Traveling to Kyrgyzstan? Need to get some of that sweet, sweet data for your cell phone? I found that getting a prepaid Sim card in Kyrgyzstan was the easiest of any country I’ve been to thus far. Here’s what you need to know to get a Kyrgyzstan sim card so you can stay connected during your trip.
Kyrgyzstan Sim Card Companies and Prices
There are three providers to pick from:
I went with Beeline simply because I’ve used them before in Georgia and Armenia, and I found their service and prices to be good. However, I didn’t go from store to store to find the absolute best deal. Instead, I paid 95 som (less than $1.50 USD) for a sim card with 4GB that is good for seven days. I will be here long enough to need to top it off, so I’ll add that information to this post once I have topped it. If you choose Megacom or O! and get a better deal, comment below and I’ll update this post.
The Process of Buying a Sim Card in Kyrgyzstan
This was the easiest sim card I’ve ever bought in my life. I walked in, looked at the package written down, agreed to it, handed over my phone, the nice dude from Beeline activated it in my phone and played a YouTube video to prove that it worked, and then handed me back my phone.
I gave him 95 som and then went about my merry way. The entire process took ten minutes. After the nightmare that is buying a sim card in Azerbaijan, this was basically a cakewalk.
I didn’t have my passport on me, and they didn’t ask for it. However, it’s officially required, so make sure you bring your passport in case they ask. It also looked like this location was cash only. Kyrgyzstan is a cash-mostly society, so I would bring cash with you in case. I have used a credit card at Beelines in Tbilisi and Yerevan, but I didn’t ask to use one here after being told that the Beeline in the airport was cash-only.
Note: If you have had a different experience, let me know below and I’ll add it to the article!
Refilling Your Sim Card
I will update this post next week after I have to top off my sim card. Wish me luck!
Getting a Sim Card in Bishkek
If you arrive in Bishkek at Manas International Airport, you can get a sim card at the airport. There is a Beeline store in the arrivals terminal after you exit passport control and customs. I didn’t end up buying my sim card here since the Beelines are cash-only, and I didn’t have any Kyrgyz som yet. However, if you’re the kind of data junkie that needs a fix as soon as you land (or if this is crucial for making connections with people), you can get one here. I have read that there is also a Megacom booth in the airport, but I did not personally see it.
Note: Depending on what time you arrive, the store may not be open.
If you do not go to the store at the airport, there are multiple Beeline locations around Bishkek, along with Megacom and O! You should be able to find a store near you fairly easily.
Getting a Sim Card in Cholpon Ata
This is where I picked up my Sim Card. Staying in Bosteri, I could not find a place that could sell me a sim with data, so I took a marshrutka for 10 som to Cholpon Ata. The Beeline and the O! stores are next to each other here, and they are located on the main street in the city on Sovetsky street. Google Maps lists the address as “shopping mall” in English. However, it’s visible from the street and across from this building:
Getting a Sim Card in Osh
There are multiple Beeline locations in Osh. You can check the prices quoted here from Cholpon Ata and Bishkek against the prices in Osh, but they should be similar. You also can go to one of several Megacom locations and one O! location if you prefer these carriers.
FAQ about Buying a Sim Card in Kyrgyzstan
What Do I Need to Bring with Me?
I was not asked to show my passport, but officially you need one. You’ll also want to bring cash, and your phone with enough charge for them to be able to install and test the card.
Do I Need a Passport to Buy a Sim Card in Kyrgyzstan?
Technically, yes. I was not asked to show mine, but it is technically the law.
Can I Buy a Kyrgyzstan Sim Card for a Week?
Yes. My package is for one week. I didn’t ask about longer packages, since the people helping me spoke little English, and I speak little Russian and no Kyrgyz.
What is the Price for a Sim Card in Bishkek?
Beeline prices are national, so you should be able to get the same price anywhere in the country. However, there may be higher prices at the airport.
Can I Buy a Sim Card at the Bishkek Airport?
Yes! You can choose from Beeline or Megacom. They are available after you exit passport control and customs. Look to your right.
Which Cell Phone Companies have the best Coverage?
Megacom is listed as having the best coverage compared to prices, with Beeline coming in second. There may be coverage issues when going hiking and into the mountains, but I’ve found coverage in the cities to be excellent.
The process was incredibly easy. The main issue was a small language barrier, but it was easily overcome with Google Translate. As long as you are patient, this should be a fairly seamless process!
More about Traveling in Kyrgyzstan
- 10 Pieces of Essential Kyrgyzstan Travel Advice
- The World Nomad Games (podcast episode)
- Things to do in Bosteri, Kyrgyzstan
Have You Bought a Kyrgyzstan Sim Card while in Bishkek, Cholpon Ata, or Osh? Are you going to buy one on a future trip to Kyrgyzstan? Share your tips and questions below!
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