Traveling to Kenya and flying into Nairobi Airport? This is your guide for buying a local sim card for Kenya on arrival at Nairobi Airport. Don’t waste money on high roaming costs or rely on slow overseas data roaming plans. Getting a sim card at Nairobi Airport is easy, done fast and cheap. I will tell you where to go exactly, the prices and my recommendation.
The first thing I do when arriving to a new country is finding out the best way to get connected. A local sim card is by far the best option. Combined with my passion for providing valuable travel tips for travelers it resulted in writing more than 150 local sim card guides for countries and airports.
Traveltomtom recommends a Safaricom sim card for Kenya. Although much more expensive it has by far the best network. For $10 you get 5 GB data for 1 week.
We do NOT recommend world sim cards for travelers. These international sim cards with global coverage are overly expensive compared to local sim cards. We compared and reviewed them one by one in the link above and came to the simple conclusion that most of them are rubbish!
Why buying a sim card for Kenya
There is Uber in Kenya, but you won’t be able to order an Uber without a working data connection on your phone. A very simple example right? But what about getting directions from Google Maps, finding a nearby restaurant with good reviews. Simple things that won’t be able without an internet connection.
WiFi in Kenya? Well, this is Africa. Don’t expect things to be working like back home. Simply do NOT rely on public WiFi, it is not everywhere available and often it is very slow. Also keep in mind that public WiFi is through an UNSECURED network.
Getting a local sim card is easy in Kenya and it makes traveling so much more convenient.
If you do not prefer to swap your sim card and change to a new phone number then a pocket WiFi could be a solution to stay online when traveling. Personally, a portable WiFi does not have my preference, read my HONEST review in my article how to get WiFi when traveling.
Nairobi Airport sim card vlog
In this short video I show you exactly where to go, the prices and my recommendation.
Nairobi International Airport Jomo Kenyatta
The main international airport for traveling to Kenya is the Jomo Kenyatta Nairobi International Airport. I expected a much bigger and more modern airport to be honest but it is rather small. That means good news for you as it is very easy to navigate. There is only one arrival terminal and one arrival hall.
Where to buy a sim card at Nairobi Airport
It is very easy and impossible to miss. As soon as you go through the customs bag check and you exit through the sliding door you are outside. Right in front of you there are 3 little shops next to each other: Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel. See in the vlog how easy it is.
Buying a local sim card for Kenya at the airport is the easiest way to get connected on arrival. For this convenience you pay a little extra but not much. The prices for sim cards at Nairobi Airport are very ok compared to what you get in the city. You can find good prepaid sim card deals here.
The Airtel and Telkom shop are open 24 hours, the Safaricom shop is not open 24 hours and closes around 9.00 pm.
All 3 mobile provider shops accept credit cards so there is no need to change money or go to an ATM first. However, there is an Absa Bank ATM opposite as well in case you want to get cash.
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Prices sim cards Nairobi Airport
All 3 shops will charge you 200 KES ($2) for a prepaid sim card, and they come with 150 KES credit ($1.5) or so called Airtime which you can use to top up if you want or to make local phone calls.
Safaricom prepaid sim card
As said in the beginning of the article I recommend Safaricom for traveling in Kenya, However, they are much more expensive and their data packages give you much less Gigabytes.
Although the paper above suggests differently, they only offer 5 packages at Safaricom Nairobi Airport. They are valid for 30 days and they all include free Whatsapp:
- 1,000 KES = 5 GB data + 400 minutes - $10
- 2,000 KES = 15 GB data + 1000 minutes - $20
- 3,000 KES = 25 GB data + 1500 minutes - $30
- 5,000 KES = 35 GB data + 400 minutes - $50
- 10,000 KES = 50 GB data + 400 minutes - $100
Telkom prepaid sim card
Prices for data packages at Telkom are significantly cheaper than Safaricom. Packages are also valid for 30 days:
- 1,500 KES = 12 GB data + 100 minutes - $15
- 2,500 KES = 30 GB data + 100 minutes - $25
- 3,500 KES = 50 GB data + 100 minutes - $35
- 4,500 KES = UNLIMITED data + 100 minutes - $45
They also have data only packages, see the photo above:
- 1,000 KES = 12 GB data - $10
- 2,000 KES = 30 GB data - $20
Remember that the prepaid sim card already comes with 150 KES credit which you can use for calling, so a data-only package would actually be my recommendation.
Telkom also offers weekly data packages:
- 1,000 KES = 10 GB data + 150 minutes - $10
- 2,000 KES = 25 GB data + 400 minutes - $20
Airtel prepaid sim card
The Airtel prices for prepaid sim cards at Nairobi Airport are pretty much equal to Telkom.
- 1,000 KES = 10 GB data + 400 minutes - $10
- 2,000 KES = 24 GB data + 1200 minutes - $20
They also have a bunch of data-only packages and a weekly package, see the photo above.
Best sim card at Nairobi Airport
When looking at the prices only, Safaricom is a no-go! They are so much more expensive compared to Airtel and Telkom. However, I still recommend a Safaricom sim card for traveling in Kenya and that is because of their extensive network. The Safaricom network is by far the best in Kenya.
Therefore, if you visit a lot of different places and will be on the road a lot during your Kenya trip then definitely get yourself a Safaricom sim card.
If not, and you will be visiting Nairobi or one or two other cities then there is no need to buy the expensive Safaricom prepaid sim cards.
Airtel and Telkom have very similar prices but offer literally 100% more value for money than Safaricom. So for 1,000 KES ($10), Airtel and Telkom give you 10 GB where Safaricom gives you just 5 GB.
Therefore an Airtel or Telkom sim card is recommended for city trips in Kenya.
How to get from Nairobi Airport to the city
Actually I already gave you the best option: Uber. An Uber ride from Nairobi Airport to the city center is a little over $10 and takes around 30 minutes. There is public transport, but I would not recommend it. Not that it is not safe, but come on… $10 for a 30 minute taxi ride is CHEAP!
Ordering an Uber to get from Nairobi Airport to the city is by far the easiest, fastest and most convenient way to travel. However, you need a local sim card! :)
I hope the above tips for buying a local sim card for Kenya at Nairobi Airport were helpful for your upcoming Kenya trip.
Need some more Kenya travel tips then have a look at my 10-day Kenya itinerary or my list of the best things to do in Kenya. My biggest travel tip for Kenya? Visit the last two northern white rhinos in the world in Ol Pejeta! Yes, that is right… THE LAST TWO.
Enjoy your trip to Kenya!