Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Asia (
-   -   cell phone plans for India (

venturesome4 Dec 6th, 2012 07:56 PM

cell phone plans for India
Hi, I was wondering what people did for cell phones. We would like to have availability to call ahead to the hotels and stay in touch with one another and with our driver. Any recommendations?

crosscheck Dec 6th, 2012 08:55 PM

Your best bet is to take an old UNLOCKED cell phone (an old Blackberry is ideal, call your provider to unlock) and get an Indian SIM card. You will then have an Indian phone which is pay as you go and unbelievably cheap with amazing coverage.

We used one 1000 rupee card (less than $20) for 11 days, had frequent long conversations with people in the U.S. (work issues), unlimited texting, plus constant calls back and forth to our guides, yet didn't come close to using all our time. And although we had the email and internet turned off, we were able to tap into local wifi everywhere.

Our tour company was able to lend us a SIM, so we knew the number in advance. If that's not possible, there are phone stores everywhere - you'll need a copy of your passport, Indian visa and a few passport-sized photos to get the phone.

We also had Verizon international roaming on our iPhones so we could call each other and receive calls from people who didn't know our Indian number (we would then call them right back from the Blackberry).

CaliNurse Dec 6th, 2012 11:10 PM

Passport photos are very inexpensive in India. I got 16 snaps for about $2.00. ANy local folks, or your hotel, will know where the nearest photo shop is.

Axel2DP Dec 6th, 2012 11:34 PM

I think if you have an iPhone 5 from Verizon then it should already be unlocked for using a foreign SIM card, but you should verify this with the carrier, or you could opt to go with Verizon international roaming if you won't be using your phone that much. If you have AT&T then you can try calling them to see if they'll unlock it for when you travel, but I've read that AT&T will not unlock any phone while it's still under contract.

venturesome4 Dec 9th, 2012 09:09 PM

Thanks very much for your advice about the options. We actually don't have i phones but Castle and King stated that a phone is part of the deal so that will be helpful. Interesting that one needs to show a passport and provide photos to buy a phone! We have a couple of extra photos from the Visa so I will bring them along just in case.Seems like my luggage is full of "just in case", rain jacket in case it rains ( unlikely) woolly clothing in case it gets cold ( doesn't seem likely either) lots of medications ( hoping against hope we won't be needing too many of those!).
Appreciate all the good tips!

crosscheck Dec 9th, 2012 09:28 PM

I wasn't suggesting that you use iPhones as your Indian phone - Sorry for confusion. What I meant is that you should call your US provider before you leave and arrange for your US phones (whatever they are, if they work internationally) to work in India (for emergencies and to call each other in case you get separated, etc - be sure to turn off your data plan though if you have a smartphone). The Indian phone will be your primary phone, but you'll appreciate having your US phones as well.

magical Dec 10th, 2012 08:18 PM

In India they are very serious about security---hence passport copies etc for buying cellphones. Also, if you want to use an Internet cafe to access email etc, they also require copy of your passport. For us, the Internet cafe manager made a copy on his xerox machine.

I was told that All this started after Indian security nabbed 2 people --working together out of 5 star hotels -- scouting airports and other sites in India for Al Quaida. This happened about 5-7 years back. These 2 people were good looking foreign nationals-- one a US citizen, one a UK citizen. So much for profile. Certainly not the usual profile of who we think is al Quaida. Anyway, that's a long explanation for why they have such serious requirements for cellphones , Internet access, and multiple checking points prior to boarding at airports.

Axel2DP Dec 11th, 2012 10:35 AM

>> if you want to use an Internet cafe to access email etc, they also require copy of your passport.<<

Where was this? I didn't have this issue access personal email within internet cafe in the Indian cities that I visited. It is a good idea though to carry a photocopy of your passport with you. You might be required to produce one when there isn't a convenient photocopying place around.

magical Dec 11th, 2012 11:36 AM

I should have been more specific-- sorry. If you are using your own smartphone or laptop in a wifi zone, you do not need to show your passport. Only if you are using the store computers to access email, then they want to see your passport -- the idea is they don't want spurious emails or emails with malicious content sent out from public computers. In an emergency, they want to be able to pinpoint who sent out the email.

I am not sure how helpful knowing where the malicious email came from is ---it seems to be an attempt to get a better handle on security. I know--- first it's shoes off at airport security, then passport ID to use public computers--- and on and on.

As I recall, this happened at an Internet cafe near New Delhi airport(not at the airport itself). I agree, Axel2DP, it is a good idea to carry an extra copy of your passport with you

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:32 PM.