A rough guide to use China phone cards and mobile
Apart from calling IDD from your hotel room, there are various phone cards available in post offices inside hotels or at most newsstands on the street in China.
Among them IC card and IP card are the most popular ones. Most public telephones you see in booths are IC telephones, which allow you to call home directly. IC card is issued by China Telecom; international calls with IC telephone cards are relatively expensive, usually over 10 RMB per minute. When you buy an IC card and want to call back home, simply just find a telephone booth either in hotel, restaurant, airport or some other places, insert the card into the phone, follow the vocal instructions to dial the number you want.
IP cards are issued by different issuers such as China Telecom, China Unicom, China Netcom and China Jitong, thus the Rates for international calls are different. China Unicom's rate for calls to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan usually is 1.5 RMB per minute, 2.6 RMB per minute to America and Canada while 3.6 RMB per minute to other countries. The others' rates for international calls are either a little bit higher or lower than that of China Unicom. Currently, the IP phone service has covered the whole country, providing international service between China and over 200 countries and regions. There will be instruction on each IP card to tell you how to make a call, you can use the hotel phone to call with IP card and the hotel usually will charge some fare as that of city call.
Please note: some of the IC cards or IP cards can be used only in certain provinces or regions, so please check it and also the expire date before you purchase them.
In China, GSM networks operated by China Mobile provide coverage in every major city, while CDMA network run by China Unicom is improving its coverage, so if you have a dual band or tri band mobile phone or use COSMOTE card, then you can use your mobile phone in China in most big cities, though any calls you make will be considered long-distance. A cheaper option is to buy GSM SIM card, which is a telephone number. There are mainly two kinds you can choose: Shenzhouxing issued by China Mobile, Ruyitong issued by China Unicom. Usually when you buy SIM card, no document is required but prepaid charge and you need to finish using that amount of prepaid charge before indicated date. You can buy charging card in amount of 50 RMB and 100 RMB to recharge in post offices, stores and newsstands easily.
The following is how to dial international call from China:
00+country code + region code + phone number
The country code for USA and Canada is 1, 44 for UK, 61 for Australia, 43 for Austria, 41 for Switzerland, 852 for Hong Kong, 39 for Italy, 31 for Holland, 64 for New Zealand, etc. For the other countries, please check the instruction book in the hotel room.