The Best eSIM Plans for China 🇨🇳 Compared

Yuyuan Garden Shanghai China

Planning a trip to China and want to use your smartphone to surf the internet without exorbitant roaming fees? Simply get yourself a suitable eSIM, and right after landing in China, you can continue surfing normally (preferably with a VPN).

It’s important to arrange for a suitable eSIM profile before departure and to install it on your smartphone. A good active internet connection is required for installation! The plan usually starts running only when the eSIM connects to the mobile network in China for the first time.

What is an eSIM and is my smartphone compatible?

An eSIM is a digital SIM card that can be loaded directly onto a compatible device without the need for a physical SIM card. This type of SIM card is particularly convenient for travellers because it is easy and quick to buy and activate online without having to worry about a physical SIM card.

You will find numerous providers of eSIM plans on the Internet. With most of them, you buy a one-off prepaid plan for a certain number of days and data volume. After expiry, there are no further costs and you do not need a subscription.

Unfortunately, not all smartphones support an eSIM. You have good odds with an iPhone 11 / 12 / 13, but also with an Android smartphone, e.g. Google Pixel 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 or Samsung Galaxy S20, S21, or Note 20. You can find a list of smartphones that support eSIM here: Which devices support an eSIM?

If your Android smartphone does not support eSIM profiles, eSIM.me is a physical SIM card that you can use with eSIM profiles.

Most eSIM providers only offer data volume and no free minutes. Since these are also prepaid plans, outgoing calls are generally not supported. With some smartphones, e.g. iPhones, you can still be reached via your normal SIM card and make calls.

Plans Compared

Here you can easily find the right plan. Just select your travel period and the required data volume and suitable eSIM plans will be displayed:

Cheapest Providers

The most inexpensive eSIM plans for our selected travel periods and data volumes are currently offered by eSIM4Travel, Manet, and RedteaGO. Depending on the data volume and duration, you’ll pay around 2-3€ per GB.

Providers1GB for 7 days3GB for 14 days5GB for 30 days10GB for 30 days
RedteaGO~€2
30 days
~€7
30 days
~€9~€13
Manet.travel€3€5
30 days
€8€16
eSIM.sm€3€4
15 days
€11
10GB
€11
eSIM4Travel~€3~€6
30 days
~€9~€16
Nomad~€4~€7
30 days
~€9~€14
Monty eSIM~€4~€7
30 days
~€12~€16
iFree Mogo~€3
15 days
~€9
30 days
~€9~€19
90 days
Mobimatter~€4
14 days
~€8
5GB
15 days
~€14~€14
15GB
180 days
Maya Mobile~€5
10 days
~€7
15 days
~€11~€16
Airhub~€7
3GB
30 days
~€7
30 days
~€11~€14
Instabridge~€3~€7
15 days
~€19
10GB
~€19
Saily~€4~€9
30 days
~€13~€23
ETravelSim~€9
3GB
30 days
~€9
30 days
~€13~€21
Flexiroam~€4~€11
30 days
~€15~€26
Airalo~€5~€11
30 days
~€15~€26
BNESIM€4€12€19€37
Jetpac~€9
3GB
~€14
5GB
30 days
~€14~€21
Yesim€6€14
30 days
€22€28
SimOptions~€7~€14
15 days
~€32
8GB
~€37
Ubigi~€7~€18
30 days
~€45
10GB
~€45
RedBull Mobile€9
30 days
€27
30 days
€45€90
MTX Connect€12€25
4GB
€60€60
Holafly~€25~€41~€64~€64

Without time limit

BNESIM sells data volume for China (and many other countries) without an expiration date. It’s slightly more expensive but can be very flexible for multiple trips. Options include 1, 3, 5, 10, or 20 GB.

With unlimited data

Holafly offers plans for China with unlimited data for up to 90 days. However, they are significantly more expensive than volume-based plans.

Pay as you go

If you’re unsure how much data you’ll need, you can also pay based on usage. Yesim is the cheapest option with billing per MB. RedBull Mobile, on the other hand, bills per GB and is slightly more expensive.

Best Network in China

There are three mobile network operators in China: China Mobile, China Unicorn, and China Telecom. Generally, all providers offer excellent coverage in cities. However, not all frequencies used are compatible with Western smartphones. China Unicorn offers the best compatibility, and eSIM profiles usually use this network.

VPN to bypass censorship

China heavily censors the internet, and many Western services like WhatsApp, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, etc., are blocked by the Great Firewall of China. You can bypass censorship with a Virtual Private Network, VPN for short. It establishes an encrypted connection to a server outside China that isn’t subject to censorship, allowing normal internet browsing and usage of apps like WhatsApp.

Legally, VPN usage is a grey area but not outright banned. After all, a primary use of VPNs is secure corporate communication. Registered VPN providers in China must keep connection records and may share suspicious or prohibited activities with authorities. VPN providers that don’t comply engage in a cat-and-mouse game, with their server IP addresses being blocked, prompting them to acquire new ones.

Chinese citizens can face significant issues if caught using a VPN to bypass censorship, especially if they’re flagged for other offences like criticizing the system. Tourists and expatriates have little to fear unless they attract attention for other reasons.

As visitors are unlikely to want to lose access to familiar services in hotels or public Wi-Fi, most tourists use a VPN connection from providers like NordVPN or Surfshark. However, it’s crucial to install the corresponding app or VPN configuration before travelling to China. In China itself, the websites of VPN providers and possibly the app store are also inaccessible.

No censorship with eSIM

When using your home SIM card or an eSIM for surfing, there’s a peculiarity: Through roaming, the internet connection isn’t directly established from China but, similar to a VPN, is routed first to the provider’s SIM card, and from there, the website or service on the internet is accessed. This is the case with most eSIM providers outside China, such as in Singapore or Hong Kong, where there’s no censorship. Therefore, you can usually skip the VPN when using an eSIM!

It’s different if you buy a local SIM card from one of the three network operators in China. Additionally, you need to register with your passport when purchasing a local SIM card. All of this is unnecessary with most eSIM providers.

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