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Telephonic communication

Glasgow, United...
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Telephonic communication

Three of us (myself and kids) will each have phones. Mainly for contacting each other in case of unforeseen separation. Also for the boys to text/talk to their mother back home. We will have WeChat. The phones are all unlocked. What type of sim cards should I buy, on arrival, to enable this?

I understand that Unicom is a good service provider. Should I sort this at airport on arrival or in city centre? If the latter, is there a shop near Houhai?

I will also have my MacBook which I will use for email and general surfing. I can get by without Google. Do I need to get a vpn?

Any other advice for a not-too-tech-savvy traveller?

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32 replies to this topic
Amsterdam
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5,466 posts
8 reviews
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1. Re: Telephonic communication

If you only use it for the things you describe, no need for local sim card. Plenty of wifi around to keep in touch. And if needed send text sms. Cheaper then calling.

Everyone can get by without google. But if you have gmail accounts, you need a VPN. Install it before you go. Don't trust free VPN services. Just take one that offers a monthly subscription. Buy it and cancel immediately.

Shenzhen, China
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2,014 posts
53 reviews
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2. Re: Telephonic communication

I always get sims for my kids for precisely those unforeseen situations, and he's 19 now. Probably he would work out how to use WiFi in Beijing, but not in Xinjiang.

Don't you need a sim for sms?

I'll be about ten weeks behind you for my first pure tourist trip to Beijing.

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Glasgow, United...
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3. Re: Telephonic communication

Thanks BePu.

The most important thing is for the boys to be able to talk to me should we get separated anytime/anywhere. Also, if something happened and they needed to contact their mother. I have never worried about this on previous trips, I guess the language barrier in China seems so much higher. Whatever I need to achieve this is what I need,

Will get a vpn.

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Sherbrooke, Canada
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44,746 posts
824 reviews
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4. Re: Telephonic communication

They sell SIMs at the Beijing airport, at least in terminal 3. However tis is China Mobile. For China Unicom, which is better, you need to go to town and waste a lot of time. Or you book ahead of time online.

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New York City, New...
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5. Re: Telephonic communication

You don't need a VPN but having done china with and without VPN I can tell you with is much better if using things like Googlemaps, gmail, etc. At least one phone should have a sim card with domestic calling. Every trip I end up needing to make domestic calls to a hotel, restaurant, to use some sort of taxi service, whatever. You don't need international calling. If they can text mom she can call them and they will receive the international call.

Glasgow, United...
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171 posts
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6. Re: Telephonic communication

Thanks red259.

For better or worse, Google is intertwined with our online lives. I could get away without gmail but not sure how much else is linked to my Google account. Will get vpn to be on the safe side.

Will get local sims. Have found them on Amazon but they seem expensive. Is it cheaper to buy them in Beijing?

Anybody have a link to English webpage with Beijing Unicom store locations?

This is a terrific forum. Thanks for all your help.

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Salem
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18 posts
73 reviews
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7. Re: Telephonic communication

We just returned from 15 days in China. We didn't get SIMS but used WeChat when we had wifi. Worked great. DO NOT expect any Google product to work. We did not get a VPN before we left which was a mistake. But they also block other sites. We could not reach our local library many times. For email I forwarded my Gmail account to my Comcast email and that worked fine. Wifi is slow there. We were in Beijing, Zhangjiajie, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai. Very interesting place. Contact me if you have specific questions.

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Zhangjiajie
Zhangjiajie
Hunan, China
Xi'an
Xi'an
Shaanxi, China
Guilin
Guilin
Guangxi, China
Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai Region, China
San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
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13,862 posts
63 reviews
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8. Re: Telephonic communication

Use WeChat for free calls between all of you and wife back home. All free, worldwide.

If you have Apple, you have everything you need, map etc. no need for vpn.

Glasgow, United...
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171 posts
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9. Re: Telephonic communication

Mac - Yes we are the Apple family :)

If we all have WeChat, are calls available all the time, or is it WiFi dependant?

Shenzhen, China
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2,014 posts
53 reviews
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10. Re: Telephonic communication

You need Wi-Fi or mobile data.

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