E.T. Phone Home from China

Matt | Calling Home (Phone) | Monday, February 18th, 2008

Calling home from China isn’t easy at first. But like anything, as soon as you find a way, it’s actually a lot easier than you think. To call internationally, there are three ways that I know how to do it: 1) use your land line phone and just call (it’s quite costly); 2) use an IP card, or 3) use Skype on the Net. As the land line option is quite costly, I don’t recommend it. Also, unless you are staying in your own apartment, the university room or hotel room might not allow you to make outgoing calls.

Using an IP Card. This is the preferred way to make long distance calls in China especially if you don’t have your own computer. You can buy these cards at most newspaper stands. Usually you buy 100 RMB cards. But to confuse things, they only should cost about 30-50 RMB . As of Feb, 2008 it costs me 33RMB for a 100RMB card in Beijing. I don’t know why they discount it like this. Some unsuspecting foreigners have paid 100RMB for a 100RMB card. Lots of times I’ve had the vendors try to trick me with this one. Be aware. On the back of the IP card there will be a 17xxx number. You dial it and then there are directions on how to make your international call. The directions will guide you in English, which is a nice plus. The card that works best for me is a China Unicom 17910 card. So I’d dial:

17910 then go through the directions, put in all my numbers and eventually call Canada 001 613 820 0000

This card gives me about 40 minutes for 40 RMB. So it’s about 1RMB ($0.15CAD) per minute. Which isn’t bad, until I finally got on Skype.

Using Skype is the best way I have found to call Canada from China. Now, I should say that I have and use the Internet a lot so I have unlimited Internet hours. I did have to buy a headset (100RMB). But after that, I logged onto Skype.com bought 10 hours or 600 minutes for 10Euros. This works out to about $0.015 Euro or $0.02CAD per minute. Then all you do is open Skype on your computer dial the number you want 001 613 820 0000 and your call is going through from your computer to their land line. The connection is quite clear. Sometimes there are some delays. But, calling with IP cards in China isn’t always clear either. If you use Skype and the person you are talking to is also on Skype, it’s actually free. Skype is the best and cheapest way I know of to call home or to call anyone.

Now I just need to do it more often.

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