Travel: Seoul Korea! (Data plans)

Hey all! I will be starting a new series on top of the wedding series to document my travel to korea! The reason for starting this is because while researching for my korea trip I realised the most valuable info are from fellow singaporeans who have been there and done that and came back to blog about it! 🙂 Heehee, so hopefully this post will help others who are intending to travel to Korea in the subsequent months!

I am still in the midst of consolidating my photos so today’s post will be on the various data plans available!

While preparing for my korea trip, I realised that data is quite expensive if you are travelling in a small group/solo (in this case, just 2 for us). This post will lay out the different ways you can get data in Seoul, Korea based on the research I have done.

In short, the most cost effective ways IMHO: 

  • 1-2 pax: get a sim card! (whether in korea or Sg data roaming plans)
  • >3 pax: rent a wifi egg!
  • No matter how many pax, if you want to SAVE MONEY: use the free wifi

5 Ways to get Data in Seoul, Korea! 

1. Rent a wifi egg! Image result for wifi egg

  • Cost
    • Generally cost ~5SGD/day for use (excluding rental deposit etc)
  • Pros:
    • Can share with a big group of people
    • Stable connectivity
    • Can use your own sim cards
  • Cons:
    • Risk of incurring damage fees
      • most wifi egg rental companies I looked into needed deposit and they will stipulate all the damage cost you need to pay if it is damaged
    • Need to collect and return
    • Flying time may be charged
    • Need to charge
      • Most wifi eggs I saw only had a battery life of 5 hours or so, so you will still need to constantly charge it on the trip!
  • A few things to consider:
    • How long is your trip: because they charge PER DAY
    • How many people are in your group: the more people sharing the cost, the cheaper per pax
  • 2 ways to get wifi egg rental:
    • Get it in Singapore before flying!
      • pros: you are assured you have wifi once you reach korea
      • cons: your time flying is counted in as well!
        • Changi Recommends wifi egg rental generally waives the first day of your egg rental so it is good if you have a midnight flight to korea heehee 😀
      • Tip:  Klook provides these wifi egg rentals as well and they tend to have alot of promo codes circulating around so getting from them might be cheaper too!
    • Book it in Singapore but collect in Korea
      • This opens up alot more options as you can even use korea’s wifi egg rental companies! It also helps you save the time you spend flying
      • Some companies you can try: kkday, klook, Trazy, KT wifi egg (their local mobile company), SK telecom wifi egg (their local mobile company), LG U+ wifi egg (local mobile company)
      • Many of them are available for pick up at the airport or you can choose to let them send it to your hotel (ie you can also drop off at hotel!)
    • I personally wouldn’t recomment leaving the booking of data until you reach korea heehee (I am a kiasu person sorry)
  • A wifi egg is good for large groups IMHO when you have sufficient people needing to use data, the cost/person for the wifi egg rental will be lesser than each individual buying a local sim card
  • A wifi egg generally works well in terms of allowing multiple device to connect at the same time for usage (which may not be so when you try to teether from one sim card!)
  • However, wifi egg rentals are charged PER DAY of travel and hence, for extremely long trips (> 10 days), it might still be quite expensive in the end

2. Buy a local (korea) sim card! Image result for eg sim card

  • Cost:
    • Depends on what your needs are based on various plans
  • Pros:
    • Can make local calls
      • Not that not all sim cards have local call ability, if you only need to use data and no need the call function, there is a specific sim card for it!
    • Good connectivity
    • Good for solo travellers
  • Cons:
    • Even if your phone is dual sim, you should remove your own sim card in order to avoid roaming charges ie you cannot receive sms or calls from home
    • Your phone must be unlocked (more for US travellers)
  • There are 2 ways to get such sim cards
    • From Singapore
      • So cheapo me went to search even qoo10 because I found the sim cards sold on klook and kkday and stuff so expensive
      • Lo and behold! There are cheaper sim cards that are selling for ~17-20+ SGD with like 3GB of 4G data for use for specific number of days
      • I won’t link it here as I cannot verify the effectiveness of it in Seoul, but based on the product reviews, many people have used it and it works!
      • You can also buy the offical EG sim from Singapore as well
    • From Korea, Seoul
      • You can check out this blog post from Trazy which gave very detailed instructions if you would like to buy the sim card from korea
      • I saw many tourists purchasing the sim card from the tourist desk at the airport when I arrived, so other than convenience stores, you can also get them at the tourist info desk at AREX at Incheon Airport
  • I can’t really comment on whether it is wise to teether using one sim card as I haven’t really tried it myself. If anyone has tried it before, do comment below and let all of us know please! 😀

3. Subscribe to local (korea) wifi!

  • If you want to use wifi but still do not want to risk incurring cost for the wifi egg damages and having to keep charging the wifi egg, good news! Seoul is like super connected! The wifi signals are found EVERYWHERE and it is full bar even in subways!
  • KT olleh has a wifi subscription plan that is charged PER DAY of use which works very well for tourist!
  • Cost:
    • Based on the official website: it is 3USD for 1 day use
    • If you buy it in Seoul convenience stores, if I am not wrong, it is 3300W for 1 day use
  • Pros:
    • No need to worry about paying for damaged wifi egg
    • No need to charge the wifi egg
    • Cheaper than sim card as you pay only when you use!
    • Can continue using your own sim card to receive sms/calls
  • Cons:
    • 1 ID cannot be used across multiple devices (ie. if you got an ipad/laptop and you also have a handphone, you can only choose one device to use it at any one time)
    • Cannot share simultaneously, ie each person in the group must purchase their own

4. Use Singapore roaming data plans! Image result for happy prepaid

  • This was the option I used and I highly recommend it for small groups to use this!
  • The one I used was from Starhub Happy Roam! Prepaid card and I give it 5 stars!!!
    • Pros:
      • Cost effective because I can purchase bits of data that last for a few days (eg. 1GB for 3 days) and choose to top up the data based on my usage! ie. if by Day 1 you are finishing up your 1 GB, you can purchase another GB at anytime through the Happy App!
      • CAN TEETHER 😀 
        • Note: although both of phones got good signals, if both of you are trying to load chrome pages, only the guy with the sim card will be able to do it. But simple things like whatsapp and FB feed is alright!
      • Good coverage in Seoul!
      • Starhub website provides a very comprehensive step-by-step guide to use it as well!
      • Leftover data can also be used at stopover locations like Hong Kong and other countries as long as it is still within you number of days!
      • Good for multi-country travel too
      • You can keep this sim card for future travels too as it expires only in 180 days
    • Cons:
      • You cannot use your own sim card
      • You can call or sms to korea numbers but roaming charges apply
      • Some parts of the subway had no signal
      • You have to change your APN settings (which isn’t that much of a hassle to be honest)
  • There are many other telcos in Singapore offering such services as well from M1 and Singtel
  • They are generally split into:
    • Prepaid:
      • where you buy a separate prepard card and purchase data plans
      • Telcos to look at: M1, Starhub, Singtel 
    • Post-paid:
      • You activate your data roaming and purchase data plans based on 1 month validity usually in 1GB, 2GB, 3GB etc.
      • Telcos to look at: M1, Starhub, Singtel 
  • Browse through the data roaming plans and choose the one most cost effective for you!
  • My damage for 6 days in Korea/Hong Kong (stopover) was 10 dollars for 2 people! (2GB) which is very reasonable considering a wifi egg rental/sim card will already easily set us back way more than that!

5. Free wifi! (including Boingo)

  • Cost: Free or a cup or two of drinks from cafes
  • Pros:
    • Essentially the wifi is free
    • Usually effective
  • Cons:
    • No guarantee of continuous data
  • If you are the YOLO traveller who is not addicted to social media/no need maps all the time to be online/no need to google which restaurant to eat/can tolerate having no internet all the time and can accept the worst case scenerio of no internet at all, then this is the best option for you
  • Many cafes/restaurants in Seoul provides free wifi as long as you are their customer
  • In the subway, I have successfully connected to ‘U free wifi zone’ WITHOUT ANY PASSWORD OR LOG IN and it worked awesome
  • Here is a website of “passwords” for wifi around Seoul but I did not actually try them because I had data
  • Lastly, American Express customers who qualify for Boingo can actually use their boingo accounts to try to connect to the wifi (KT olleh, SK telecom etc.)
    • Note: some tripadvisor posts I read says that the Boingo app did not actually work in Seoul, and they had to use their Boingo account ID and pw to log in manually to the wifi instead of using their Boingo app
    • I did not actually attempt to try this method even though I have a Boingo account

That’s about all I know about how to get data in Seoul, Korea. I am no travel guru, just sharing my own experiences so if you have any other tips to share do comment below! If this helped, do share as well! Thank you 🙂

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