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How to buy a Chinese SIM card in China

When you are going abroad one of the main fears is to stay without network access which is, of course, inevitable because your SIM card will not work in another country (or it’s going to be VERY expensive). We know how it is important to be in contact with your family all the time and always be able to pick up a phone when your business partner is calling. Moreover, you might need advice from your relatives while furniture sourcing by sharing pictures and choosing the right model. So what can you do?

When going to China, you should think about it in advance. There are 2 main mobile carriers in China: China Mobile and China Unicom.

You will not find any big difference between them if you are coming for a few days to China. China Unicom covers the whole country with all remote regions, while China Mobile offers a 3G package nationwide. You can choose any of them.

China Unicom

China Mobile

Getting a (Chinese) SIM card in China

Activate the international roaming on the home country phone plan for going to China

First one is to activate the international roaming on the home country phone plan. However, it can potentially cost you a fortune.


  • no need to go anywhere


  • expensive

PrePaid Chinese SIM card

The second one is to buy a PrePaid SIM card when you are still at home. Some online shops like Amazon can deliver it to you. For example, this SIM card with 2 GB costs 13,54 USD and can be used for 8 days in mainland China and Hong Kong.

For this option, your phone should be unlocked. Not all phones compatible with a Chinese SIM card. So before purchasing a PrePaid SIM card it’s better to contact the carrier and make a request for unlocking your phone. You can also check if the phone is unlocked on one of these websites: Will My Phone Work?,


  • don’t have to worry about a SIM card when you arrive in China


  • the SIM card might be incompatible with your phone

Purchase a SIM card at the airport in China

In every arrival hall, there are several kiosks selling SIM cards. However, most likely you will not want to deal with all Chinese mobile plans after a long flight and besides, the price is usually much higher than in local shops.


  • getting a SIM card right after arrival


  • expensive

Buy Chinese SIM card at the local kiosks and street vendors

They have SIM cards with standard packages of calls and data. However, it is hardly official, no one records personal data here, and you will not be able to prove anything if something happens to the number or open a bank account with it.


  • widespread in every city


  • non-official
  • you may be fooled

Official stores for purchasing a SIM card in China

This is the most reliable place to buy a SIM card. To obtain a card, you need a passport. They will also take a photo of you by a web camera. The offices of China Unicom and China Mobile are very easy to find.

Addresses of Chinese SIM card offices near our office building:

  • 佛山市-禅城区-季华五路星星·华园国际花园东北50 (China Mobile) 9 am - 6 pm
  • 佛山市-禅城区-普澜二路37号附近 (China Mobile) 9 am - 6 pm
  • 佛山市-禅城区-季华五路22号季华大厦1层 (China Unicom) 9 am - 9 pm
  • 佛山市-禅城区-简村大街11号(China Unicom) 9 am - 6 pm

The usual price for a SIM card is 100 RMB (about 15 $)

Mobile (phone) plans in China

Office staff will try to tell you about all kinds of mobile plans they have but they rarely speak English and this can be a problem.

Here are the details of some phone plans that cover the whole of China:

69 RMB/month 10G 500 min
129 RMB/month 30G 500 min
199 RMB/month 60G 1000 min

The plans depend on the city and can differ. If you are lucky, you can run into special promotions or discounts and buy a SIM card with the best price. But, overall, the data is pretty expensive in China.


  • the card can be used for opening a bank account later
  • the best mobile plans and prices


  • staff don’t speak English
  • some stores can’t provide this service for foreigners
  • close at about 6 pm
  • need to wait

Get Chinese SIM card for free

If you don’t really want to search for an office in the streets of China, we are ready to help you. If you are our client you can get a SIM card absolutely for free. It is valid during your whole trip and helps you to keep in contact with your family and business partners.


  • no need to search for the carrier office
  • no need to deal with a big amount of different phone plans
  • absolutely free
  • a pleasant surprise from our company


  • valid only during the trip
  • valid only for the data

In the end, we would like to give you a few crucial tips:

  1. The data in China is pretty expensive.
  2. Buy a SIM card in official stores
  3. Staff usually don’t speak English
  4. Don’t buy the first mobile plan that they offered, they will tell you a more favourable one later (or maybe will not tell you about it at all)
  5. SIM card will be blocked after 3 months if you don’t use it
  6. Always stay in touch with your family and friends no matter what.

You can ask us for help with choosing a SIM card any time, and also if you have any other questions about furniture sourcing, you can always contact our managers.