Hong Kong Communications

Staying Connected: About Internet Access, WiFi Coverage,
Using Your Mobile Phone and HK SIM Cards

Hong Kong is probably one of the easiest places in the world to stay connected, definitely one of the most "wired" cities I have ever been to.

Using Hong Kong's extensive network of hotspots providing free Wi Fi is one of the most convenient ways to stay in touch.

You find them at major tourist spots, at the airport and all MTR stations for starters, as well as shopping centers, libraries, government offices, and of course McDonalds and Starbucks.

Using your mobile phone, likewise, is a straightforward exercise with widespread excellent coverage. If you are used to calls getting dropped or non-existent signals in basements and elevators back home, you are in for a surprise. Signals even in underground stations, lifts and the Cross-Harbour Tunnels are strong in Hong Kong.

But in general while staying connected is relatively easy, there are some golden rules so you don't end up with extra charges for roaming and excess usage when you return if you are using your own mobile plan from home.

Here are some tips to keep you connected on the go. Although we strive to keep this information current, please keep in mind that when it comes to technology and connectivity things change rapidly, what applies today might not be true tomorrow! We apologize in advance if something is no longer the case and would appreciate your input so we can keep this page up to date.

Before going further, it is a new trend that many hotels are getting into lately, and that is they include free use of a smartphone during your stay that provides unlimited local calls and international calls to several countries, as well as unlimited 3G data connectivity and Wi-Fi hotspot. So check first if your hotel will be providing it, in which case, you are all set!

This page contains affiliate links from which we make a small commission if you buy. Visit our disclosure page for details.

Booking.com

Internet and WiFi Access in Hong Kong

Laptop: Internet in Hong Kong

One of the most popular ways to stay connected while abroad is through one of the many apps and social networks available through the internet, i.e. communicating or sharing pictures via e-mail, WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, WeChat, etc. and while in Hong Kong this should be no problem.

However, if you are heading to Mainland China, be aware that some of these popular services are not accesible. Many of the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China. Here's more on Internet and WiFi in China

Using Hong Kong's vast infrastructure of free wireless coverage is one of your best bets to stay in touch, check e-mails, directions, opening hours or the weather, at your hotel and on the go.

Hong Kong's Wi-Fi coverage is one of the most extensive in the world. Although not a city-wide network like Hangzhou or Taipei, chances are you will be able to tap into one of the thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots available at public places throughout the city, just look for the orange and blue Wi-Fi.HK logo:

Wi-Fi.HK Logo

The service is available to visitors and there is no registration required, simply log in the network identifier "Wi-Fi.HK". Wi-Fi access is free but some hotspots limit the amount of time to 30 minutes of usage per device.

The new common brand of Wi-Fi.HK, pulls together all the previous Wi-Fi operators and public and private organisations that offered the free coverage under their own names. It is much easier now to identify where the free hotspots are by just looking for the new logo.

Free Wi-Fi in Hong Kong is available at many tourist spots, MTR stations and transportation hubs, visitor centres, shopping malls, the airport, government offices, college campuses, public libraries, and even some city buses.

Look for the hotspots, the phone booths at bus terminus and iCentres at MTR stations, at the Starbucks, McDonalds and Circle K convenience stores .

iCentre at Sham Shui Po MTR Station
Free Wi-Fi Hotspot at iCentre at the Sham Shui Po MTR Station

Free WiFi Hotspots at Transportation venues

  • Hong Kong International Airport
  • MTR Stations and Airport Express terminals
  • Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminals
  • China Ferry Terminal in TST
  • Kai Tak Cruise Terminal
  • TST Star Ferry Pier
  • Central Star Ferry Pier
  • Ocean Terminal

Free Wi-Fi Hotspots at Tourist Attractions, Parks, Museums, Markets

  • All Visitor Centres
  • Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
  • Star Ferry Piers
  • Victoria Peak Galleria
  • Sky 100
  • Central and Western Promenade
  • Central Market
  • Hong Kong Cultural Centre
  • Stanley Promenade
  • Repulse Bay Beach
  • Statue Square
  • Golden Bauhinia Square
  • Ngong Ping Village and Cable Car stations
  • Victoria Park
  • Yuen Po Street Bird Garden
  • Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
  • Kowloon Walled City Park
  • Kowloon Park
  • Hong Kong Museum of Art
  • Hong Kong Museum of History
  • Hong Kong Science Museum
  • Hong Kong Heritage Museum
  • Hong Kong Space Museum
  • Hong Kong Stadium
  • Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Museum
  • Ocean Park Hong Kong

You can download the mobile app to help you find your nearest free wifi hotspot.

Stay Connected With a Pocket 4G Wi-Fi Device for US$3.45 Per Day

What is a portable Wi-Fi device? This is a handy gadget that fits in your pocket and enables you to connect up to 5 devices i.e. phones, laptops or tablets, so you can enjoy stable and fast internet connection everywhere you go.

Klook offers two plan options and you can pick up the device at the airport upon arrival (and return it at the counter when you leave):

  • 500mb 4G data limit US$3.45 per day
  • Unlimited 4G data US$5.75 per day
  • Unlimited 4G data in both HK and Macau for US$7.39 per day

Click here for more info and to reserve your Wi-Fi device

Click here to reserve your Hong Kong and Macau Wi-Fi device

Frequent Travellers: Your Own 4G LTE Global WIFI Hotspot

If you travel a lot then having your own portable WiFi device that functions in many different countries might make sense. It makes it a lot easier having your own WiFi hotspot as soon as you land, no need to buy SIM cards, pick up local devices and reconfigure your APN settings to get everything working at the airport, just turn on and start surfing. It is also a much safer alternative than the public WiFi spots.

The downside of course is the upfront cost of the device itself and in many cases (but not all) rates will be slightly higher than if you had a local SIM card but exponentially cheaper than roaming charges by your home provider. In the case of Hong Kong, some of these plans are comparable or better than the local plans.

We have used and really enjoyed tripsing around with many different devices and services throughout Hong Kong, China, Singapore and many countries in South East Asia, the United States, throughout Europe, Central America, South Africa, Zambia... We will be writing a more comprehensive review but you can check some of our favorites for now:

SkyRoam Solis

Skyroam portable WiFi Hotspot
  • You can buy, upfront cost for the device US$149.99 or rent for $9.95 per day which includes unlimited global data, devices can be picked up at many airports worldwide or they can be shipped to your home ahead of your trip
  • Connect up to 5 devices
  • Coverage offered in 130+ countries
  • Can also use as a power bank to charge other devices
  • For heavy users, buy a One-Day Pass with unlimited data US$9
  • For sporadic users, buy 1GB GoData Plan for one month US$9 (can be used in any of the 130+ countries covered)

More info, buy or rent Skyroam Solis, enter promo code HKTRAVELLER for 10% discount

GlocalMe

GlocalME portable WiFi Hotspot
  • There are several models, we have the GlocalMe G3 4G LTE Global Hotspot. Upfront cost for the device US$149.99 and can be bought at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.jp, Amazon.com.au.
  • Connect up to 5 devices
  • Coverage offered in 100+ countries
  • Can also use as a power bank to charge other devices
  • Has 2 additional SIM card slots so you can insert a local SIM card if desired
  • Very flexible with many global, regional or country-specific plans to choose from, Hong Kong data plans include:
    • 300 mb day pass US$1.50
    • 1GB for 7 days US$4
    • 3GB for 30 days US$10

    Global/Regional plans include:
    • 1GB for 1 year US$36
    • Unlimited Data for 1 year (includes 58 countries) US$388

More Info at www.glocalme.com, Buy GlocalMe

Using your Cell/Mobile Phone in Hong Kong

Woman using cell phone in HK

Will my mobile phone from home work in Hong Kong? Very likely but more to the point, it is important to check your existing service provider plan.

Many service providers, in the United States in particular, require that international service be activated. If you do not activate it before leaving home, your phone will not work in Hong Kong or any other international destination for that matter.

Some tips when using your home cell phone in Hong Kong:

  • Check the rates you will be charged per phone call and text message. International rates are extremely expensive, even if you are using your phone to call a local Hong Kong number, because your foreign phone is roaming in the Hong Kong cellular network and is charging you international roaming rates. You also pay if you receive a call. Consider signing up for a special international plan that could save you money. Most providers offer plans for two weeks or a month with lower charges per minute, text message and data.

  • Roaming charges may rack up without you even knowing and even if you are not making any calls or sending any text messages. If your phone receives a call for example, even if you don't answer it and goes straight to voice-mail, you may be charged.

  • Be aware of data roaming charges if using apps and services like e-mail through your smartphone. Sometimes data refreshes might occur periodically without you noticing, check the settings in your device to allow for manual refresh or make sure it is either on airplane mode or totally off to avoid any unwanted roaming charges.

    For European travellers, many providers are doing away with roaming charges and the international plans are quite affordable so this is not much of an issue.

  • If you are planning on using your mobile phone or 3G-enabled iPad or tablet a lot, getting a local Hong Kong SIM card might make more sense and is an easy straight-forward process.

Getting a Hong Kong SIM Card

You can buy a prepaid SIM card in Hong Kong at any of the local telecom outlets throughout the city and easily install it into your mobile phone or tablet, this is a great way to save money if you will be using your phone a lot. You must have an unlocked phone for this to work.

What's an unlocked phone? It is a phone that can be used on any network. Many U.S. carriers in particular "lock" the phones you buy through their plans so they can only be used on their networks for as long as you have a contract (normally 2 years). Most phones sold in Europe and Asia are unlocked. At any rate, if you have no outstanding contract, you should be able to have your carrier "unlock" your phone. Even when you have a contract they agree to unlock it temporarily for the duration of your trip.

Unlocked Phones Offers

Check unlocked phone offers in:

If you have a locked phone, you can also consider a portable wifi device (see above) that enables you to connect up to 5 devices including your locked phone, tablets, notebooks, etc. at substantially lower rates than your roaming charges from your home carrier.

In Hong Kong, there are many network providers including China Mobile, PCCW, CSL, SmarTone, 3 Hong Kong, One2Free, etc.

SIM card, Nano-Sim, Micro-Sim

Getting a SIM card is as easy as dropping by one of the many kiosks and outlets throughout the city or at the airport, 7-elevens and even at vending machines all around town. Their prepaid and pay-as-you-go plans are convenient for short-term travelers.

Make sure you get the right size SIM card for your phone or tablet. Iphone 4 uses the Micro-Sim, Iphone 5 and 6 the smaller Nano-Sim Card. iPads 2 through 4 use the Micro-Sim, the iPad mini and Air use the Nano-Sim. The latest Samsung Smartphones use the Micro-Sim, the oldest models use the traditional SIM card.

The Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card

One of the easiest alternatives with great rates is the Tourist SIM Card offered by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Issued in conjunction with PCCW, there are no subscription or registration charges, just plug in and you're set.

You can choose from a 5-day (HK88, about US$11 ) and 8-day card (HK118, about US$15), there is also an option that includes Macau.

The Discover HK SIM card offers

  • Free local calls
  • Free WiFi at PCCW's extensive network of 13,000+ hotspots
  • 1.5 GB or 5.0GB of mobile data
  • Pre-loaded credit of HK25 and HK35 for international calls and texting (HK$0.45/min rate available for 36 countries)
  • Low international call rates and texting as low as HK$0.45/min available for 36 countries
  • Available also on both Micro and Nano SIM

You can get the Discover Hong Kong SIM card at any PCCW/CSL outlet, HKTB TST Star Ferry Visitor Centre, 7-eleven and Circle K convenience stores including the outlets at the arrivals hall at the airport.

More info here: Prepaid Discover HK Tourist SIM Card

Hong Kong 4G or 3G Sim Card Discount Offer

One2Free Sim Card

This is what we used on our last trip and it worked like a charm. The Sim Card offered by Klook.com was great value and super convenient. There are several options (options and offers may change):

  • 5-Day 4G Sim with 1.5G data (US$6.69)
  • Unlimited 3G data for 8 days (US$7.05) This is data only
  • If you are making phone calls or sending text messages, the 5-day SIM also comes pre-loaded with a HK18 balance and rates are quite affordable. To send a local SMS or text message costs only 0.1-0.7 HKD per message. You can top up your card at China Mobile stores or purchase an HKD100 electronic refill voucher at 7-Eleven stores
  • All sizes are available: Nano, Micro and Mini SIMs

The online booking process is quite simple, just select the number of days and Sim card size required, you will get an email voucher/confirmation which you redeem at the airport where you pick up your card. The counter is conveniently located at the arrivals area and the guy at the counter did all the swaping and activation for all our phones and made sure everything was working as it should, in a matter of minutes we were on our way.

Offers change every now and then. We had a 7-day 3G card, coverage was quite good, worked perfectly everywhere we went including the MTR. Service was a little spotty once we were out in the marshes in the New Territories, but other than that, it worked seamlessly throughout Hong Kong.

It was seven 24-hour days, not calendar days, which unlike other services, if you buy yours at 9:00 pm on a Sunday, that Sunday counts as one day. We got ours on a Sunday at 4:00 pm and it expired the next Sunday before 4:00 pm.

More info and booking: Hong Kong 4G or 3G Sim Card

Buy a Prepaid Hong Kong SIM before you arrive

You can buy a prepaid SIM card before you leave home and avoid the hassle at the airport or local kiosk. There are voice, data or both SIM cards and most can accomodate any size SIM (Nano, Micro, Standard)

Some can be used in Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Japan and Taiwan, useful if you will be travelling to several of these places.

Buy a SIM card for Hong Kong in Canada
Buy a SIM card for Hong Kong in the UK
Buy a SIM card for Hong Kong in Germany
Buy a SIM card for Hong Kong in France
Buy a SIM card for Hong Kong in Japan

Charging your Devices in Hong Kong

Electricity in Hong Kong is 220-240 Volts. This is twice the standard voltage than in North America and some Latin American countries which run on 110V.

The standard wall plugs in most households in Hong Kong are the British and Indian style sockets.

Find out what you will need to charge all of your devices including cameras, phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

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