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Get the Best Travel SIM Card for China

Stay connected on your next trip to China

· 3 min read

If you have plans to travel to China soon, you may be wondering about accessing the international internet during your trip. Due to certain restrictions, some apps and websites may not be available in China, and relying on data roaming from your provider can be quite costly. Fret not, we have got you covered with ways to stay connected on your trip to China.

Staying Connected in China

When it comes to internet access in China, things work differently compared to other parts of the world. The country has a system known as the Great Firewall, which filters and blocks access to certain websites and platforms, preventing users from accessing popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, and even Google's services. This can be frustrating for travelers who rely on social media or messaging apps to stay connected.

But not to worry, as there are still various options available for you to stay connected while traveling to China, let's take a look at some of them.

Option 1: Local SIM card with VPN

Getting a local SIM card when traveling has always been one of the best options to staying connected. Not only will you be able to get mobile data at local rates, it also opens up the option for you to make local calls, send messages, and also access some local services if required. Here are some of the best providers for getting a local SIM card:

China Unicom

One of the largest telecom operators in China, China Unicom offers various data and call packages tailored for travelers. With their extensive network coverage and competitive rates, China Unicom is a popular choice among tourists.

China Mobile

Another major telecom operator, China Mobile provides sim cards with competitive rates and reliable coverage. They offer a range of packages to suit different budgets and usage requirements, ensuring that you stay connected throughout your journey.

China Telecom

Known for its reliable network and affordable packages, China Telecom is a popular choice among travelers. Their sim cards come with generous data allowances and competitive rates, making it easy to stay connected and share your travel experiences with friends and family.

Getting a VPN

But having just a local SIM will mean that your access to some of the blocked sites are restricted. To bypass the restrictions imposed by the Great Firewall and access blocked websites and services, you will need to also connect to a VPN.

When you connect to a VPN server, your internet traffic is encrypted and routed through that server. This makes it appear as if you're browsing from the location of the server, rather than China. As a result, you can access websites and services that would otherwise be blocked.

Here are some highly recommended VPN services for use in China:

ExpressVPN

Known for its fast speeds and excellent customer support, ExpressVPN has long been one of the most popular choices for travelers in China — though it has in recent years been heavily targeted by the China censors.

NordVPN

With a large network of servers worldwide and strong encryption, NordVPN is a reliable option and a good alternative for accessing blocked content in China.

Surfshark

Offering unlimited simultaneous connections and an intuitive interface, Surfshark is a user-friendly VPN for China.

Option 2: International Data Roaming

If you want to do away with the hassle of having to get a local SIM and subscribe to a VPN service, there is also the option of turning on data roaming. Since you will be using your home networks when you turn on international roaming, you will not be subject to firewall restrictions.

But international data roaming is expensive, and it is easy to chalk up high roaming fees. So be sure to check that your finances and travel budgets allow for it. Check out our previous blog post for some tips on how to minimize roaming charges.

Option 3: Get a SIM that has VPN included

There is a third option that combines the best of both worlds, doing away with the hassle of getting a local SIM and a separate VPN service, while not having to pay exorbitant fees for international roaming. Simply get an eSIM that already comes with a VPN!

While there are many eSIM providers that provide eSIMs for China, you might want to note that not all of them are equipped with VPN and most of them might still require you to purchase a separate VPN service to access the blocked websites.

But not to worry — Nomad's China eSIM has got you covered! With Nomad's China eSIM, not only will you be able to access the restricted sites and services without having to purchase a separate VPN service, prices are also very affordable from as low as $1.70/GB! Nomad has many plans available, each with varying amounts of data, so you will be able to find one that is suitable for your travel needs.

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