May 29, 2019: We’ve updated our picks with the 2019-2020 version, please click through here for the latest SIM Cards.
Time for our 2018 edition of Hong Kong’s best prepaid SIM cards! This list is updated to include new products in the SIM card space, and we’ve removed some products which are discontinued. (We still have our 2017 picks if you want to take a look.)
This guide gives you everything you need to know about prepaid SIM cards in Hong Kong, and some popular options. (This guide is applicable for many other Asian countries. However, some countries such as China and Singapore require identification before purchase, Hong Kong does not.)
- Explanation on Voice / SMS / Data
- Most popular SIM Cards for 2018 / SMS / Data
- Roaming / Activation / Re-fill
- Where & How to purchase
- Will my phone work?
Quick primer on voice, SMS, and data:
Voice is straightforward, phone calls are rounded to the nearest minute, and charged at a set price per minute. Simply guesstimate how many minutes you’ll call using the prepaid SIM to figure out how much credit you may use. (You don’t need voice minutes to call someone. You can download and use one of the following apps which will utilize your data allowance WhatsApp, WeChat, Facetime, Skype, Line, etc.)
SMS (aka text message) is not free to send in Asia. It’s very cheap to SMS others on the same mobile network, and slightly costlier out of network. However, receiving incoming SMS to a HK number is free, anywhere worldwide. Our suggestion is not to use SMS. As with voice, use a messaging service such as iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WeChat, or Whatsapp to chat with your friends and family. Messaging programs use data only, and you can reach all your friends overseas.
Data is usually what travelers covet these days. 4G is readily available in Hong Kong and throughout Asia, and 5G is rolling out now too. Most of the prepaid services will either offer 4G or 3G, which are both still plenty fast. As long as you aren’t downloading huge files or videos, you should be fine.
On many SIM cards, you will need to enter a code from the packaging to activate the particular data package you would like. It is easy to do, don’t fret. Considering turning off apps refreshing in the background to conserve your data usage, and turn off data roaming to avoid fees if applicable.
HKTravelBlog’s Hong Kong Prepaid SIM Card Recommendations for 2018
Now the list. First determine your length of stay and coverage required, then look up the appropriate card.
- HK and Macau: 5 Days or Less – Discover HK Tourist SIM 5 Day by csl
- HK and Macau: 8 Days or Less – Discover HK Tourist SIM 8 Day by csl
- HK only: longer than 8 days – 4G/3G Data & Voice Prepaid by China Mobile
- HK, China and Macau: 10 days or less – Big Bay Area by China Mobile
- HK and Macau: 7 days (budget option) – Voyage King by China Unicom
- South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia for 7 day: ASIA Roaming Mobile Data by Three (3)
- HK and Macau: 7 days or less – Hong Kong & Macau 7 Days (unlimited data) by China Unicom
- HK/China/Taiwan/Macau for 30 days: Greater China 30 Days & 1 GB Data by China Unicom
Voice and Data
Hong Kong only, 5 day visit or shorter: Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM 5-day by CSL
Local retail price: $88 or buy through HK SIM Card
Local Data Usage: 1.5 GB (HK and Macau)
Local Voice Calls: Unlimited
csl Wi-Fi: Unlimited
Newest feature for 2018 is data allowance for Hong Kong and Macau, whereas in the past it was HK only. If you plan on hopping over to Macau for a few days, feel free to use the data allowance there without roaming!
Unlimited wifi and voice calls in Hong Kong. 1.5 GB of high-speed data should be plenty for 5 days, don’t download big files unless you’re on wifi. If you need more data, get the 8 day card with 5 GB allowance instead.
Does work in China & Taiwan if you need to pop over to those places, but high roaming fees.
Hong Kong only, 8 days visit or shorter: Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM 8-day by CSL
Local retail price: $118 or buy through HK SIM Card
Local Data Usage: 5.0 GB (HK and Macau)
Local Voice Calls: Unlimited
csl Wi-Fi: Unlimited
Same as above, but comes with 5 GB of high-speed data, awesome! Recommend this card even for short visits so you don’t run into the 1.5GB limit with the 5 day card.
Hong Kong only, more than 8 days: 4G/3G Data & Voice Prepaid SIM Card by China Mobile
Local retail price: $80 or buy through HK SIM Card
Inexpensive card for visitors planning on staying in Hong Kong for longer than 8 days. You can refill (top-up) as needed and extend the validity each time by 180 days.
$78 of useable credit loaded on card for data plans / voice calling. Local calls are cheap and data plan you can select to suit to your needs.
Recommend using the unlimited 3G lite plan at $30 and keep renewing it every 10 days you’re in HK. Or if you’re very light on data usage, get the 1GB package at $148 which will last until your card expires.
5 days, 10 days, and up to 180 days data packages, you can keep refilling if you need more. Does not work outside HK.
200MB – up to validity of prepaid SIM card: $50
1GB – up to validity of prepaid SIM card: $148
1.5GB- 5 days: $48
1GB – 10 days: $68
Unlimited 3G Lite – 10 days: $30
Hong Kong, China, and Macau: Big Bay Area Prepaid SIM card by China Mobile (10 and 3 day versions)
Local retail price: $148 10 days (2 GB) or $98 3 days (1 GB) or Buy Online through HKSIMCard
Great inexpensive card for roaming in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Macau. Up to 10 days service, though short visits can utilize the 3 day card.
Also includes some voice minutes as a plus.
- 10 days: 2GB Data Service + 100 Mins Voice Call + 100 SMS
- 3 days: 1GB Data Service + 50 Mins Voice Call + 50 SMS
Tethering is supported as well. Keep in mind while 2GB isn’t a ton of data, it should be more than sufficient for travel related purposes. Download any files via wifi instead to conserve.
*Keep in mind Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media & Western sites such as NYTimes are often blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
Hong Kong and Macau: Voyage King by China Unicom
Local retail price: $88 or buy through HK SIM Card
7 days unlimited data in HK and Macau, 1st 1GB high-speed, after slows to not less than 128kbps. Good for travelers on a budget!
Unlimited voice calling in HK, and includes $30 for direct dial voice services to 14 countries.
Direct dialing Mainland China, Macau, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, United States, Canada, Philippines.
ASIA Roaming Mobile Data Prepaid SIM by Three
Local retail price: $288 for 7 days
Unlimited Data Usage for 7 consecutive days in any of the following countries: South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia
Supports HK data, but need to add extra funds for Hong Kong local data plan.
Local Voice Calls: Voice support. (Must add additional funds)
Great if you plan on country hopping in Asia and don’t want to bother switching cards each time you enter another country.
Keep in mind you can use one of the Voice & Data cards, even if you don’t plan on making phone calls. Many of them provide data allowance. If you need a lot of data, or plan to roam around Greater China look at these two unlimited data options and read our previous data SIM recommendations.
Hong Kong & Macau 7 Days Data SIM (Unlimited Data*) by China Unicom
Local retail price: $68 unlimited data
Buy Online through HKSIMCard
Straightforward card here. Unlimited data for 7 consecutive days, no top-up (refill) options.
*4G network mobile data service in HK and 3G network mobile data service in Macau. 7 days unlimited data usage (Once your total data usage in HK and Macau reaches 1GB, the upload/download speed would be restricted but not below 128kbps)
Greater China (HK, China, Macau & Taiwan): Greater China 30 Days SIM
Local retail price: $199 or buy through HK SIM Card
Data Usage shared between HK/China/Macau/Taiwan: 1 GB
Local Voice Calls: None
Limited data at 1 GB, but valid for 30 days and no roaming fees in Greater China.
*Keep in mind Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media & Western sites such as NYTimes are often blocked by the Great Firewall of China* In HK, TW, and Macau you can access all sites without issue.
If you will roaming with a prepaid SIM, be sure to look at the rates before you use it. Also, double check the card for roaming support, some cards don’t work outside their home country, though many do.
Many cards are marketed for roaming however, such as the China Mobile 4G/3G Roaming card mentioned earlier. Calling rates for these cards are generally less than others. For example, this card is $1.9/min in China, vs $6-8/min for many others.
Activation for most cards is easy, pop it into your SIM card it should register automatically. Some may require a number combination to be sent, be sure to read the instructions. Keep in mind many of the cards must be activated in Hong Kong, or some cases activation can be done other countries that are supported, such as China.
Refill / Top-off:
If you used up the credit that was initially loaded onto the card, many cards allow refills or “top-up.” This can be done online or in-store. It will usually extend the validity of the card as well. For instance, some cards are valid for up to 180 days, then each top-up will extend it another 180 days from the refill date.
How to purchase
There’s a few options.
Online: Purchase from our partner HK SIM Card; they will mail the prepaid SIM cards to your door so that you have it for your trip before you leave. Best if you instantly want to turn on your phone once the plane lands in HKG and use it. Saves time for searching for your card or encountering stock issues at the store. They carry cards for other countries as well.
Airport: 7-11 and Circle K are some of the stores which carry prepaid SIM cards. The inventory and stock changes so often it’s hard to know what they’ll have before you arrive. Pro, you can get it at the airport. Con, airport stores are often out of stock on many SIM cards due to the sheer number of passengers.
In-town: Again check out any convenience store, or go visit your local mobile phone store and see what they carry. Major mobile carriers are CSL, Smartone, China Unicom, Three, and China Mobile. Usually you’re limited to whatever mobile brand store you enter but their stock tends to be better than the convenience stores. The customer service is usually better too, helping you activate the SIM card and help answer any questions.
Most important, make sure your cell/mobile phone is GSM capable and accepts SIM cards. (Hint: if it accepts SIM cards, it’s GSM.) Make sure it’s unlocked. Phones in many western countries are locked to only accept SIM cards for one particular carrier, if it’s unlocked you can use it anywhere globally. Call you carrier if you’re not sure, sometimes they can send you a code to enter on the phone to unlock it.
Reminder to bring a paper clip, or needle to put the SIM card tray out if you’re phone has this. Often people forget to bring the pin to change SIM cards and are stuck scrambling to find something that’ll fit in the phone’s SIM card tray eject hole.
If you need more details check which phones will work in Asia. Almost any unlocked phone less than 10 years old that supports a SIM card will work.
Obtaining a prepaid SIM card should not be a stressful event, but many times is it. Hopefully this guide will help. If you run out of funds on the card, you can usually “top-off”, aka refill, your SIM card by adding extra money in-store or online. Read the instructions that come with the SIM card packaging and you’ll be fine. Enjoy your trip!
You can also add a comment to this page and see if the reader community can help you out!