If you are planning to spend some time exploring Mongolia, having a Mongolian SIM card is not a bad idea. You will need it to have a reliable Internet connection during your Mongolia trip. In this guide, we will discuss buying a SIM card at Ulan Bator Airport (ULN), including places to buy, the best packages and prices, and the best alternative for a smooth trip.
I. Should You Get a SIM card at Ulan Bator Airport (ULN)?
Yes. Despite there are many options to stay connected during your trip in Mongolia, many international tourists choose to buy a SIM card at Ulan Bator airport for immediate Internet access upon arrival.
There are still several other options to get a Mongolia SIM card for you to choose from. Follow this table to learn the pros and cons of each option:
|Places to buy
|At Ulan Bator Airport
– Instant Internet connection when you reach the airport
|– Limited plans available, fewer providers
– Rather pricey
|Online before flight
|– A wide choice of plans and providers
– Affordable costs
|– Wait for shipping to have a physical SIM
– Additional shipping charges
|In Ulan Bator center
|– The widest range of plans to choose
– Cheapest prices
|– Extra travel to Ulan Bator city center
► Our recommendation:
- If you prioritize an instant Internet connection, buying a SIM card at Ulan Bator Airport is a suitable option.
- If you want a wide selection of plans at reasonable rates, consider purchasing a Mongolian SIM card in Ulan Bator city center or online several days before your trip.
II. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Ulan Bator Airport?
If you want to buy a SIM card at Ulan Bator Airport (Chinggis Khaan), you can choose from these two options: ordering your Mongolian SIM online before your flight and then collecting it at the airport or getting a SIM card when you reach the airport.
1. Online before flight and collect at Ulan Bator Airport
Some providers let you order a SIM card for Mongolia on their websites before your trip. Then you can pick it up when you land in Ulan Bator. This will help you save time and have a Mongolian SIM card with data immediately upon arrival.
Remember to confirm with your chosen provider if they offer this pickup service. The pickup point is often in the arrivals area after you get your luggage.
What to prepare: passport for ID proof, pre-order confirmation for collection, cash/ credit card
Cost: Most SIM cards cost around $5-10 USD for the SIM plus some prepaid credit. This is quite cheap compared to roaming charges.
- Convenient to have a local SIM activated and ready on arrival
- Avoid queues and time spent buying a SIM card at Ulan Bator airport
- Good network coverage nationwide with major carriers
Cons: Need to order ahead of your Mongolia trip, limited flexibility if you want to compare providers
2. At Ulan Bator airport upon arrival
Buying a SIM card at Ulan Bator airport upon arrival is also a popular choice among tourists to Mongolia. This airport has a single terminal so it is easy to find stores and kiosks that sell Mongolian SIM cards.
What to prepare: Your passport for ID prood, cash/ credit card, unlocked smartphone
Cost: A bit more pricey than ordering online or buying in Ulan Bator center
Pros: No need to order ahead of your flight, quick Internet access after landing, support from staff
Cons: Shops are not always open late.
After going through immigration and collecting your luggage, you may look for the following stores:
2.1. SIM card counter
Location: In the arrivals hall, near the exits after baggage claim
Opening hours: Daily from 6am to 10pm
Plans: From Mobicom, Unitel, Skytel – the major carriers. Prices range from $5-15 for SIM and prepaid credit. Can use phone right away.
2.2. Mobicom store
Location: In the arrivals area of the airport terminal
Opening hours: Daily from 6am to 8pm
Plans: Mobicom plans at $5-20 depending on data and validity.
2.3. Unitel booth
Location: In the arrivals hall
Opening hours: Daily from 6am to 10pm
Plans: Unitel SIM cards and find travel packages. Assistance in English is available.
- Check with the mobile carriers for their exact location and opening hours at Ulan Bator airport.
- It is always a good idea to double-check if you have a late or early flight.
III. What to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Ulan Bator Airport – Registration Process
To buy a SIM card at Ulan Bator airport smoothly, you need to bring these items with you:
- Passport: You will need your passport for ID verification. Have it handy when buying a Mongolian SIM card.
- Cash: Many SIM card kiosks accept local currency (MNT) as well as US dollars. Have around $10-15 in cash ready. Besides, you need to have credit card with you.
- Mobile device: Make sure your phone is unlocked and uses the same frequencies as Mongolia.
- Time: About 10-15 minutes after baggage to find the SIM sellers and complete your purchase.
Pro Tip: Don’t worry if you don’t know much - The staff at airport SIM stores will give your friendly support. They will set up and then activate your Mongolian SIM card so you do not need to bring a special SIM removal tool.
IV. Best Tourist Ulan Bator Airport SIM Card Options and Price
Good to know: ₮1000 MNT = $0.289 USD and $1 USD = ₮ 3.450 MNT (January, 2024)
Mobicom and Unitel are the largest network carriers in Mongolia. Here are some of the SIM card plans offered at Ulan Bator Airport:
|500GB of data (15 days), 5000 units of credit
|1.1GB of data (30 days), 10000 units of credit
|3GB of data, 5000 units of credit
|5GB of data, 10,000 units of credit
- The details of the plans above are subject to change over time.
- Mobicom’s SIM cards offer data and call credits, regular SIM cards start from 5,000 MNT with the basic connection.
- Along with data, Unitel plans also offer nationwide calls within the Unitel network.
V. Mongolia eSIM for Ulan Bator – An Alternative to Prepaid SIM Card at Ulan Bator Airport
In addition to the prepaid physical SIM card, eSIM for Mongolia is also known as the best alternative to stay connected during your trip thanks to its outstanding features:
- Easy setup and activation: Within several minutes, you can download an eSIM plan for Mongolia and activate it online.
- Instant Internet access: With an eSIM activated, you can access the Internet right away. There is no need to find a physical SIM store.
- Wide coverage: Mongolia eSIM uses the network of major carriers like Unitel.
If you are looking for a trusted provider to purchase an eSIM for Mongolia, then Gigago will be a perfect option. Gigago offers various Mongolian eSIM data plan options, starting from the 7-day plan with 1GB of data for only $9.9, much cheaper than the SIM cards for Mongolia offered at Ulan Bator Airport.
Important Note: Make sure your cell phone supports eSIM technology to use eSIM.
VI. Where to Buy a SIM Card Outside Ulan Bator Airport?
Going around Ulan Bator city to the major operator stores or convenience stores to get a Mongolian SIM card is a great option for the best rates and selection. This way, you can compare the different plans and then choose the best one that fits your needs.
Where to buy: Mobicom stores (on Peace Ave in Sukhbaatar district,…), Unitel stores (Chinggis Ave in Sukhbaatar, Baga Toiruu,…); mobile store outlets (Golomt, My Net, etc); gas stations (Petrovis, Altan Ude, etc.); shopping mall counters (Centerra Mall, State Department stores), etc.
What to prepare: unlocked phone, cash in MNT/ USD, credit card, passport
Cost: often 10-15% cheaper than airports but need to move to the city center, around $5-15 depending on the data package.
► Our recommendation:
- If you want Mongolian SIM cards with diverse plan options at the cheapest price, you should consider commuting to the Ulan Bator center.
- If your phone supports eSIM technology, it is advisable to choose a Mongolia eSIM plan for flexibility and reliable mobile data.
VII. FAQs about Buying SIM Card at Ulan Bator Airport
Where can I get a SIM card at Ulan Bator Airport (Chinggis Khaan)?
You may look for SIM card kiosks located in the arrivals hall near the exits after baggage claim.
What documents do I need to buy a SIM card at Chinggis Khaan Airport?
You need to show your passport for ID proof. Remember to prepare cash in MNT/ USD, and an unlocked phone.
How long does activation/ setup take?
The activation process is really quick, usually around 5-10 minutes to set up account and credit.
To sum up, tourists to Mongolia can easily get a SIM card at Ulan Bator airport, in the city center, or preorder online before their flight. An eSIM for Mongolia is also a wise choice thanks to its great value and budget-friendly rate. Remember to choose the plan that best fits your needs and preferences.