I will be going to Japan and China next month. As I don't want to activate the data roaming on my carrier due to the high charge, I am looking to buy local Sim Card with 3G data plan that is cheap and usable in both Japan and China.

Where and how I can buy them? I am carrying an iPhone 4.

I understand that I can buy Chinese SimCard 3G with data plan in China, but unfortunately with that SimCard comes with a lot of restrictions as to which site I can browse and which site I can't. Is there any other better alternative?

2 Answers 2


If you buy any SIM card in China, you will have access restrictions.

If you buy a prepaid card in China or Japan, you will not be able to roam data in another country for any reasonable amount of nmoney. The reason is that the vast majority of the customers want to buy a card only for that market.

Ironically, you will have more luck abroad to buy such a card. Regarding the international roaming for example, you can buy one in the UK for 8 pounds a day. Regarding the firewall, you will not get any guarantee that it will work. I use a contract from Hutchison in HKG and can somehow access all normally blocked websites when roaming in China, but no provider will advertise this at the risk of getting blocked.

So if you cannot find an offer abroad, you will have to buy one in each country, and chances are that you will not be able to circumvent the firewall. Unless you get a VPN service and connect through it.

  • are you using the HKG card from inside China, and of so - how far from HKG does it work. eg Just Shenzhen / Guangzho or further afield. Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 7:28
  • It's a proper roaming contract. Updated the link above.
    – uncovery
    Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 8:20
  • HKG cards only work in HKG. You have to buy a separate card for mainland China, and if you are going to Macau and want to use data you will have to buy a third card.
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 14:40
  • @MatthewBrown Why do you think that is? My HKG card works perfectly in China and Macao. And pre-paid cards sold on the airport are advertised to work in the mainland as well.
    – uncovery
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 12:45
  • @uncovery Mine was a China Mobile HK card from a 7/11, not a card from the airport. I bought a mainland card in Shenzhen. I remember now that at the time (early 2016) I had a Nexus 5, a phone whose software was entirely made by Google and whose hardware was mostly designed by Google. I assumed that it couldn't get any data on the mainland because the first thing it tried to do was contact Google servers. Don't know why the CMHK card didn't work in Macau, though.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 14:08

As well, when I was in Japan this time last year, buying a 3G SIM Card in Japan was not possible for non-residents.

The only option seems to be renting a card at the airports, which was not a cheap option.


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