Are you planning to travel to Hong Kong and thinking about ordering an e-sim card on the internet? This is a complete guide with everything you need to know about using an e-sim card for traveling to Hong Kong including a comparison of the best Hong Kong e-sim cards for 2023.
Let me start with telling you that getting connected with a tourist e-sim card when traveling to Hong Kong will make your life so much easier! Based on my own experiences on my recent trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong I had to deal with the internet censorship and it was rather annoying.
You may think, just get a VPN and done. Well, yeah that works if you find the right VPN but keep in mind VPN’s use A LOT OF data and they also slow down the internet.
You can bypass all the internet censorship in Hong Kong without using a VPN by simply buying one of the below recommended e-sim cards for Hong Kong and enjoy using data on your phone without any internet restriction and NO VPN NEEDED! How and what? Keep reading…
Don’t waste money on high roaming charges, read my recommendations below and order an e-sim card for Hong Kong on the internet and get connected in just a couple minutes. Below you will find up to date info and prices as per November 2023, including all specifications per e-sim card.
I will show you where and when to order an e-sim card for tourists, a comparison with local prepaid sim cards for Hong Kong and of course links to directly order your e-sim card for traveling to Hong Kong online.
Since 2012 I am already traveling the world full time and eventually turned my passion for traveling into a lifestyle and became a full time nomadic travel blogger. That is why I constantly get to a different country and pretty much every week I need to look for a new sim card to stay connected.
In 2022 I visited for example 62 different countries in 1 year so imagine how many different prepaid and e-sim cards I used throughout the year.
In the past I used to buy a local prepaid sim card on arrival in every country, but nowadays I mostly use e-sim cards to stay connected when traveling abroad.
Helping other travelers to save money while traveling the world is one of the reasons I started this travel blog. Providing essential travel tips is what made me start writing sim card guides from every country I visited and now on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world.
Of course Traveltomtom also wrote a complete guide for buying a prepaid sim card for Hong Kong in 2023.
Recently Traveltomtom also started writing specific and in-depth guides for buying e-sim cards: China, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Egypt, Dubai, USA, Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, international e-sim cards and many more.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination. Bookmark me!
In this guide I will show you a comparison of all the e-sim card plans for Hong Kong with up to date prices as per November 2023. After I will explain how e-sim cards work, more about the network coverage and 4G/5G data speed, some FAQ about e-sim cards, the difference between e-sim cards and local prepaid sim cards in Hong Kong and everything else you need to know about using e-sim cards when traveling to Hong Kong.
Let me start with giving you my e-sim card recommendation for Hong Kong. These are my favorite e-sim cards for traveling to Hong Kong in 2023.
Traveltomtom recommends the following two e-sim cards for traveling to Hong Kong in 2023:
- 20 GB data-only e-sim
- Valid in Hong Kong only
- Valid for 30 days
- Only $1.3 USD per Gigabyte
- 10 GB data-only e-sim
- Valid in Hong Kong only
- Valid for 30 days
- Only $1.9 USD per Gigabyte
By far the best value e-sim card for Hong Kong are the Hong Kong e-sim cards from Nomad. They have more e-sim card deals for Hong Kong, but this is the best value e-sim card as it only charges $1.3 USD per Gigabyte.
A good second best is an Airalo e-sim card for Hong Kong they are a little more expensive and their best e-sim card deal charges $1.9 USD per Gigabyte. Traveltomtom personally had great experiences with Airalo e-sim cards for Hong Kong and no internet restrictions at all, no VPN needed.
Both my Hong Kong e-sim card recommendations are data-only e-sim cards and incoming and outgoing calls or sms are not supported. Data is only valid in Hong Kong.
Is Hong Kong one of your stops on a trip to Asia then you can also look into getting an e-sim card for traveling in Asia. There are e-sim cards that cover multiple countries.
There are 2 very important things to check before ordering an e-sim card for Hong Kong or in general before using an e-sim card.
Unlocked phones only
Make sure your phone is unlocked. E-sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If you are not sure if your phone is unlocked then contact your mobile internet provider in your home country.
In general phones from Europe, Asia and the Middle East tend to be unlocked. Phones from North America are often locked.
If your smartphone is locked that means it does not allow another prepaid sim card or e-sim card to operate in the device. You can easily unlock your phone, but depending on your mobile internet provider you will be charged a fee for unlocking your phone.
E-sim compatible phones only
Second, and equally important: e-sim cards only work if your smartphone supports e-sim cards, also called e-sim compatible. All newer smartphones support e-sim cards. If you are not sure if your phone is e-sim compatible then simply go to Google and type in your mobile phone model in the search bar and ask if it is e-sim compatible. You will get the answer instantly.
If your phone is NOT e-sim compatible then there is no other solution and you can NOT use an e-sim card for traveling to Hong Kong.
However, you can still order a sim card for Hong Kong on the internet before your trip. Check out Traveltomtom’s complete guide for buying a tourist sim card for Hong Kong in 2023 or find out everything you need to know about international sim cards for traveling abroad in 2023.
Comparison of the best e-sim cards for Hong Kong
Note that you can NOT buy an e-sim card on arrival in Hong Kong. All mobile internet providers in Hong Kong only sell physical prepaid sim cards for tourists, no e-sim cards.
And even if you would be able to buy an e-sim card from one of the Hong Kong Mobile internet operators it is NOT recommended because of the internet censorship in Hong Kong.
But luckily there are multiple e-sim providers on the internet that sell e-sim cards for Hong Kong. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Hong Kong from one of the well-known e-sim card providers that have proven to be reliable operators.
These are the 3 big e-sim card providers and they sell great e-sim card plans for Hong Kong. They are tested and reviewed multiple times by Traveltomtom:
Nowadays, you can buy an e-sim card for pretty much every country around the world. Order directly from one of the above e-sim card providers and instantly receive your e-sim card in your email. But before you buy an e-sim card first read all my tips below.
SimOptions also offers international prepaid sim cards for Hong Kong. These are pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards and will be delivered to your home address before your trip to Hong Kong and it is plug and play when you arrive in the Hong Kong.
Airalo and Nomad only sell e-sim cards for Hong Kong.
SimOptions is a very reliable e-sim card provider and Traveltomtom has used SimOptions uncountable times in more than 50 countries around the world. I can totally recommend using SimOptions for ordering an e-sim card.
Normally SimOptions is always one of my top recommendations but the SimOptions e-sim card plans for Hong Kong are much more expensive compared to Airalo and Nomad.
Here are the SimOptions data-only e-sim card plans for Hong Kong for 2023:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $7.90 USD
- 3 GB data for 15 days = $12.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 10 days = $17.90 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
Click here to order a SimOptions e-sim card for Hong Kong.
The first 2 data-only e-sim cards are provided by SimOptions and are only valid in Hong Kong. The other 3 e-sim cards are valid in 6 - 26 countries around the world.
Keep in mind that on the Three HK e-sim cards TikTok will most probably be blocked. I once experienced this and other travelers have reported the same back to me. It is an Hong Kong based e-sim card and TikTok is blocked in Hong Kong.
Unfortunately SimOptions doesn’t specify which mobile network operator in Hong Kong they use on their e-sim cards. It does say that only 4G/LTE is available and these e-sim cards do not support 5G.
All the e-sim cards for Hong Kong offered by SimOptions do NOT come with a phone number and they do not offer incoming/outgoing calls or sms services. The validity of these e-sim cards is 1 year and the credit validity starts instantly after installing the e-sim card, even if you are not in Hong Kong. For more info check the SimOptions website.
Airalo is another very reputable e-sim card provider that is very much recommended by Traveltomtom. Ordering your e-sim card for Hong Kong through Airalo is done fast and easy. Traveltomtom has used Airalo uncountable times for staying connected when traveling abroad. Very reliable, never an issue and often some of the cheapest e-sim card deals.
Why using Airalo? When it comes to Hong Kong e-sim cards Airalo has much better e-sim card plans than SimOptions and is therefore also recommended as one of the best e-sim cards for Hong Kong.
Traveltomtom recently used an Airalo e-sim card for getting connected in Hong Kong as well as in China and it was the perfect way to go around all the internet censorship in China and Hong Kong. With an Airalo e-sim card I had no problems using TikTok and other apps that are blocked, no VPN needed.
Therefore you can understand that Airalo is one of Traveltomtom’s top recommendation when it comes to best e-sim cards for Hong Kong.
Here are Hong Kong e-sim card plans from Airalo for 2023:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $8.5 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $12 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $19 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Hong Kong from Airalo.
The Airalo e-sim cards for Hong Kong are from Hkmobile and operate on the CSL 4G/LTE network in Hong Kong. Unfortunately the Airalo Hkmobile e-sim cards for Hong Kong are not 5G ready.
In pretty much all the amazing places to visit in Hong Kong you will find a 4G/LTE signal and the data speed is very good, even on 4G/LTE. There is however already a very extensive 5G network in Hong Kong. If you want 5G then you have to buy a physical prepaid local sim card in Hong Kong on arrival.
For more info about the best 4G/5G network in Hong Kong check my complete guide for the best prepaid sim card for Hong Kong in 2023, including network coverage maps of all the mobile internet providers.
All the Airalo e-sim cards are data-only sim cards without a phone number, so any phone/sms service is NOT supported. An Airalo e-sim card has to be installed within 1 month and after activation the credit validity starts when it connects the first time to a supported network. For more info check out the Airalo website.
Last but not least there is Nomad and actually Nomad has the cheapest Hong Kong e-sim cards plans. Traveltomtom tested them out and it worked totally fine as well. Unfortunately there website is not as user friendly as SimOptions and Airalo, but their e-sim card prices are the best.
Nomad offers e-sim cards from two different providers: Truphone and Joytel. Let me show you all the available Nomad e-sim card for Hong Kong:
Truphone e-sim cards for HKG:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $7 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $12 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $13 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $26 USD
Joytel e-sim cards for HKG
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $8 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $12 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $19 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Hong Kong via Nomad.
The Nomad e-sim cards for Hong Kong are also data-only and NOT 5G ready, only 4G/LTE network is supported. Depending on the e-sim card provider they operate on either the CLS or HKT network. Incoming and outgoing calls and sms are NOT supported.
But as I mentioned, Nomad has the cheapest e-sim cards for Hong Kong and they go as low as $1.3 USD per Gigabyte.
These are the Joytel specifications.
These are the Truphone specifications.
The Nomad Hong Kong e-sim cards have to be installed on your phone within 60 days and after installation its validity starts when it connects for the first time to a supported network in Hong Kong. Basically when the plane lands. For more info check the Nomad website.
Why did Traveltomtom already used more than 100s of e-sim cards? I told you before that I travel full time and I am on the road constantly. We are only in July but I already visited more than 30 different countries in 2023.
What is the cheapest e-sim card for Hong Kong?
The cheapest e-sim card for Hong Kong is a Nomad e-sim card for just $4 USD, it will give you 1 GB data for 7 days. Airalo has the same plan, but charges $5 USD. These e-sims are only valid in Hong Kong and do not support calling and texting.
Why ordering an e-sim card for traveling in Hong Kong
E-sim cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Hong Kong in 2023 and you can arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a sim card shop and swapping physical sim cards. Order online, scan the QR code, follow the steps and you are connected in less than 2 minutes.
The most important reason to get an e-sim card is because we would like to stay connected on our trip to Hong Kong without wasting money on high roaming costs. Our smartphones are pretty useless without a working data connection. Think about ordering a taxi through an app, finding nearby friends, restaurants and bars. Get directions from Google Maps or simply staying in touch with family back home, check your social media apps on long bus rides or your banking apps when paying contactless.
One of the best things about arriving in Hong Kong with an activated e-sim card is that you are online as soon as the plane lands. More about when to instal your e-sim card later.
There are so many reasons to stay connected when traveling to Hong Kong, but the most important reason is that it makes your trip to Hong Kong so much more convenient and fun!
At the same time we don’t want to waste money on high roaming charges. Many mobile internet operators still charge $3 USD per MB for data roaming, that means just opening the Instagram app will already cost you 20 MB * $3 USD = $60 USD! Not kidding… it still is very common in 2023.
E-sim cards are the easiest way to avoid high roaming charges!
Overseas Data Roaming plans
So what about overseas data roaming plans? Well, not recommended! Why? Did you read the small letters at what data speed you can use data roaming? Pretty much all mobile internet operators limit the data speed for overseas data roaming plans, which means you end up with 3G data speed, but there is at least 4G/LTE in all the amazing tourist destinations in Hong Kong and actually pretty much everywhere in Hong Kong there is 5G. Unfortunately all the e-sim cards for Hong Kong are not 5G ready.
Uncountable times travel friends have asked me: “can I use your hotspot? My data roaming plan is so slow, it is barely working!” Trust me, get yourself an e-sim card or an international prepaid sim card for traveling to Hong Kong. Spend a couple dollars extra and be connected all the time instead of begging for WiFi or a hotspot from friends.
Where to buy an e-sim card for Hong Kong?
You can only buy an e-sim card for Hong Kong on the internet through an e-sim card provider. There are multiple e-sim card providers for Hong Kong. Traveltomtom compared 6 e-sim card providers and concluded that the above mentioned ones (SimOptions, Airalo and Nomad) are the best e-sim card providers for traveling to Hong Kong in 2023.
When buying an e-sim card for Hong Kong through one of the above recommended e-sim providers you only need your email address and the e-sim card is instantly ready to use after installation. There is no ID registration needed.
On arrival in Hong Kong
None of the mobile internet operators in Hong Kong sell tourist e-sim cards, not on the internet, nor in their stores across Hong Kong or at Hong Kong Airport. Updated info as per November 2023.
When you arrive in Hong Kong and you want to buy a local sim card for tourists then only physical prepaid sim cards are available. Tourists can not get an e-sim card in Hong Kong.
For more info about buying a prepaid sim card for tourists in Hong Kong in 2023 click on the link to read my complete guide and comparison of all the mobile internet providers in Hong Kong, including a comparison of the 4G/5G network.
Are you arriving at Hong Kong Airport then you can buy a tourist sim card for Hong Kong on arrival at the airport. However, as mentioned above there are NO e-sim cards sold at HKG International Airport, only physical prepaid sim cards for tourists. Also expect to pay tourist prices when buying a sim card at the airport. If you buy a prepaid sim card in the city it is much cheaper.
Here is my vlog about what it looks like buying a prepaid sim card for tourists at Hong Kong Airport.
Keep in mind that these local prepaid sim cards for Hong Kong come with the full internet censorship of Hong Kong which means you are unable to use some of the standard apps or some apps you might experience restriction. The most common internet restriction in Hong Kong is that TikTok is blocked. If you buy a local prepaid sim card in Hong Kong you can only use TikTok through a VPN.
When to order/activate an e-sim card for Hong Kong?
You can order an e-sim card for Hong Kong pretty much any time you want. Most e-sim cards have to be installed on a phone within 1 month after purchasing, some even within 1 year, so you have time.
More important therefore is when do you instal/activate the e-sim card. The validity of some e-sims start straight after the installation, other e-sim cards only start their validity when they connect the first time to a supported network.
My personal advice is to instal your e-sim card for Hong Kong on the day of departure just before you get into the plane. First off you will need a stable internet connection to instal your e-sim card, wether that is on WiFi or on 4G/5G from the sim card in your home country.
But once your e-sim card is installed and you hop on the plane you are enjoying data on your phone as soon as the plane lands in Hong Kong.
How do I know all this? Traveltomtom lately visited Hong Kong and also traveled to Shanghai, Dongguan and Shenzhen in China. For more info about my experiences buying a prepaid sim card for tourists at Hong Kong Airport click on the link.
How to activate an e-sim card
Installing and activating an e-sim card is made as simple as possible. Everyone can activate an e-sim card and the instructions on how to are very detailed and will be send to you instantly by email. But wait, it gets even easier. Just scan the QR code.
When you order an e-sim card plan for Hong Kong you instantly receive a summery of your order including a QR-code after the payment is processed.
You will see a summary of your e-sim card order including a QR code on your screen and at the same time you will also receive an email with the same QR code. The email contains instructions on how to instal and activate your Hong Kong e-sim card.
But installing an activating an e-sim card is as easy as scanning the QR code with the same phone where you want to activate the e-sim card on. The QR contains all the information about your Hong Kong e-sim card.
Once you scan the code you will be guided through a couple simple steps and within less than 1 minute your e-sim card is successfully installed.
Very important is that you are connected to the internet when installing your e-sim card otherwise you will get an error and issues can occur.
Tip: if you order an e-sim card with the same phone where you want to instal the e-sim card on then ask a friend or someone nearby to take a photo of the QR code and then you scan the QR code from his/her phone and start the installation.
Things to know before ordering an e-sim card for Hong Kong
Here are some general tips for using e-sim cards when traveling abroad. These tips do not only apply for Hong Kong e-sim cards, but are things you have to know before buying an e-sim card in general.
Make sure your phone is unlocked
To make sure you didn’t miss this, let me say this again: e-sim cards only work in UNLOCKED phones. If your phone is unlocked then you can use any e-sim card without any problems.
If your phone is locked then ask your mobile internet provider from your home country to unlock your phone before your trip to Hong Kong. It is likely that your mobile internet provider will charge you a fee for unlocking your smartphone.
If you are unable to unlock your phone you can look into getting a portable WiFi for staying connected when traveling to Hong Kong or better… bring a second unlocked phone on your trip to Hong Kong and use it as a portable WiFi device.
Which smartphones support e-sim cards?
Another very important thing you have to check before buying an e-sim card is if your smartphone supports e-sim cards. If you have any of the latest smartphones then there is no need to worry, all new smartphones of the well known brands support e-sim cards.
The fastest way to find out if your phone is e-sim compatible is by asking Google the question: is my (your phone model) e-sim compatible? Simple as that!
Can I trust these e-sim card providers?
All the e-sim card providers for Hong Kong recommended above (SimOptions, Airalo and Nomad) are reputable e-sim card providers reviewed and tested by Traveltomtom. All of them are licensed third party companies and resellers that partner or work directly with the mobile internet providers in Hong Kong.
Traveltomtom has successfully partnered for several consecutive years with SimOptions and Airalo. Nomad is a fairly new partner of Traveltomtom, but has so far proven to be a reliable e-sim card provider. All e-sim card providers have their own Helpdesk which you can contact may you encounter any problems or in case you want to claim a refund.
Traveltomtom does NOT sell Hong Kong e-sim cards, only RECOMMENDS you to use e-sim cards for traveling to Hong Kong.
Can I keep my phone number from home with a Hong Kong e-sim card?
Yes, you can and this is for many people a reason to order an e-sim card to stay connected when traveling to Hong Kong. An e-sim card can be used next to your physical or e-sim card from your home country at the same time. You do not need a dual-sim phone for using an e-sim card.
So you can have multiple e-sim cards installed on your phone? Yes, no problem at all!
For example: you can turn off the mobile data from your sim card from home but still use it for texting and calling. Your new Hong Kong e-sim card you can be used at the same time just for data to ensure you are not wasting money on high roaming costs.
This is also the trick to keep receiving sms for example for OTP (one time password) sms to login to applications.
Switching between physical and e-sim cards is a matter of turning them on/off in the settings. Just always make sure your sim card from home is switched off for data roaming.
Can I make phone calls with a Hong Kong e-sim card?
No, unfortunately there you can not buy an e-sim cards for Hong Kong on the internet that includes calling and texting. All the e-sim cards from Nomad, Airalo and SimOptions are data-only e-sim cards and any incoming and outgoing calls/sms are not supported.
Does a Hong Kong e-sim card come with a phone number?
No, none of the Hong Kong e-sim cards that you can buy on the internet come with a phone number. That is the reason why you can not receive any phone calls or sms.
In the above Hong Kong e-sim card comparison you can find all the specifications per e-sim card.
Can I use 5G on a Hong Kong e-sim card?
No, none of the Hong Kong e-sim cards are 5G ready yet as of November 2023. Which means the max data speed is 4G/LTE. That is a pity because the Hong Kong 5G network is very extensive and there is pretty much 5G everywhere.
Are there e-sim cards for Hong Kong with unlimited data?
Yes, there are, but Traveltomtom does not recommend e-sim cards with unlimited data. Below I will explain why.
All the by Traveltomtom recommended e-sim card providers they all offer Hong Kong e-sim cards with a data plan.
Even if you would come across e-sim card providers that offer e-sim cards for Hong Kong with unlimited data then make sure the unlimited data is on max data speed. Mostly the data speed is capped after you used X amount of Gigabytes.
Holafly is an e-sim card provider that sells e-sim cards with unlimited data, but does NOT specify what is the exact so-called Fair Use Policy (FUP).
Traveltomtom does NOT recommend Hong Kong e-sim cards with unlimited data plans. There are always restrictions. And on Holafly sim cards I experienced a reduce in data speed after using more than 2 GB per day. After I contacted support they explained me that I had to wait for 24 hours until my data speed was restored to normal.
Those 24 hours were a nightmare as my data speed was barely enough to use WhatsApp. Social media was not even loading!
Again, Traveltomtom does NOT recommend e-sim cards for Hong Kong with unlimited data. But if you think you will never use more than 2 GB per day, then this might be your favorite e-sim card.
The Nomad e-sim card for Hong Kong gives you 20 GB data for $26 USD. These e-sims offer a lot of data and there is no real need for an e-sim card with unlimited data unless you want to upload your whole camera roll to Google Drive or iCloud via 4G instead of WiFi.
There are a lot of different specifications per e-sim card. Another reason why I advice you to take a close at my comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Hong Kong in 2023 before choosing your favorite.
Are e-sim cards the best way to stay connected when traveling to Hong Kong?
E-sim cards are the easiest and fastest way to get data on your phone when traveling to Hong Kong, but are they also the best way to stay connected when traveling to Hong Kong?
There are 3 ways to stay connected when traveling to Hong Kong:
- Local prepaid sim cards
- International prepaid sim cards
- E-sim cards
Let’s compare e-sim cards, local prepaid sim cards and international prepaid sim cards, for you to find out what is your preferred way of staying connected.
Local prepaid sim cards
In general if you use a lot of data then local prepaid sim cards are a cheaper way to stay connected, depending on the length of your trip. Local prepaid sim cards mostly offer bigger data plans than e-sim cards and on top of that local prepaid sim cards come often with unlimited local calls and sms.
Local prepaid sim cards for tourists will often offer you a rate of less than $1 USD per Gigabyte.
First of all a local Hong Kong prepaid sim card can only be purchased on arrival in Hong Kong in a phone store or at HKG International Airport but NOT on the internet.
Second, as said multiple time before, a Hong Kong local prepaid sim card comes with internet censorship and for example you will not be able to use TikTok.
Third, they only provide physical prepaid sim cards for tourists in Hong Kong, no e-sim cards.
More info about the best Hong Kong sim cards for tourists can be found in my complete guide for buying a prepaid sim card for Hong Kong in 2023.
Buying a sim card in Hong Kong city center is pretty cheap, but buying a sim card at Hong Kong Airport is much more expensive, expect to pay tourist prices.
A reminder there is already an e-sim card for Hong Kong with 20 GB data for just $26 USD and it comes with no internet censorship and no VPN needed.
The advantage of a local prepaid sim card from Hong Kong is that they are all 5G ready and they also come with calling time.
International prepaid sim cards
If your smartphone is not e-sim compatible you can order an international prepaid sim card for traveling to Hong Kong. Some of them are great for using in Hong Kong as well as in all other countries in for example Europe, USA, Asia and you can easily order them online.
If after visiting Hong Kong you are traveling onwards in Asia then check Traveltomtom’s list of the best sim cards for traveling internationally in 2023 or the best Asia tourist sim cards in 2023.
A pre-activated physical sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip. You put this physical sim card in your phone and as soon as the plane touches the ground and the sim card connects to a supported network you are online. Plug and play!
International prepaid sim cards for Hong Kong also come without any internet censorship from and there is no VPN needed.
There are two different e-sim cards:
- E-sim cards that you buy on the internet through a third party
- E-sim cards that you buy in Hong Kong in a mobile internet provider store
However, as of November 2023 there are still no e-sim cards available for prepaid tourist sim cards.
Traveltomtom personally shopped around in Hong Kong to find out if e-sim cards were available for tourists and the answer in every sim card store was clear: NO!
This also counts for the airport. On arrival at the international airport in Hong Kong they only sell physical prepaid sim cards for tourists. Read all about it in my detailed guide about best prepaid sim card for Hong Kong in 2023.
E-sim cards vs. local prepaid sim cards
Getting an e-sim card is the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Hong Kong, no doubt! You arrange everything online within just a couple clicks. Right here, right now and you are all set for your trip to Hong Kong. You arrive prepared and there is no need to visit a sim card shop. As soon as the plane lands, you are online.
On top of that you have no issues whatsoever using the internet like you do at home. With an international prepaid sim card or an e-sim card for Hong Kong you bypass all the internet restrictions in Hong Kong and there is no VPN needed.
Isn’t that the best thing you heard in a while? :)
But what is cheaper? An e-sim card or a local prepaid sim card for tourists?
When we compare Hong Kong e-sim card prices with local prepaid sim cards for Hong Kong, Traveltomtom comes that there is not so much difference between local prepaid sim cards for tourists that they sell in mobile phone stores in Hong Kong and e-sim cards that you buy on the internet.
The cheapest tourist sim cards start around $10 USD and up. You can buy them in the official retail stores of in the city center of every popular tourist destination in Hong Kong, but also in convenience stores. But for $10 USD you get calling minutes and 7 GB data included for use in Hong Kong. There are also prepaid sim card deals for around $12 USD that give you 12 GB data.
Keep in mind when buying a sim card in a convenience store you will have to do the passport registration manually. A bit of a hassle and you have to wait for verification.
This is the price you pay for a prepaid sim card in a sim card store in Hong Kong. So on arrival you will need to locate the nearest phone shop next to your hotel via Google Maps. Bring your passport and get in line for buying a prepaid sim card. A lot of hassle I would say if you are on a holiday. But up to you…
After a long flight you just want to go to your hotel and it is often a big task to go to a sim card store and get connected. On top of that there are much better deals online and with these e-sim cards as soon as the plane lands you are connected. Therefore Traveltomtom recommends to order one of the listed best e-sim cards for Hong Kong in the comparison above.
Many reasons why a lot of travelers simply get an e-sim card for Hong Kong. Faster, easier, less stress and even cheaper.
Another difference between a local prepaid sim card and an e-sim card is that e-sim cards are often through a third party, a so called MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These MVNO’s operate on the network of one of the main mobile internet operators and basically buy bandwidth.
This may sound a little bit too technical, but what it means is that e-sim cards through an MVNO are the last ones in line when the line is busy. Especially during peak times, the performance of an e-sim cards is less compared to a local prepaid sim card from a mobile internet operator.
For Hong Kong it is very simple actually since local prepaid sim cards are all on 5G and e-sim cards for Hong Kong are limited to 4G/LTE.
Bottomline: the data speed of e-sim cards can be less compared to a local prepaid Hong Kong sim card.
I am sure some of the above tips for finding the best e-sim card for your trip to Hong Kong were helpful. I hope that after reading through my comparison, tips and tricks it was easier to make a decision and order your e-sim card for Hong Kong right away.
If you still have any questions about e-sim cards then please leave me a comment below and I am more than happy to help you out.
Curious what the life of a full time nomadic traveler looks like? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along with daily updates from around the world about the good, the bad and the ugly about traveling.
Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to travel to every country in the world. As of November 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, still about 40 to go, but no rush.
Enjoy your trip to Hong Kong!
Some links in this article about the best e-sim cards for Hong Kong are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!