eSIM India vs. SIM Card: Where to Buy Best Travel Package?

Planning to visit India and want to stay connected with your loved ones or find ratings for a chosen venue on maps? Whether you’re exploring historic monuments or tasting delicious Indian food at the markets, you can connect with the world simply by obtaining an eSIM India. Let’s take a look at how to choose the right eSIM and whether it’s more advantageous than a traditional SIM card purchased at the airport.

Data eSIM India: How to Choose the Best One?

When selecting an eSIM, you need to consider how long you will be there and how much data you will approximately use. Reliance on Wi-Fi in India shouldn’t be too great, so we recommend opting for larger data plans. Additionally, you must account for the fact that you’ll be using some apps that you don’t need at home, like maps or a translator, which will also consume some data. If you need some help choosing, check out our article, how to choose the best eSIM.

In terms of operators, we recommend opting for an eSIM that allows connections through Airtel or Jio, or a combination of multiple operators.

The Most Advantageous Data eSIM for India

Let’s look at how much the most used data packages cost.

Cheapest Packages eSIM India

If you’re purchasing an eSIM just for a layover at an Indian airport, where you don’t expect good Wi-Fi, or you want at least some backup before you get a local SIM card, you can opt for a package with 1 GB of data.

Most companies offer from 3 GB upwards, but there are also those who will sell you just 1 GB. One such provider is Airalo, where you can get 1 GB at the cheapest price, for $4.5. You will be connected through the reliable operator Jio and the SIM’s validity is 7 days.

For a similar price, you can get a package from MobiMatter. A package with 14-day validity costs $4.99, but you don’t know through which operator you will be connected, so I would rather avoid this option.

If you want to be connected through the best operator in the country, you will have to pay a bit more. Nomad offers 1 GB with 7 days validity and connection through Airtel for just $6.

esim india airalo
Airalo’s eSIM offer for India

Moderate Data Usage (5 GB)

If you’re planning a longer stay in India than just a few hours? It may be useful to get a package with a larger amount of data.

The cheapest 5 GB data package is available from eTravelSIM at $10 for an eSIM with a 30-day validity, connected via Jio, one of the best operators in India. The downside might be that their website is not very user-friendly for those buying an eSIM for the first time, as it can be somewhat confusing.

The second cheapest alternative is Maya Mobile, where you can again choose the duration of your stay, which will also determine the eSIM’s price. If you need data for only 5 days, it will cost you $11, while a 30-day package will cost $14. Again, you will be connected through Jio.

💸 Use our discount codes for your first purchase 💸
Airalo $3 code KATERI4806
Nomad $3 code MARE67aw
Yesim 10€ code UWWP896

With our first purchase codes, you can shop at similar prices at Airalo – normally $15, with a discount $12, with a 30-day validity and connection through Jio. Also at Nomad – normally $15, with a discount $12, with a 30-day validity and connection through the best operator Airtel.

The best offer, however, will be for those who have not yet purchased at Yesim. For an eSIM with a 30-day validity, you would normally pay 15€, but with our discount code, it will only be 5€! Moreover, Yesim combines Airtel with VI, so you should be well connected.

High Data Usage (10 GB)

If you use the internet daily while traveling, you’ll need a larger data package. For us, a 10 GB data package is ideal for a two-week vacation.

The cheapest can be obtained from Maya Mobile, where you can also choose the validity length, so the price varies between $15 – $18. Slightly more expensive is the package from eTravelSIM, where you pay $20 for a 30-day validity.

With other providers like Airalo, Nomad, or Yesim, you’re looking at a range of $25 to $27. So, the first purchase codes won’t help much.

Unlimited Data

If you don’t want to limit yourself on vacation at all, you can opt for a package with unlimited data. These are available from Holafly, Maya Mobile, Yesim, and eTravelSIM.

At Holafly and eTravel SIM, sharing data via hotspot is not allowed. Price-wise, eTravelSIM is a bit better, but from our experience, we’d rather pay extra for quality and go with Holafly, where you can get a 10-day package for $44, a 15-day for $47, and a 30-day for $79.

If you want to share data via hotspot, go for Maya Mobile. Again, you can choose from 4 different durations, and also between packages with or without hotspot options. For example, a 15-day eSIM will cost you either $44 (if you don’t want to share data) or $54 (if you want to use a hotspot).

Sharing data via hotspot is also possible with Yesim, but the eSIM isn’t truly unlimited, as your connection will stop once you exceed a certain amount of data. Plus, it’s quite expensive.

💸 Use our discount codes for your first purchase 💸
Holafly 5% code ESIMMONSTER
Yesim 10€ code UWWP896

Clearly the Most Advantageous eSIM India Packages

Airalo1 GB$4.57 days
eTravelSIM5 GB$1030 days
Maya Mobile10 GB$1830 days
Maya Mobileunlimited$4415 days
Best Packages for eSIM India

Traditional SIM Card in India

Buying a traditional SIM card in India is a huge chaos. We’ll give you general information on how it usually works, but expect that it might be different for you. Moreover, since January 2024, the conditions for sale have changed, and in most cases, they will require an Indian address (private, not a hotel) and an Indian phone number. Also, be prepared for a relatively long activation time for the SIM card, taking hours, and sometimes an endless number of complaints at the physical store of the operator.

India is one of the countries where we recommend buying a SIM card right after arrival at the airport. You will need a travel passport, visa, and usually cash, which you can exchange at the airport. However, the downside is that once you leave the airport, you will not be able to return to claim the SIM card if it does not work, and also, you will usually pay more at the airport than the official price on the operator’s website (however, in the city, they will likely try to overcharge you as well, so it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other).

esim india
eSIM India

Sometimes the staff will help with the activation, sometimes you will receive a phone number to call for a quick verification of your details from the document under which the SIM card was purchased. Then you just wait until the operator activates your SIM, and you can start using it. If you’re not in a hurry, we recommend staying at the airport until your card is activated.

If you decide to get a SIM card after arriving in the city, the process will be more complicated because only Indians can purchase traditional SIMs. In practice, it means that they will ask for an Indian phone number to which a verification code is sent. Additionally, they may require your documents and possibly a passport photo.

In the official store, they will not sell you a SIM card if you do not meet these requirements. In various street stores, luck might smile on you if you find someone willing to have the verification code sent to their phone. However, searching can take several hours, as well as activation. You may also encounter sellers offering SIM cards at ridiculously high prices or selling you a SIM card that doesn’t work at all.

If you can’t get a SIM card at the airport, we recommend asking at your hotel first. Or choose your first stay at a hotel where they help with purchasing a SIM card. Some of them offer outright SIM card sales at the reception.

sim card india
Offer from VI operator

You can choose from 4 operators. The most popular, and sometimes the only one with a booth at the airport, is Airtel. A similar good coverage is provided by Jio. Slightly behind is VI (Vodafone-Idea) and the last operator is the national BSNL, which does not offer 5G connectivity, so it’s better to avoid it.

The SIM cards come with a validity of 28, 56, or 84 days, and the data are divided daily. So, you don’t buy, for example, 30 GB of data but 1 GB per day.

Summary of eSIM India

Getting a SIM card in India is not at all simple. Some places may require an Indian phone number, which as a tourist, you naturally don’t have. You might face issues with activation, which takes several hours, and it’s easy to fall for scams. Of course, a traditional SIM card is much cheaper, so if you have the time and patience, you could opt for this choice.

However, if you don’t like negotiating and want to have data right after arrival, go for an eSIM. The prices are still quite friendly, and for $18, you can easily cover data for your entire vacation. The disadvantage, however, might be that you will not have an Indian phone number.

For us, the best combination is, especially if you are traveling to India with others. An eSIM ensures comfortable first hours in India while you wait to find the right shop or for your purchased SIM card to activate.


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Kačka Kodytková
Kačka Kodytková
I'm a full-time corporate producer, but travel is my passion and I devote all my free time to it. I have traveled to over 35 countries around the world and my goal is to travel the rest by the end of my life 🌍. On my travels, I always try to find ways to save money while bringing back the most authentic experiences. I like to share my experiences with those around me, which is why I want to be online all the time. This led me to explore the world of eSIM and in 2023, together with my boyfriend, I founded, a website that compares eSIM providers. I am also the co-author of, a website dedicated to travel. Here we share more advice, tips and experiences from our adventures. So, off to see the world! ✈

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