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5 Best eSIM plans in China for 2024


Planning to go to China for your holiday or a business trip? An eSIM will help you stay connected throughout your adventure! It givesan uninterrupted internet connection on your phone and may even help to bypass restrictions set by the Great Firewall of China.

But first, what is an eSIM? Simply put, it's a digital SIM card that gives you mobile data and helps you stay connected from the minute you land and step out of the plane. Read on to find the 5 best eSIMs for China.

Top 5 eSIM providers for China

What to consider when choosing eSIM for travel in China?

Make sure to keep in mind these key factors when selecting an eSIM for travel in China:

  • Destination coverage. If you consider traveling from buzzing cities like Beijing and Shanghai to more remote areas, make sure that your eSIM plan covers you wherever you may go.
  • Communication needs. Decide on whether you require the eSIM for the internet connection only, or you’ll need voice calls and texting too. Some eSIM providers offer data-only plans, while others include a phone number.
  • Data requirements. Will you use your phone’s wi-fi only for navigation? Or maybe you’re visiting China for work and will need to perform job-related tasks? These needs require different amounts of data and an eSIM allows you to choose the amount of data most suitable for you.
  • Travel duration. Most common eSIM plans are valid for 7, 15, or 30 days but read your provider's website to know for sure and choose the time period that covers your entire trip.
  • Tethering capability. Tethering provides a mobile hotspot function. It allows you to share your phone’s data connection with other devices. Not all eSIM cards offer tethering, so check that before your trip.
  • Price. Compare eSIM cards’ prices to find all the functions you need for the budget you have.

The best eSIMs for China travel – our detailed list

To find the best eSIM providers for China, we tested many eSIM providers and narrowed the list down to the top 5. Here we lay down key criteria, including accessibility, network coverage, plan flexibility, and prices. Here are the best eSIM picks for China:

1. Saily – best China eSiM overall

Saily esim banner
Plans in China:5
Countries/locations:150
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Pricing:From $4.29

Saily is the best eSIM for China in 2024. Saily eSIM is developed by the team behind NordVPN and offers flexible data-only plans, excellent speeds, the activation process is easy, pricing is competitive, and the network coverage in China is reliable and secure.

eSim accessibility. With Saily, you can buy a data plan from your couch before your trip effortlessly, or set it up easily on the go while traveling. Saily supports over 150 countries, making it a versatile eSIM provider.

eSIM plans and prices. Saily helps users find affordable data plans in one place. It offers 7 and 30-day plans with different data tiers. A 7-day plan comes with 1GB of data. While for a 30-day plan, users have the choice between 3GB, 5GB, 10GB, and 20GB plans. The price starts at $4.49 for 1GB for a 7-day plan in China and goes up to $42.99 for 20GB for a 30-day plan.

Network coverage. Saily partners with local mobile service providers in China to guarantee comprehensive data coverage, offering 4G or LTE connectivity.

Customer support. Saily offers a comprehensive help center and a 24/7 live chat with professional customer service.

2. Airalo – top eSIM for China with easy setup

Airalo banner
Plans in China:6
Countries/locations:200+
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Pricing:From $4.50

Airalo ensures data-only options for its users, but it offers affordable prepaid plans with decent speeds in all parts of China.

eSim accessibility. It offers so-called Local eSIMs, which are available in this country only, but for the nomads traveling through more than one country, Airalo offers Regional eSIMs (covers data by continents) and Global eSIMs (available around the globe). However, these choices are pricier.

eSIM plans and prices. Airalo gives its users a chance to choose between 7, 15, and 30-day plans. Depending on your data needs, 1GB, 2GB, 3GB, 5GB, 10GB and 20GB plans are available. The plan price starts at $5 for 1GB for 7 days in China and goes up to $49 (20GB).

Network coverage. Airalo partners with reputable local mobile service providers in China, ensuring reliable data coverage with LTE connectivity.

Customer support. Airalo offers responsive customer support through live chat and email.

3. Nomad – versatile and user-friendly eSIM card for China

Nomad banner
Plans in China:7
Countries/locations:170+
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Pricing:From $5

Nomad is another great eSIM alternative for travelers and is an excellent eSIM in China.

eSim accessibility. Like Airalo, Nomad offers varying prepaid plans for China with different durations, data caps, and costs. You can also opt for multi-country plans, and the eSIM will connect automatically to a local carrier as you move from country to country.

eSIM plans and prices. What makes Nomad stand out is that it offers longer-period plans that span up to 90 days. You can choose from 7, 30, 45, 60 and 90 days plans. As for data, this carrier also has a variety to choose from. Nomad eSIM options in China start at $4 and provide 1GB of data for 7 days. But for more long-term options you might have to spend as much as $90. Everything is prepaid, and you can also top-up data if the current plan is near depletion.

Network coverage. The eSIM for Nomad is expected to have 5G where available and also offers 3G and 4G speeds.

Customer support. Nomad offers customer support through a help center. One way to contact the provider is by submitting a request on their website. Or by creating a new inquiry on the app.

4. aloSIM – flexible China eSIM with prepaid data packages

aloSIM banner
Plans in China:6
Countries/locations:170+
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Pricing:From $4.50

aloSIM data plan includes a free international phone number from Hushed that works over Wi-Fi or data, which might be crucial for some traveling to China.

eSIM accessibility. aloSIM offers users the ability to have regional plans. Asia (covers 13 countries including China) and Asia Five Pack (covers 5 regions). Regional plans are the ones you want to check, depending on where you decide to travel to.

eSIM plans and prices. In terms of local China plans, aloSIM offers 6 plans from 1GB (7 days) and goes up to 2GB, valid for 15 days or 3GB, 5GB, 10GB, and 20GB for 30 days. The cheapest plan for China starts at $5 (1GB for 7 days) and goes up to $49 (20GB for 30 days), which offers great value for money.

Network coverage. aloSIM collaborates with local partners which offer 5G speeds. aloSIM data plan includes a free international phone number from Hushed that works over Wi-Fi or data. It starts with free credits (about 30 calling minutes or 50 texts).

Customer support. aloSIM has a 24/7 live chat and helpful troubleshooting guides, but it’s not as user-friendly as Airalo or Saily.

5. Instabridge – budget-friendly eSIM for China

Instabridge banner
Plans in China:3
Countries/locations:190+
Compatibility:iOS and Android
Pricing:From $2.50

Instabridge is one of the most affordable eSIM options for China available. Although the service has fewer plans to choose from, it stands out with its flexible pay-as-you-go plan, meaning no expiration date on your data.

eSIM accessibility. Instabridge offers a data-saving browser that helps to compress your traffic and helps with data consumption reduction. Moreover, you can make your connections private.

eSIM plans and prices. Instabridge offers global plans that cover 127 countries. If you don’t plan on crossing the borders of different countries, you can choose a local plan dedicated to China. It offers only three choices. The cheapest 1GB plan lasts 7 days and costs only $3.50. The second option includes 3GB of data, lasts 15 days, and costs $9.50, while the most extended plan includes 10GB for 30 days with a $25 price tag.

Network coverage. Depending on the location, Instabridge offers 4G or LTE networks.

Customer support. Instabridge offers customer support through a help center which can be found on their website. Email support is also available.

Does my phone support eSIM?

eSIM is a relatively new technology that has gained popularity only recently. So, when it comes to eSIM compatibility, it's no surprise that phones made before 2018 usually don’t support eSIM cards. To be certain, check out the specs on your phone manufacturer’s website.

eSIM compatibility on iPhone

Good news, Apple iPhones, including iPhone XS and newer models, are all eSIM enabled. Actually, iPhones in the US don't come with the usual SIM card slots anymore and are now eSIM compatible. But other regions haven’t adapted to the same trends just yet.

eSIMs can be activated through the Cellular settings menu. If you see the Available SIM option and a 15-digit IMEI number, eSIM is supported.

eSIM compatibility on Android phone

eSIM compatibility varies by model as well as manufacturer on Android phones. Many newer models support eSIM technology.

Your eSIM can be activated through the Network & Internet or Connections settings menu. If the Add eSIM option exists, the technology is supported by your device.

Benefits of using eSIM in China

Having an eSIM in China has many advantages, and here are some of the most important ones:

  • Flexible Data Plans. With an eSIM, you can easily change the country, plan, data amount or expiration date according to your needs.
  • Security. Public Wi-fi is not the safest and eSIM gives you a chance to use pre-paid mobile data for online banking, maps, and communication without a need to compromise your online security.
  • No need for a physical SIM card. eSIM is installed via app, so you don’t need to take out your current SIM card from your phone.
  • Instant data access. You can activate your eSIM upon arrival to have instant access to an internet connection from the minute you land.
  • Effortless activation. Avoid the fuss of going to a physical store and activate your eSIM immediately with an app on your phone.
  • Affordable connectivity. Avoid the pricey roaming charges that are commonly associated with traditional SIM cards.

Things to know about using an eSIM card for China

The first thought popping into every traveler's mind is how to avoid the restrictions set by the Great Firewall of China (GFoC). It limits access to Google Search, Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Wikipedia, and other websites. Internauts share that some eSIMs can successfully bypass the restrictions. Check the provider's website and the comments of other users to make sure it does. Below, we’ve listed 5 tips and tricks about using an eSIM in China:

  1. Make sure your phone supports an eSIM. Not all mobile devices are compatible with eSIM cards.
  2. Make sure your phone is unlocked. You may not be able to use an eSIM as locked phones are tied to specific local mobile service providers.
  3. Calling and phone number. Most eSIM plans don’t support calling or providing a phone number, as they’re data-only plans.
  4. Activation timing. Be sure to check when the validity of the eSIM card begins. Some are activated after installation, and some need manual activation.
  5. Activation process. Be sure to check activation methods, most common are QR code scanning, app-based activation, or SMS activation to activate your eSIM card in a few clicks.

How to make calls with eSIM in China

Coming to another country though adventurous and fun, poses some discomfort. You might need to call your hotel or restaurant to confirm your reservation, or you might need to tell your tour guide you’ll be late. Whatever the reason, here are some ways you can make calls with eSIM in China:

  • Choose an eSIM with a calling option. Look for a carrier that offers plans with a phone number. Among our top providers is aloSIM, which provides you with a phone number. Keep in mind you will have to install a separate app for that.
  • Use a domestic SIM card. Use your existing physical SIM card for making calls. However, remember that calling internationally imposes high charges.

Final thoughts on eSIMs for China

We've thoroughly tested and selected the finest eSIMs for traveling in China and all its regions. Whether you're after budget-friendly data plans, effortless connectivity, or dependable customer support, our curated list of the best eSIMs is here to help you prepare for upcoming trips.

Saily is the best eSIM for China travelers because of its easy setup, professional 24/7 support, wide global coverage, and great prices. While the cheapest option costs just $4.49 and covers 1GB for a whole week, for $42.99, you can enjoy 20GB for a whole month.

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