2018 Primetime Emmy
& James Beard Award Winner

Getting Online in Kathmandu

Surf the web, drink coffee, eat momos.

In the last few years, internet speed has dramatically improved in Kathmandu. Telecoms operators such as Nepal Telecom and Ncell have started offering 4G services, and Wi-Fi has become more widespread.

As soon as you land at Tribhuvan International Airport, you can purchase a prepaid SIM card with a Nepal mobile phone number. Nepal Telecom offers a free SIM card to foreigners arriving at the airport, but of course, you need to pay for the data plans. (To get the free SIM, all you need is your passport and a passport-size photograph.) Alternatively, you can buy a prepaid SIM card in any local stores, you just have to present your passport and a passport-size photograph.

[Read: How to navigate Kathmandu’s international airport]

Nepal Telecom and Ncell, the top telecoms companies in Nepal, have a good LTE (4G) network coverage in Kathmandu and offer the decent 3G and 4G data plans. You can get 5GB data for a month in just 500 Nepali rupees (US$5). You can buy prepaid recharge cards in many grocery stores in Kathmandu, as well as mobile phone and telecoms stores. The data plans and rates keep changing; they introduce new offers every month or two, so be sure to check all the available offers, data volume, validity, and price before subscribing to any data plans.

Kathmandu is also a good place to work remotely. Most hotels and coffee shops now provide decent free internet, suitable for checking emails, browsing, and making video calls. The Himalayan Java Coffee chain has good internet service and, for my money, some of the best coffee around.

If you have to download large files or need a faster connection to do work, head to Mahabir’s Centre For Nepal Connection cafe in Mandala Street in Thamel. At this cafe run by IT pioneer and Magsaysay Award-winner Mahabir Pun, you’ll get a great internet connection along with good food and coffee. The internet is free; you just have to pay for the food. A plate of chicken momos costs 180 rupees (less than US$2) and a cup of coffee costs around US$1. If you’re lucky you might just meet Mahabir Pun himselfthe man who brought Wi-Fi to the mountains of Nepal.

You could also set yourself up at Ventures Cafe, a co-working space with free high-speed internet and a cafe, next to Nepal’s prime minister’s residence in Baluwatar. An Americano here costs 110 rupees (around US$1). For the price of one cup of coffeeor a can of Sherpa craft beer—you can stay here all day using their high-speed Wi-Fi, no questions asked. (It closes at 10 p.m.)

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