Last updated on September 10th, 2018
Geographical terrains of Bhutan make it quite challenging for tourists to remain connected with internet 24/7 through mobile phones. If you’re travelling to some of the offbeat tourist destinations or mountain destinations of Bhutan, cellular connectivity will be poor. However, it’s always economical to get and use Bhutan prepaid SIM Cards of BMobile or Tashicell.
We know how much international roaming bill will take away from your pocket. You shouldn’t at all think of using your country SIM Cards with activated international roaming services during your travels in Bhutan.
It’s always advisable to get Bhutan prepaid SIM Cards as soon as you’re in Bhutan. In this post, I will share on how tourists can get Bhutan prepaid SIM Cards to forget your monthly roaming charges. In the process, I will also explain the cellular network providers of Bhutan and their available internet services for tourists.
BMobile & TashiCell – Bhutan Network Providers
There are two GSM Network service providers in Bhutan. BMobile number starts with 17 or 16 and TashiCell with 77. Former is a government owned corporation whereas latter is a private company. TashiCell is a new entrant. It has lower coverage and market share compare to BMobile.
But that won’t matter much for tourists. It’s only the accessibility of their services, call charges, data speed and their rates that will indeed matter when tourists choose whose prepaid Bhutan SIM Cards are to be used. Let us make comparison between BMobile and TashiCell.
|On Net (Nu/Min)||2.40||1.60|
|Off Net (Nu/Min)||6.00||6.40|
On Net means when you call within same network and off net means inter-network calls. You can refer BMobile and TashiCell websites for rates for international calls and SMS. They have also different data plans. But both Providers don’t provide Postpaid SIM Cards for Tourists.
Mobile Data Connection Plans & Rates in Bhutan
BMobile has 12 different prepaid data plans with rates from Nu.19 to Nu.1199 and TashiCell has 8 plans with rates from Nu.19 to Nu.1299. The data plans of both network operators have their respective validity limits.
BMobile Data Plans
|S/N||Data Plan||Price (Nu.)||Data (MB)||Validity|
|1||Daily 19||19||170||24 hours|
|2||Daily 29||29||265||24 hours|
|3||Daily 39||39||335||1 week|
|4||Daily 49||49||425||1 week|
|5||Monthly 99||99||860||1 month|
|6||Monthly 199||199||1770||1 month|
|7||Monthly 299||299||2910||1 month|
|8||Monthly 499||499||5370||1 month|
|9||Monthly 699||699||14500||1 month|
|10||Monthly 799||799||17500||1 month|
|11||Monthly 999||999||24600||1 month|
|12||Monthly 1199||1199||32000||1 month|
These are prepaid data plans of BMobile. I don’t want to give data plans of broadband or postpaid services as they aren’t available for tourists.
Tashicell Data Plans
|S/N||Data Plans||Price (Nu.)||Data (MB)||Validity|
|1||Daily Plan||19||100||24 hours|
|2||Weekly Plan||49||340||1 week|
|3||Daza Plan||99||800||1 month|
|4||Daza Plus Plan||199||1700||1 month|
|5||Barma Plan||299||2700||1 month|
|6||Barma Plus Plan||499||5000||1 month|
|7||4G Chenpo Plan||777||15000||1 month|
|8||4G Chenpo Plus Plan||1299||30000||1 month|
These are prepaid data plans of Tashicell. I don’t want to give data plans of of broadband or postpaid services as they aren’t available for tourists.
Which SIM Card is better for Tourists in Bhutan?
Which of these two network providers will be better for tourists travelling Bhutan? Though call rates and data charges are regulated by BICMA in both the cases, there is some negligible differences. BMobile and TashiCell both have 2G, 3G and 4G.
However, BMobile has maximum coverage of its 3G network compare to TashiCell. Therefore, if tourists in Bhutan are travelling out of places like Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Phuentsholing, BMobile is better. Because BMobile has larger market share.
How Tourists can get Bhutan Prepaid SIM Cards
Tourists can get Bhutan prepaid SIM Cards from the sales outlets, authorized dealers and offices of the two operators – BMobile and Tashicell. You just have to fill up a form which seller will give you and then submit with a copy of your passport and one passport size photo.
They’ll also see if your mobile phones support 3G and 4G. If so, they’ll also do necessary settings to active these high speed internet in your mobiles.
Indian tourists can give copy of either voter ID card or passport or permit along with a form and passport size photo. Indian network providers like Airtel and Vodafone do have roaming agreement with both the network operators of Bhutan.
This means Indian SIM cards of Airtel and Vodafone do work in Bhutan with activated international roaming facilities. The only problem is call rates will higher compare to rates in local Bhutan prepaid SIM Cards.
Prepaid Bhutan Local SIM Cards Costs for Tourists
Unless for off net call charges, there are only minor differences in call rates between BMobile and Tashicell. The prepaid Bhutan local SIM Cards for tourists of BMobile is Nu.100 and Tashicell is Nu.200. But both have same amount of talk time.
Bhutan local SIM Cards also come in three sizes i.e micro, standard and nano. Few years before, dealers/staffs will cut SIM Cards in accordance with requirement of a phone, Now they do come in different sizes and customers don’t have to pay charges for cutting SIM Cards.
3G/LTE Bhutan Prepaid SIM Cards just for Internet
Tourists in Bhutan from countries other than India, Bangladesh and Maldives will be putting up in hotels that have ratings of 3 and above. Because this category of tourists must come to Bhutan via an authorized travel agent in minimum daily package.
The daily package of USD $250 also covers hotel charges. And almost all hotels that have ratings above 3 will have free WiFi. So unless you want to go for trekking, hiking and camping, buying prepaid Bhutan local SIM Cards just for internet isn’t necessary.
How to Recharge Your Local Bhutan SIM Cards?
Unless you are off in mountains or hills for hiking or camping, in towns you can get talk time or data of both the operators in scratch vouchers in shops.
The instructions to recharge with Talktime or Data are on the scratch vouchers. If you still face problem, you can seek help of a shopkeeper. They’ll surely render help. Some shopkeepers also recharge from E-Load. Just ask if they have E-Load.
There are also various services of recharging from mobile apps like mPay, BWallet, Paku, MBOB etc. You can also ask your Bhutanese guide for it.
Bhutan Local SIM Cards when You Leave Bhutan
When you leave Bhutan, you can take SIM Cards with you as souvenir items or destroy safely. Don’t throw it away as it might be reused by other people. And we never in what manners they’ll use them.
The terms and conditions given in SIM card application form requires you to be responsible for using it in lawful manners and indemnifying any probable damage or loss due to misuse your SIM Cards.
Rent Satellite Phones in Bhutan during Trekking
If you feel you’ll need to make frequent calls even when you go for trekking or mountaineering in Bhutan, you can take Satellite Phones on rent from Bhutan’s travel agency Above Horizon Tours and Treks. The rental charge is USD $25/day and you have to settle the used talk time.
In Lonely Planet Guide it’s mentioned that Bhutan Telecom provides satellite phones using Thurial system on rent. But it’s not correct now. It has discontinued providing this service. You should know that call rates in satellite phones will be higher compare to other normal calls.
Recommend following travel guides and interesting experiences from Bhutan:
- To Explore Gasa – The Best Offbeat Tourist Destination in Bhutan.
- 15 Best Short Hikes in Thimphu – Trekking Trails of Thimphu.
- Dzongdrakha Lhakhang – Temple that Looks Like Paro Taktsang.
- Travel Sakteng Bhutan – The Home of Brokpa Tribes in Bhutan.
- Mystical Mebartsho or Burning Lake of Bumthang.
- How to Travel Bhutan Solo – Bhutan Female Solo Travel Guide.
- 25 Best Reasons to Travel Bhutan – Bhutan Travel Guides.
- Trekking and Camping in Thimphu – Lampelri Botanical Park.
- Khoma Village: The Birthplace of Kishuthara Kira in Bhutan.
- 15 Books on Bhutan: Books to Read Before Travelling Bhutan.