China is, after Italy, the country with the second-highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For this trip, you will need a prepaid SIM card for China. With this one, you will be able to stay in communication and with a mobile internet connection all the time. International SIM cards are cheaper than roaming and more practical than renting pocket wifi. Stay with us to learn how to buy, use, and facilitate your experience in China.
We will also take the opportunity to give you a new alternative and solution. These are the embedded SIM card or eSIM. Known as the digital evolution of the SIM card, they allow those users with compatible phones to have even easier access to the internet. Today more than ever, there are many ways to have mobile internet in China, and here we will help you choose the best one.
Where to buy a SIM card for China?
The world is moving to the internet, and although there are other ways to buy a prepaid SIM card for China, most recommend getting it from an online store. These stores allow you to buy from your home country and offer international shipping to get your tourist SIM card to you. This is one of the main benefits as having your means of maintaining internet access in China before you arrive helps you avoid inconveniences.
If you are old-fashioned, you could also wait until you arrive in China and use an operator in the country to buy your local SIM card. Throughout the country and even in international airports, physical stores offer these products for tourists. It has its limitations because these companies usually have more offers for residents than for foreigners. If you are going to use this way, it is important to confirm before arrival if your phone can use the local frequencies of these operators.
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Easy to buy
Just because it is easy does not mean it is not reliable, nowadays, we have many options to have mobile internet in China, and some of them are very efficient. With this, we can say that an online store is the easiest way to buy a prepaid SIM card for China. Most of these stores have websites in several languages, so making the purchase won’t be a problem if you don’t speak Mandarin. Besides, they are specialized stores focused on travelers. It will be easier to find data packages for you.
If we talk about buying your SIM card locally in a physical store, we first think about how to tell the seller what we want. And more importantly, will they have a tourist SIM card that works for me? You may not have these answers until the moment you arrive; at that point, it can get complicated to sort out your communication in China. However, buying locally is still an option, but we assure you that it will not be the easiest.
Buy before you travel.
We know it’s the easiest route to take, but is it the best? Well, the quick answer is yes. Online stores like Holafly can offer you virtual SIM cards for China and many other destinations in the world. The first obvious advantage is being connected from the moment you get off the plane. You are also saved from the language barrier that you may encounter locally. If you choose to buy a physical SIM card, you must take into account that you will have to wait for it to be shipped, this does not happen with an eSIM, but you can compare them yourself.
The recommendation is to buy your SIM card before your trip, and also, if you have a compatible phone, the best for you are the virtual SIM card. With an eSIM, you will be saving costs compared to other solutions. You will receive your eSIM immediately to your email wherever you are, at home, or if you are already in China. Another tip we can give you is to confirm which local operator your digital SIM card will work with, as this will guarantee you speed and connection once you are there. Holafly’s eSIM for China uses China Mobile, one of the best local carriers.
Buy upon arrival
This may be the least efficient option, but some tourists in China also use it. You can buy a local SIM card in stores around the country, in shopping malls, international airports, and department stores. All SIM card options are presented by the local operators Unicom, Telecom, and China Mobile. You have to keep in mind that this may take some time. After locating a store and buying your prepaid SIM card, you will have to go through a registration process.
These three companies have a good number of stores all over the territory so we recommend you look for the nearest branch before you arrive. Remember that you will not have your own internet when you arrive, so you will have to use free wifi zones, which are unstable and unsafe. With all this in mind, if this is the option you decide to use, you will have to invest time on your trip in this task.
Unicom, Telecom, and China Mobile stores in China
As we already anticipated, Unicom, Telecom, and China Mobile are the three operators with the best coverage and speed in the country. So if you buy through any other company, keep in mind that you will probably be using the network of any of these three and you will end up paying more. We want to remind you that it is good to look for information on the frequencies that these companies use and if your phone has any that it can use.
With this in mind, buying from one of their outlets is no different than any other. Just keep in mind that the salesperson may not speak English. At the store, they will usually help you with the SIM registration process, ask you for identification and confirm your phone’s IMEI. You should then be given your local SIM card, and you can install it to start communicating.
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How much does a SIM card cost to travel to China?
We could say that the prepaid SIM cards for China that local operators offer to tourists are standardly priced compared to other destinations. You can expect to pay between 15$ and up to 40$ for a tourist SIM card. Note that none of these offer unlimited data as this type of package is only offered to residential customers.
For this reason, as long as you have a compatible phone, we recommend using an eSIM for China from Holafly. They offer unlimited data and other benefits that you will see in the next section. For many, it is the ideal solution for their travels and adventures. It is very easy to keep mobile internet abroad!
eSIM card for China, the new alternative
This is the only option that allows you to buy, receive and activate in just minutes, whether at home or in China. With a virtual SIM card, you can connect easily on your travels without having to go through registration processes or contracts. Holafly has eSIM for China and 150 other destinations in the world that you can confirm on their website.
Virtual SIM cards work like physical SIM cards, the difference being that the former is activated via a QR code, and no physical installation is required. This makes them much more versatile and ideal for users who travel and need a quick and good solution. Holafly eSIMs have excellent coverage in all destinations and also offer regional solutions such as eSIM for Asia with coverage in multiple countries. It is by far the best option for tourists in the world.
Embedded SIM cards have a lot going for them, but it is important to know a few things before buying one:
- First of all, eSIMs are an emerging technology, so not all phones are compatible with them. You must confirm that yours can use them.
- They are completely virtual; you will receive them as an activation QR code in your email. You must have a valid address to which you have access.
- In order to make the purchase and at the same time to install it for the first time, you will need an internet connection. Therefore it is recommended to buy it before arriving in China. You can also use a wifi zone for a few minutes.
Holafly online store
Holafly offers specialized services with websites in more than five languages and an easy-to-use interface. It also offers 24/7 customer service and multilingual access. Purchase and activation take only minutes, with immediate delivery to your email address right after payment.
In the online store, you will find eSIM for China with unlimited data, and you can see this type of service for many other destinations. There is no limit to the number of virtual SIM cards you can buy, and if you need to extend your data package, you can do it easily through top-up. You will only need to enter a valid email address once you check out.
Another great advantage of their embedded SIM card is that they allow you to use your regular local SIM card at the same time, so you don’t have to change your WhatsApp number. Ideal for your family and friends to communicate with you easily. Holafly eSIMs usually use excellent local networks, something you can verify in their Technical specs.
Disadvantages of Holafly’s eSIM card
One of the points to take into account is that despite having unlimited data, you will not be able to share data with other devices using these eSIM for China. As we told you, there is no limit to the number of chips you can buy, so if you need to use it on more than one device, this is your solution.
How can I shop at Holafly?
The process is similar to other online purchases. You must visit Holafly’s official website and select China as your destination. Once there, you will be able to see the available packages and the costs to buy any of them. Now that it is added to the shopping cart, you proceed to checkout with one of the available payment methods. Once you have paid and entered your information, you will receive your QR code to the email you used in the purchase. In addition to the eSIM, you will get a quick installation guide and mobile internet for China in just a few moments!
How much does the eSIM for China cost?
Undoubtedly, virtual SIM cards for China are more economical than international roaming or renting pocket wifi. Here you can see a summary of all the plans and how much Holafly offers you for this destination.
eSIM card for China with Unlimited Data and VPN
|Days of use||Amount of cellular data||Price (USD)|
|5 days||Unlimited data||$19|
|7 days||Unlimited data||$27|
|10 days||Unlimited data||$34|
|15 days||Unlimited data||$47|
|20 days||Unlimited data||$54|
|30 days||Unlimited data||$64|
|60 days||Unlimited data||$84|
|90 days||Unlimited data||$99|
eSIM card for Asia with coverage in multiple countries
|Days of use||Amount of cellular data||Price (USD)|
|15 days||6 GB||$44|
|30 days||10 GB||$54|
Frequently asked questions about SIM cards for China.
You have many options, some expensive like international roaming or renting a pocket wifi. The best options are physical and virtual SIM cards. If you have a compatible phone we recommend eSIM cards.
This may vary and depends on both your service provider and your country of origin. But the rates are usually very high and the more data you consume, the more complicated it becomes. You can expect to pay from $10 per day of usage to packages of $30 or more per day.
In principle, ideally, it includes a VPN that allows you to use your APPs without any problem. Technical support in English is a great advantage. It is not the same as having support in English or a language you do not speak. Ease of use, coverage, and compatibility with your cell phone.
Buy and receive your card at your home with Holafly, or buy this after landing. You can get it from SIM dispensers, official operator stores, and supermarkets. Don’t forget to have your passport on hand during buying.
I can’t tell you how much a China SIM card costs specifically. The price varies depending on its features. For example, the more data you have, the higher price will be. The same applies if you have included services such as calls and text messages or simply the operator and their base prices.