Nepali Telephone Networks

The phone system in Nepal works pretty well and making local, STD and international calls is easy. Reverse-charge (collect) calls can only be made to the UK, USA, Canada and Japan.

To make a call, look for signs advertising STD/ISD services. Many hotels offer international direct-dial facilities, but always check their charges before making a call. Out in rural areas you may find yourself using someone’s mobile phone at a public call centre.

Most people in rural areas use mobile phones rather than fixed lines to communicate.

Mobile Phones

Buy SIM cards at Kathmandu airport on arrival or at Nepal Telecom (Namaste) or Ncell outlets across the country.

Nepali SIM Cards

You will need an unlocked GSM 900–compatible phone to use local Nepali networks.

Unlike using a landline, you need to dial the local area code when making a local call on a mobile.

Ncell (www.ncell.com.np) is the most popular and convenient provider for tourists, but in mountain areas Ncell reception is often non-existent. To get a SIM card take a copy of your passport and one photo to an Ncell office. Ncell offer a 'traveller package' for Rs 1000 that gets you Rs 600 worth of local calls, Rs 500 of international calls and 500MB of data, for 15 days. Otherwise, local calls cost around Rs 2 to Rs 3 per minute and incoming calls are free. International calls cost around Rs 5 to Rs 15 per minute depending on the destination. It’s easy to buy a scratch card to top up your balance, in denominations from Rs 50 to 1000.

If you are staying longer than 15 days you can buy a SIM card for Rs 150 and then top up your balance with scratch cards. Call *101# to check your balance and *102# to add balance with a scratch card.

For data use you are better off adding a pre-paid data package; a 2.5GB package costs Rs 800 for 30 days.

With a 3G connection you can even get internet access on the Everest Base Camp Trek! (The first tweet from the summit of Everest was sent in May 2011…)

Nepal Telecom (www.ntc.net.np) operates the Namaste Mobile network, but signing up for a SIM card is a more laborious process than for Ncell. However, Namaste has much wider reception in the mountains so is the one to go for if you're spending a lot of time hiking and contact with the world beyond is important to you.