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Electrical & Adapters/Converters in China and Hong Kong

Electrical & Adapters/Converters in China and Hong Kong

Apr 24th, 2007, 10:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Electrical & Adapters/Converters in China and Hong Kong

One more query (I hope) from rebostraveler: What do I need to know about electrical outlets and adapters or converters for travel to mainland China and Hong Kong? We will have a Viao laptop computer, possibly a travel blow dryer, and possibly a cell phone to charge although I am still not sure how we will go about providing ourselves with a cell phone, and therefore, whether or not we will get the phone in China or the U.S. Any advice is, as always, welcome and appreciated.
rebostraveler is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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Don't lug a hairdryer around. Hotels have hairdrayer in the bathrooms, or housekeeping will loan you a dryer.

You typically don't need a convertor for a lap top and other rechargeable appliances. You on;y need an adaptor. Again, virtually all hotels will have adaptors you can borrow.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 10:48 AM
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China is 220V, and you'll see this type of wall plate in most hotels:


A US plug with two equal length blades will fit without an adapter. A US plug with one blade longer than the other won't, nor will a grounded US 3-blade plug.

Hong Kong is also 220V (used to be 200V), and at all newer places, the only plug you'll find is the UK one like this:


I agree about not bringing a hair blower. If you have to, make sure you bring one with a built-in 110/220 switch; or buy one there. Never uses a voltage converter for a large current appliance like a hair blower.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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On the cell phone question...if you have a major US carrier you could ask them about adding international roaming. We have 3 Cingular phones in our family. Cingular said one of them would be compatible with HK networks. So we added international roaming at $5.99 a month (plus very expensive per minute airtime) and then removed the roaming on that phone when we got back. It did work fine for our recent trip to Hong Kong. We did not go to the mainland so you'd have to ask your carrier about network availability there.

If you need to make a lot of calls back to the US a less expensive option I've heard about is using an unlocked phone that will work with a prepaid SIM card you buy when you get there.

Just a side note...from a practical standpoint we found ourselves making and getting very few US calls because of the time difference.

Hope this helps!
alcook2 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 06:25 PM
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Normally I would not recco a hairdryer either, but I believe you are staying in a hostel, so they may not have them. However, I am assuming your travel dryer is dual voltage. If it is not, do not bother to bring it with a converter, as the converters really donít work well. Anything which needs to generates heat just does not work well using a converter, you canít get enough power from the converter. Just buy a new travel dryer which is dual voltage. You can buy them everywhere in the states, just check with any drugstore, they are widely available. Once you have a dual voltage appliance, all you need is a plug adapter to ďadaptĒ the two-pin round plug to the three-round electric wall socket you will find in Hong Kong and the PRC. There is a website called voltagevalet.com that in my experience is a fairly reliable source of information on the type of outlet configurations you are likely to find in virtually any country in the world. click on "What You Will Need for Where you Want to Go" from the menu on the left. Another helpful site is http://www.escapeartist.com/global/W...wer_Guide.html. You can buy adaptor plugs in the US in travel stores, Radio Shack or on-line from Travelsmith, Magellan, etc or here in Hong Kong at places like Wing On Department Store or Fotress Electronics, even most supermarkets carry them.

What is the purpose of the laptop? I would be a bit concerned about the traveling with that if you are staying in a hostel, they may not have adequate security or a safe. They are also bulky and can be heavy to lug around. If you just want to stay in touch by e-mail, you can get free internet for the price of a cup of coffee or juice at any Pacific Coffee Company in Hong Kong or the PRC (go to www.pacificcoffee.com) or at any MIX juice/sandwich place in Hong Kong (http://www.mix-world.com/default.asp_. For a list of cybercafés in the PRC and Hong Kong generally, go to http://cybercafe.com.

For the mobile phone, I am not sure again why you would really want to go to the trouble and expense of having one. Certainly signing up for international long distance service with a US carrier is gong to be quite expensive for long distance calls, and they will most likely charge you for local calls made within Hong Kong and the PRC. You can of course buy a local sim card in the PRC and Hong Kong and use that, but you have to have a phone that works here (I assume you donít have one now) which seems an unnecessary expense. You could just buy a phone card and make calls from local pay phones and other phones to the extent you need to make calls, or use an AT&T calling card. (E-mail also works very well for staying in touch with people from home and is free and as noted above does not have the time difference issues). FYI local phone calls within Hong Kong are free and you can just use phones in hotels, restaurants and shops to make a local call if you want to call a restaurant for a booking or call a taxi, etc.
Cicerone is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 05:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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yes, just buy a SIM card when you get there. They are only HK100 and come precharged with minutes. Just make certain your phone is GSM (Cingular) and is unlocked. Verizon's phones will not work there
baaj is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 07:26 AM
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okay...the hairdryer is out--we are not staying in hostels so I will likely be okay...worst case scenario is I have to buy a cheap blow dryer there and leave it behind when I come home.

In regards to the cell phone, normally I would not care. But we are taking my 80 year old dad and my mom is asking that we have a cell phone and stay in touch, (she is not going with us.)But setting up the whole cell phone thing sounds like such a pain...I like the convenience of just adding international roaming to my phone, (if possible with my verizon phone/account,) but won't I have to do a year's contract or something? alcook2 said he was able to have it (internat'l roaming) turned off upon return...does that sound feasable or doable? I know the airtime will be expensive, but I don't really plan to do anything but call my mom every other day or so and maybe receive a few calls from her...if I get international roaming, will she be calling a U.S. number or an international number?

As to the laptop, (and re: Cicerone's query,) my husband bought it especially for this trip--Viao, by the way, is the new lightweight laptop--he simply wants to occupy himself on the plane by playing games and watching movies. I wouldn't really want to lug it on a trip to China, but...We will be staying at hotels so the issue of theft from a hostel probabaly isn't an issue...just curious if we need to buy anything special to charge it...sound like we need only an adapter.
rebostraveler is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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You don't even need an adapter for your laptop, if your current plug has two even blades.

Your Verizon mobile phone (the actual handset) won't work in China, because China uses the GSM network protocol, and Verizon doesn't. It'll be very expensive and impractical to rent a phone from Verizon that works overseas, if possible at all.

If you must have a cellphone while in China, buy an unlocked GSM phone with at least 900 and 1800MHz frequencies. You can often find one for about $50 on ebay or sometimes from Tigerdirect.com

The keywords are:
- unlocked
- 900
- 1800

If you don't see all 4 words, skip it. Or wait until you're in China to buy one. Then buy a Chinese SIM card to use it in China, and another one in Hong Kong.

You'll have a local Chinese or Hong Kong number with those SIM cards, so your mom will be dialing internationally. Make sure your mom has a reasonable international plan at her phone. Without one, it may cost over $1 per minute to dial to China or Hong Kong. With a plan that costs ~$5, it drops to about $0.05/minute.

To dial a Chinese SIM, she'll call 011-86-xxxx-xxxxxx

To dial a Hong Kong SIM, she'll call

You'll need to find out the number after you get there and let her know, unless you pay extra for one of the dealers here in the US which sell those SIMs with a huge markup.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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Thank you rkkwan...I so hope I have finally gotten all my questions squared away! I think I am going to buy the phone and SIM card when I arrive in China just like you reccomend, or I will simply get a phone card...if my Mom must call us, she will need to get an international plan!
rebostraveler is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 08:27 AM
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just one tip if you are not familiar with cell phones and sim cards ...

If you get a GSM phone here before you leave for China/Hong Kong, just remember that many phones have the option of entering the phone numbers (1)directly in the phone itself, or (2) in the sim card. If you enter all the phone numbers into your phone, then you still have all the numbers when you switch sim cards.

Johnmango is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 05:30 PM
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Hi! Here's little more information on phones, etc. With Cingular, the International Roaming they offered only had to stay on for a 30 day minimum with no other setup fees, etc. We did this successfully twice in the last 12 months, once for a UK trip and once for Hong Kong (returned 4 weeks ago). The 30 day minimum may have actually been for our billing cycle, I just don't remember.

For calls from family to us in China I bought a very inexpensive ($10) "virtual" phone card from an Ebay vendor http://www.pinzoo.com. Then I gave the toll-free access number, the PIN, and dialing instructions for China to all of our family members here "just in case". The charge for US calls to China was about 5 cents a minute.

alcook2 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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I bought a set of 5 ungrounded adapters. I think one or two of them can be used in China. My concern is: one of the items I have to plug in has three prongs. All of my adapters accommodate only two prong plugs. If I buy one of those 3 to 2 adapters, will it work?
fotogal is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 11:36 AM
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Oh Dear, What a load of tosh advised here.
All you need is a universal mains adaptor which will be available at any international airport for a few pounds.
Three pins, two pins, flat or round, short or long, it's irellevant really. 220 or 200 volts makes absolutely no difference. You will find that variation in any western city, probably from street to street.

Here is a link to my favorite travel adaptor( cant say how many years I've had it, but it has been to at least a dozen countries and is still going strong)


LeighTravelClub is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 12:27 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 14
Unfortunately I don't have time to follow up on Leigh's advise. I just need to know if a 3 to 2 adapter would work in China. With this adapter, I could plug in my 3 prong plug and the other side has 2 prongs that would plug into the wall adapter. The 3 to 2 would be between my plug and the adapter in the wall outlet. Will this work in China?
fotogal is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 11:05 PM
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LeighTravelClub is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 06:42 AM
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A three-prong to two-prong adapter will give you power, but won't give you grounding. Your appliance have the third pin for a reason, so you're taking a risk in not using a ground.

To properly get grounding, you should use the three pin "Australia" plug, as you can see in the link I provided earlier in this thread.

That's the wall plate:


This is the grounded adapter you should use:

rkkwan is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 11:25 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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A two pin socket, which is what you will find will NOT give you grounding (an earth connection), regardless of what adaptor you use.

Also note......the HUGE majority of modern appliances do not have a three wire cable THUS rendering the the earth connection useless.

A travel kettle is the only exception that comes quickly to mind.
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 76
Please.... another question concerning cellular phone calls OUT of Japan, mainland China & HK. Mostly I'll be the one making the calls to my business & sons, but might be getting some calls.
I have the important keywords: Cingular GSM cell phone, unlocked with 1800 MHZ frequency. It has worked beautiful all over Europe & last year in Athens, Turkey & Egypt. Usually I use my carrier international roaming & the costs of calls have been reasonable. Reading these posts ... I wonder if it will it be more convenient and or cheaper to buy a prepaid Sim card to be used with my cell phone. Never have used them but some advise/suggestion will be appreciated. Thanks
DorisG is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 01:47 PM
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1. Japan doesn't use the GSM protocol. Your phone won't work there.

2. 900 and 1800 MHz are both required to get comprehensive coverage in China and Hong Kong. Not just 1800.

3. A local SIM will be significantly cheaper than using Cingular's when calling from China and Hong Kong. Especially for local and incoming calls. You're talking about up to 100x difference. For calls back to the US, the savings will be less, especially from China.
rkkwan is offline  

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