eSIM for China + free VPN: compare, buy and travel connected

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Visiting China is a once in a lifetime experience. Whether you’re visiting Beijing, Shanghai or the Great Wall, you’ll never run out of things to do in this beautiful country. But what if you run out of internet? Having internet connection is essential for any modern traveler. Buying a China eSIM card is a cheap and efficient way of accessing the internet abroad.

The eSIM for China from Holafly also comes with a VPN included. The Chinese government bans apps and websites such as WhatsApp and Facebook. But with a VPN, you can continue using these apps like normal.

The eSIM (short for “embedded SIM“) is a virtual SIM card taking the tech world by storm. With an eSIM for your trip to China, you can enjoy cheap and fast internet on multiple devices.

So if you want to stay connected when you’re in China, we recommend buying an eSIM designed especially for travelers – this will save you from paying expensive data roaming charges.

We’ll explain how eSIMs work and compare the different deals you can get from mobile providers, so you get the best value for money.

What you should know about the Chinese eSIM card:

eSIM technology is still relatively new, so not all phones are compatible. Here’s everything you need to check before you buy:

  • Your cell phone must be compatible with an eSIM card. Also, check that your cell phone is supported by the carrier or eSIM card provider. The iPhone XR and later models are compatible with most providers. 
  • You need an email address to receive your eSIM.
  • You need internet connection to activate your eSIM. Your eSIM profile will be downloaded from the provider after scanning the QR code or installation code.
  • Some providers will ask you to install their app to download the eSIM.

If you can’t buy an eSIM, you can purchase a physical SIM card for travelers instead.

Buy your eSIM China with a discount.
Discount coupon: roaming5

Mobile eSIM card providers for travel to China

If you have a compatible phone, you will be able to purchase and activate a China eSIM card. If your phone is not compatible, we recommend a traditional physical SIM card to China, which comes with 5GB-6GB of data and a VPN included.

Take a look at the companies that sell international eSIM cards:

  • Holafly
  • Truphone
  • Au de KDDI
  • TravelSim
  • United Global

Rates and data plans from eSIM providers for travel to China

Take a look at the different packages offered to access the internet in China. Pay close attention to the prices of each provider, so you can choose the deal that suits you best.

Holafly plans and prices in China:

  • 5GB for 8 days for $32.46
  • 5GB for 15 days at $34.87
  • 7GB for 30 days at $58.92

Truphone plans for travel to China:

  • 300MB for 1 day at $7
  • 1GB for 30 days at $18
  • 3GB for 30 days at $49

Au by KDDI plans and rates for China:

  • 5GB for 30 days at $53
  • 8GB for 30 days at $81

TravelSim plans and pricing in China:

  • 500MB for 30 days at $19
  • 1GB for 30 days at $25
  • 2GB for 30 days at $41
  • 3GB for 30 days at $59
  • 5GB for 30 days at $93

United Global rates in China:

  • 1GB for 30 days at $23.17
  • 3GB for 30 days at $61.78
  • 5GB for 30 days at $92.66

Comparison of eSIM providers for China

ProviderDataDaysPriceSales channels
Holafly5GB8$32.46Web
Holafly5GB15$34.87Web
Holafly7GB30$58.92Web
Truphone3001$7App Store, Google Play
Truphone1GB30$18App Store, Google Play
Truphone3GB30$49App Store, Google Play
Au by KDDI5GB30$53App Store
Au by KDDI8GB30$53App Store
TravelSIM500MB30$19Web
TravelSIM1GB30$25Web
TravelSIM 2GB30 $41Web
TravelSIM3GB30$59Web
TravelSIM5GB30$93Web
United Global1GB30$23.17Web
United Global3GB30$61.78Web
United Global5GB30$92.66Web
Table 1. Comparison of eSIM providers to connect to the Internet in China.

eSIM features for travel to China

To get the most out of your eSIM card, we’ve prepared some important information to bear in mind so that your trip to Shanghai or any other city in China will be the best. We’ll also explain the differences between virtual eSIM cards and traditional physical cards.

  • Most eSIM cards do not offer mobile calls, only data. You can use apps like WhatsApp or Skype instead.
  • eSIMs can only be installed once, so if you’re experiencing problems with your eSIM card do not remove it from your mobile and contact your eSIM provider instead.
  • Some eSIMs set up automatic APNs.
  • You can add several data plans on your iPhone, although it is only possible to use one at a time.
  • Some eSIMs allow you to share data between devices.
  • With your dual SIM iPhone, you can keep your local SIM when you travel to China. 

eSIM coverage for travel to China

It’s important to consider your eSIM’s coverage. And remember that sometimes cheap eSIM cards have poor coverage, possibly leaving you without internet when you need it most.

Below you will find the coverage map of each operators so that you can get an idea of the extension of each of these servers in China.

China Mobile 3G Coverage Map

coverage map with an esim in china
China Mobile coverage map Source: GSMA

China Telecom 3G network coverage

coverage map with an esim in china
China Telecom coverage map Source: GSMA

China Unicom 3G Coverage Map

coverage map in china
China Unicom coverage map Source: GSMA

Frequently asked questions about eSIM in China

We answer the most common questions you may have before purchasing your eSIM for travel to China.

Do I need a passport to buy the Chinese eSIM card?

You don’t need to present your passport, but some providers might ask for your address.

How to activate eSIM for China?

Install the eSIM with a QR code from your email, chose it as the default mobile data medium, turn on mobile data and data roaming, and your virtual SIM will work. Contact the company for more advice.

Do international prepaid eSIM cards expire?

Yes, just like physical cards, virtual SIM cards also have an expiration date.

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