Many of us have developed the habit of staying connected with our social media accounts while on the go. As such, one of the hassles of travelling is not being to stay connected and get online as and when we wish to. If you do not already know, Korea is probably one of the most “internet-friendly” countries for travellers. Wifi is available in the subway stations, guesthouses, hotels in Seoul and in most cafes, the wifi is also freely accessible with or without password. If password is needed, the café staff would be most happy to assist you.
However, if your preference is to stay connected ALL the time, here are a few options:
1. Rent a mobile phone. One-time rental fee and daily for the type of plan you opt for. May be used for phone and data network. Note that you may be required to pay a huge sum as a deposit. (http://www.skroaming.com/en/rent/rental.asp or http://roaming.kt.com/renewal/eng/rental/phone_rental.asp)
2. Rent a wifi-modem. Rental fee, daily charge and deposit may be applicable. Since it is a wifi modem, you can access data whereas for phone call, you may do so via applications that allow data calling eg. Kakaotalk and Line. The advantage for this option is that multiple users may tap on the same modem. The downside is that with more users, battery may be drained more quickly. (http://www.skroaming.com/en/rent/modem.asp or http://roaming.kt.com/renewal/eng/wibro/rental.asp)
3. Rent a SIM card. This is a prepaid card and you simply draw down on the value based on your usage. May be used for data network and phone call. However, you need to have a spare phone to use this option. (http://roaming.kt.com/renewal/eng/rental/sim_card.asp or http://www.egsimcard.co.kr/)
4. Buy an hourly or daily wifi. The usage is available for 60 minutes or 24 hours. The clock starts counting the moment the account is activated. You can purchase this at some convenient stores. You will be issued a receipt with a pin number. Account is activated by unlocking the pin. The downside is that you need to first get free wifi to log into the website in order to key in the pin. (http://first.wifi.olleh.com/en/prepaid_guide.html)
My personal preference is to get a temporary SIM card which provides data as well as phone call facilitates. It may be a little convenient to inform all your contacts of your new number, but this is a much cheaper option to receive and call out using the SIM card’s number. For example, calls made to Singapore is at 215won (~ S$0.25) per minute. Way much cheaper than to use our local telco’s roaming service which costs about S$4 per minute! Data plan costs as little as 16,500 won (~ S$19) for 1GB. Usually, for travellers who are there for 1 to 2 weeks, 1GB should be enough unless you are a super heavy data user. One suggestion is to opt for the cheaper plan and top-up as and when necessary. Topping card can be done at selected convenient stalls, via internet or via credit card.
To be on the safe side, check out the ordering instruction from the preferred Telco and place order for the SIM card before arriving Korea. Upon arrival, collect the SIM card at the designated collection points. Being a service-oriented country, some Telcos have started offering delivery service of SIM Card to hotels. Isn’t that great?