So you’re heading to Hong Kong and need a convenient, quick way to get data on your phone? An eSIM may be your new best friend.

Gone are the days of queuing for SIMs in airports. The eSIM has enabled mobile operators to move the customer journey online. The question now is, which eSIM option do you choose when visiting HK? That’s where we’re here to help.

What is an eSIM?

Simply put, an eSIM is a digital version of a physical SIM card. Since 2018, most mobile devices now come with an eSIM embedded directly into the device. This means that changing carriers, data providers, or service plans can all be done with just a few clicks and swipes.

Pros to an eSIM

No need to worry about losing your physical SIM. | Photo by Getty Images.

This virtual version of a SIM is more convenient for several reasons. For starters, if you have separate work and personal phones, you can now have both lines operating from the same device. Some devices allow for up to eight eSIM profiles to be stored (with two active at a time), making it much easier to switch between carriers or data plans. No need to physically add or remove cards each time.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of an eSIM is when traveling internationally. Just set up your eSIM with an international plan before (or after) you set off and you’ll be connected the moment you arrive.

Cons to an eSIM

While eSIMs are definitely much more convenient than a physical card, there are still some downsides. If you currently use one SIM between several devices, you will need to go through the eSIM activation process each time you swap devices. Plus, not all carriers allow for transfers between devices.

Also, if you are concerned about your data provider tracking your location, you can’t physically remove an eSIM like you can with a normal card so there’s nowhere to hide!

eSIMs in Hong Kong: Your options

eSIMs in Hong Kong are definitely a growing market. And that’s despite the fact that phones brought in China do not feature eSIM capabilities and only some models in HK do. It is not illegal to use eSIMs in Hong Kong though, it is just not as common as other locations. That being said, most local providers now offer eSIM options. The four main providers here are;

  • 3 Hong Kong (includes SoSIM)
  • CSL Mobile (by HK Telecom)
  • China Mobile HK (CMHK)
  • SmarTone HK

Both local and international providers all offer varying location packages. Some include just Hong Kong on its own, while others cover HK and Macau, HK and Mainland China, and multiple destinations in the APAC region under one plan.

However, regardless of whether it’s an eSIM or physical SIM, if you are getting a local card in HK you must register it before you can use it. Real-name registration is mandatory in Hong Kong and you must upload your identification document for successful registration. Some carriers will approve your registration almost instantly whereas for others, it can take a few days. Some international eSIM providers will also require ID before activation.

eSIMs in Hong Kong: Local Carriers

Stay connected. | Photo by FangXiaNuo/E+ via Getty Images

Here are some of our top picks for local carriers who offer eSIMs.

There are other local providers who offer amazing deals on prepaid physical SIMs but still don’t offer prepaid options for eSIMs.

3 Hong Kong

3 Hong Kong offers a range of voice and data plans for visitors to Hong Kong. Plans that include coverage for mainland China are also available. Basic DIY prepaid SIM options include 2GB, 12GB, 20GB, or 36GB options, and have set time limits of 24 hours, 30 days, and 365 days. Plan prices vary from HK$50.00 to HK$270.00 based on data amount and length but minimum spend is HK$50.00.
3 Hong Kong DIY SIMs run on a 4.5g network and LTE coverage is fairly reliable across Hong Kong, especially among the main tourist hot spots.

Some users have shared issues with 3 Hong Kong taking a few days to approve the real name registration process, which may not be ideal if you are only visiting for a short time.


Part of the 3 Hong Kong group, SoSim is probably the best value-for-data plan across HK. They have separate options for data only, voice only, and combo packages. Data-only options start from as little as 500MB for 1 day at HK$10.00, 2GB for 2 days at HK$18.00, and 5GB for 7 days at HK$25.00.

Their best packages include 60GB, 5000 local voice minutes, unlimited streaming data (for Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV etc), 30 days anti-scam service at only HK$50.00. Various travel data packages are also available that include most regions around the globe at a range of data amounts and prices.

SoSIM also allows data sharing across devices, which is a big plus. However, the website and corresponding app are a little less user-friendly than some of the other options out there.

eSIMs in Hong Kong: International Carriers

Get set up before you land. | Photo by Getty Images

If you are looking for data only options, then you can consider one of the global companies. Many of these don’t require real-name registration which makes the whole process a bit smoother and it means you can get your travel data organized before you land in Hong Kong.


Airalo is a popular eSIM provider, and for good reason too. It has one of the fastest data speeds on the market, especially for the cost. If you’re looking for a data-only package then Airalo is a great option.

Airalo roams using CSL in Hong Kong, which has extensive LTE coverage across all regions in the city. Packages start at as little as 1GB for 7 days at HK$40.00, 3GB for 30 days at HK$65.00, 5GB for 30 days at HK$94.00, and 10GB for 30 days at HK$149.00.

If you’re traveling around Asia, then consider the Asialink eSIM. It includes China, HK, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Korea. Packages go all the way up to 100GB for 180 days at HK$1,447.00.

Getting an Airalo eSIM is extremely user friendly. The whole process of selecting your package, signing up for an Airalo account, payment, and accessing the QR code to activate your SIM is quick and easy. You also get access to 24-hour customer support (English only) and a handy app to check your data usage.


One of the more expensive options, Holafly manages to keep customers happy with its unlimited data plans that range from 5 days (HK$149.00) to 90 days (HK$774.00). This is a great option if you are worried about running out of data. However no voice/text options are included and the download speed is somewhat slower than other carriers.

Overall, the installation process is easy, no real-name registration is required, the app is decent and 24-hour customer service is provided in several languages — perfect for all kinds of travel.


One of the cheapest options on the market, Nomad has three options available (all of which are data only plans); HK only, APAC (with either 14 or 19 countries across the region) and global (either 109 or 138 countries worldwide). For the Hong Kong-only option, there are various data limits available from 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, 10GB, 15GB, and 20 GB lasting a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 45 days. Data roams using CSL and China Mobile, both of which have good coverage across the city.

The app makes it easy to top up data but make sure you do this before your plan expires as otherwise you will need to redo the initial activation process again. No real-name registration is required and a good customer service platform is provided, but only in English.

Maya Mobile

Maya Mobile offers data plans for HK only as well as an ‘Asia’ card which features 12 countries in the region. In Hong Kong, data roams using CSL and the speed is consistent, usually maintaining LTE signal across the city. Plans come in either 5, 10, 15, or 30 day options from 3GB up to an unlimited data plan with no daily data cap. However, speed will be throttled to 1Mbps after 30GB has been used within 30 days (most travelers typically consume less than 30GB a month). Prices start at HK$55.00 (3GB, 5 days) and go up to HK$460.00 (unlimited data, 30 days).

Data speeds are suitable for basic phone use e.g. social apps, communication, and music but they don’t recommend using their data packages for downloading large files or streaming tv shows. Data can also be tethered across other devices for most plans, which is always a handy feature.

Overall, the Maya Mobile user experience is a smooth one. They currently don’t have an App which may be one small drawback if you like to keep track of your data. But this can still be easily done by logging into your account on their website.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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