Click for Home Page Click for Contact Us Page Click for FAQ's Page Click for About Us Page Click for Sitemap Navigation
Main Menu

Chinese Silk Fan

Zhaoqing at Night - Seen from 7-Stars Lake and Crags

Making a Silk Fan by Hand In Guilin

Lion Dance

Ancient and Modern Mix in Foshan City

Tourists Cycling Along The River Li in Guilin

The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

The Great Wall of China

A Chinese Junk in Victoria Bay, Hong Kong

Anne and Friend Practise Kung Fu in Foshan
Useful Advice for Tourists Visiting China
This page offers general advice for Tourists Visiting China (September 2008)
The aim of this section is to give those travelling to China for the first time the general information they require to enjoy their stay
This page offers advice about telephones and internet connections


There are 3 main categories of telephones in China: Mobile Phones,Land lines, and Call Boxes.

Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are very common in most parts of China and only very remote areas do not have coverage. Most are 2.5G, although many newer 3G phones are now being sold. However, not all Chinese carriers support 3G, and when they do, they use a different technology from both USA and Europe. The system is CDMA1800 China.

Most popular mobiles are made by Nokia and Sony Eriksson, whilst many other manufacturers are also in the market. Shops are very common, selling a wide variety of phones, accessories, and sim cards. Most also sell top up cards, which are simple to use. Press 2 for English and follow the instructions. Normally press 1# first to top up the phone you are using, and then enter the voucher number at the prompt. There are usually 24 hour dispensing machines at regular intervals, so note where they are

Chinese phones are never locked to a carrier, so it is easy to change supplier - simply insert the appropriate sim card and off you go!

Sim cards come in different flavours; the main ones being:
* City District, offering very cheap calls in your local area, and often free messaging. Beware if you live near a City border or need greater coverage.
* Regional sim cards that offer cheaper calls within a province or specified larger area
* National coverage all over China. Local or regional calls are usually discounted, whilst National ones can be expensive unless you use the associated IP number when dialling
* International cards offer more expensive local and national calls, but the cost is actually minimal. International and National calls are very cheap using the IP code, and typically Y100 will buy between 20 and 30 minutes talk-time to UK depending upon time of call. This is very much cheaper than global roaming charges from your home country
* Other schemes exist, but the main point to note is concerning call charges. Whilst some can be free to receive calls, not all are, and although the charges are minimal, they can cause problems if you run out of credit

As well as 'Pay as you go' type methods, you can also choose a contract scheme, which comes with similar benefits as do Western contracts: Normally a new phone each year, insurance against loss, etc. You usually pay by direct bank transfer at the end of each month - all pretty standard really

Old style 2.5G mobiles will work in China, but ensure they are 'Unlocked' from your service provider before you leave your home country, as you will need a Chinese Sim Card for 'Pay as you go' type service at local charges. Western companies do not operate in China, and this is your reason for unlocking should they query your request

China has half a dozen regionally based carriers, and they do carry all calls and messages via reciprocal agreements - meaning you have coverage all over China regardless of which company is actually transmitting your signal. This 'sort of' works as well in Hong Kong, but doesn't in Macao.

The main carrier in Guangdong Province is China Mobile, although this is not common on other parts of China. China Unicom also has outlets in Guangdong, but not as many. This is probably a larger and more National company regards total coverage, and they do offer CDMA services. Both companies are also present in Hong Kong, but they are separate companies and systems, offer limited compatibility or charging bands.

Think about buying a new mobile phone in China. They start at around Y240 for a reasonable and basic Nokia, whilst ones with camera are as little as Y600. You can pay 10 times this for the very latest western phones. All mobiles sold are multi-lingual, and support all major world languages. When purchasing, also consider handwriting input, extra memory, spare batteries and chargers. Most phone translators only work on one word at a time, so please check if this is an important feature for you to have. Normally only expensive phones offer sentence translations

Please Note: CDMA phones bought in China will not work in most other parts of the world, and vise versa, as the transmission systems are different

Land lines
Hard wired telephones are offered by China Telecom, a National concern operating all over China. You will need your passport and Bank details to arrange for one. This can be a lengthy process, complicated by various deposits and many forms filled out (By them) in triplicate. Allow a couple of hours to do this. Chinese people do not normally have private phones that can make International calls, although they can receive them. Telecom staff should automatically ensure your telephone is international, simply because you are a foreigner

The engineers work long hours and 7 days a week, so installation is usually very quick. A telephone is always supplied, whether you want one or not - and they do expect this to be returned at the end of the contract.

Once installed, the line is good and can be used for both telephone and fax. Local calls are generally quite cheap, with higher charges for national calls. International calls are horrendously expensive, so try and avoid making them

Once you have the phone installed you can often receive a China Telecom mobile phone with separate number. These can cost as little as Y1, but will only work in the local area, where calls and messages are free (I think?)

Call Boxes
These are very common and look like a blue cowl on a silver pole. They are starting to become outdated due to the increase in mobile alternatives. Check local boxes are working, as some have the phones legitimately removed, and await the rest being removed.  It is very rare for a working call box to be vandalised

To use a call box you will need a card, and these are available at all Post Offices, and certain other outlets. You may need to specify an International card when purchasing

Local shops also have telephones for public use, and you pay after use according to how much your call cost. These are either local or regional, and do not work Internationally


Virtually all internet connections are on the ADSL system, although dial-up and true Broadband are sometimes available. ADSL is a hard wired and dedicated telephone wire that normally connects to fibre optic cables running under the streets. Standard speed is 1Mb sec, and you can expect to attain about half of this, depending on the websites you surf

Again, the main supplier is China Telecom. They will fit cables and modem where you want them in your home, and the modem has to be returned at end of contract or upgrade. Other modems are available, including 0.5 Mb, 2Mb and 4Mb. Be careful here, as often the higher bandwidth is a multiple of 1Mb, divided for use by other computers with the appropriate number of port connections. Wireless systems are also common, but not very secure unless you ensure your computer is well protected by suitable encryption methods. Average cost is Y1, 000 per year for 4Mb

Internet connectivity is also available from cable suppliers. These offer dedicated higher bandwidths, which are subject to slowing due to number of users and what they are downloading. Average cost is Y18 per month

Those with laptops have good free coverage, as most Western restaurants offer Wi-Fi Hot Spots. This is also available at certain public buildings
This information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
Search this Website
Search Query
Our Friends
Excellent & Free Online Chinese Language Portal
Cantonese Sheik - Free Online Language Resources
Thousands of free print-friendly Chinese reference sheets, tests and revision aids.
Easy Learning format &
Listen to Spoken Words
British Foreign & Commonwealth Office
British Foreign Office

Resource and Advice for Travellers Worldwide
Chinese Embassy in UK
Chinese Embassy in UK

Information About China
International Relations
Visa & Consular
British Consulate General in China
UK Embassy in China

Information About UK
International Relations
Visa & Consular
Excel Education - Dedicated to Promoting International Languages, Cultural Exchange, and Understanding between Peoples Excel Education
Languages Courses
Study Abroad
Summer Camps
Information for Teachers
The Dreamscheme - A Place where all disadvantaged children can be empowered to make a difference to: Themselves, Their Local Community, and The World!
Excellent and relaxing base to explore this most beautiful of regions in all China!
Down The
How We Traded Our Ordinary Lives For a Global Bicycle Touring Adventure
Tim and Cindie Travis
See Us in China
The Dreamscheme - A Place where all disadvantaged children can be empowered to make a difference to: Themselves, Their Local Community, and The World!
Empowering Disadvantaged Children & Their Communities = Worldwide
China Exploration and Research Society
Based in Shangri-la,
Yunnan Province
Dedicated to Exploring Remote Areas of China
Committed to Nature Conservation and Preserving Ethnic Cultures & Traditions
Travel China Guide - Your First Call for Holidays and Information about China. Free Community resources, including City guides written by Foreigners who have been there
Based in Xi'an,
China's Premiere Travel Agency and International Travel Community -
Committed to providing:
Best travel deals & current information for all International Travellers
Large Tourist Resources and Galleries
Pearl Dragon

Vast Online Trading and Information Resource
Link goes to Chinese Tourism and Galleries Section
Page Navigation: Top of Page
Link to: - Excellent Hosting and Support Services
Image for Decoration only
    Copyright Webmaster @ ChinaExpats Links