Tips for Travelers to DKU | Duke Kunshan University

Tips for Travelers to DKU

Tips for visitors

Traveling to Duke Kunshan for a short- or long-term visit? Here are some suggestions on how to prepare:

Laptop computer

If you plan to bring a Duke University laptop, check with your school or department’s IT unit beforehand. They may want to perform updates and maintenance on the computer, and they can provide you with information on Duke’s security recommendations, such as whole disk encryption and using Duke Box for file storage. If you’d prefer not to take your own laptop, ask your IT team if they can provide a loaner.

Video adapter

The classrooms and team rooms at Duke Kunshan have VGA and HDMI connectors. If your computer has a different, proprietary connector (such as Apple-specific ports, DVI, etc.), you will need to bring a VGA or HDMI adapter.

Power charger

Chargers for you laptop and other electronic devices will work only if they support China’s 220-volt service and the 110-volt service in the U.S.  Many laptop chargers do, but remember to read the label on your charger.

Plug adapter

Even if your charger supports 220 volts, it will need a plug adapter to fit the electrical outlets in China, which uses Type A, C and I outlets. Many electronics stores sell these adapters.

Local cellular services

The three major mobile carriers – China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom – all have stores in downtown Kunshan where you can purchase a cellphone and local SIM card. If you already have an unlocked phone that supports global use (typically through a wide range of UMTS/HSDPA/GSM bands), you can buy a local SIM card to install. China Telecom and China Mobile have implemented on-campus cellular repeaters for improved coverage inside the university buildings.

Loaner cellphones

Duke faculty and staff should contact Duke Kunshan’s IT team for information on loaner cellphone options.

Mobile phone options

Duke faculty, staff and students have several cellular service options while in China: Using your usual U.S. phone number might be more convenient but it could be expensive, even for those with global roaming plans; and buying a Chinese cellphone and data service might be cheaper but you might be unable to call some international numbers (although Skype can be used over cellular or Wi-Fi).

The most common options are:

Option 1: Use a Duke-paid or personal phone with a U.S. carrier

  • Before traveling, contact your carrier to make sure your phone will work in China. Also, find out about its global plan options and rates (Verizon and AT&T both have special plans for Duke-paid phones). Without a global plan you could incur thousands of dollars in charges.
  • Monitor your data usage carefully while abroad; turn off cellular data and use Wi-Fi when possible.
  • Install a VPN client before your trip.

Option 2: Use an existing phone with a Chinese SIM card

  • Visit your carrier’s store and make sure your phone has a SIM card slot, that it will work in China and that it has been unlocked. You cannot change the SIM card on a locked phone, and your carrier will only unlock your phone in person.
  • Install a VPN client before your trip.
  • SIM cards can be bought at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (English-speaking staff) as well as in phone stores around Kunshan (unlikely to have English-speaking staff). At all locations, your passport is required to make a purchase.

Option 3: Buy a phone for use in China

  • Purchase an unlocked, global GSM phone that supports a wide range of UMTS/HSDPA/GSM bands. Amazon has a good selection.
  • Install a VPN client before your trip. 
  • SIM cards can be bought at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (English-speaking staff) as well as in phone stores around Kunshan (unlikely to have English-speaking staff). You can also buy a phone in China, but these handsets might have certain restrictions, such as limited access to app stores or VPN clients. At all locations, your passport is required to make a purchase.