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Best China Sim Card for Tourists 2022 – Ultimate Guide

Best china sim card for tourists

Has staying in china been more difficult than imagined, or are you not able to focus on your study because it has been over a month since you last talked to your friends and family.

Lack of communication with your friends and family may bum your trip out; you may start to lose interest in your trip and may get homesick. This is why I always recommend that purchasing a sim card be your first priority. It is the only way you can stay connected to your loved ones. Try searching for sim card providers in airport terminals or large-scale stores.

Before landing in the dragon land, make sure to do complete research on which sim card is the best one for the trip, try to pick the one which has the best data packages, because data is the cheapest way for communication, plus it will help you with your daily life.

To make it easy for you here, we will discuss all service providers in china and which one is the most suitable one for tourists. Other than that, we will also discuss all possible relevant topics, which you will find helpful later on:

Best china sim card for tourists

China Mobile:

China mobile is the largest service provider in China, with over 900 million users. It provides remarkable coverage, including a few rural districts, and provides 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE. The way they cover their customers’ needs is slightly different from other service providers worldwide. Thus they may not be able to access their 3G or 4G connection rarely throughout the country.

The world is moving on to 5G. Why are they still stuck on 2G?

They provide many reasonable packages on a prepaid sim and on their tourist sim card. YES, they have a special tourist sim card.

The only limitation is that despite 2G being the most popular connection in china and the only connection provided throughout the country. Yet, many tourist phones will not be able to access it. They will need to use only a 4G or 3G connection, which is rarely available in china for this sim card.

China mobile

To cover this up, china mobile introduced a new tourist sim card, specifically providing 4G and 3G connection. This is a solution. Thus, a sim card provides data for 5 days, calls for only$0.25 per minute, and includes IDD.  They also provide roaming services in Hong Kong.  Roaming in Hong Kong is only available for 5 days.

Other than this plan, there is another one that tourists prefer more than the actual tourist plan.

It includes 10GB of data, free incoming calls and SMS, and 50minutes for outgoing calls. There is an additional 1MB for top off. This package is for $12.78. Despite that, it is perfect in all ways, but it does not include roaming.

Other plans include

  • 300MB of data for 80 minutes
  • 2GB of data for 220 minutes
  • 30 GB of data for 4000 minutes

You can only purchase a china mobile sim card from their retail outlet. You cannot order it online, nor can you purchase it at the airport.

China Unicom:

Unicom is the second largest sim provider in china and has been providing service to over 90 million people nationwide. They also provide service worldwide and are considered Best Corporation in Asia.

Despite that, they are the second-best service provider in China. They are considered the best tourist sim card/ service provider in China.

China Unicom provides several data, call, and SMS packages for its users at very reasonable prices. Still, since data is very important when traveling, I think this offer, called the nationwide data king plan, will be the best suitable for you:

It includes 10 GB of data, 500 minutes, free incoming calls, and text for $11. You can even add extra minutes as $0.085 and additional data of 1GB for $5 and 100MB for $2

There are several other offers you can enjoy as well:

  • For $22.90, you will get 4GB of data for 12 days
  • For $80, you will get 6GB of data
  • For $45, you will get 3GB of data
  • In $25, you will get 2GB of data or 1 GB of data, depending on which offer you choose

If you are visiting for work or something, you may need to call and text hence :

  • In $11.5, you will get 250 minutes and 500 SMS
  • For $6.5, you will get 150 minutes and 300 SMS
  • For $2.5, you will get 50 minutes and 100 SMS
china unicom

Other popular options are:

  • 500MB of data and 100minutes
  • 800 MB of data and 200minutes
  • 11GB of data and 3000 minutes

If you want to enjoy roaming, you can choose whichever option you want for only $10 extra. The options include:

  • 100 minutes for the call to Hong Kong, USA, Canada, and Singapore
  • 60 minutes for the call to Taiwan, Macao, Korea, Malaysia, India, and Thailand
  • 40 minutes for the call to Japan, Vietnam, Colombia, and Brunei
  • 20 minutes for the call to Australia, France, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Russia, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Ukraine, and Mongolia.

You can purchase a Unicom sim card online and have it deliver to you for free once you are in china

China Telecom:

Telecom is the third largest sim card provider, making it the least used one. However, they do have a very good offer for tourists and other prepaid sim card users.

The offers include:

  • For $7.25, you will get 1GB of data for 30 days
  • For $14.51, you will get 3GB of data for 30 days
  • In $26.11, you will get 6GB of data for 30 days
  • For $14.51, you will get 2GB of data for 90 days
  • In $29.01, you will get 4GB of data for 90 days

These offers are best suitable for tourists. Other regular offers include:

  • 3GB of data for 30 days
  • 6GB of data for 30 days
  • 6GB of data for 180 days
  • 12 GB of data for 365 days (a whole year)
China telecom

To purchase their sim card, you will need to show your passport at the telecoms retail outlet, or else your sim card will not be activated. You may be able to purchase a sim card for ordinary retail outlets, but they will not activate it.

Ordinary sim card providers in china:

Other than the 3 main service providers, a few companies operate on small-scale bases but provide a good service in china.

Simoption:

Despite that it is not among the main service providers, they provide the best service and best prices for tourists. They offer two different prepaid sim cards, both have no special hidden charges, and both have amazing offers. Simoption also provides roaming in around 120+ countries.

Many of these offers include:

  • For $19.90, you will get 6GB of data for 10 days
  • For $20.40, you will get 5 GB of data for 15 days
  • In $39.90you will get 6 GB of data for 15 days

These are the best suitable offers for tourists.

Big bay area:

If you plan to visit china, Hong Kong and Macau in the same trip, the big bay area will be the best option for you. They provide roaming in these three countries. You can purchase this sim card online. In fact, they offer you a 20% discount if you purchase online. Other than that, you can pick them up from any retail outlet in Hong Kong. You can also get it for china mobile stores in Hong Kong and airport Kiosks.

Their best offers are:

  • 1GB of data, with 50 minutes and SMS
  • 2GB of data with 100 minutes and SMS
  • 4GB of data with 100 minutes and SMS
Big bay area

Smartone:

Like the big bay area, smartone is originally from Hong Kong but provides roaming service in China like the big bay area. If you are planning to visit Hong Kong first and then china, you can purchase this sim card. You can buy it online and have it delivered to your address or purchase it from the retail unit.

They offer 1GB of data for 7 days in china.

Other relevant information which you may find helpful:

How to top up in china

The balance in your sim card won’t last forever, and there will be a point when you have to top up your sim card. There are 3 different easy ways you can use to top up your sim card.

  • You can visit the local retailer, give them your phone number along with cash, and within a few minutes, your sim will be topped up. this method is the most authentic one and works every time
  • The easiest and fastest way is to top up your sim card via Alipay or Wechat pay. You can even top up with your Chinese bank account. It is unlike having one since you are a tourist, but having Alipay or Wechat pay may help you in your trip as well.
  • If you don’t have Alipay or Wechat pay account but still want to top up online, you can go to the service provider’s website and select how much balance you want and pay through PayPal or credit card.

How to use a Chinese sim card

Here I will just explain one basic tip to using a Chinese sim card, and the rest are not that complicated. You will get to know them once you use the sim card.

Although using a sim card is just inserting it inside your phone, there is a thing you should know, why your sim card is not working despite you doing everything right.

Firstly remember that your phone should be unlocked to use a Chinese sim card. It is likely that if your phone is leased or bought at any promotion such as discount, then your phone may be locked, hence make sure it is unlocked, or the sim card won’t work.

Where to buy a sim from

Shops selling sim cards can easily be found in China, even at the airport, including Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong, Guangzhou Baiyun, Chengdu Shuangliu, and Shenzhen Baoan.

Other than this, sim cards are also available at Kiosks and local stores. The best way to purchase a sim card is online, and luckily you have this option for the Chinese sim card instead of china mobile.

Registration and activation:

If you are purchasing a sim card before you leave for China, this means you will need to provide them with your passport. The Chinese government is very strict in this course; you cannot get your sim activated unless you give them your real name.

When visiting the vendor, they will need a photocopy of your passport and biometric data, such as a face scan on fingerprint, or else you will not be able to purchase a sim card.

Expire

Despite having plenty of credit on your sim card, if it is not used for a long time, it may get expired; thus, if you are using the sim card from your previous trip, make sure it still works.

A prepaid Chinese sim card only lasts for 30 days after activation; thus, before landing, call the carrier and get your sim activated.

Also, make sure to purchase enough credit, which will last for your entire trip. No more than that, because leftover credit will expire within 30 to 60 days, hence wasting money.

How to use your phone in china:

Using a phone in China is different from using a phone in any other country; hence if any of your daily use applications are not working in China, don’t be surprised. It’s probably banned there:

Not so long ago, China banned social media applications, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Whatsapp, and many more. Thus, to share photos or connect to your friends and family, you will need to download a VPN.

Now the issue is china also placed a ban on several VPN, but luckily you can still find some third-party VPNs.

Secondly, the easiest way to purchase a sim card is to purchase it online before leaving your country. It will save you from all the hassle of search the best sim card, going shop to shop, or looking for the best plan.

Avoid topping up your phone multiple times; purchase a good bundle, which will last for a longer period. You can also try renting a Wi-Fi device for the internet than purchasing data. It will be cheaper.

Thirdly, the Chinese government monitors every conversation you have. Thus try purchasing a phone which is of the grid.

Conclusion:

Purchasing a sim card in china may not be hard, but choosing the best one is, that is why we tried our best to cover all possible information regarding the best Chinese sim cards and other information, which you may find helpful in your trip. I hope this article has helped you.

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