Macau is known as the Las Vegas of China. The city is a Special Administrative Region of China and is the only part of China where you can find casinos. Gambling is illegal under Chinese law, which makes Macau an attractive destination for Chinese citizens, or other (South)East Asians residents, who like to gamble.
As a tourist destination, you can visit the Fisherman’s Wharf, the Macao Museum, and the ruins of St. Paul’s – it is not just casinos and gambling. The Senado Square is a lovely public square for shopping and dining, while the Macau Convention and Entertainment center allows you to have dinner at a higher level, literally.
What you should not gamble with, however, is to roam with your provider. Roaming can be expensive, which is why seasoned travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card for each destination. Travelers visiting Macau can buy local SIM cards, which I will tell you all about in this article.
Telecom Providers in Macau
Macau has 4 telecom providers: CTM, 3 Macau, China Telecom, and SmarTone. CTM seems to be the largest operator in Macau, mainly because the other providers have not reported their numbers. China Telecom used CMDA technology for its cellular services.
It is not important to know what that means. What you should know is that, unless you are with Sprint or Verizon (American providers) or a handful of operators that use CMDA, you would not be able to use a China Telecom SIM card.
Moreover, their 4G/LTE network adheres to the Chinese Government’s censorship (the Great Firewall of China), which makes it an unattractive SIM card provider for travelers. As a result, they will not be discussed in this article.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Macau? If you want to buy a SIM card in Macau, I would recommend going with CTM or Three Macau because both providers offer many data packages that will fit your needs.
As of 2019, 2G networks have been shut down for domestic use but are still active for roaming partners. This means that you need a phone that can handle at least 3G. If you are looking to use data in Macau, you most likely have a 3G-capable phone already. More than 90% of the population of Macau use 4G/LTE, so they are not missing out on anything. You will not either because 4G/LTE coverage is excellent with all the providers.
Unlike most East Asian countries, you do not have to register yourself when buying a SIM card. In fact, you can buy SIM cards from vending machines if you want to.
Although Macau is part of China, the internet in Macau is not censored like mainland China. As a result, you can access your favorite websites without any issues.
With that out of the way, let’s see what Macau has to offer to us.
CTM has a monopoly in terms of landline connections. For cellular communications, they compete with 3 Macau and SmarTone. Their 4G/LTE network covers 98% of the population. CTM sells network-specific SIM cards, meaning that you can buy a 3G card, which is a bit cheaper than the 4G SIM card and does not allow you to use CTM’s 4G/LTE network. The 4G card, as the name implies, allows you to use CTM’s 4G/LTE network, which allows higher data speeds.
You can buy CTM SIM cards all over Macau and stores like 7-Eleven and Circle K sell top-up vouchers. Top-up vouchers are sold from 50 MOP to 500 MOP.
The 3G SIM cards come in two versions: one with international calls and roaming for 100 MOP, while the other is for Macau use only for 50 MOP. Several monthly data packs can be added to your 3G SIM card:
- 29 MOP ($3.60): 300 MB and 12 hours on CTM WIFI
- 99 MOP: 1 GB and 28 hours on CTM WIFI
- 169 MOP: 2 GB and 60 hours on CTM WIFI
- 500 MOP: unlimited data and unlimited CTM WIFI
The 4G SIM cards are sold in three variants as well. The first two have the same conditions and prices are the 3G SIM cards, while the other 4G SIM card is called Speedy.
The following monthly data packs can be added to the regular 4G SIM cards:
- 28 MOP: 200 MB
- 58 MOP: 500 MB
- 98 MOP: 1 GB
The 4G Speedy SIM cards are sold for 100 MOP, which will instantly get you 880 MB, unlimited CTM WIFI, and 480 minutes. These monthly data packages can be added:
- 48 MOP: 880 MB
- 98 MOP: 2 GB
- 218 MOP: 5 GB
- 500 MOP: Unlimited data, although data speed will be throttled to 256 kbps after consuming 10 GB
Lastly, you can buy CTM’s data-only SIM card called Online Everywhere in Macau, which is CTM’s tourist SIM card option. Online Everywhere in Macau cards are sold for 100 MOP (valid for 3 days) or 200 MOP (valid for 7 days). The following Online Everywhere in Macau plans can be added:
- 78 MOP: 2 GB data (throttled to 256 kbps once allowance has been used) for 3 days
- 188 MOP: 4 GB data (throttled to 256 kbps once allowance has been used) for 7 days
Three Macau, just Three from now on, covers more than 95% of the population with its 4G/LTE network. Three SIM cards are sold all over Macau, including authorized resellers, like the vending machines at the border gate or ferry terminal. Convenience stores sell Three cards too.
Recharge vouchers are sold from 50 MOP to 500 MOP. Various SIM cards are sold with many data packages.
The Three 3G SIM cards are sold for 100 MOP and come with unlimited data at 384 kbps (which is annoyingly slow). “High-speed” data at 3G speeds can be added, which are valid for 30 days:
- 68 MOP: 3 GB
- 168 MOP: 8 GB
- 238 MOP: 12 GB
The 4G SIM cards are SIM cards that allow you to roam in Hong Kong as well. They are sold for 50 MOP and 100 MOP. The 50 MOP variant comes with 1 GB high-speed data and 256 kbps after going over your allowance to be used within a day in Macau. The same applies to the 100 MOP variant, although the data can be used for 3 days.
The following data packs can be added. All unlimited data packs come with 1 GB high-speed data. After that, it’s unlimited at 256 kbps:
- 18 MOP: 200 MB in Macau and Hong Kong for 30 days
- 48 MOP: 2 GB in Macau and Hong Kong for 30 days
- 50 MOP: Unlimited data in Macau for 1 day
- 78 MOP: Unlimited data in Macau for 3 days
- 88 MOP: 4 GB in Macau and Hong Kong for 30 days
- 188 MOP: Unlimited data in Macau for 5 days
The SmarTone 3-Day pass SIM card costs 100 MOP and comes with 10 MOP in credit. The following plans can be added:
- 38 MOP: Unlimited data (384 kbps) for 1 day
- 38 MOP: 700 MB for 3 days
- 58 MOP: 1.5 GB for 3 days
- 78 MOP: 3 GB for 3 days
- 78 MOP: Unlimited data (384 kbps) for 3 days
You can also buy the SmarTone 30-Day SIM card for 100 MOP that comes with 100 MOP in credit. Two data packs can be added:
- 48 MOP: 450 MB for 30 days
- 98 MOP: Unlimited data (384 kbps) for 30 days
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Macau
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Macau
Getting a SIM card from CTM or Three would do you well when considering a Macanese SIM card.
Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other Asian Countries
Visiting other countries in Asia? Check out my SIM card buying guides for individual Asian countries:
Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
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