Bad day at work? The taxi driver took you to the wrong place because your pronunciation sucks, you moron, the weather is hot as hell and your Tinder date got cold feet when they looked you up on Facebook because you look awful. Put in some effort, dork.

You could use some support from someone who really loves you, but your cat’s still not talking to you after that thing, so, last resort, it’s time to reach out to your family.

Except Facebook doesn’t like your VPN, WhatsApp isn’t working properly, the Skype connection sucks and your mom stubbornly refuses to use WeChat.

It’s time to really go back to basics and use your phone to make a call. You know, the thing it did before Pokemon Go and Snapchat.

You’re going to need this:

A phone card to make International Calls. Yes, on a phone.

Where to buy it?

Do you know those small phone stalls, with the SIM cards, fake phone chargers, and iPhone covers? That’s the one you need.

Ask for the phone credit card or directly show these characters:

国际长途电话卡 (guójì chángtú diànhuà kǎ)

The price of the card is 25 RMB and there is 100 RMB credit on it. This is special overseas calling credit, and depending on the country you’re calling to, the rate might be different. If you have family in East Timor, you might want to get two. More about the tariff per minute at the bottom of the article.

Make sure you’re phone credit is topped up, otherwise, it’s impossible to make a call.

How to actually call?

Step 1:

Scratch the long silver parts on the card to reveal the card number and the password. Then dial 17908 and choose English by pressing 2. Follow the instructions of the operator. Put in the card number and press #.

Step 2: 

Wait a couple of seconds and type in the password and press #.


Step 3:

Dial: 00 + [your country code] + the phone number.

Here is the most difficult part: you have to know the number by heart. There is no way you can correct it, no chance for mistake. If you dial wrong, you have to put the numbers in again from the very beginning. As if this wasn’t hard enough, to begin with.

Aaand ta-dah! After 10 minutes of struggling you can finally hear a familiar voice, telling you to drink lots of water, take your malaria pills, China’s dangerous, and don’t forget it’s Uncle Austin’s 70ththis weekend, and did you hear your high school crush got married to a successful hedge fund manager, oh, how is that blog of yours going? Ah, sweet familial bliss.

The best worst part about calling abroad is your friend would never expect you to use such primitive technology, and the phone will probably show an unknown incoming call. So he might not pick up. But if he does, hey, what a pleasant surprise!

Here is the list of costs per minute, according to the country. Somalia and Cuba are getting straight-up shafted, yeesh.

Rates Per Minute for Calling Home (Sorry East Timor)

Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao1 RMB
USA, Canada2 RMB
Japan, Korea, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, England, Germany, France2,4 RMB
Italy, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Iceland, Panama, Bermuda, Malawi, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Kuwait, Brunei, Cyprus, French Guiana, Laos, Saint Lucia, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, Lesotho, Estonia, Mali, Morocco3,6 RMB
Bulgaria, Kenya, Burma, Congo, Syria, Angola, Nigeria, Belgium, Senegal, Switzerland, Qatar, Belarus7,6 RMB
Djibouti, Liechtenstein, Greenland, Ascension Island, Samoa, Eritrea, Marshall Islands12 RMB
Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue Island, Norfolk, East Timor, São Tomé and Príncipe, St Helena Island, Wallis and Futuna, Guinea-Bissau, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Cuba, the Cook Islands, Orchid Island, Somalia, Tuvalu, Vanuatu15 RMB
Other countries4,6 RMB


So if you think this was a long, complicated and unnecessary process, good for you. You live in a bright techno-utopia. Just remember that once upon a time, this ridiculously outdated form of communication was the norm. As an added bonus for making it all the way through the steps, here are some ridiculous out-of-date telephones. The “smartphones” of the 20thcentury.



Author: Enjoy Shanghai

Enjoy Shanghai is one of the best and largest news portals in China and has been proving with meaningful and helpful news for over a decade. We are delicate to share the useful information for you about everything in shanghai.