Payments in China

There are currency exchange offices in the airports. They have terrible exchange rates compared to what you might see online.

Large stores and hotels accept Visa and MasterCard. Some POS terminals will ask you if you want to pay in RMB/CNY or USD. I heard a lot of banks internally convert to USD anyway, so it might be better to always choose payments in USD.

If you have WeChat installed, you can use WeChat Pay / Weixin Pay, link it with your card and use it for payments. You won’t find anyone that doesn’t accept WeChat payments.

SIM cards

China Unicom gives 7/14/30 day SIM cards with mobile data. You need to provide them with your passport and they’ll take a couple pictures of you and your passport. You can pay with WeChat as well as Visa/MasterCard. I paid 150 CNY for the 14-day SIM card with the 40 GB package. The 7 day SIM card costs 100 CNY.

The SIM card activates and starts working pretty quickly, less than 15 minutes after it’s plugged into the phone. The speed is all right.

There used to be kiosks in the airport that gave you a Snail Mobile SIM card after a video call showing your passport. These no longer exist, at least it didn’t the last time I checked.

Chinese visa

To enter China, one needs a Chinese visa.

  • Need Q2 visa for family.
  • -> This is the page to apply.

Entry to China

You will need to fill an entry form. They provide the forms in the airport, but there might not be pens available to fill them with. The form asks for your name, date of birth, phone number, flight number, return flight number, reason of visit, the cities you’re going to visit and the name/address/phone number of the place you’ll be staying.

If you were invited by someone, that person can get a message or phone call by the local police station to provide some information like your passport number. This can happen the day after you arrive.

Also if you check in to a hotel, immigration police might randomly visit. In my case they just asked to see my passport.