There are several ways to make calls while traveling in China or elsewhere in Asia. Please review the information listed below and you can decide what will be best for you based on convenience and budget. As you can see, some options are very inexpensive but may require more work, such as creating a Skype account and having a good Wi-Fi connection. Other options may be more convenient allowing you to call from any location at anytime of day with good cell phone reception, but will be more expensive. However, it is important to note that good Wi-Fi is easily accessible in Asia unless you are in a very remote area and all hotels in or near cities usually have excellent connections.
The most affordable way to make a call when traveling in China and Asia is to use Skype. First, you will need to create an account at http://www.skype.com/en/ and download the Skype app on your smartphone, tablet, and/or laptop. With Skype you can make free calls from anywhere in the world to someone else on Skype, but it requires a stable Wi-Fi connection or mobile data plan. You can easily call someone’s mobile or landline via Skype at low per minute rates. The price depends on the country in which you are calling to, not the country you are calling from. There are two ways to put money in your Skype account, with credit (i.e. $10 at a time) or a monthly subscription. Unless you are need to call overseas phone numbers on a regular basis, then Skype credit is the best option. You can set up your payment to automatically refill your account when it is getting low (i.e. another $10) and therefore, you will not get cut off from someone you are speaking to. However, a one-month calling plan may be more cost effecting if you need to make lots of calls while overseas.
2. International Calling Plan
If you are at all concerned about Wi-Fi connections or feel the need be able to make international calls anytime of the day, then you may want to consider purchasing an International Travel Package from your mobile phone carrier. However, it is important to note that this options is much more expensive than using Skype.
3. Local SIM Card
You can also buy a temporary local SIM card upon arrival at the airport or at a convenience store. If you are using a smartphone then it is important to make sure that your mobile phone is unlocked before you depart the country.
4. Hotel Room Phone
There will always be a phone in your hotel room and the vast majority of hotels in Asia allow for international calls. Please check with the front desk for instructions upon check-in. Rates will vary from one hotel to the next, but expect to pay anywhere from $1.00 to $2.00 per minute. International calls will be added to your bill, payable upon checkout. However, local calls are typically free of charge, so feel free to call you tour guide if you require assistance.