card at Riyadh Airport, travelers can also buy one in the city center. 

Pros:

  • Potentially lower prices compared to airport vendors
  • A wider selection of plans and SIM card options
  • Ability to compare offerings from different network providers

Cons:

  • Additional time and effort required to visit a retail location
  • Language barriers and limited English proficiency of some vendors
  • Risk of encountering counterfeit or unauthorized SIM cards

Travelers can find SIM card vendors in Riyadh at the following locations:

  • Mobile Network Carriers’ Stores: STC, Mobily, and Zain have authorized outlets for SIM cards and plans.
  • Convenience Stores: Riyadh’s grocery stores and supermarkets offer prepaid SIM cards.
  • Online Platforms: Travelers buy SIM cards or eSIM plans online before trips from providers or sites like Amazon.

Our Recommendation: For a hassle-free experience, consider getting a SIM card at Riyadh Airport or an eSIM online before your trip. An eSIM offers easy setup and connectivity upon arrival, no store visit necessary. Just check your device’s eSIM compatibility before opting for this.

V. Saudi Arabia eSIM card for Riyadh – Alternative to SIM Card for travelers

gigago esim saudi arabia

For travelers with eSIM-supported devices, opting for an eSIM card in Riyadh offers:

  • Quick setup upon arrival
  • Easy switching between eSIM profiles
  • No need to visit a SIM card store in person

Travelers can purchase eSIM plans for Riyadh from several providers:

  • Network Carrier eSIM Services: STC, the leading network operator in Saudi Arabia, offers eSIM services for tourists.
  • eSIM Retailers: Gigago, a popular eSIM provider, offers multiple data plan options for Saudi Arabia, starting from 1GB/day for 5 days at $13.50 . Gigago’s Saudi Arabia eSIM plans range between $13.50$127.50 , catering to a variety of internet usage needs and trip durations.

Using an eSIM is a convenient choice for travelers in Riyadh, especially those who want to skip buying a physical SIM card upon arrival.

VI. What To Prepare To Buy SIM Card In Riyadh

When buying a SIM card in Riyadh, travelers should prepare:

  • Valid Passport or ID: Provide identification like a passport or national ID for registration.
  • Unlocked, Compatible Phone: Ensure your device works with Riyadh’s network frequencies.
  • Cash or Card: Vendors accept cash and cards.
  • Travel Itinerary (Optional): Helps select the best plan.
  • Pen and Paper (Optional): Handy for noting vendor instructions.

VII. Extra Tips When Buying SIM Card In Riyadh

Here are some valuable tips for buying a SIM card in Riyadh:

  • Check Network Coverage: Ensure the provider covers your visit areas.
  • Compare Plan Options: Review and compare plans to find the best fit.
  • Negotiate the Price: Politely haggle, especially in city centers.
  • Activate the SIM Card Immediately: Activate it upon receipt.
  • Inquire About Roaming Charges: Ask about roaming fees.
  • Consider an eSIM Option: Explore eSIM if your device supports it.

VIII. FAQs about SIM card in Riyadh

Do I need a SIM card if I’m only visiting Riyadh for a few days?

Yes, even for short visits, a local SIM card can provide reliable internet access and affordable communication, enhancing your overall travel experience.

Can I use my existing SIM card from my home country in Riyadh?

Yes, you can use your home country SIM card in Riyadh, but you may incur high roaming charges. A local SIM card is generally more cost-effective.

How much does a SIM card typically cost in Riyadh?

Prepaid SIM card prices in Riyadh range from around $4 to $15, depending on the data allowance and validity period.

How do I know which network provider has the best coverage in Riyadh?

STC and Mobily are generally considered to have the most extensive and reliable coverage across Riyadh, with Zain being the third-largest provider.

IX. Conclusion

Getting a SIM card in Riyadh is a must for travelers in the city. It gives you reliable internet, affordable communication, and the convenience of staying connected. 

With various network options, good deals, and easy purchase spots like the airport and downtown, finding the right SIM card in Riyadh is a breeze. Whether you go for a regular SIM card or an eSIM, you’ll be all set to enjoy your time in Riyadh.