Buying Skytel SIM Cards and eSIM for Tourists 2024: Guide to Get and Activate

Tourists visiting Mongolia will want to stay in touch while exploring the beautiful tourist sites. There are several cellular internet providers and Skytel is one of the major ones. Tourists may buy affordable Skytel SIM cards and eSIMs for easy Internet access during their trips to Mongolia. This guide will uncover the best SIM options from Skytel, where and how to buy, and the best alternatives.

I. Quick Facts about Skytel

Skytel is one of the leading cellular data operators in Mongolia. Here are some key facts you need to know about Skytel Mongolia:

  • Founded: in July 1999 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Full company name: SKYtel Group
  • Types of services: telecommunication, wireless communication services like calling and mobile Internet, IT solution
  • Coverage: Skytel’s network covers Ulaanbaatar (HSPA+ technology) and other areas (CSMA2000 and EVDO technologies); 43 offices in the capital and other provinces
  • Number of users: 500,000
  • Partners: over 4,000 retail shops and cell phone sellers nationwide
  • Customer support: 24/7 cell center
  • Language: Mongolian, English
Skytel is founded in Ulanbaatar, Mongolia in 1999
Skytel Mongolia

II. Why Skytel When Visiting Mongolia – Coverage and Speed

Let us explore the coverage and speeds of Skytel in Mongolia:

1. Skytel Coverage in Mongolia

Skytel is a small mobile network operating only in several provinces in Mongolia. 

  • Skytel’s network covers provincial capitals and districts along main transportation routes
  • In Ulaanbaatar, Skytel provides 4G service using HSPA+ technology for high-speed internet access on smartphones
  • In more remote district centers, coverage may be limited to 2G connectivity for basic calling and texting

2. Skytel Speed

  • Performance averages around 5-10 Mbps download speeds; 2-5Mbps upload speed in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar
  • Suitable for social media, videos, and navigation apps. 

In summary, Skytel offers Internet access across Mongolia with improving speeds focused on major centers for now. Rural connectivity remains narrow for basic use.

III. What are the Best Connectivity Options of Skytel for Travelers to Mongolia?

Skytel provides three major connectivity options for tourists to stay online while in Mongolia:

Skytel SIM cards: physical SIM inserted in unlocked phones

Skytel international roaming: utilize home carrier while traveling abroad

  • Pros: no SIM swap, can connect to various mobile devices
  • Cons: extremely pricey, bills can add up very quickly, mobile network coverage depends on agreements. Get to know more about data roaming here.

Pocket Wifi: portable Wifi hotspot, rented from official stores or electronics shops

  • Pros: no SIM swap, can connect to various mobile devices
  • Cons: extra devices to carry, rental fees

► Our Recommendation:

For the most reliable Internet access and affordability, Skytel SIM cards would be the best option for tourists to Mongolia. You can still choose a pocket Wifi which is great for device sharing but rental fees are very expensive and international roaming also costs too much.

IV. Best Skytel SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

Here are the four different tourist plans from Skytel:

BasicMNT 30,000 – USD 8.9Unlimited calls (Skytel network); 5GB data10 days
StandardMNT 50,000 – USD 14.5Unlimited calls (Skytel network); 10GB data15 days
PremiumMNT 75,000 – USD 21.7Unlimited calls (Skytel network); 20GB data30 days

Pro Tip:

  • Select the Skytel SIM plan that suits your trip length and usage.
  • Bring your passport and MNT cash/ credit card for SIM purchase.
  • Regularly visit Skytel’s website for the latest SIM plans.

V. Does Skytel Support eSIM in Mongolia?

Yes. Skytel offers eSIM (embedded SIM/virtual SIM) for tourists to Mongolia to access the Skytel network on mobile devices without a physical SIM.

Here are some advantages of using eSIM for Mongolia:

  • No store visit, no physical SIM needed;
  • Buy eSIM online anytime using your phone;
  • Dual SIM: Both physical SIM and eSIM can be used on the same device; etc.

To buy a Mongolia eSIM, there are 02 ways:

Directly from the Skytel website: You can download Skytel eSIM plans from their website. ID verification is required.

Trusted third-party eSIM providers: eSIM resellers allow tourists to buy Mongolia eSIM plans instantly online without any requirements of ID proof or registration.

Suggestion: It is obvious that buying an eSIM for Mongolia travel from a trusted the 3rd eSIM provider is much more convenient for tourists. However, choosing which provider to go for is confusing. You need to choose the one with plans that suit your need. You can consider to buy eSIM from reputable resellers like Gigago but their eSIM plans are from Unitel – one of the biggest network carriers with the most widespread coverage throughout Mongolia.

Gigago provides tourists to Mongolia a range of eSIM plans from Unitel
Gigago eSIM plans for Mongolia

Gigago’s eSIM plans for Mongolia start at 1GB for 7 days with only $9.90 and vary between $9.90$38.50 . With an eSIM from Gigago, tourists will have reliable and smooth Internet access at a budget-friendly rate during their Mongolia trip.

VI. Where to Buy a Skytel SIM card and eSIM?

It is time to explore where to purchase Skytel SIM cards and eSIM.

1. Where to Buy Skytel SIM Cards for Mongolia?

Visitors may buy Skytel SIM cards at:

Buy Skytel SIM cards at Ulaanbaatar Airport
Buy Skytel SIM cards at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan Airport
  • Online: Visit the Skytel website to order Skytel SIM cards online and then your SIM will be delivered to your address.

Important Note:

  • Prepare your passport for ID proof and MNT cash/ debit/ credit cards for payment.
  • SIM card rates at airports are more pricey than at retail stores or online.

2. Where to Buy Skytel eSIM for Mongolia?

Here are the ways to sign up for Skytel eSIM in Mongolia:

  • Online via Skytel website: Sign up for Skytel eSIM packages directly on the Skytel website. Everything (sign-up, activation, payment, etc.) will be conducted online. ID verification is required and payment is by credit card.
  • Skytel store: Skytel has 43 branches and over 4,000 retail shops in major cities like Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, etc. Friendly staff will help you select the best eSIM plan.

Pro Tip:

  • Before signing up for eSIM, check if your cell phone is compatible with eSIM.
  • Consider buying data-only eSIM plans to save money if you use communication apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger for calling and texting.

VII. How to Activate Skytel SIM/eSIM in Mongolia?

Just follow these steps and you will activate Skytel SIM/ eSIM in Mongolia successfully.

Activate Skytel SIM/eSIM in Mongolia
Activate Skytel SIM/eSIM in Mongolia

1. How to Activate Skytel SIM Cards in Mongolia?

If you want to activate Skytel SIM cards, here are the steps:

  • Put Skytel SIM into your unlocked device
  • Switch on your cell phone and wait for it to detect the SIM. Skytel Mongolia SIM will be pre-activated in most cases.
  • Configure APN settings
  • Check that mobile data is working by loading a web page.
  • You can now make calls, send texts, and use data within your prepaid SIM balance validity period. 

2. How to Activate Skytel eSIM?

Steps to activate Skytel eSIM include:

  • Download the eSIM profile by scanning a QR code
  • Set up and activate the eSIM based on prompts on your phone’s screen
  • Use the eSIM: Once your Skytel eSIM is activated, the eSIM services are ready to go.

VIII. Alternatives to Mongolia Skytel SIM cards

Travelers visiting Mongolia may choose to use SIM cards or eSIM from other reputable carriers instead of Skytel SIM cards:

  • Unitel has the broadest coverage throughout Mongolia, including major cities, towns, and remote areas. Their prepaid plans begin at $5 for 3GB of data, valid for 5 days. Unitel speeds are consistent. Tourists may buy Unitel eSIM plans from third-party providers like Gigago, even at cheaper rates.
  • MobiCom has extensive 4G coverage across the main cities. Their SIM options are also very competitive.

IX. FAQs about Skytel SIM cards and eSIM

Can I purchase a Skytel SIM cards upon arrival at the airport in Ulaanbaatar?

Yes, Skytel SIM cards are available for purchase at the airport kiosks (SIM card counter) and might be slightly more expensive than in city stores.

Can tourists keep my Skytel SIM cards after they leave Mongolia?

No, Skytel SIM cards are intended for use in Mongolia only during your trip. Once you leave, the SIM will not work roaming internationally.

How much data do I need on my Skytel SIM card for a 2-week trip to Mongolia?

Around 2-6GB should provide comfortable coverage for basic activities like navigation, photos, and messaging.

X. Conclusion

To wrap up, purchasing a Skytel SIM card or eSIM is highly recommended for travelers to Mongolia in 2024. Skytel SIM cards provide widespread 4G coverage across the country and affordable data packages suitable for navigation, photos, and social media. Getting a prepaid eSIM from Gigago is also a convenient and budget-friendly option to stay connected while exploring the scenic landscapes of Mongolia.