It’s said that the biggest fear one has it that of public peaking. For me, my biggest fear is not having cellular service, and not being able to connect while on the go.
So, how does one connect while in Nepal
Some quick tips to staying connected while on the go:
Internet The use of email is growing, although its availability is most widespread in Kathmandu (especially in Thamel and around the Boudha Stupa in Boudhanath) or Pokhara. However, Namche, in the the Everest region, has several internet cafes that use satellite connections, but the cost is more than NPR140/min (USD2) compared to NPR30 in Kathmandu. Phone calls are best made from any of the international phone offices in Kathmandu– Voice over Internet (VOI) is usually NPR1-2/min. Wi-Fi in Hotels is free from any cafes and hotels if you tune in and ask for a password or host a hub in your cell. Whatsapp is obviously the most reliable way to stay in touch with those out of the country and to hotel operators who use the main mobile number as password to connect the inhouse Wi-Fi. Post Mail can be received at many guesthouses or at Everest Postal Care, opposite Fire & Ice on Tri Devi MAag. Mobile phones There are two main mobile operators in Nepal. Government run NTC (Nepali Telecom Company), and private Ncell (previously called Spice Mobile and Mero Mobile). Both operators allow tourists to buy SIM cards for about NPR200 in Kathmandu and most major towns. You will need to bring a passport photo, fill in a form and have your passport and visa page photocopied, also expect to have your finger prints taken. Try to buy the SIM card at a shop owned by the phone company; if you buy it from a corner shop it can take some time for the card to be activated, despite promises that it will be done in “a couple of hours”. Ncell SIM’s – can be bought from many stores, but are best bought from official stores in Birgunj or Kathmandu (they can also cut it to micro SIM for free if you need). Ncell offers two different SIM cards. The first is a usual SIM card that allows you to make calls to any phone (local calls are about NPR2.5/min); you can also buy mobile data to use. The second is a data only SIM card which can not be used for making or receiving calls. The advantage of the second sim is that the rates for data are significantly cheaper than a call and data SIM. Note that on Ncell SIM cards, tethering is not enabled by default. However their data works when you just switch between 2g and 3g depending on what reception is available (there is no cheaper prices for only 2g). Just to give an idea on data package prices: 500MB: NPR199, 1GB: NPR699, 5GB: NPR1999 + taxes (as of Aug 2013). You can get coverage maps on their site, although they now have 3G reception at the Mt Everest base camp (although not on the trek to the base camp). NTC SIMs – NTC SIMs can usually only be bought from their official offices. They often have a shortage of SIM cards, and you may have to wait up to 10 days to receive one. They do not publish their coverage maps. However they do have superior remote coverage to Ncell, particularly on the Anapurna Circuit trek. Besides 2G network NTC also has 3G(UMTS) network and CDMA one. For accessing 3G(UMTS) you need to pay some extra money as it’s shown as forbidden by default. Prices for data traffic in 2G and CDMA networks is 1MB: NPR0.50 (as of Aug 2013). The only data package available for CDMA is 5GB for NPR2,500 and it comes with CDMA modem (which is usually out of stock in their offices).
Other tips on staying connected while in Nepal? Please add your comments and tips.