daniel flores

Travelled to 14 countries / regions

Written 10 briefs
Lived in Hong Kong on work secondment in 2018-2019



Asia > Hong Kong S.A.R. > Hong Kong > Useful Info
Updated on Jan 19, 2020 Useful Info

How to buy a prepaid/tourist SIM card in Hong Kong

  • As a tourist in the 2020s, one of the smartest things to do when traveling is to get a local SIM card on your phone so you can access internet on the go without pay ridiculously high international roaming rates
  • When I moved to HK I got a postpaid phone card, but for visitors it's extremely easy to get a prepaid tourist SIM card anywhere in the city
  • How to get a prepaid SIM card in downtown Hong Kong:
  1. SIM cards are sold at all independent phone stores, 7-Eleven stores, 1010 stores, and telecom shops
  2. Go to any major commercial areas in Hong Kong, including Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok on the Kowloon side, and Sheung Wan, Central, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay on the island
  3. Walk around the main street in these areas that have lots of shops. You will come across many independent phone stores, easily identified by a large display window with lots of smartphones in it:User submitted photo of Hong KongAdditionally, instead of walking around to find phone stores, you can also use Google Maps and search for "phone stores" to find the closest ones to you. Similarly, you can find 7-Elevens, 1010 stores, and telecom shops just walking around busy commercial area or using Google Maps
  4. Go to any of these stores and ask them to show you SIM card options. Hong Kong has 4 major telecom providers: China Mobile, Hong Kong Telecom / CSL, 3 Hong Kong, and SmarTone. I found that price varies a lot from store to store, and it's unlikely that any single store will carry all options from all telecoms, so I recommend shopping around to get the best deal
  5. While prices will vary, but in general data is cheaper in Hong Kong than in the US. Here are some sample prices to give you a sense of how cheap it is:
  6. CSL offers 3GB & unlimited call for HKD$88 (USD$11); 8GB & unlimited local call card for HKD$118 (USD$15)
  7. 3 Hong Kong offers a 20GB plan for HKD$199 (USD$26)User submitted photo of Hong Kong
  8. China Mobile sells 3GB of data for HKD$68 (USD$9)
  9. A lot of the SIM card options being sold is for more than just Hong Kong. Many include data for Macau and China, and some are for Southeast Asia, Japan, and Korea as well. Point is there are lots and lots of options for you to choose from, and to get the best deal you really need to check out several shops to compare prices
  10. Once you have decided which one you want, buy it from the store (many phone shops accept credit cards but some don't; all 7-Eleven stores, 1010 stores, and telecom shops accept credit cards for payment) and ask the staff to set it up for you on your phone

  • How to get a prepaid SIM card at Hong Kong International Airport:
  1. There are a number of shops in Terminal 1 arrival area (T1 is currently the only operational terminal until 2024), including 1010, China Mobile, and 7-Eleven
  2. As mentioned above, Hong Kong has 4 major telecom providers, by whom SIM cards are offered:
  3. China Mobile: the biggest telecom in Hong Kong; its cards are sold at the airport through its own branded store located in arrival hall (level 5, non restricted area); store open between 7am and 11pm. Location mapUser submitted photo of Hong Kong
  4. Hong Kong Telecom/CSL: second largest telecom; its cards are through a store called 1010 which is a popular chain of phone stores in HK; it's located in the arrival hall (level 5, non restricted area) not too far from the China Mobile shop; the store is open between 7am and 11pm. Location mapUser submitted photo of Hong Kong
  5. 3 Hong Kong: the third biggest telecom provider in HK but it does not have a store at the airport
  6. SmarTone: the smallest of the four major telecoms in HK; its SIM cards are sold through the 7-Eleven store at the airport, located in the arrival hall (level 5, non restricted area); store open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Location map
  7. In general, the selections at the airport is more limited than what you can get at through the mom-and-pop phone stores in the city, so I recommend getting your SIM card in the city. However, the benefit of getting the card at the airport is you can start using it right away and all the SIM card stores at the airport accept credit card payment

  • How to buy a Hong Kong prepaid SIM card online: as far as I know, Klook is the only website that sells tourist SIM cards for Hong Kong. If you've never heard of this website before, it's a pretty big tour booking site based in Hong Kong and they sell local tour all over Asia. If you go to their website (https://www.klook.com) and search for Hong Kong, and then filter for the "WiFi & SIM Card" category (like this), you will see what's currently being offered. Right now I'm seeing 5 day unlimited data card for HKD$43 (USD$5.5), which is extremely cheap. The reviews all seem pretty good, with a 4.5/5 rating. If you buy a card from Klook you will be able to pick it up from the airport on your arrival; detailed pickup instructions are on the website

  • Additional useful tips:
  • If you're planning to go to mainland China, all SIM cards sold in Hong Kong (that includes data for China) allows you to bypass the Great Firewall of China while inside China without using VPNs. And yes this includes the SIM cards sold by China Mobile, which is headquartered in mainland China. This means that with a Hong Kong SIM card, while inside China you can directly (without VPN) access Facebook, Google, Gmail, YouTube, Instagram, Whatsapp, Messenger, New York Times, etc., basically all the websites/apps that are permanently blocked in mainland China. This is a huge benefit if you're planning to visit mainland China after Hong Kong, because without this you will have to rely on VPNs which tend to be slower and not reliable. Obviously if you're connected to wifi network in China this won't work
  • If you've never changed SIM cards before, you need to double check with your telecom provider back home that your phone is not locked. Locked basically means your telecom does not allow you to swap SIM cards. Most phones sold these days should not be locked, but you should double check just in case
  • For more details on the prices and offerings from the telecom providers, you can check their websites. In terms of which SIM card to get for Hong Kong, I recommend making the decision once you arrive to the city. While you can look at the telecom websites and see what they publish, the actual offerings on the ground is very different:
  • China Mobile: https://www.hk.chinamobile.com/en/corporate_information/Prepaid_SIM/prepaid-sim.html
  • Hong Kong Telecom/CSL: https://www.hkcsl.com/en/prepaid
  • 3 Hong Kong: https://web.three.com.hk/prepaid/travellerssim/index-en.html
  • SmarTone: https://www.smartone.com/en/mobile_and_price_plans/prepaid/index.jsp
  • In terms of network coverage, all four telecom providers are excellent in the urban/built-up areas of Hong Kong. My phone was with China Mobile and had no issues whatsoever in my time in Hong Kong. According to this website (https://www.nperf.com) which has network coverage maps globally, CSL has the best coverage, followed by China Mobile, then finally 3 Hong Kong and SmarTone. But between CSL and China Mobile, the difference is minute


Nick Norman

Travelled to 0 country / region

On Jan 13, 2022

Your article is very useful for tourists. As an alternative to sim cards - virtual numbers or virtual sim cards. It's very convenient, you can buy before the trip. https://hottelecom.biz/virtual-number-of-hong-kong.html