Go back

Can I buy an eSIM in China?

You will have to buy your eSIM before you arrive.

· 3 min read

In recent years, the rise of travel eSIMs have made it a very popular option for travelers to stay connected. However, navigating the eSIM landscape, especially in a country as dynamic and regulated as China, can raise questions and challenges. Planning a trip to China and wondering if you can buy an eSIM in China? Let's take a look.


Can you use an eSIM in China?

Yes, you can!

It is a common misconception that you cannot use eSIMs in China. This misconception isn't all that surprising, if we consider how most Chinese variants of smartphones do not come with eSIM compatibility, even if they are eSIM-compatible in other regions.

But, this actually only means that devices that are purchased in China are not equipped with eSIM-capability, and not that you cannot use an eSIM in China. Whether or not you can use an eSIM ultimately depends on whether your device is eSIM-compatible, rather than where you are.

So, if you using a phone that supports the use of eSIMs, and you are already using an eSIM or if you already have bought a travel eSIM beforehand, you do not have to worry as you can continue to use the eSIM for your connectivity needs when you are in China — they will work!

Can you buy an eSIM in China?

Now, although you can use an eSIM in China, it is important to note that you cannot buy an eSIM while you are physically in China.

This is especially important to take note of if you are using an eSIM-only phone and you are traveling to China — your connectivity options will be severely limited if you do not get your eSIMs ahead of time.

For one, the local telcos in China do not offer eSIMs, so there isn't the option of getting an eSIM from a local provider.

And while providers of travel eSIMs such as Nomad offer eSIM plans for China, it is important to note that you will not be able to buy the eSIMs when you are physically in China due to local regulations and restrictions.

Unlike majority of other destinations where you could possibly wait until you arrived to get an eSIM, it is not the case for China. So, if you are planning for a trip to China and you are looking for an eSIM for your connectivity needs, it is very important that you buy them in advance. Do not wait till you have arrived in China to buy your eSIM - you are not going to be able to get it.

Things to note when buying an eSIM for China

If you are planning to get a Nomad eSIM for your next trip to China, here are some things that you should take note of:

  • Please buy your eSIM ahead of your trip. You will not be able to get an eSIM upon arrival.
  • If you expect that you might need to use multiple eSIMs for the duration of your trip, get all of them ahead of time. You can stagger the installation and / or activation time depending on your actual needs, but do not stagger the purchase.
  • Purchase of add-ons and top-ups are not allowed for China. Make sure that you have purchased sufficient data for the duration of your trip. If you are not sure how much data you need for the entire duration of your trip, consider purchasing Nomad's day plans for China instead - where you will be sure you can get data for a given duration.

Get a Nomad Travel eSIM for China

Nomad offers various plans for China with rates starting from as low as $1.50/GB, and you will be able to find a plan that best suits your travel needs and data consumption patterns.

💡If you are not sure how much data you need, Nomad's data calculator will help you find a plan that's most suitable for you in three simple questions.

If you are not sure how much data you need, consider getting a Nomad Day Plan for China instead. With a Nomad Day Plan, you define how much high-speed data you need per-day. This quota will reset every 24 hours; and in the event where you run out of your quota, you don't have to worry as you will still be able to use the Internet, though at a throttled speed of 512kbps.

A Nomad travel eSIM for China also allows you to freely surf the internet without any restrictions. You don't need to get an additional VPN, and you will be able to continue using your favourite social media apps, email services, and messaging apps like WhatsApp.