Phones in China
Our guide may call you on your hotel phone to confirm your tour, so please answer! It is for this reason we might ask you for the name you use to check into the hotel, otherwise the operator cannot connect our guide with you.
Hotel phones can be pretty pricy when dialing out, especially for international calls. We recommend using Skype Out or similar internet phone services if you have a laptop.
Mobile cell phones
A mobile can be pretty useful in China if you strike off on your own. When taking a taxi you can call someone to tell the driver where to go, such as your hotel, a restaurant or a friend.
Bringing a phone with roaming service
Having a mobile phone with global roaming is useful but expensive. Keep your calls short if you're paying the bill! Make sure you give us your phone number when booking. You can also receive calls from people in your own country. Realize the rates are very high and if you want to chat with the folks back home there are better ways to do it such as Skype or a calling card.
Buying a local phone or SIM card
If you are in China for a while it may be useful to get a local GSM SIM card if your phone takes it and is not locked to a network. Alternatively you buy a new phone in China. If you are traveling with others and want to be able to communicate within the city, having mobile phones can be pretty handy. They are also useful for calling your destination for taxi drivers to receive instructions.
Phones can be bought for as little as CNY 400 and a phone number / SIM card with some credit is about CNY 150. Better numbers with lucky 8's are more expensive, and numbers with lots of unlucky 4's are cheaper. The calls seem to work either way. There are lots of phone shops around China but they will not speak English. Bring your passport, you will need it to register your number.
Public phones have seemingly gone away in China. You'll see even the poorest of people with a mobile phone now so there is no longer a need. Some small shops will offer local calling services for a small fee.