My boyfriend had been telling me for years that he wanted to show me around his home country, Hong Kong (and Indonesia), early on in our relationship.
And I thought that would be a great idea – being guided by a local.
That way, you can see the city-state from a different lens than as a regular tourist.
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and the city-state was closed off from the world.
Following its neighbor up north, it imposed a strict zero-COVID policy, so we had to postpone our plans for a while.
Until the country announced it would reopen (without quarantine requirements) in December 2022.
So in January 2023, we went to Hong Kong and stayed for two weeks.
And my boyfriend, and many repeat Phone Travel Wiz readers, know that I do not go to a country without testing its SIM cards and various travel eSIMs before I recommend them.
So I tested out eight travel eSIMs, including Nomad's APAC eSIM, four Hong Kong SIM cards & one travel SIM card to be used here.
This resulted in me spending about 2560 HKD (≈ 326.15 USD) for my Hong Kong SIM card and travel eSIM review series – yeah… I went all out for you 😎.
In many countries, getting a local SIM card will be the most cost-effective way to stay connected.
But in the same countries, getting a travel eSIM will be much more convenient because you do not have to deal with SIM card registration requirements (which can be stringent).
As of March 2022, SIM card registration rules came into effect in Hong Kong after avoiding it for many years, making the country the final East Asian country to do so.
So, is the Nomad APAC eSIM a good option for Hong Kong? Is it cheap compared to the local options and its travel eSIM competitors? How is its reception? And is it fast?
I will answer all those questions in this review. Let's do this.
Original publication: 7th of February 2023. Last updated: 19th of September 2023.
Table of Contents
Which Phones are Compatible with Nomad eSIMs?
Before discussing the Nomad APAC eSIM to be used in Hong Kong specifically, you must know whether your phone can even support Nomad's eSIMs.
Unlike most travel eSIM providers, Nomad claims that every eSIM-compatible phone can use its eSIMs.
So that makes things easy 😎.
But the image will still give you an overview of the most popular phones that support eSIM.
As of August 2023, the phones shown in the infographic below are compatible with Nomad eSIMs:
With that out of the way, let's talk more about the Nomad APAC eSIM!
How Much Does the Nomad APAC (15 Countries Plan) eSIM Cost?
You can get the Nomad APAC eSIM to be used in Hong Kong for as little as 8 USD for 1 GB (7 days) and up to 45 USD for 20 GB (30 days).
Now, there is a reason I said to be used in Hong Kong specifically because Nomad has three types of APAC eSIMs.
And I am not talking about variants (1 GB, 3 GB, 5 GB, etc.) – no, three versions with different availability.
As of December 2022, Nomad added two more APAC eSIM versions, allowing you to use them in up to 16 countries instead of the former eight (which Hong Kong was also part of).
The eSIMs are split into three versions: 12 Countries Plan & 16 Countries Plan.
Hong Kong is included in the Nomad APAC 12 Countries Plan & 16 Countries Plan. eSIM, so I will ignore the other two versions.
But you can learn about them in my Nomad APAC review (not to be confused with the new Nomad SEA-Oceania eSIM that can be used in Southeast Asia and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand – I have a review for that eSIM too).
Below is an overview of how much each Nomad APAC 15 Countries Plan eSIM costs:
- APAC (20 Countries Plan) 1 GB eSIM for 7 days (validity extended), costing 8 USD/7.50 EUR/6.50 GBP/11 CAD/7.50 CHF
- APAC (15 Countries Plan) 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 10 USD/9.50 EUR/8 GBP/14 CAD/9 CHF
- APAC (20 Countries Plan) 3 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 13 USD/12.50 EUR/10.50 GBP/18 CAD/11.50 CHF (price dropped)
- APAC (15 Countries Plan) 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 17 USD/16 EUR/13.50 GBP/23.50 CAD/15.50 CHF (price dropped)
- APAC (15 Countries Plan) 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 23 USD/21.50 EUR/18.50 GBP/31.50 CAD/20.50 CHF (price dropped) – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- APAC (20 Countries Plan) 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 12 USD/11.50 EUR/10 GBP/16.50 CAD/11 CHF (price dropped) – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- APAC (20 Countries Plan) 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 28 USD/26 EUR/22.50 GBP/38.50 CAD/25 CHF (price dropped) – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- APAC (15 Countries Plan) 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 37 USD/34.50 EUR/29.50 GBP/50.50 CAD/33 CHF – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- APAC (20 Countries Plan) 20 GB eSIM for 45 days, costing 26 USD/24.50 EUR/21 GBP/35.50 CAD/23 CHF (validity extended) – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- APAC (15 Countries Plan) 20 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 62 USD/57.50 EUR/49.50 GBP/84.50 CAD/55 CHF – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- APAC (20 Countries Plan) 30 GB eSIM for 60 days, costing 65 USD/60.50 EUR/51.50 GBP/88.50 CAD/57.50 CHF (price dropped)
Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in September based on data up to the 13th of September (2023 data only).
If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.
Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).
I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.
Moreover, regardless of which Nomad APAC eSIM you choose, you can always top it up for the same amount of data and prices as listed above.
For example, suppose you buy the 5 GB Nomad APAC eSIM but realize you need more data.
You can top it up with the 3 GB top-up or the 20 GB top-up.
Many eSIM providers out there do not allow you to top up or extend the validity of your eSIM, so it is cool that Nomad allows you to do so.
In Which Countries Can the Nomad APAC (15 Countries Plan) eSIM Be Used?
The Nomad APAC (15 Countries Plan) eSIM can be used in 15 countries in Asia and Oceania, which are China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam.
While I said I would not focus on the 7 Countries and 12 Countries Plans, I can tell you that India, Macau & Taiwan are exclusive to the Nomad APAC 15 Countries Plan eSIM (so the other two versions are useless for these three countries).
With the Nomac APAC eSIM, you can save a lot of money by skipping the initial SIM card costs per country you visit.
So if you plan on visiting multiple East- and Southeast Asian countries and/or Australia and New Zealand, getting the Nomad APAC eSIM will be convenient AND will save you a lot of money too.
My Nomad APAC eSIM in Hong Kong Experience
I used my Nomad APAC eSIM in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon & New Territories.
As Hong Kong does not really have cities (in the sense of the Government of Hong Kong not using them for administrative purposes and only as geographical limits), I could not visit multiple ones.
Before we continue, I do want to let you know how travel eSIM providers like Nomad work.
It is impossible for Nomad, or any other mobile operator, to operate in every country (and do not trust any company saying otherwise), so they set up roaming agreements.
What Nomad does, and basically all (actual) mobile operators do, is partner up with a local mobile operator so that their customers can still stay connected when abroad.
In the case of Hong Kong, the Nomad APAC eSIM uses the CSL Mobile network with the help of JoyTelecom (which I believe resells CSL eSIM – so your phone, some apps, or sites you visit may claim you are using a CSL eSIM instead of a Nomad one – that is correct).
Note: in some countries, Nomad uses multiple local networks.
Just like how I tested the Nomad APAC eSIM on my Hong Kong trip, I also tried all the local Hong Kong SIM cards excluding the MVNOs (China Mobile Hong Kong Mobile, CSL Mobile, 3 Hong Kong & SmarTone Hong Kong) and various other eSIMs (Airalo Hkmobile, Airalo Asialink (in Hong Kong and various other Asian countries), Airalo Discover Global (in Hong Kong and worldwide), Holafly, Nomad, Simify & Ubigi + the 3 (UK) Travel SIM Card by Holidaysimcard in Hong Kong Review (also used in Australia and Singapore)).
Yeah, I went all out 😏.
Because of this, I could also assess how CSL Mobile performed compared to its competitors.
Well, not entirely. CSL Mobile did not allow prepaid customers to use its 5G NR network (but that may have changed now).
So in reality, I could only compare CSL Mobile with 3 Hong Kong… and it was more than twice as fast!
When looking at 4G/LTE availability in Hong Kong, the four mobile operators cover practically all of the country (mostly because it is a small city-state), with an availability of more than 98.6%.
4G/LTE reception is so good in Hong Kong that I thought 3G did not exist anymore (until 3 Hong Kong was stuck at 3G a handful of times 😩).
In terms of speed, CSL Mobile has the second-worst download speed, with a median download speed of 45.95 Mbps, ahead of 3 Hong Kong (32.52 Mbps) but behind SmarTone Hong Kong (48.14 Mbps) and China Mobile Hong Kong (66.11 Mbps).
Okay, that is enough background information – let's compare the Nomad APAC eSIM to CSL Mobile in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon & New Territories.
Nomad APAC eSIM Speed Test Results in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon & New Territories
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated countries, or Special Administrative Region (SAR) if we want to be correct, worldwide behind Macau (also a SAR), Monaco & Singapore.
There are not many countries where you struggle to walk on the pavement because there are so many people around as Hong Kong without getting constantly pushed.
And I was there during the winter and when the China-Hong Kong border just opened – imagine how crazy it is during summer 😳.
But the country has a lot to offer: fantastic food, Ocean Park (attraction park) & even Disneyland for those who want it.
And of course smaller attractions, such as the Central–Mid-Levels escalator – the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world, The Peak (with the peak tram) & the Big Buddha (Ngong Ping) cable car.
The latter is 5.7 kilometers long and takes 25 minutes – and you even have a clear (called crystal) car option if you dare.
I am not fond of heights… but I actually enjoyed being in the crystal car… so I bet you will too!
Anyway, let's finally talk about my Nomad APAC speed test results, right?
Poor speeds with the Nomad APAC eSIM in Hong Kong.
Because most travel eSIMs I used in Hong Kong used the CSL Mobile network too, I shared the results of the relevant eSIMs in the image above.
But… how is an average and median download speed of around 20 Mbps poor?
I compare the median download speed of a local SIM card or travel eSIM with the global median download speed of the month.
I consider the speeds poor if it is slower by more than 10 Mbps than the global median.
Yes, I have strict requirements over here 😤.
The global median was 36.74 Mbps in December 2022 as per the Speedtest Global Index, so the Nomad APAC eSIM was slower by more than 10 Mbps.
I told you earlier that I care about speeds a lot 🐆!
But not only me… most Phone Travel Wiz readers think the same, which is why I focus on it so much.
Anyway, it was fascinating that the Nomad eSIMs were the slowest on the CSL Mobile network.
I had an average download speed of 20.06 Mbps and a median download speed of 17.95 Mbps with the Nomad APAC eSIM: it failed the 4K video streaming test in Hong Kong (minimum of 25 Mbps).
The same can, luckily, not be said for the HD live streaming test in Hong Kong – the Nomad APAC eSIM had an average and median upload speed of 20.87 Mbps and a median upload speed of 19.59 Mbps, making it pass the HD live streaming test (minimum of 10 Mbps).
This was quite a surprise because the Nomad Hong Kong eSIM eSIM I got, on the Truphone network, had the slowest average upload speed of them all (4.51 Mbps).
And I am certain that its upload speeds are throttled because the upload speed would start off high before going back below 5 Mbps.
Fortunately, this was not the case with the Nomad APAC eSIM because the fastest upload speed I got was Ocean Park 43.67 Mbps), making it the best performer of every Hong Kong travel eSIM I tested here.
This is why I do so many speed tests (56 in this case). I would not be able to detect this if I were to only do one or three speed tests. See, I do go all out for you!
But what about the upload speeds with the Nomad APAC eSIM?
They were not impressive at all. In fact, they were the slowest.
I assume the speeds are throttled @ 42 Mbps download because I rarely got results faster than that (the fastest was 47.36 Mbps – also at Ocean Park).
Why is this the case with Nomad eSIMs while the Airalo eSIMs and Holafly eSIMs were significantly faster?
It must be the roaming agreement between Nomad/JoyTelecom and CSL Mobile.
Even with all these low numbers, your speeds should still be fast enough in most cases.
Sure, it may take ages to download a 20 GB file, let alone upload it… but why would you?🤨
Yes, 100 GB data plans are available… but it still seems to be a waste of data to me 🗿.
Enough playing around, but this is my interpretation of my results.
Truphone, and most mobile operators, would never share the details of its roaming agreements, which is why I test out SIM cards and travel eSIMs so that they will not disappoint you.
So yes, I am crazy… in a good way 😏.
My Overall Experience with the Nomad APAC eSIM in Hong Kong – Is It Any Good?
I would recommend the Nomad APAC eSIM for Hong Kong, and it would be one of my top recommendations (in terms of data allowances, not for speed) for anyone wanting to buy an APAC travel eSIM (but not if you only visit Hong Kong).
While I had a good experience with the Nomad APAC eSIM, you are better off getting the Nomad Hong Kong eSIM if you are only visiting Hong Kong.
That is because you pay a premium to be able to use one eSIM in more than ten East- and Southeast Asian countries + Australia and New Zealand.
So if you are visiting multiple East- and Southeast Asian countries, a country in this region + Australia and New Zealand, or Australia and New Zealand, you better go with the Nomad APAC eSIM because you will be saving quite some money when you do so.
Okay, back to Hong Kong specifically, getting the Nomad APAC eSIM, and any other Nomad eSIM for that matter, is easy and straightforward (even though I did not spend any time on how to install Nomad eSIMs – you will manage… promise!).
With the introduction of JoyTelecom, Nomad's APAC eSIMs are slightly cheaper than Airalo's Asialink eSIM, which can only be used in East- and Southeast Asia, while Nomad can also be used in Australia and New Zealand.
Previously, the Nomad APAC eSIMs were significantly more expensive than the Airalo Asialink eSIMs, so this has been a good development for Nomad.
And you can even save money if you use code ADU123 😏.
In Hong Kong, it uses the CSL Mobile network.
While your speeds will often be fast enough for general data browsing and video streaming, you should not expect too much.
In fact, your speeds will be slower than any other Hong Kong travel eSIM I used during this trip.
Especially when most used the CSL Mobile network too 🤔.
Taking all 56 speed tests into account, I had an average overall download speed of 20.06 Mbps and a median download speed of 17.95 Mbps with the Nomad APAC eSIM.
When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 20.31 Mbps and a median upload speed of 17.59 Mbps with the Nomad APAC eSIM.
Earlier, I said that the Nomac APAC eSIM was the slowest of the eight travel eSIMs I tested in Hong Kong.
And that is right when looking at download speeds.
However, the Nomad APAC eSIM had the second-fastest average upload speed of them all (slightly behind the Simify Hong Kong eSIM (20.87 Mbps).
Interestingly, the Nomad Hong Kong eSIM, which can be used locally only, had the slowest average upload speed (4.51 Mbps), and its fastest upload speed was 8.86 Mbps.
And I suspect that eSIM is speed throttled 🤔.
So why did I recommend the Nomad Hong Kong eSIM instead of the APAC eSIM when the latter has a significantly faster upload speed?
Well… unless you plan on uploading multiple 2 GB files, upload speeds do not matter that much (and 5 Mbps is fast enough for general data browsing anyway, including uploading posts on social media).
But mostly because the Nomad Hong Kong eSIM is significantly cheaper.
Moreover, data plans of up to
50 GB 100 GB are available for 90 USD 170 USD.
If you were to get 50 GB for the Nomad APAC eSIM, you would need to get the 20 GB eSIM (45 USD) + a 20 GB top-up (45 USD) + a 10 GB top-up (29 USD) = 119 USD.
And if you were to get 100 GB for the Nomad APAC eSIM, the total would be 225 USD instead.
Obviously, you would not do this… especially if you only visited Hong Kong.
But the Nomad APAC eSIM will still be cheaper than buying Nomad eSIMs in two or more countries (within a 30-day time frame).
By using an extensive 4G/LTE network, offering affordable data plans & offering slow(er) download speeds, you should have a (relatively) smooth browsing experience with the Nomad APAC eSIM in Hong Kong.
- Interested in using a Nomad eSIM in another country or countries? Check out my Nomad eSIM reviews from across the world!
Other Hong Kong eSIM Reviews (Airalo, Holafly, Nomad, Simify & Ubigi)
As mentioned earlier, I also tried out (other) eSIMs from Nomad (Hong Kong), Airalo (Hkmobile, Asialink & Discover Global), Holafly, Simify & Ubigi + 3 (UK) travel SIM card by Holidaysimcard.
You should read those reviews too.
>>> Airalo Hkmobile eSIM in Hong Kong Review | Airalo Asialink eSIM in Hong Kong Review | Airalo Discover Global eSIM in Hong Kong eSIM Review | Holafly Hong Kong eSIM Review | Nomad Hong Kong eSIM Review | Simify Hong Kong eSIM Review | Ubigi Hong Kong eSIM Review | 3 (UK) Travel SIM Card by Holidaysimcard in Hong Kong Review (also used in Australia and Singapore) <<<
- Check out my eSIM reviews page if you want to read all the other eSIM reviews I have written, including other eSIM providers in Asia.
I also tried out various local Hong Kong cards: China Mobile Hong Kong, CSL Mobile, 3 Hong Kong & SmarTone Hong Kong.
If your phone does not support eSIM (but felt like reading this Airalo review in full anyway – awesome) or want to have the best network experience possible, you want to go directly with the local mobile operators instead of roaming on their networks (as you do with travel eSIMs).
So I encourage you to read the Hong Kong SIM card reviews too.
Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other Asian SIM cards.
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