How to Buy a SIM or eSIM China for Tourist – Full Guide in 3 Easy Steps

  • Buy this prepaid Sim or eSIM for your trip and get internet in China in minutes. Unlike the physical SIM Card which you can pick up when you are in China, you can buy this China 3, 5, 10 15GB and 30GB for 3, 5 , 7, 10 & 15 days in China. Sim or eSIM no matter where you are. We will send you a QR code for downloading and installing it on your handset. Learn more to eSIM installation/activation
  • Owning a cheap eSIM China for travel, you will: Be saved from crazy international roaming fees, have your local SIM remain on your phone for emergency calls and SMS, and have your WhatsApp number kept on your phone to connect you with your friends and family.
    Especially, you won’t suffer from any hidden charges with our eSIM China, as this plan is prepaid and covers all taxes in China.
  • HERE is 3 easy Steps to buy a suitabel SIM / eSIM China for Tourist
  1. Pick an eSIM Plan. My recommended China eSIM. Chinaesim.biz offers the most convenient coverage and plans. You’ll need to use a payment card that works with US dollars.
  2. Activate your eSIM card. No need register your eSIM card with a valid passport, just scan the QR Code and follow instruction to use your data plan.
  3. Start using your China eSIM. Enjoy your social network, stay connect everywhere and browsing throughout your stay in China.

Tips on Choosing the Best eSIM / SIM Card for China

When traveling to China, having a reliable means of staying connected is crucial. But you need a SIM card with certain features to make sure it’s the right fit. Here are the criteria I looked at during my research:

  • Network coverage. Research the network coverage of different providers in the areas you plan to visit to ensure reliable service.
  • Available services. Consider the range of services you need, like voice calls, text messages, internet, data plans, international calling, and voicemail. It’s worth remembering that eSIMs typically only offer mobile data, while prepaid physical SIMs cover a wider range of services.
  • Price. Compare prices among different providers and consider bundled service options. Budget according to your usage requirements and destination(s), as some SIMs may not work outside of Mainland China.
  • Data caps. Check how much data is included with the SIM card, and look for affordable top-ups. Also, review your current cellphone bill to see how much data you usually use. Then, allow yourself a little extra for using tools like GPS and sharing photos and videos.
  • Compatibility. Ensure that the China SIM card is compatible with your devices. You might have to check with your phone manufacturer and current network provider to be sure. Not all phones, tablets, or smartwatches have eSIM compatibility.
  • Activation procedure. Understand the activation process for the SIM card, which may involve online forms, identification requirements, or visiting a local retailer.
  • Duration of usage. Take note of any expiration dates, renewal dates, or recharge requirements associated with the SIM card. Choose a card that matches the duration of your trip.
  • Provider reputation. Research the reputation of the SIM card provider in terms of customer service and reliability. Read reviews from other travelers to find a reputable one, or pick one that I shortlisted.

When traveling to China, a VPN allows you to browse the internet safely. Some SIM cards have VPNs included, but they won’t be as reliable as a top provider for China, like ExpressVPN.

Best China SIM Cards in 2024

There are two options for mobile connectivity if you’re traveling to China: prepaid SIM cards and eSIMs. A prepaid SIM card in China has wide compatibility with various devices, including older smartphones. Prepaid SIM cards are readily available for purchases from airports, convenience stores, or kiosks, making it a convenient option for travelers.

On the other hand, eSIMs offer certain advantages. With an eSIM in China, you can activate your plan from your chosen carrier online or through an app, but you’ll need a WiFi or mobile data connection.

It’s important to check that your mobile devices support eSIM functionality before you buy one. I selected the best China SIM cards for prepaid SIMs and eSIMs to cover both options.

 

1. China Mobile — Overall Best China SIM Card With Extensive Coverage & Comprehensive Connectivity

Best featureReliable network that includes China, Hong Kong, and beyond
SIM typePrepaid physical SIM, so it’s compatible with most devices
AvailabilityOfficial stores, retail outlets, telecom product stores, and in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore international airports
Customer support24/7 through dialing: 12580. Available in English, Cantonese, and Putonghua

The China Mobile SIM card paired with an unlocked international GSM smartphone keeps you connected all throughout China. This SIM card has a 4G network covering the mainland along with Hong Kong and Macau. It has affordable airtime rates, with various options depending on how much data and other features you need.

I like the card’s purchasing flexibility, although online pre-purchase isn’t available. In any case, you have to activate it in-store. Be sure to bring your passport with you to complete this process. There are also lots of options, including SIM cards that work in other parts of Asia if you’re an outbound traveler from China.

Be sure to avoid exceeding your data limit, as you’ll be charged for additional usage. However, I liked that the network uses text commands to check data and account balances, removing the need for translations or speaking to customer service.

Plans & pricing

  • 2 GB data. Valid for 180 days for around HK$50 (around USD $6).
  • 3 GB data. Valid for 90 days for around HK$80 (around USD $10).
  • 30 GB data. Valid only in the Hong Kong area for 1 year for around HK$150 (under USD $20).
  • Unlimited data. Valid for 7 days for around HK$80 (around USD $10).
  • Incoming calls and SMS text messages are free.
  • Additional outgoing calls are ¥0.19/minute.
  • Additional data slows down to 384 Kbps until you top up.
  • Additional fees may apply depending on your chosen SIM card.

 

2. China Unicom — Seamless 3G & 4G Compatibility With Foreign Smartphones in China

Best featureCovers major cities in China, even on non-Chinese phone brands
SIM typePrepaid physical SIM, so ideal if you have an older smartphone
AvailabilityChina, Hong Kong, and Singapore international airports, licensed Unicom stores, and newsagents across China
Customer support24/7 through dialing: 10010. Available in English

China Unicom has a large network that’s compatible with many of the latest foreign models of Android and iOS smartphones. This broad compatibility with phones from around the world makes it a great choice for keeping you connected in China. Plus, China Unicom can even deliver the SIM card to most hotels in China at no additional cost.

China Unicom SIM cards don’t expire as long as you use them once every 90 days. However, this is a double-edged sword, as you’ll be charged monthly for the service as long as the SIM card is active.

The range of China Unicom SIM cards includes options with 4G. To get more data, you can easily extend your limit for a small fee, typically around USD $9 per GB. Plus, it provides access to high-speed WiFi hotspots.

Please note that you have to register to use these. During the checkout process, you’ll be required to upload a copy or picture of your passport, Chinese visa, and entry stamp page.

Plans & pricing

  • 10GB data for around USD $80/month
  • 20GB data for about USD $100/month
  • 30GB data for under USD $120/month

Direct International Calling add-on (optional): Price: $10

  • Zone A (Hong Kong, USA, Singapore, Canada). Free calls up to 100 minutes, and all additional calls are under ¥0.40/min.
  • Zone B (Taiwan, India, Macao, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand). Free calls up to 60 minutes, and all additional calls are under ¥0.70/min.
  • Zone C (Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Colombia). Free calls up to 40 minutes, and all additional calls are under ¥1/min.
  • Zone D (Australia, France, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Russia, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Ukraine, Mongolia). Free calls up to 20 minutes, and all additional calls are under 2¥/min.

3. China Telecom — Reliable Choice for Budget-Conscious China Tourists

Best featureDoesn’t compromise on coverage with its flexible plan options
SIM typePrepaid physical SIM with wide compatibility
AvailabilityBuy online, at designated stores, and at China, Hong Kong, and Singapore international airports
Customer support24/7 through dialing: 10000. Available in English and other languages

As the smallest telecom operator in the country, China Telecom offers cost-effective deals for new subscribers. You’ll need your passport to buy a China Telecom SIM to verify your identity. Its SIM cards can only be purchased from official China Telecom stores and must be activated on-site.

With its extensive coverage, you can enjoy seamless web access nationwide. China Telecom offers top-up options at automated kiosks in their stores, ensuring you can easily recharge your SIM card. I recommend requesting a single-month SIM card if it suits your travel duration since it’s a good deal among the available options.

Another thing I like about this provider is that China Telecom provides access to unlimited WiFi hotspots. This is really helpful to stay connected even when you’re on the go, so you don’t have to track down connections.

Plans & pricing

  • 30GB. 300 minutes and valid for 30 days for around ¥130 (under USD $20).
  • 40GB. 500 minutes and valid for 30 days for around ¥160 (under USD $25).
  • 100GB. 1000 minutes and valid for 30 days for around ¥330 (just over USD $32).

How to Stay Safe While Using a SIM Card for China

It may be an exciting time if it’s your first trip to China, but it could also be a little daunting. Here are some basic security measures you can take to stay safe when picking and using your China SIM card.

  • Buy your SIM before you travel to China. Getting a SIM card prior to your arrival simplifies connectivity and ensures immediate internet access upon landing. This approach allows you to avoid the hassle of language barriers or documentation issues at local shops, so you can be sure you’re getting the best value for your money.
  • Download any content you need before traveling. In China, many popular Western apps are inaccessible due to internet censorship, commonly known as the Great Firewall. By downloading any useful info beforehand, you ensure you’ll have access to it in China.
  • Be wary of free WiFi. Public WiFi networks, while convenient, are often unsecured and pose significant risks. Unprotected networks can expose your device to hacking and data theft. Always use secure and trusted password-protected networks.
  • Rent a MiFi device. A MiFi (mobile WiFi) device offers a private and secure WiFi hotspot, giving you control over your internet connection. This is particularly useful in areas with limited access to secure networks. Renting a MiFi device ensures consistent internet access and reduces reliance on public networks, enhancing security and convenience.
  • Be cautious about posting on Chinese websites. Content shared on Chinese platforms is subject to local laws and regulations. It’s important to be mindful of what you post, as sensitive topics can lead to legal consequences. Exercise discretion and respect local cultural and legal norms to avoid scrutiny.

Use a reliable VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is crucial for maintaining online privacy in China. It encrypts your internet connection to safeguard your data on restrictive networks. When selecting a VPN, prioritize one with a strong record for reliability and security in the country. Most VPNs don’t even work in China. Also, be aware that China restricts and heavily controls VPN use. Note that hypothetically accessing sites that are blocked in China with the help of a VPN goes against the country’s laws. We don’t condone using a VPN for anything illegal.

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