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Where to buy and how to activate a SIM card in Kyrgyzstan?

As usually happens to us, even though we know how useful it is to have a SIM card in the country we are visiting, weeks went by in Kyrgyzstan without even noticing them.

Finally, when we arrived at Osh guesthouse we saw that at the front desk there were a lot of free prepaid cards. However, we were about to cross into Uzbekistan, so we took it but forgot about it. It was not until we finished visiting this country and Tajikistan, that since we had the flight from Astana we crossed Kyrgyzstan again and a big part of Kazakhstan.

Then we remembered that free SIM card we had and went to a Beeline store to get calls and data prices. And, for now, I’m just telling you that is the country in the world where we got the cheapest powerful data connection.

 

    Card and activation

Getting and activating a SIM card in Kyrgyzstan is as easy as it gets.

In the case of Beeline, the phone company we used, you’ll find free cards in a multitude of hostels, hotels and obviously in any of the stores you go to. The other two companies in the country, Megacom and O! I don’t know if they do it too, but I imagine that if their competition has the free prepaid SIM card, they will have the same deal or their price will be really low.

Filling out the registration form at the Arslanbob shop!

 
Once you have your card, you will have to go to one of their stores to get it activated. To do this, you will need to fill in a form with your personal details, give them a photo card and within minutes the shop assistant will have activated your brand new SIM card.

 

    Incredible prices

With Beeline you have different voice and data packages to choose from, however, calculating that we would barely use the calls, we took a data-only package.

For prepaid, you have the option to take plans that last a day, a week or a month.

In our case, since we had already been in the country for a month and we were going back in just to cross it stopping at a couple of places that we had missed during our first visit to the country, we decided to take a week’s package.

We freaked out when they told us the price. We actually thought we were getting it wrong. A weekly package of 6 Gigabytes of 4G costs 60 KGS, or what’s the same: less than 90 cents of USD!

Plans and prices, in case anyone here knows how to read Russian or Kyrgyz :)

 

    Good coverage

I can’t speak for the other two networks, as I don’t know how powerfyl they are, but Beeline’s coverage surprised us very positively.

We crossed the country from south to north by the west and we always had a very fast connection, less in the steppe once past Toktogul where at times we had only G connection.

To the east of Kyrgyzstan, where we had been in our first stop in the country, we did not try it but we suppose that it is the same or better, since it is a more touristic area.

 

    Is Beeline equally powerful and cheap in other countries?

Checking online and seeing that this phone company was not Kyrgyz, but Russian, the doubt that remained was whether if it’s as good and cheap in the other countries where it operates.

Apart from Russia and Kyrgyzstan, also operates in a few of former Soviet Union member countries, such as Armenia, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Ukraine, as well as Laos and Vietnam. Curiously, I’ve been in all of them, but I’ve never used one of their SIMs there, so I’ll stay with the doubt until I go back there or until one of you who knows it well, writes it down in a comment :)

 
Finally, if you don’t want to have the temptation to stay connected all day long and prefer not to buy a local card, don’t worry either, because the whole country has lots of really fast Wi-Fi networks as well. However, if you can control your Internet impulses, for less than 1 USD I would strongly recommend you to take a SIM card and get a good data package. It’s totally worth it!

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