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Trustpilot

Prepaid SIM card with VPN for China: Where to Buy in 2023?

Get internet during your trip to China with a SIM card for China with VPN. Learn how to buy and use it and all its benefits.

October 27, 2023

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If you’re traveling to China soon, you might have questions about how to connect to the international internet on your trip. Some apps and websites are not available in China, and paying for data roaming from your provider is very expensive. So what can you do to access the internet at a cheap price? In this article, we’ll explain why a SIM card for China is the best way to connect to the internet.

And not only do you get fast and secure internet, with some providers like Holafly will also include a VPN to make browsing easier. So you can still access blocked apps like WhatsApp for free. You don’t need to worry about Chinese restrictions. Here you will learn how to buy them, how to use them, and all their benefits.

esim china travel internet
China virtual SIM card VPN. Source: Holafly

Where can I buy a SIM card for China?

Now that you know that prepaid SIM cards are an efficient and economical option, you should be thinking about what options you have as a tourist. The truth is that telecommunications are now available to everyone, and even online stores sell SIM cards for China and other destinations. Likewise, local operators have adapted to foreign customers, and most of them include in their offers one or two options for visitors. 

As you can see, if you plan to travel to China, there are several alternatives you can take. Seen from this point of view as a tourist in China and other destinations in the world, the ways you have to buy a prepaid SIM card are these:

  • It is a less used but also a viable option to buy a local SIM card from a phone company in China once you arrive.
  • The new and more recommended alternative is to buy a virtual SIM card for China before or during your trip from online stores such as Holafly.

Buy before you travel

If you want a convenient and not time-consuming solution, we definitely recommend you buy your SIM card for China before your trip. You can find these products in online stores with a simple search on the internet. These suppliers sell international virtual SIM cards for China and other destinations, which reach you thanks to worldwide shipping.

There are a lot of online stores that sell prepaid virtual SIM cards, and we want to give you some recommendations to choose the best one. For this, it is good to know that international SIM cards, even if they are not bought in China, will use a local network to work. The provider usually gives this information by mentioning which local operator your Digital SIM will work with.

You should check if that network has good coverage and speed in the provinces you plan to visit. Finally, you should estimate how many days it may take for the shipment to arrive at your home, and of course, this should be before your trip.

Pros of buying a data plan for abroad before traveling

In addition to what we have already mentioned, here are some other points in favor of buying your prepaid Digital SIM before your trip.

  • Unrestricted Internet in China

Some remote providers include a VPN, which can benefit you. In addition, having your virtual SIM card for China before your trip will allow you to have internet from the first moment you are in the country.

  • Online stores with pages in your language

Many of the options in China only include customer service and local language stores. However, online stores often have websites and specialized customer service in different languages for customers from all over the world.

  • Solve your communication without wasting time.

Buying a local SIM card in China can be time-consuming. Finding a store, trying to communicate what you want, and registering your service can be hard work. Buying from home in an online store means you won’t have to sign contracts or go through registration processes.

Holafly eSIM for China: a great alternative.

At the beginning of this article, we talked about an alternative that includes all the positive aspects of a virtual SIM card for tourists and also has immediate delivery. These are the embedded SIM card, or eSIM, which take communications to the next level. They are virtual versions of traditional physical SIM cards, so they can be purchased and installed in minutes, no matter where you are. You just need to have a compatible phone, and you will discover the easiest, safest, and cheapest way to keep mobile internet in China.

Holafly is one of the most recommended online stores for buying a virtual SIM card for China and many other destinations worldwide. You can visit their website, search for the destination where you will travel, and you will see the variety of packages available. You select the eSIM in the store, and you can pay by different payment methods. After that, you will receive an email with a QR code and simple instructions to install your eSIM. You will have communication in China in just minutes!

Advantages and disadvantages of Virtual SIM cards

Advantages:

  • Purchase and installation in minutes

Holafly’s online store is very easy to use and allows you to buy an eSIM for China quickly. After that, the installation process is almost automatic and will take only a moment of your time. You can buy an eSIM before or during your trip without any problems.

  • Best plans for travelers

Unlike other solutions with Holafly’s eSIM for China, you will have a variety of plans to choose from. You will be able to select one for your stay with options from five to ninety days of use.

  • Unlimited data, including VPN

All Holafly data packages for China have unlimited data regardless of the duration of your plan. In addition, to solve local browsing restriction problems, it includes a VPN service with which you can browse without limits.

  • If you need more, you can buy more.

Your experience may last longer than expected, and Holafly allows you to purchase a top-up for the same destination to extend your plan. This will automatically activate your eSIM without having to install a new one.

Disadvantages 

  • You must have a compatible phone.

Currently, not all phones are compatible with eSIM technology, so before buying one, you have to check if you can use it. To help you in this task, we share a list of compatible devices.

How much does a tourist eSIM in China cost?

Check out the prices for a Holafly eSIM for China.

Days of useData PlansPrice (USD)
5 daysUnlimited data$19
7 daysUnlimited data$27
10 daysUnlimited data$34
15 daysUnlimited data$47
20 daysUnlimited data$54
30 daysUnlimited data$64
60 daysUnlimited data$84
90 daysUnlimited data$99
Table 1. Virtual SIM Card rates with Holafly’s China data. Source: Holafly

Buy your tourist SIM card in China.

Of all the alternatives you have as a tourist, buying a SIM card from a local operator in China may not be the best. Even though these companies offer services for visitors, they are not your main market and are not always well-targeted. Also, as a foreigner, you will have some limitations, and you will also have to go through the SIM card registration process. You may find options for physical stores at international airports, but depending on the time of your arrival, they may or may not be open. You will also find options at branches throughout the country, shopping malls, and variety stores.

China Mobile

One of the main operators in the country, China Mobile, offers prepaid SIM cards with a good variety of options for tourists. SIM cards can be purchased as top-up cards with data packages included. Some of the tourist SIM cards for China have coverage in Macau and Hong Kong as well. They come with seven or fifteen-day services and 1GB or 7GB of web browsing. You will be connected to one of the best local 4G networks and have some minutes for local calls. These packages are valid for repurchase whenever you need them once the usage period is over.

China Unicom

As a tourist, you can also count on China Unicom’s tourist SIM cards to maintain mobile internet in China. This phone company has three plans that you can opt for when you buy a SIM card. All of them are to be used within thirty days, and in case you renew it, the chip is valid for up to one year. The alternatives are 10GB, 20 GB, and 30 GB of navigation. You must register a minimum usage every ninety days to keep them active. Finally, in order to purchase one, you will need a copy or photo of your passport, Chinese visa, and entry stamp page. These SIM cards can be topped-up on the phone company’s website.

China Telecom

The third phone company in China also has some prepaid SIM cards for tourists. These have coverage in China and Hong Kong at 4.5G speeds. These must be activated in Hong Kong, which can be problematic, however, you can check with customer service to sort this out. Packages available are 2GB and 8GB of web browsing. These tourist SIM cards are valid for up to one year as long as you maintain usage every certain period. It is possible to top up the SIM card through their website, even including Paypal as a payment method. Finally, these do not include calls or messages to local numbers, only navigation data.

How much does a prepaid SIM card for internet in China cost?

We all know that China is one of the largest countries in the world, yet only three companies cover its entire telecommunications network. In this sense, all SIM cards for tourist packages and services are quite similar between them. The cost may vary between plans, but you can consider a price range from $10 to $30 for a data package. Keep in mind that all three carriers will require documentation such as a passport, visa, or stamp in order to purchase and register your SIM card. You must also confirm in which province it is valid to activate your SIM card before arriving.

Frequently Asked Questions about China SIM Cards

In case you have any doubts about the information presented in this post, we invite you to read the following answers to the most frequently asked questions about SIM cards in China.

How else can I connect to the internet in China?

You can activate data roaming and use data from your current provider. But this will be very expensive. If you plan on using this option, you can expect a hefty phone bill when you return home. Alternatively, you could buy Pocket Wi-Fi (a portable device that generates WiFi for your phone). This option is also expensive, and you’ll have to carry the device everywhere. A virtual SIM card for China is the most convenient way of connecting to the internet.

How much does data roaming cost in China?

Paying for data roaming s the most expensive way to access the internet, so we do not recommend it. However, it depends on your provider. Data roaming costs between $7-$15 per MB. So if you watched a movie on Netflix, you could pay $100s. That’s why we recommend a Holafly eSIM instead.

How should I choose a SIM card for China?

Choose a SIM card that offers you a fast internet connection at a cheap price. With no additional prices, Holafly’s eSIM card with VPN for China is the best option. In addition to offering internet from one of China’s fastest providers,

What if my SIM card doesn’t work in China?

If you buy your digital SIM card from Holafly, you can contact the customer support team 24/7. All SIM cards come with clear and comprehensive set-up instructions.

Can I buy a SIM card with coverage in other countries?

Some providers offer SIM cards with coverage in multiple countries. Holafly has an eSIM for Asia with coverage in other countries on the continent.