If you’re traveling to China and want to stay connected to the Internet to share your journey on Instagram, keep in touch with your loved ones on WhatsApp, or use Google Maps to get to the Wall of China or Mao Zedong’s Mausoleum, here are your options. We’ll talk about roaming, local SIM cards, MIFI and VPN SIM cards to eliminate the internet blockage that exists in China.
The best alternative is to buy a Chinese data SIM card with a built-in VPN, both because it’s much cheaper than paying for roaming and because you’ll avoid the headaches of getting a working VPN in China.
But what are my alternatives to connect to the Internet in China? Let’s look at them all.
Let’s get started!
INTERNET BLOCKING IN CHINA
You should know that in China there is an internet blockade that does not allow us to surf as in your country, not all the internet is available, sites as indispensable as Facebook or Google are censored.
The only cities where you can use the internet without any problem as they are autonomous regions are Hong Kong and Macao. Here you don’t have to worry about internet access, it will be like home. It should be noted that the restrictions of internet in these two cities are in place but they are very low.
But if you are in other areas of China, you should take into account the internet censorship so that you can travel prepared and communicate as soon as you arrive with your family or use all your social networks as if you were in your country.
HOW DO I COMMUNICATE FROM CHINA AND AVOID CENSORSHIP?
If I can’t use my social networks like WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail or Google, how can I communicate from China and use the Internet as if I were in your country?
SIM CARD WITH VPN: THE SOLUTION
A VPN allows you to access the Internet without restrictions, i.e. when travelling to China it is essential that you carry a SIM card with VPN in your mobile phone so that you can surf as if you were at home. You won’t notice the Internet blockage in China at all and you can log in to Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram as if you were not there at all.
WHAT IS A VPN?
It is an online tool that will allow you to access the Internet in China via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) where you can surf without the fear of your information being compromised. It is in this form of browsing that an Internet blocker such as the one in China will not prevent you from accessing the network of networks.
ALTERNATIVES TO CONNECT TO THE INTERNET IN CHINA
1. SIM CARD HOLAFLY FOR CHINA: WITH VPN
A SIM card for China, which you already know – they are identical to the cards in your phone. Holafly SIM cards come with built-in VPN so you can use apps like WhatsApp or Facebook in China, unlike other cards. They are very easy to use and use the network of China Unicom, one of the best mobile operators in the Asian country.
They allow you to access the Internet in China at cheaper prices and have 3 packages of SIM cards with VPN:
- 8 days with 5GB for 25.65 euros (with Travelistos discount)
- 15 days with 5GB for 27.55 euros (with discount)
- 30 days with 6GB for 34.20 euros (with discount)
- Economical. Very economical if you compare it to roaming or MiFi, its cost-benefit is very profitable for a traveler like you, who does not want to waste his budget, but quite the opposite.
- Free shipping. Some companies, like Holafly, send it to your home totally free, so you have a further saving there.
- 24 hour support.
- They’re not free. It has only one defect, which unlike free WiFi, is not free, it has a cost, although it is not very high.
For being a Travelistos reader you get a 5% discount for buying here.
2. E-SIM IN CHINA: VIRTUAL SIM WITH VPN
eSIMs are virtual cards that are placed in the hardware (a specific chip) of your mobile or any other device, so you do not have to place any card in any slot. Its name comes from the term “embedded SIM”, eSim, which means integrated SIM card.
The eSIMs are not exclusive for mobiles, they can be found in different devices both wearable and for appliances, cars or other gadgets that stay connected to the Internet at all times.
The first mobiles to use this excellent device were the latest versions of the iPhone (iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and the iPhone Xr), the Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S20 and now the Huawei P40.
If you have some of these devices, you may be interested in purchasing an eSIM. This virtual card provides you with the same services as a normal data SIM card but with the difference that you do not have to wait for it to arrive at your home. You will have it immediately in your email (in QR code), scan it and have it activated, that easy.
Holafly has 3 packs of eSIM cards with built-in VPN:
- 8 days 5GB with VPN for 25.65 euros (with Travelistas discount)
- 15 days 5GB with VPN for 27.55 euros (with discount)
- 30 days 7GB with VPN for 46.55 euros (with discount)
- Share data with others. Share data like a WIFI Pocket PC without having to carry another device. Use your mobile phone to generate a WIFI network and connect more devices.
- Keep your Whatsapp number. Write and call all your contacts with Whatsapp as if you were in your country. Stay in touch with your family and friends.
- Keep your line. Because it’s a digital eSIM, you can leave your eSIM line on for data and keep your regular line in parallel in case you need it.
- Immediate sending. No matter if you don’t have time or have already arrived at the destination, with this eSIM for China you can set up a data plan right away. Never again worry about whether your SIM will arrive on time.
- 24 hour help. This eSIM is very easy to use, but if you have any questions we help you by email and 24 hour chat support. We are here to help
- At the moment the use of an eSIM is limited as it is only possible for the following mobile models: iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, iPhone Xr, Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy S20.
For being a Travelistos reader you get a 5% discount for buying here.
ROAMING IN CHINA
This is the service that your mobile operator offers you to have Internet outside the country. What your operator does is to reach an agreement with another mobile or telephone operator in the country where you will travel so that when you are in foreign territory, you will have the possibility of using that signal.
This service is very very expensive and you can be charged for one MB from 6 to 12 euros depending on your operator and it can be activated automatically if it is stipulated in your contract. If you spend one MB while surfing the Internet, then with roaming you will pay up to 12 euros for one minute on the Internet, which is an outrage!
Here is a comparison table of roaming prices in China: remember that the minimum prices depend on whether you have active world travel fare otherwise you are charged maximum.
|Operator||Minimum price||Maximum price|
|Movistar||12,10 euros / MB||idem|
|Vodafone||15 euros / day(world trip)||6 euros / MB|
|Orange||7 euros / 100MB||12,10 euros / MB|
If you’re afraid you’ll feel like you’re going to consume too much on your roaming trip and get a big bill, then I advise you to turn off your roaming as soon as you get on the plane. Please this is very important; because as we mentioned in the previous paragraph, sometimes it is so easy to activate it that it is done automatically and then you have headaches.
- Easy to activate. You don’t have to do much, just access the App on your mobile, or the operator, and activate the roaming. This is if your roaming is not activated automatically.
- Very expensive. And to say very expensive, is an understatement considering that if I have to pay 12 euros for every MB, one GB would cost me 12,000 euros – a scam!
- Few data. This is another problem, unlimited roaming is not available -as in other alternatives-, so you must ration your MB to the maximum.
- It doesn’t avoid internet censorship. You pay for the most expensive internet for China but you have to abide by the country’s censorship because it doesn’t have a VPN.
4. FREE WIFI IN CHINA
The one that has always saved you when you have wanted to access the Internet for an emergency and you did not have how. The free WiFi that the establishments offer you is not really completely free; over there a coffee or a sandwich of the coffee, restaurant or bar allowed you to access the key.
- It’s free. This is their main benefit, which other options do not have. Saving euros can be an attractive proposition.
- Ubiquitous. You will find it everywhere, in a cafe, on the street, in a library, at the airport, on a bus, wherever you stop, your mobile may already have detected a free WiFi network.
- Bad connection. A free, open-access network is easy to get saturated.
- It’s unsafe and you can get your information stolen. As I mentioned in the previous point, a free access network allows access to anyone, even unscrupulous people who want to steal valuable information (personal data or bank account keys).
- You will not be able to use your social networks. Because it is a network from China and of course it has the restrictions we mentioned.
5. MIFI IN CHINA
Do not worry, this is not another electronic gadget. The MiFi is simply a private WiFi network, just for you, and you can take it everywhere. Since it works with a device, similar to a mobile phone or a home modem; you will have to buy or rent it, in addition to the fees for the Internet service.
- It connects to the Internet to various devices. This benefit is also available with Holafly’s SIM cards for China, this is because MiFi’s operate with one SIM card.
- Private network. Being a private network, it is very difficult to have information stolen, but try not to share your network password with anyone, only with people you trust.
- Paying a lot of fees. As I indicated above, you will probably pay at least two fees, one for buying the equipment and one for the Internet service.
- Concern for the integrity of the equipment. Because it is not yours to rent, and you must return it in good condition, because if it is lost, stolen or damaged, you will have to cover the cost of the equipment.
6. LOCAL SIM CARD
If you want to save some euros at the cost of having to look for the SIM on your arrival, you may be interested in finding a shop or a stall that sells them in China.
This option is the one of a lifetime and has the disadvantage that you have to invest time of your trip and you won’t have internet as soon as you land in China. As well as you won’t be able to avoid internet censorship, because no local card has VPN; but it is a perfectly valid alternative.
You can get them from the following operators: CHINA MOBILE, CHINA UNICOM, CHINA TELECOM, SIM OPTIONS.
- They are much cheaper than roaming and may even be a little cheaper than Holafly’s SIM cards.
- You will not be able to avoid internet blocking in China because no local card has a VPN, therefore you will not have access to your social networks. Forget about WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail or Google.
For more information on SIM card options for China you can read our article: Chinese SIM card with VPN: The best option
WHAT IS THE BEST OPTION TO HAVE INTERNET IN CHINA?
There is no doubt about it, a good, secure, private and affordable connection is only offered by Holafly’s data SIM or eSIM cards. Unlike roaming, which costs you a lot, or Pocket WiFi, which will make you pay a lot of fees (rental or purchase of the device, Internet service), a Holafly data SIM card is small, light, practical, useful, cost-effective and you don’t have to return it. Best of all… it comes with VPN to avoid censorship. A wonder!
Learn more travel tips to China on accommodation, documentation and requirements, currency exchange, among others.