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Can Tourist Get a 3G/EDGE Sim Card Easily?

Blade (10 posts) • 0

I will be travelling through Yunnan for about 2 weeks, (coming in from Lao Cai, Viet > Kunming > Xishuanbanna > Laos) and I will need to keep up with some business emails while travelling. I am buying a Galaxy Tab 7 Plus as its nice and portable, but the roaming rates from my local (Thai) providers are really expensive.

SO, I would like to buy a Chinese sim card with a data package when I get there. I have never been to China so I don't know if they are tight about giving these things out to tourists, or if you need a work permit, drivers license or anything silly?

-Would this be difficult for me to buy?
-Also, would there be any long contracts or could I just pre-pay for a month or something?

-Is it difficult to find a shop selling data Sim cards?

From what I understand, my Tab won't work on all networks/speeds? (Apparently, here in Thailand, this won't work with AIS' fastest package)

Here are the specs of my device according to Samsung:

(3G?) HSPA +21 900/1900/2100

EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900

-Given this, which provider would give me best coverage and speed traveling through rural parts of Yunnan, probably catching up on emails on the bus if there is any coverage at all.

Lastly, what kind of prices are we talking about for a plan like this, maybe 25 - 50mb/day, 250-500mb/month, or something like this?

Thanks a lot for any information, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions about Thailand. I have been living in Chiang Mai over 6 years.

AlexKMG (2361 posts) • 0

You just need your passport to buy a prepaid China Unicom 3G card.

There are plenty of China Unicom stores. For Kunming, staff capable of speaking a little English might only be found in the larger/largest store.

China Unicom works for the iPad. You have to do your own research if it works with the Tab. Coverage and speeds for Unicom is decent in most urban areas. China Mobile has the absolute best coverage, but their 3G network is non-standard so you have to make sure your Tab supports it.

300 rmb buys you a prepaid sim from Unicom. That's the lowest amount available. I forget the exact amount of data it provides you, but it's a few gigs worth and good for six months.

Blade (10 posts) • 0

Wow, 300rmb seems like a lot for a sim card. Here in Thailand they are usually free, or only about 50baht (less than $2). Of course, that doesn't include any credit though.

Is it possible to just buy a prepaid sim card cheap, then buy credit for EDGE or 3G? I will just need to do a bit of emailing over 2 or 3 weeks, then I will be leaving.

Also, which carrier might have best coverage between Kunming to Xishuanbanna to the Lao border? Hoping to catch up on emails on the bus rides.

I bought my tablet and realized that its only limited in the 3G area but it can handle any frequency for EDGE/GPRS (aka 2G). In Thailand the 3G carriers can use 1 or 2 freq's so I had to buy the tablet that used the frequency of my carrier. The same model tablet was available in either frequency.

Blade (10 posts) • 0

I guess an even better question is, "Are there many places offering wifi in restaurants, bars, guesthouses, etc in this same area?"

Zingo (2 posts) • 0

Get a normal China Unicom 3G-card, for 100 rmb, use 60 rmb of those for 300mb data.
You can get it at the Unicom office or at most places that sell iThings.

crazy.laowai (242 posts) • 0

Heck yes. Go to any China Telecom or China Mobile store, pay them, and voila.

Blade (10 posts) • 0

Ok, sounds good! Any idea which (China Telecom or China Mobile) works best south of Kunming?

Also, are there many places offering wifi south of Kunming?

Thanks for the info!

justalex (21 posts) • 0

Wfii is shotty both inside and outside Kunming. Even if you find it, it's not necessarily worth connecting to.

cameronjpu (4 posts) • 0

Just following up on this old thread, because my needs are just about the exact same as the OP's. I will be in Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu and then perhaps heading west from there to India by train, so having data coverage as much as possible is very important. I will be using an American iPhone 3GS so it (from what I can tell) will only be compatible with China Unicom. I need a SIM card entirely for data - I will not be texting or calling, and ideally I need as much data as possible. 100mb per day would be excellent. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I might try to buy whatever SIM the OP got off of him!

Blade (10 posts) • 0

Its the OP here. We ended up finding WiFi often enough so we didn't need the data package as it turned out.

So your iPhone uses GSM (SIM card) obviously, not CDMA? Also, is your iPhone unlocked to use SIM cards from other providers?

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