Whether you are travelling to Almaty or passing through Almaty airport on a connecting flight, having a local SIM card for Kazakhstan can be extremely useful during your trip. Getting a SIM card allows you to have mobile data access, make local calls, and avoid expensive roaming charges from your home provider.
The good news is that there are several options for purchasing SIM cards right at Almaty International Airport. Here is what you need to know about getting a SIM card when you land at Almaty.
Table of Contents
I. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Almaty Airport
The main options for purchasing a SIM card after you land at Almaty International Airport are:
Kcell is the largest mobile operator in Kazakhstan. There is an official Kcell store located in the arrivals area of Almaty Airport, just after you exit customs and baggage claim. The Kcell store sells standard voice and data SIM cards, as well as more advanced plans like unlimited data packages. You can purchase the SIM card and activate it on the spot. Kcell offers strong 4G LTE coverage throughout Almaty and Kazakhstan in general.
Beeline is another top mobile provider in Kazakhstan. Like Kcell, Beeline operates an official store at Almaty Airport arrivals area. You can visit the Beeline store right after customs to purchase one of their prepaid plans or data-only SIM cards. Beeline also has solid 4G speeds and connectivity across Kazakhstan.
In addition to Kcell and Beeline, Tele2 is a third option for picking up a local SIM at the airport. Tele2 offers prepaid voice and data plans. While their network coverage is not as extensive as Kcell and Beeline, it is still decent in urban areas like Almaty. The Tele2 store is located in the arrivals concourse.
If you want to get a SIM card as quickly as possible without visiting a store, there are also vending machines for Kcell, Beeline and Tele2 located in the arrivals area. The vending machines allow you to directly purchase a prepaid SIM pack. However, you may have less plan options compared to visiting the main store.
II. Almaty Airport SIM Card Options and Costs
|SIM Card Price
|Kcell - Second largest operator with broad coverage nationwide.
|approximately $10-12 USD
|Beeline - Largest operator with reliable network across Kazakhstan.
|approximately $6-8 USD
|Tele2 - Strong coverage, lower prices.
|approximately $4 USD
In summary, as a tourist you can expect to pay between $4-12 USD for a prepaid SIM card from major operators Kcell, Beeline or Tele2 when arriving at Almaty Airport in Kazakhstan. All offer reliable connectivity for travel around the country.
III. What You Need to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Almaty Airport
To purchase and activate a new SIM card at Almaty Airport, you’ll need:
- Unlocked Phone - Your phone must be unlocked to accept a foreign SIM card. Contact your home provider to request an unlock code before traveling if needed.
- Passport - When buying a SIM card in Kazakhstan, you need to show your original passport as ID. Make sure to have it handy.
- Cash - Have some tenge (KZT currency) on hand to pay for your SIM card. There are ATMs and money exchange counters at the airport arrivals.
- Activation Steps - The store staff will help set up the SIM card in your device. You may need to provide your passport details again during activation.
- APN Settings - Depending on your device, you may need to manually enter APN settings for mobile data to function. The staff can provide the APN info.
As long as your phone is unlocked, getting a working SIM card at Almaty airport is quick and hassle-free. Just look for the provider stores or vending machines after you exit customs.
IV. eSIM as an Alternative to SIM Card at Almaty Airport
If you have a newer model phone with eSIM capability, another option is using an eSIM for connectivity in Kazakhstan instead of a physical SIM card. An eSIM is a digital SIM profile that is downloaded to your phone.
Some benefits of eSIM include:
- No need to find a physical SIM card at the airport
- Remote activation before you travel or upon landing
- Ability to access multiple plans and data packages
- Quickly switch between plans and providers
While eSIM is convenient, regular SIM cards still tend to offer lower rates, especially for longer term data packages. But eSIM makes a great backup if you can’t get a SIM card for whatever reason upon arrival at Almaty airport.
If you’re looking for a more convenient way to get mobile connectivity in Kazakhstan without having to purchase and change a local physical SIM card, you can consider buying an eSIM plan from esimkazakhstan.com. This website is the leading eSIM provider in Kazakhstan powered by GIGAGO. They offer both short-term and long-term eSIM plans that tap into the major networks in Mexico for data usage and calls.
After purchasing a plan, you will receive an activation QR code via email, which you can scan on your device to connect instantly to GIGAGO’s high-speed network. This provider offers a hassle-free alternative for travelers needing mobile connectivity in Kazakhstan.
Do I need to register my SIM card?
Usually there is no registration required for prepaid SIM cards purchased at Almaty airport. You simply need to show your passport when buying the SIM.
Can I get a SIM card outside the airport?
Yes, SIM cards can also be purchased at phone shops and kiosks throughout Almaty city. However, the airport providers often have the most English support.
Are data speeds fast on local SIM cards?
The main providers offer excellent 4G LTE coverage in Almaty with typical download speeds of 20-50 Mbps, great for apps, video, and streaming.
Can I use a SIM card in other countries?
No, Kazakh SIM cards only provide service within Kazakhstan. For other countries, you’d need to purchase a new local SIM card.
What if my phone is locked to my home network?
You’ll need to contact your provider and request for your phone to be unlocked before travelling so you can use a foreign SIM abroad.
Getting a Kazakh SIM card upon arrival at Almaty International Airport is super convenient and affordable. Just look for the Kcell, Beeline or Tele2 stores and vending machines located right in the arrivals hall. For around $5-10 you can get set up with a prepaid plan including voice calls, texts and plenty of 4G data. With an unlocked phone and passport in hand, it’s quick and easy to stay connected during your visit to Almaty. Enjoy your trip!