Using A Cellphone In China

All Europeans, most Australians, and many North Americans use GSM (Global System for Mobiles). But while everyone else can take a regular GSM phone to China, North Americans, who operate on a different frequency, need to have a more expensive tri-band model.

International roaming charges can be horrendously expensive. It's far cheaper to buy a pre-paid chip with a new number in China or Hong Kong (but you'll need a different chip for each destination). You may need to call your cellular operator to "unlock" your phone in order to use it with a local provider.

Renting a phone is an expensive alternative, best done from home, since such services are not widely available in China. That way you can give out your new number, and make sure the phone works. You'll usually pay $40 to $50 per week, plus air-time fees of at least a dollar a minute. In the U.S., two good wireless rental companies are InTouch USA (& 800/8727626; www.intouchglobal.com) and RoadPost (& 888/290-1606 or 905/ 272-5665; www.roadpost.com).

10 Getting There

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