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Phone Calls in China

Mobile Phones

Having a mobile phone during your stay in China can be extremely practical, especially if you're traveling on business. China has both GSM and CDMA networks, though the former is far more popular. You can bring your tri-band phone from home and it'll work with the Chinese networks, though any calls you make will be considered long distance. A cheaper option, and one that is especially attractive to people who visit frequently, is to acquire a local telephone number. To do so, simply buy a SIM card, which is a telephone number, at any mobile phone store and insert it into your phone don't forget to replace it with your original card when you go home. (Incidentally, cell phone numbers which contain lucky digits, like "8", which sounds like "wealth" in Chinese, are more expensive than those with unlucky ones, like "4" which sounds like "death.") Once you have a local number, purchase a prepaid calling card, they come in denominations of RMB 50, 100, 300 and 50add it to your SIM card and start dialing.

Phone Card

Internet Phone cards are very common in China. They can be found in hotels, news kiosks, airports and many stores. These cards can be used for domestic long distance and international calls. International rates run from RMB 2.5 to 3.5per minute. Conventional phone cards are twice the price and are found only in hotels and telecommunication shops. Dialing direct and calling collect are more expensive options.

For local calls, a mobile phone isn't a necessity since there are many card-operated phone booths in the city one can purchase the necessary "IC" phone cards in mom-and-pop shops, newsstands and phone stores. Furthermore, many small shops prominently display (usually red) phones that customers can use for a fee.