Buying a Sim Card at Nairobi Airport in 2023

Traveling to Kenya and flying to Nairobi Airport? This is a complete guide for buying a prepaid sim card for Kenya on arrival at Nairobi Airport. Don’t waste money on high roaming charges or rely on slow overseas data roaming plans. Getting a prepaid sim card at Nairobi Airport is easy, done fast and cheap.

Find out everything about where to buy a prepaid sim card for Kenya at Nairobi Airport, the best e-sim cards for Kenya, up to date prices as per August 2023, my recommendation, a vlog about my experiences on arrival at Nairobi Airport, information about international sim cards and more.

The first thing I do when arriving to a new country is getting an e-sim card or buying a prepaid sim card to stay connected. Combined with my passion for providing other travelers with valuable travel tips it resulted in writing more than 200 sim card guides for countries and airports all around the world: Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Cameroon, Douala, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Egypt, Cairo, South Africa, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Europe, London, UK, New York, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Asia and many more.

Of course I also wrote a complete guide for buying a sim card for Kenya in 2023.

As I am on a journey to visit every country in the world I get to a lot of new places every year. So whenever you are planning your next adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination. Bookmark me!

My recommendation

Traveltomtom recommends buying a Safaricom sim card for Kenya at Nairobi Airport. Although more expensive than Vodafone and Telekom, Safaricom has by far the best 4G/5G network. For $7 USD you get 5 GB data for 1 week.

Of course there are also e-sim cards for Kenya that you can buy on the internet before your trip. You arrive prepared and you arrange everything within just a couple minutes. It is more expensive, but very easy to order and instal one and no hassle buying a prepaid sim card on arrival anymore.

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There are also travel sim cards with data and worldwide coverage and some of them are great for traveling to Kenya. Check out my comparison of the best international sim card for traveling in 2023 and pick the one that suits your trip the best. Some of these sim cards are valid in up to 130 countries. 

Best e-sim cards for Kenya

E-sim cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Nairobi. Getting an e-sim card is very simple and you arrange everything online. Order online, receive a QR code, scan it, follow the instructions, apply some settings and you are all set.

Check out the following e-sim card plans for Kenya:

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $9 USD
  • 2 GB data for 15 days = $16.5 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $23.5 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $36.5 USD

Click here to directly order an e-sim card for Kenya.

The above data-only Kenya e-sim cards from Nakuru Mobile are only valid in Kenya. Nakuru Mobile operates on the Airtel 4G/LTE network in Kenya.

Much more expensive is an international e-sim card. The above e-sim card is valid in more than 130 countries around the world, including Kenya:

  • 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD

Click here to order this international e-sim card for Kenya.

You can also still order a physical sim card for Kenya with 10 GB data for $49.90 USD. This pre-activated sim card will be shipped to your home address before your trip. Click here to order this sim card for traveling in Kenya.

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 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 Nairobi Airport is rather small. That means good news for you as it is also 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. That kind of sucks because Traveltomtom rated Safaricom the best sim card for Kenya in 2023.

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 local money.

To make it even easier for you, here is a short vlog about my arrival at Nairobi Airport.

Prices sim cards Nairobi Airport

All the sim card shops will charge you 200 KES (around $1.5) for a Kenya prepaid sim card, and they come with 150 KES credit ($1 USD) or so called Airtime which you can use to turn into data packages if you want or to make local phone calls.

At the Safaricom store at Nairobi Airport they sell e-sim cards for tourists. Telkom and Airtel do NOT offer e-sim cards, but only physical prepaid sim cards. A Safaricom e-sim card cost 250 KES extra.

Safaricom prepaid sim card

As said in the beginning of the article I recommend a Safaricom sim card 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 – $7.2 USD
  • 2,000 KES = 15 GB data + 1000 minutes – $14.4 USD
  • 3,000 KES = 25 GB data + 1500 minutes – $21.7 USD
  • 5,000 KES = 35 GB data + 400 minutes – $36.1 USD
  • 10,000 KES = 50 GB data + 400 minutes – $72.3 USD

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 – $10.8 USD
  • 2,500 KES = 30 GB data + 100 minutes – $18 USD
  • 3,500 KES = 50 GB data + 100 minutes
  • 4,500 KES = UNLIMITED data + 100 minutes 

They also have data only packages, see the photo above:

  • 1,000 KES = 12 GB data – $7.2 USD
  • 2,000 KES = 30 GB data

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
  • 2,000 KES = 25 GB data + 400 minutes – $14.2 USD

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 – $7.2 USD
  • 2,000 KES = 24 GB data + 1200 minutes

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 simply much more expensive compared to Telekom and Airtel. However, I still recommend a Safaricom sim card for traveling in Kenya and that is because of their extensive mobile network. The Safaricom 4G/5G network is by far the best in Kenya. For more info check out my article about the best prepaid sim card in Kenya in 2023.

Therefore, if you visit different tourist destinations in Kenya 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 only be visiting Nairobi or one or two other cities then there is no need to buy an expensive Safaricom prepaid sim card.

Airtel and Telkom have very similar prices but offer literally 100% more value for money than Safaricom. So for 1,000 KES ($7 USD), Airtel and Telkom give you 10 GB where Safaricom gives you just 5 GB.

An Airtel or Telkom sim card can be recommended for city trips in Kenya.

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If this all sounds like way too much hassle than another reminder that you can also order sim cards for Kenya online. Click here to directly order a Kenya e-sim card for Kenya or get more info and check out all the Kenya sim card deals online in this link.

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. 🙁

Curious what it looks like trying to visit every country in the world? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along. As of August 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.

Enjoy your trip to Kenya!

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