Last Updated: September 4, 2023

Best eSIM For China (Easy Internet Access)

Traveling to China and an eSIM for easy internet access?


At A Glance: Best eSim Providers in China


An eSIM for China will provide you with a mobile data allowance that you can use whenever and wherever you want.

It’s a better option than a local SIM card because it’s easier to purchase, and you can buy it and set it up in about five minutes. This detailed guide also includes a few eSIM options with regional coverage in Asia, for travelers who have plans to visit other countries in addition to China! 

ESIM Product Comparison


Airalo

Airalo has some very affordable eSIM data plans for China:

The only provider with cheaper packs for China is Nomad, so it’s a toss-up between the two for the best China eSIM card. Airalo’s China eSIMs can access the China Unicom network, which is the third largest provider in the country. You will have a fast and stable Internet connection throughout China, but it’s worth noting that a VPN is most likely not included in the service.

Another great thing about Airalo as an eSIM provider is that they make it super easy to set up, activate, and top-up your eSIM cards. You can do it through the Airalo app or on their website, and you can use the app to monitor your data usage.

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Very popular eSim provider
  • Access to the third-largest network operator

Cons

  • VPN service not included
See Prices on Airalo

BEST ESIM WITH VPN

Holafly

Holafly is usually not one of my favorite providers because they often offer unlimited data plans, but don’t allow data sharing. This beats the purpose of unlimited data for me, but I have to admit that their unlimited data eSIM packages for China are great value for money:

The main advantage of choosing a Holafly eSIM for China is that a VPN is included in the cost of the data plan. This is awesome because you can browse the Internet like you normally would, and you won’t have to deal with the regional restrictions that are in place in China.

Also, the Holafly eSIM grants you access to CMCC (China Mobile), which is the best and largest network operator in the country. You will have a fast and stable Internet connection everywhere in China, and you can browse the Internet as much as you want.

Pros

  • VPN included in the service
  • Access to the largest network operator
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Data sharing is not allowed
See Prices on Holafly

CHEAPEST ESIM DATA PLANS

Nomad

Nomad is another great option for a China eSIM. This provider has 10 different data plans for China, all of which provide you with access to the China Unicom network:

However, I must point out that Nomad’s plans are good value for money up to 20 GB. That plan is $1.7 per GB, and everything with a larger data allowance is just not worth purchasing. You can buy the 20 GB plan twice and get an eSIM valid for two months for $68, whereas a standalone 40 GB plan costs $110.

Another thing to note about Nomad’s eSIMs is that VPN isn’t mentioned anywhere, so it’s safe to assume that the service is not included in the price of the eSIM.

Pros

  • Wide variety of China data plans
  • Access to one of the largest network operator
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Plans with more than 20 GB are too expensive
See Prices on Nomad

BEST ESIM WITH REGIONAL COVERAGE

Ubigi

Ubigi is a popular eSIM provider known for excellent regional data plans. China is not an exception because Ubigi’s regional plans for Asia are a better value for money than their packs that offer coverage only in China:

Ubigi’s regional eSIM plans are significantly cheaper than data packs just for China, so it’s a no-brainer if you ask me. Why pay $32 for 3 GB of data, when you can get 2 GB more and coverage in 22 additional countries for $3 less?

Also, Ubigi’s eSIM provide you with access to the China Telecom network, which is the second-best provider in the country. If you’re actually looking for an eSIM with regional coverage in Asia, Ubigi is without a doubt one of the best options.

Pros

  • Optional renewable plans
  • Great regional data plans

Cons

  • China plans are more expensive than Asia plans
See Prices on Ubigi

BEST REGIONAL ESIM WITH PHONE NUMBER

AIS eSIM2FLY

The AIS eSim2Fly is another excellent option if you want an eSIM with regional coverage. The eSIM includes 6 GB of mobile data valid for 8 days, and when you use up all that data, you can continue to browse the Internet at a lower speed (128 kbps). The eSIM is technically unlimited data for 8 days, but only the first 6 GB grants you fast Internet speeds.

This eSIM also comes with a Thai phone number, allowing you to make mobile calls and send SMS. The AIS eSim retails for just $16, which is really good value for money considering everything that’s included.

This eSIM offers coverage in 34 countries throughout Asia, so it’s perfect for trips throughout the region. However, the short validity period makes it suitable only for trips that are about a week-long, otherwise, you have to repurchase the plan and that can quickly become more expensive than plans from other providers.

Pros

  • Regional coverage in 34+ Asian countries
  • A Thai phone number is included
  • Unlimited 2G

Cons

  • Valid for just 8 days
See Prices on AIS eSIM2FLY

Benefits of Getting an eSIM in China

The main advantage of getting an eSIM for China is that some eSim providers include a VPN with their eSIM, allowing you to bypass the restrictions for Internet browsing that are in place in China. If you were to purchase a local SIM card instead, you wouldn’t get a free VPN with it and you would have to either pay for the service or use one of the free VPNs that aren’t entirely secure.

Another advantage of getting an eSim is that you don’t have to pay any data roaming charges when using a China mobile network. With a VPN, you can rack up the roaming charges quite quickly, and a local eSim will save you a significant amount of money.

Local Mobile Operators Offering eSIMs in China

No local mobile operators in China offer eSIMs. There’s no eSim support in the country, so if you’re set on getting an embedded sim card, an international operator is your only option. This is also why even the iPhone 14 manufactured in China supports physical SIM cards, as well as many other devices.

Additionally, any SIM cards purchased locally in China must be registered with the network provider. You have to give them your real name and possibly some type of ID. If you are not comfortable doing this for any reason, an eSim from an international provider remains your best option.

Devices Compatible with eSIM in China

Smartphones that are normally compatible with eSIMs should work with a China eSim without any major issues. However, I must point out that this does not include mobile devices manufactured in mainland China, because the local operators still do not support eSIM technology.

Devices that are compatible with eSIM include all Apple phones from the iPhone XR and later, Google Pixel 3 phones and newer, and Samsung Galaxy S20 series and later.

If you’re not sure whether your cell phone supports an eSIM, you can check whether it’s on a list of eSIM-compatible devices. Alternatively, you can dial *#06# to bring up a list of unique serial codes for your device. If you can see an EID number, it means that your phone supports embedded sim cards. If there’s no EID number, you will most likely have to stick with a physical SIM card instead.

Data Needed When Traveling to China

Not sure how much data will be enough for your trip to China? It mostly depends on how long you’re staying in the country. Plans with 3-5GB should be enough for stays of up to two weeks, but consider data packs with at least 5-10 GB for stays of up to 30 days.

Unlimited data packs are also worth considering for China, especially if you prefer to have the ability to constantly use mobile data to stream music and videos. Consider your data usage habits as well because videos and music will burn through data a lot quicker than just emails and maps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get an eSIM in China?

You can get an eSIM for China from one of the many international operators, but you can’t purchase an eSIM locally in China. The Chinese network operators still don’t support eSIM technology, and many mobile devices manufactured in mainland China are not equipped with embedded sim chips.

How can I buy an eSIM in China?

You can buy an eSIM from international eSIM providers. You can’t buy a China eSIM from the local network operators in the country because they still do not support embedded sim technology.

How much does an eSIM cost in China?

The cost of an eSIM for China depends on the included data allowance. It can be as little as $4 or as much as $240. On average, you can get a very generous data allowance for up to 30 days for $30-40.

How do I activate my eSim in China?

Activating your China eSIM should be as simple as turning on mobile data and browsing the Internet once you arrive in China. This entails you previously setting up the eSIM by going into

  • network settings
  • selecting the option to Add an eSIM / Add a Cellular Plan
  • scanning the QR code provided by the eSIM seller.

If you run into issues trying to set up your China eSIM, it’s best to let the support team of the eSIM provider deal with the problem.