Traveling to Pakistan? Make sure you stay connected to make the most of your trip! Buying a sim card in Pakistan is the best way to get a data connection on your phone. Data is cheap and in this guide I will tell you everything you need to know about a local Pakistan sim card with the best network coverage, up to date prices, where to buy a sim card, my recommendation and even a vlog with all the info.
Over the last years I made multiple trip to Pakistan and used several different prepaid and postpaid sim cards. First I will explain everything to you and in the end I come with a conclusion and tell you about my experiences.
As part of my journey to visit every country in the world I get to a lot of different countries and cities. Buying a local prepaid sim card is the first thing I do when arriving somewhere new. Many years ago I started documenting this and therefore you can find more than 150 local prepaid sim card guides on my website: Thailand, Indonesia, USA, Canada, Europe, London, Dubai, Turkey, Istanbul, Saudi Arabia and many more.
Traveltomtom recommends a Jazz prepaid sim card for Pakistan. Make sure you get a prepaid sim card and you can get already 24 GB for $3 USD.
We do NOT recommend international sim cards for Pakistan. These sim cards are incredibly expensive compared to local prepaid sim cards in Pakistan and you easily pay 50x as much for the same value.
Pakistan sim card vlog
Interested in watching a video about my experiences then check out the vlog below which I recorded while traveling in Pakistan.
Why buying a sim card in Pakistan
Buying a local prepaid sim card in Pakistan is the best way to get yourself a working data connection on your phone. It is also by far the cheapest way and will save you a lot of money on high roaming costs plus it gets you the fastest connection.
Did you know that overseas data plans limit their speed? When buying a sim card in Pakistan you will be able to have a 4G connection in most of the tourist destinations in Pakistan without any limitations.
Also don’t rely on WiFi in Pakistan. Most hotels have WiFi and I must say these days it works ok in the main cities, but as soon as you go off the beaten path don’t expect a good WiFi signal. Also another reminder that public WiFi is an UNSECURED connection, the use of a VPN is recommended.
A sim card with data is cheap in Pakistan, trust me you are going to love being able to surf the internet. There is Uber and Careem in Pakistan, to order a taxi you need internet, also to kill time on long bus rides or get directions from Google Maps or use translate apps it is convenient to have internet on your phone. It simply makes traveling in Pakistan much more convenient.
Where to buy a sim card in Pakistan
Buying a sim card in Pakistan is a little more complicated than many other countries. However, if you go to the right place things can be fixed in as little as 5 minutes. Unfortunately there are kiosks at the International Airports that sell prepaid sim cards for Pakistan in Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad.
It is not possible to buy a Pakistan sim card for tourists at Karachi Airport, Lahore Airport and Islamabad Airport. Please Pakistan change this!
Also the phone stores on the streets are NOT able to sell prepaid sim cards. Tourists will need to go to an official franchise store of one of the mobile internet providers in Pakistan. Only these stores are able to register and activate a Pakistan sim card.
How to find them? Best is to use google maps and type in the by you preferred mobile operators and locate the nearest store next to you. Unfortunately unlike many other countries these official retail stores are not clustered in one of the malls. You will find them randomly around the city.
Sim card registration process
All Pakistan sim cards need to be registered on a passport or national identity card. In case of a foreign passport you will also need your Pakistan visa. Therefore when buying a sim card in Pakistan you will need to bring not only your passport but also your visa. In the phone store they will take a copy of both your visa as well as your passport page. Your Pakistan sim card is linked to your visa and valid as long as the duration of your visa.
Mobile internet operators in Pakistan
There are 4 mobile internet providers in Pakistan: Zong, Jazz, Telenor and Ufone. All of them sell sim cards for tourists. Some providers can be complicated providing prepaid sim cards and pressure tourists in buying postpaid sim cards.
Prepaid vs. Postpaid in Pakistan
In any other country when buying a sim card for tourists you always get a prepaid sim card. In Pakistan things are a little different! Read the next thing carefully!
Personally upon arrival I tried buying a Jazz prepaid sim card in Karachi and was told that a foreigner registering a sim card on a passport could only buy a postpaid sim card. Well, if you say so… I believed the lady at Jazz at first of course.
Later I found out that is bullshit. Tourists can buy a prepaid sim card in Pakistan, there is NO need to buy a Postpaid sim card for Pakistan!
However, there is 1 exception. At Zong me and my friend tried to buy a prepaid sim card and they did NOT accept it. I was assured that the Zong company policy is to only accept Postpaid sim cards to be registered on a foreign passport. I asked 3 times to be sure…
For that reason I would already not recommend tourist to buy a Zong prepaid sim card for their trip to Pakistan.
To make it nice and complicated… with Telenor it is the opposite. Foreign passport holders are NOT able to buy a postpaid sim card.
Prices Pakistan sim cards in 2021
The prices for prepaid and postpaid packages in Pakistan vary a lot. Postpaid packages are way more expensive and offer less value for money than prepaid packages. The currency in Pakistan is the Pakistan Rupee. $1 USD = 173 PKR.
A Ufone prepaid sim card cost 250 PKR for the activation. There is the possibility of e-sim but only if you buy a postpaid sim card, not recommended!
Ufone offer 3 prepaid packages, all valid for 30 days:
- 570 PKR = 1.2 GB data + 150 minutes* + 4,000 sms - $3.3
- 599 PKR = 2 GB data + 180 minutes** + 4,200 sms - $3.5
- 999 PKR = 5 GB data + 300 minutes** + 5,000 sms - $5.8
*This package comes with 1,000 minutes to Ufone numbers
**These packages come with unlimited minutes to Ufone numbers + Unlimited Facebook
Ufone offers the following add-ons for data packages:
- 175 PKR = 6 GB for 7 days - $1
- 499 PKR = 13 GB for 30 days - $3
For more information check out the Ufone prepaid sim card page on their website.
As said before Zong’s company policy allows tourists with a foreign passport only to buy a postpaid sim card, they do NOT offer a Pakistan prepaid sim card for tourists. Postpaid is complicated for tourists, trust me not recommended.
A Zong sim card costs 200 PKR for the activation and registration.
These are the monthly Zong postpaid packages you can choose from:
- 672 PKR = 2 GB data + 300 minutes + 1,000 sms - requires a minimum deposit of 1,000 PKR
- 1,075 PKR = 6 GB data + 500 minutes + 2,000 sms - requires a minimum deposit of 2,000 PKR
- 1,615 PKR = 15 GB data + 800 minutes + 4,000 sms - requires a minimum deposit of 3,000 PKR
- 3,361 PKR = 35 GB data + 1,200 minutes + 5,000 sms - requires a minimum deposit of 5,000 PKR
There are a couple extra benefits, see the above photo. I bet the minimum deposit already sounds complicated right? Basically that is the price you are paying and the balance between the deposit and the postpaid package you choose becomes your extra credit.
You can add on data packages as follow:
- 250 PKR = 3 GB - $1.4
- 600 PKR = 10 GB - $3.5
- 1,000 PKR = 20 GB - $6
May against my recommendation you still decide to buy a Zong sim card for Pakistan then I suggest you pay for the cheapest postpaid package and add for 1,000 PKR an extra 20 GB data to your account. For more info check out the Zong Postpaid page on their website.
Buying a Telenor prepaid sim card will cost you 200 PKR for the activation and registration and then you have to choose one of the package:
- 110 PKR = 4 GB data for 7 days
- 185 PKR = 8 GB data for 7 days - $1
- 265 PKR = 30 GB + 5,000 minutes for 7 days (15 GB from 1am-1pm)
- 450 PKR = 20 GB for 30 days (10 GB from 12am-8am)
- 715 PKR = 18 GB + 5,000 minutes for 30 days (9 GB from 1am-1pm)
No need to tell you that the Telenor prepaid sim card deals so far are the best ones we have seen. Click on the link to see the latest prepaid data packages on the Telenor website.
A Jazz sim card costs 300 PKR for the activation and registration. As mentioned before I was lured into buying postpaid but tourist can also buy prepaid and the price difference is big!
Jazz has a wide range of prepaid sim card packages available. These are the best weekly and monthly deals:
- 260 PKR = 12 GB data + 70 minutes + 5,000 sms - valid for 7 days
- 636 PKR = 7 GB data + 150 minutes + 3,000 sms - valid for 30 days
- 800 PKR = 15 GB data + 150 minutes + 5,000 sms - valid for 30 days
They also data only packages:
- 240 PKR = 12 GB data for 7 days (6 GB only available between 2am-2pm) - $1.4
- 290 PKR = 20 GB data for 7 days (10 GB only available between 2am-2pm) - $1.7
- 525 PKR = 20 GB data for 30 days (10 GB only available between 2am-2pm) - $3
You can then add just a couple rupees for calling and you are all set. For more info about the latest Jazz prepaid packages click on the link.
Best 4G/5G network in Pakistan
Apart from the prices it is very important to also look at the 4G network coverage in Pakistan to determine what is the best sim card for tourists.
Is there 5G in Pakistan?
Unfortunately there is still no 5G in Pakistan as per December 2021. As per the latest news they are only planning to launch 5G in Pakistan in 2023. Read more about it in the link.
Ufone mobile network coverage map
Telenor mobile network coverage map
Zong mobile network coverage map
Jazz mobile network coverage map
From the above mobile internet coverage maps we can clearly see that Ufone has the weakest mobile network in Pakistan and Jazz and Zong provide the best mobile internet coverage.
Best Pakistan sim card in 2021
As long as Zong is not offering prepaid sim card for tourists I won’t be recommending it anyway, on top of that prices for Zong sim cards are simply much more expensive than other operators.
Ufone unfortunately has a very weak mobile internet network compared to the other providers. The Telenor prepaid sim card packages are very affordable which makes Telenor the cheapest Pakistan prepaid sim card, however a Jazz prepaid sim card is not expensive at all either and besides that Jazz has one of the best network coverage in Pakistan. All in all this makes Jazz the best prepaid sim card in Pakistan.
Sim card for Gilgit Baltistan
Officially the most beautiful province in Pakistan still is a disputed area. When planning your trip to Pakistan I am sure you stumbled upon Hunza Valley, Fairy Meadows, Skardu, Passu and the Khunjerab Pass. All of them are located in the beautiful mountainous region of Gilgit Baltistan. Although officially a conflict area, it is totally safe to travel, but unfortunately none of the previous Pakistan sim cards work up there.
When traveling to the mountains and you want to stay connected you will have to get an SCOM sim card. SCOM is the military network and it works the same as a normal sim card. You can only get an SCOM sim card in Gilgit or in Skardu. The registration process works the same, you will need your passport and your visa and you buy the sim card for 300 PKR ($2) and will have to add data packages to it.
Most of the time you will be disappointed though, because your phone will tell you there is 3G/4G it is still not working. When traveling to Gilgit Baltistan be ready to be disconnected most of the time.
My experiences buying a sim card in Pakistan
In 2019 and 2020 my Pakistan trip started in Islamabad and unfortunately there is still no shop at Islamabad International Airport that sells sim cards for tourists. In 2021 I landed in Karachi and unfortunately found out that there neither is a place to buy a Pakistan sim card for tourists.
Unlike most other countries around the world, you can not buy a sim card at the airport in Pakistan. At Lahore Airport there is a small shop selling sim cards, but they can’t register the sim card on a foreign passport only on a Pakistan ID.
On my first 2 Pakistan trips I had a Telenor sim card and was satisfied. My Pakistani friends told me to get a Telenor sim card as they have the best coverage in the Northern areas of the country: Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and that is where I was mostly traveling. I was satisfied back then with my Telenor sim card.
I was promised that Telenor had also ok coverage in Gilgit Baltistan, but that was not true. On my trips to Gilgit Baltistan and Skardu I always bought a separate sim card that works on the military network: SCOM. It only works in Gilgit Baltistan. However, it was a pain in the ass to use the data network. It was just good enough for Whatsapp and email, it already had problems loading Instagram and Facebook.
A good and reliable data connection in the mountains of Pakistan is simply rare. When traveling to Gilgit Baltistan and/or Skardu, just be prepared to go offline.
On my recent trip to Pakistan I bought a Jazz sim card in Karachi, because my research told me Jazz has the best network coverage in Pakistan. I traveled around the whole country, from Quetta in Balochistan to Sukkur in Sindh, Bahawalpur and Multan in Southern Punjab and Lahore and Islamabad in Northern Punjab.
When it comes to the network I must say thumbs up for Jazz as I enjoyed a 4G signal almost everywhere, even road tripping in Balochistan and during long bus rides on the Motorway in the middle of the country I stayed connected almost all the time.
That said I was NOT AT ALL satisfied with the costumer service of Jazz, but I have put my pride aside and still recommend Jazz as the best prepaid sim card in Pakistan, although I feel they screwed me over!
In the franchise store in Karachi they made me buy a postpaid sim card for Pakistan. Lying right in my face when they told me prepaid was not possible for foreign tourists. I opted therefore for the GOLD 1,999 PKR postpaid package. At that time I thought it was cheap, as it is only $12. Little did I back then know I was lured into a very expensive package.
The Jazz lady could have lied to everyone, but little did she know it was Traveltomtom, the blogger writing about sim cards in every country he travels too. I am still mad JAZZ PAKISTAN!
Anyway for you guys: DO NOT let them lure you into buying a Postpaid Jazz sim card, you can also buy a Prepaid Jazz sim card and as you have read that is MUCH CHEAPER!
Jazz postpaid is much more expensive and turned out to be a pain in the ass as well. There was a billing period in the middle of my trip and things got complicated. I bought a package with 35 GB data however only a % of that was given to me until the end of the billing period and when the new billing period started I got the full 35 GB.
Meaning, I ran out of data after 10 days on my trip and Jazz made me buy extra data! Very complicated as a tourist, especially when you are traveling this is not what you want!
It was then when I went to complain in Lahore that the friendly guy asked me why I did not choose PREPAID over POSTPAID. I was so furious when I heard the lady in Karachi had been lying to me, just to make a couple extra bucks!
Therefore again my recommendation: always buy a PREPAID SIM card for Pakistan. Since ZONG does NOT offer prepaid sim cards for Pakistan, I do NOT recommend them in the first place.
My overall user experience with Jazz was good. They have the best network coverage and affordable prices. Please Jazz stop lying to costumers, this is so NOT how I remember Pakistani hospitality!
I hope all the above tips for buying a sim card in Pakistan were helpful. Please let me know if you have any more questions regarding sim cards in Pakistan or traveling in Pakistan in general.
Leave me a comment below and I am more than happy to assist you. Also write me your own experiences below to help other people traveling to Pakistan finding the best sim card for their trip.