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Cell Phones in Hong Kong and Philippines
February 28, 2009
10:48 pm

I would like to share my experience with prepaid phones in Hong Kong and the Philippines during my recent trip.

On arriving in Hong I had to buy a new phone since my 7-Eleven handsets are all dual-band for North America. But I will be able to able to use this new phone almost anywhere outside of North America on future travels. Shopping at Fortress, a big Hong Kong electronics retailer, there were zillions of high-end models but only 2 low-end phones at HK$399, (say $65 Canadian) which is higher than I wanted to pay for the Nokia 1209, which is similar to the 1208 but with a nicer keypad. I finally scored the 1209 on a promotion for HK$280 at a shop catering to Filipino nationals working in Hong Kong. BTW, in Hong Kong the 1208 is considered an old model that has been replaced by the 1209.

7-Eleven stores are all over Hong Kong and sell prepaid cards for various companies, but they do not carry phones. I bought a SIM card working on CSL, a local carrier, at the place I got my phone for HK$48 (about $8) which included about 300 minutes of local time or about 30 minutes back to Canada. Good deal! There are several cellular companies in Hong Kong as well as resellers for their SIM cards that package the rates differently, so the choices can be confusing. I did my homework on the internet on this before I left.

Arriving in Manila later in my trip, I stopped at a convenience store and bought a "Smart Buddy" SIM - I forget the price but it was cheap.. I think the voice rate for the 300 Peso ($8) load I bought was 6.5 pesos per minute, or about $.17. I bought a couple of these and I was able to call back home to Canada and make all the local calls I needed as well. Later I realized that "Smart Budy" had been a good choice since they seemed to have coverage wherever I travelled and their airtime can be purchased everywhere in the country - even in humble roadside food stands. It was hard to travel more than a couple of klicks without seeing their "LOAD HERE" signs on a business. Some of the local people I met had 2 SIMS, or even 2 phones on difference carriers, to ensure good coverage when they travel.