Best Travel eSIM Options for Hong Kong [Testing & Review]

A summary of the top recommended eSIM for those traveling to Hong Kong.

Best Travel eSIM Options for Hong Kong [Testing & Review]
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This article is updated in June 2024 to reflect the latest information and data.

This article reviews carefully-selected 5 top travel eSIM options (prepaid eSIM services) that are convenient for staying connected during a trip to Hong Kong. Apart from the product details such as plans and prices, I tested out multiple eSIMs on the ground and compared their performance as well.

Whether you're traveling for leisure or business, this post should provide some useful insights if you're considering using an eSIM for internet access in Hong Kong (which I highly recommend!).

Before getting into the main topic, please note that there are many other prepaid eSIMs available for Hong Kong trip beyond the ones introduced here. So be sure to check out esimdb.com 👇 to explore and compare various options before making your final selection.

Compare eSIM for Hong Kong - Find the best prepaid data plans for travelers
List of eSIM data plans & prices for Hong Kong. Search for the best travel eSIM by GB and customer reviews.

*As an iPhone user, all my tests were conducted using an iPhone.


Mobile Carriers in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has several major mobile carriers such as China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK), 3HK, SmarTone, and PCCW (including HKT & CSL). However, given the country's compact size, there isn't a huge difference in their coverage areas as far as I looked up.

Just to be sure, I asked Perplexity (a large language model / AI similar to ChatGPT that can answer questions based on web information), and it provided a similar response.

Answer from AI about 4G coverage in Hong Kong

While it's best not to rely too heavily on data from Statista (in my own experience), sources like nPerf also indicate that there shouldn't be major issues with signal coverage on any network. While we can't speak for 5G in rural areas, 4G coverage should not be a problem regardless of which network you are connected to.

(Note that this refers to the areas where signals are available. Actual network speeds are a different story...)


Ok, now on to the actual travel eSIM reviews 👉

Airalo

Arguably the most well-known travel eSIM service, Airalo offers best-in-class user experience with a wide range of data plans for various parts of the world.

For those who haven't used it yet, a comprehensive guide from purchasing to installing their eSIM, as well as how to use the 10% discount promo code "ESIMDB10", can be found in the article linked below.

How to buy and install Airalo eSIM
All you need to know to start using Airalo eSIM.

Their eSIM can be installed directly from the app without a QR code, making it easy for people trying out a travel eSIM for the first time.

Airalo's Hong Kong Data Plans

While Airalo may have lost some of its price competitiveness in recent years, it still offers reasonably good value for Hong Kong in my opinion.

*The following information is as of June 2024. Please check Airalo's official website for the latest information.

Airalo's "Hkmobile" eSIM for Hong Kong comes in five plans. (Previously, there were four, but a 2GB plan has been added.)

Hkmobile plans and prices - Airalo
Data Validity Price Price/GB
1GB 7 Days $4.5 $4.5
2GB 15 Days $7 $3.5
3GB 30 Days $8.5 $2.83
5GB 30 Days $12 $2.4
10GB 30 Days $19 $1.9
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10% discount from the prices above with the promo code "ESIMDB10"

For a short trip or business stay, the 5GB plan is likely a good sweet spot for most users' data needs. It only costs $10.80 with the 10% discount code, which isn't too pricey.

Heavy data users or those staying multiple weeks may want to consider the 10GB option for extra peace of mind. At $17.10 with the discount, it works out to well under $2 per GB.

*For the Hkmobile plans, the validity period starts as soon as you first connect to the network in Hong Kong.

Speeds & Performance in Hong Kong

*Tested in: June 2024
*Device Used: iPhone 15 Pro

After arriving at Hong Kong International Airport, I enabled Data Roaming for the Airalo eSIM and set it for Cellular Dat, and was able to connect to the internet almost immediately.

It connected to CSL 4G service.

Airalo eSIM connected to CSL 4G

Although I didn't have time to visit outlying islands this time, the coverage from the airport to and within the city (including Kowloon and Hong Kong Island) was great, with no instances of losing signal even in the subway.

Network Speed

Below are the speed test results for Airalo's eSIM in Hong Kong. The areas tested, from left to right, are Hong Kong International Airport, around Mong Kok, and around Central (in Hong Kong island).

Speeds and latency - Airalo

Download speeds varied quite a lot, from tens to hundreds of Mbps, but it was mostly quite satisfactory. Upload speeds were relatively slower, about 5 - 30 Mbps, but considering that normal internet usage during travel primarily involves downloading, this shouldn't be much of an issue. (At least it was not in my case.)

It appears that this eSIM uses Singtel's roaming network via Singapore, with Ping of around 70 milliseconds. This latency level is actually better than average for a roaming network.

As far as my personal opinion goes, I found the connection "reasonably satisfying". The latency = response time wasn't too bad, the speed was decent, and I didn't encounter any major issues or downtime.

Tethering (Personal Hotspot) also works which is a plus.

Checking Data Balance

You can check your data usage / balance, and buy additional data if needed through the Airalo mobile app (iOS, Android).

eSIM details - Airalo iOS app

There are cheaper eSIMs out there but some of them don't come with a dedicated app. Keeping this in mind when choosing an eSIM may be helpful.

Summary for Airalo eSIM

✅ User-friendly website and app interface, easy to buy and install eSIMs

✅ Fairly reasonable pricing for their 5 Hkmobile plans, plus 10% off with "ESIMDB10" code to make them even cheaper

✅ Connects to CSL's 4G network with satisfactory overall connectivity performance (for my needs)

Nomad

Nomad is another travel eSIM startup offering wallet-friendly pricing and a vast collection of plans available on their website and app.

Over the past year or so, they've released an Android app and increased their data plan offering quite significantly, making them one of the most evolving travel eSIM services out there.

If you haven't used Nomad eSIM yet, please refer to the article below for a detailed guide on purchasing and installing their eSIM (with helpful images).

How to buy and install Nomad eSIM
This article explains how to get started with Nomad eSIM.

Also, don't forget to use the $3 discount code "ESIMDB3" if you decide to go with Nomad.

Nomad's eSIM Plans for Hong Kong

*The following information is accurate as of the time of writing. Please check Nomad's official website for the most up-to-date information.

Nomad offers 6 data plans for Hong Kong.

Data Validity Price Price/GB
1GB 7 Days $4 $4
3GB 30 Days $9 $3
5GB 30 Days $12 $2.4
10GB 30 Days $18 $1.8
15GB 30 Days $20 $1.33
20GB 45 Days $25 $1.25

For plans with 10GB or more, the cost per GB drops below $2, making them very cost-effective. And using the "ESIMDB3" promo code saves you another $3 off, making them even better value.

The 3GB plan and below are a bit pricier, so I'd recommend looking opting for plans with 5GB or more.

Network Quality

*Tested in: April 2023

With Nomad, be sure to activate your data plan ahead of arriving in Hong Kong (you can do this e.g. a day before your departure). Without activating, the eSIM won't work.

Just hit "Activate Data Now" on Nomad's website or app, that's all it takes. The plan validity period starts from this activation time.

Activate Data on iOS app - Nomad

Once activated and landed in Hong Kong, the steps are the same as Airalo eSIM:

  1. Enable Data Roaming
  2. Set it for Cellular Data

That's it.

Nomad eSIM connected to CSL LTE

In Hong Kong, Nomad's eSIM connected to CSL LTE.

Although there is a slight difference of LTE vs 4G, Nomad eSIM uses the same CSL network as Airalo's, so the coverage and reception was perfectly fine.  No congestion problems in crowded areas either.

Speeds

Below are the speed test results for Nomad eSIM connected to CSL. From left to right, the locations are Hong Kong International Airport, Mong Kok, and Central.

Speedtest results - Nomad eSIM

Both download and upload speeds are stable, although they're generally on the slower side. Still, perfectly usable for my internet use during my travel, such as Google Maps, Uber, Social media, browsing, etc.

This eSIM gets a Hong Kong IP address, resulting in a good Ping of around 40 milliseconds (IPS is PCCW Global).

In summary, compared to Airalo, Nomad has slightly slower speeds but better ping. In practice, there wasn't a significant difference between the two.

Tethering (Personal Hotspot) is also supported.

Managing eSIM with Nomad App

You can check your real-time data usage and plan validity on Nomad's official web or mobile app. You can also purchase additional data plans when needed (for the same price as the original plans).

Nomad iOS app screens

Their app is well-crafted and easy to use.

Summary of Nomad's Hong Kong eSIM

✅ Excellent value especially on 5GB+ plans, plus $3 off with "ESIMDB3" code

✅ Connects to CSL's network, with decent speeds and good latency

✅ Polished, user-friendly design across website and mobile app

MobiMatter (3HK eSIM)

MobiMatter is an e-commerce wesite offering various affordable travel eSIM packages. Although the selection occasionally changes, it is one of the best sites for finding low-cost prepaid eSIMs.

The 3HK eSIM available on their website comes with a Hong Kong phone number and free calls, making it unique and useful. However, it requires ID verification (eKYC) before use, which might make it more suitable for experienced users.

*3HK (or 3 Hong Kong) is a telecom carrier in Hong Kong operating under the "3" brand by Hutchison.

For detailed instructions on purchasing an eSIM from MobiMatter, please refer to the dedicated article below.

Purchasing eSIM from MobiMatter and their member benefits explained
Detailed instructions on how to buy travel eSIMs on MobiMatter.

3HK eSIMs from MobiMatter

*Information as of June 2024.

The MobiMatter's Hong Kong eSIM page shows a list of eSIMs available for use in Hong Kong.

Since there are many types of eSIMs listed, including those usable in multiple countries, it might be easier to check them on eSIMDB Hong Kong > MobiMatter page.

Among these eSIMs, the ones specifically for Hong Kong are as follows:

  • 2GB / 30 days: $7.99 (includes 1000 minutes of free calls)
  • 12GB / 30 days: $15.99 (includes 2000 minutes of free calls)
  • 120GB / 365 days: $43.99 (includes 10,000 minutes of free calls)

All of these are provided by 3HK and come with a +852 phone number.

In terms of value for money, the 12GB and 120GB plans are the obvious winners. But unless you're a frequent Hong Kong visitor, 120GB is likely overkill, so the 12GB option is probably the ideal pick for most.

The 12GB plan is priced at $15.99, but you can get an additional 3% discount by registering an account on MobiMatter, making it even cheaper.

A few other key points about these 3HK eSIMs:

  • eKYC (ID registration) is required through 3's official site (*more on this later)
  • Must be activated within 6 months from purchase
  • Validity period starts when you install the eSIM
  • Tethering / Personal Hotspot supported
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MobiMatter also offers tourist eSIMs for Hong Kong, China, and Macau. Those could be good options if you'll be visiting Macau or mainland cities like Shenzhen too.

Online Real-name Registration for 3HK eSIM

Since 3HK eSIMs come with a local Hong Kong phone number, eKYC called real-name registration is required under the law.

The process is explained in the email sent by MobiMatter, but below are the steps.

  1. After arriving in Hong Kong, set your eSIM to cellular data and open the registration page (https://www.three.com.hk/prepaid/account/en/rnr-reg)
  2. The eSIM's phone number or ICCID (identification number) will be automatically detected / entered (if not, you copy and paste either of them manually)
  3. Scan your passport and the information will be entered automatically
  4. Done

In my case, however, I couldn't access the URL in step 1 for some reason. So, I had no choice but to use Wi-Fi to access the webpage and manually copy-paste my number.

(For iPhone users, you can find the ICCID by going to Settings > General > About.)

In case you can't access the registration page using eSIM

If you open the registration page on a device connected to the internet via WiFi, you will see a screen where you can choose to log in with either a mobile phone number or ICCID. For mobile phone number, enter the 8-digit number without the initial +852; for ICCID, copy-paste the entire number. Then, you will receive an OTP (one-time password) via SMS to log in.

Once you log in, you'll choose between Individual user and Organization user. Select Individual user, scan your passport, check the auto-entered information, and press Confirm to complete the real-name registration.

You'll receive a SMS shortly after when it's successful.

Although the process is a bit cumbersome, it should not take more than a couple of minutes, and your eSIM will be activated right away. I believe you can complete the process using the free Wi-Fi at the airport after you arrive in Hong Kong.

It would be ideal if you could complete the whole registration process before going to Hong Kong, but since you need to receive the OTP via SMS, it's only possible to do it in Hong Kong (physically).

Network Quality

As far as I observed, it was mostly on LTE, with occasional 5G.

3HK eSIM on LTE network

There were no signal issues in the airport, Kowloon Peninsula, or Hong Kong Island.

Speeds

The screenshots below show the actual speed test results for the 3HK eSIM on LTE. From left to right, the locations are Kowloon Bay area, Mong Kok area, and Central area.

Speedtest results for 3HK eSIM

Since it's not a roaming connection, Ping is around 20 ms which is great. The download speeds are also good.

With a speed like this, it should be sufficient enough for most of the internet activities while traveling I believe.

You can check the remaining data using MobiMatter's official website or their mobile app.

3HK eSIM (sold by MobiMatter) Rundown

✅ Great value for money, probably the cheapest price per GB in the market

✅ User registration required for activation but can be done online with little effort

✅ Good Ping and satisfactory speeds for travelers


eSIM has potential

Prices for typical Hong Kong SIM cards usually fall between $10 and $20, depending on the data capacity (to my knowledge). I believe this article demonstrates that there are a number of eSIM options available at comparable prices as well.

Although physical SIM cards may still have the edge in terms of cost, I personally believe that eSIMs are a viable alternative, considering that they eliminate concerns about losing or swapping tiny cards.

And if/when you are considering eSIM for your trip, not just to Hong Kong but in general, be sure to compare various options on esimdb.com 👇

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