Temporary cell phone w/SMS in China (Beijing)?
April 7, 2010 2:39 PM   Subscribe

What are my best options for a temporary (3 week), prepaid cell phone with text messaging while on a trip to Beijing and Xi'an?

I'm going on a three week trip to China, and will be in Beijing most of the time with a side trip to Xi'an. I'd like to have a cell phone for when we're out and about. Text messaging would be great, as I want to try linking it with Zuosa so we have a way of checking in with friends and family.
Is it possible to get a prepaid phone with these options? I've seen options for a prepaid SIM card, but I don't currently have an unlocked international GSM phone. Also, It looks like using my current, US-based Verizon phone over there would be extremely expensive. Does anyone have experience with this "Mobile Rental" shop in the airport?
posted by yukonho to Travel & Transportation around Beijing, China (3 answers total)
Best answer: Know anyone who has lived in China somewhat recently? I borrowed a 2 year old Chinese phone from a friend and bought a new SIM card + minutes in a grocery store after I got to China. The clerk figured out what was in the card before and found something similar; be aware that different phone numbers have different costs. The SIM card + its included minutes + 100 RMB top up card when I ran out after 2-3 weeks cost 20-30 USD.
posted by asphericalcow at 4:04 PM on April 7, 2010

Best answer: Alternatively, a cheap cell phone at any neighborhood cellphone store will cost you about RMB 200 or so -- about $30. A prepaid Shenzhouxing SIM card from China Mobile will be another RMB 100, and you'll probably want to charge it up with another RMB 100 or 200 worth of credit, depending on how much you'll be using the phone. (RMB 200 should be more than enough for three weeks of ordinary use, unless you'll be making international calls.) I haven't ever rented a phone here, but from what I understand, it's likely to be more expensive than just buying a cheapo GSM phone.
posted by bokane at 10:10 PM on April 7, 2010

Response by poster: We ended up borrowing and old cell phone from a relative and popping in a SIM card from the corner store. It worked great, and the rates are very low. Thanks!
posted by yukonho at 5:03 PM on May 14, 2010

« Older Need some perspective on "hard work."   |   It's a tanker desk with extra security. How do I... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.