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One sim card for multiple cities in China?

Seattle, Washington
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One sim card for multiple cities in China?

I currently have cellular service with T-Mobile USA and will be visiting China for 3 weeks in April. I have unlocked all of my phones(HTC 8x, IPhone 4S, Lumia 521) for my family and plan to purchase sim cards in Beijing upon arrival. We will be staying in the following cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing and Kunming. Not sure what would be long distance charges and hopefully there are no roaming fees as I was told China Unicom should have good 3G coverage in all of those cities. Will we need to purchase new sim cards in each city or can we continue to use the sim cards purchased in Beijing in the other cities? Prefer to keep same number for entire trip if long distance fees are reasonable.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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1. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

One SIM will work in the whole country. There will be minimal long distance charges after you leave Beijing but I don't assume that you will make a lot of calls. Nobody ever changes SIM when traveling through China. Just send a text message instead of calling if it is between your group.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

Thanks Jean! I was looking to get the RMB66 plan with 300MB and 240 SMS. However, I see that it is a monthly plan instead of prepaid. Will a visitor be able to purchase that plan without much hassle and cancel once we leave China? I plan to primarily use data for Skype calls within China and back home and then mostly text messages within our family.

Kunming, China
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3. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

Keep it as simple as possible. Stick with a prepaid plan and use a wi-fi connection for your Skype calls.

Enrolling in and then cancelling a monthly plan is a lot of hassle. It means standing in one or more lines at the phone company office and filling out forms; plus they may not speak English.

I spent a couple hours at the phone company this afternoon, and it's always a confusing, stressful mess even if you speak the language. It's push and shove, everybody shouting and trying to shove in front of you in line, etc.

Also, Customer service is an alien concept. You will deal with grumpy, overworked employees.

Note: Always take your passport when dealing with the phone people.

Edited: 10:38 am, February 11, 2014
Sherbrooke, Canada
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4. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

It is a prepaid monthly plan. No long term commitment. You stop paying when you leave and the SIM will expire.

@ZhongguoKM - who do you deal with? The last few times that I went to a China Unicom office in Beijing and Nanjing, I was the only one there and the staff was bored. I had 3 people trying to help me.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

@Jean, thanks for confirming that the RMB66 package A 3G plan is a prepaid monthly plan. Is it better to purchase the prepaid monthly sim at a China Unicom office in Beijing or could I get one in the airport after arrival? If Unicom office, where's the location you went as I'll probably need a lot of help and staff can speak English.

@ZhongguoKM, I'll remember to bring my passport along to purchase the sim. Wherever there is reliable wifi, I plan to use it for Skype but at least we'll have 3G data for Skype calls while in between wifi hotspots.

Kunming, China
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6. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

I deal with both China Unicom and China Mobile, but in Kunming. Both places are usually a madhouse. Unfortunately I usually must go during peak business hours, which may at least partly explain my experience.

7. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

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Sherbrooke, Canada
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8. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

You cannot buy it at the airport.

Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

Ok, I'll purchase the sim cards at a Bejing location then.

@he x, can you clarify your comment as I'm not sure I follow "car by transfer all the cities,just tell the waiter your meaning."?

10. Re: One sim card for multiple cities in China?

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