Korea, a beautiful country with many attractions from culture to cuisine, from natural scenery to local people, has become a ‘must-go’ destination for many tourists. If you are preparing for a trip to this country and are looking for a quality Korean travel SIM, this GIGAGO article will help you with choosing the best SIM card for Korea travel.
Table of Contents
What is SIM Card for Korea?
SIM card for Korea is a type of SIMs that is preferred by most tourists to Korea. This type of SIM card usually includes many internet plans with diverse terms and features, helping to meet the needs of users.
Each country has its own carrier. Therefore, to continue to keep a stable connection when traveling, you need international roaming. However, roaming charges when using data and calling services are incredibly expensive.
Thus, a South Korean travel SIM card is the most cost-effective solution because you will not need to pay extra expensive charges. Prepaid SIM cards with diverse choices, many promotions, and attractive incentives.
When choosing a SIM card for Korea travel, you will be able to pay all costs right in your country and enjoy the trip comfortably, no longer worrying about searching for wifi networks to connect to the Internet.
Do You Need a SIM Card in Korea?
Korea is a rather simple place to navigate. Although you can travel alone, a good smartphone is the best travel buddy. Nowadays, almost all lodging alternatives have free WiFi, but as soon as you leave the building, you face the danger of losing connection. There are actually many public hotspots to connect to because free WiFi is available on all public transit.
Despite the high expenses of roaming, SIM cards are still an excellent purchase. Avoid bad connecting and using prepaid SIM cards because Korea has the best 4G network in the world and is the country with the most wired infrastructure.
The greatest LTE coverage in the world is now available throughout Korea, making a SIM card universally functional. You could just use WiFi everywhere you go, but if you want to attend a show or need to register for anything, it will cause a lot of problems.
In Korea, several systems require a local phone number to access. A Korean SIM card will assist visitors who wanted to watch musicals and K-pop performances and require a local phone number to make reservations. Additionally, it might be unpleasant to log into each individual Wifi access point, therefore it is often preferable to carry a SIM card when visiting Korea.
Where to Buy a SIM Card in Korea?
These methods make it simple to buy a SIM card:
It is highly advised and the most affordable option to buy an eSIM or SIM card online before traveling. You may get SIM cards online ahead of time, then just pick them up at the airport counter when you get there. Please pick the option that best suits your needs before making a purchase by taking into account your journey time and use.
Now, the LG U+ website and KT website are the most trustworthy and widely utilized online eSIM/SIM shopping malls in Korea. Particularly, using an eSIM is strongly advised as you won’t need to go to an offline counter in the airport.
Purchasing an eSIM/SIM card at the airport convenience store is another excellent option if you haven’t already done so online. You can refer to the airport-located convenience shops listed below.
- Incheon International Airport: 1F Arrival Floor CU 1,2,3
- Gimpo International Airport: 3F 7-Eleven (You can also get from the Domestic Terminal or Subway Station “Gimpo Airport”)
You may manually activate the SIM card whenever you need to, independent of purchasing. It will often be activated within 15 minutes if you just follow the printed instructions on the SIM card packaging and input your details to register.
Airport Roaming Desk
Visit the telecom roaming desk as well if you urgently want a SIM card when you arrive at the airport. The 3 largest roaming desk providers in Korea are SKT, KT, and LG U+. Roaming desks are offered by many telecom carriers. The eSIM/SIM Card Plans for each telecom provider is shown below.
LG U+ (LG Uplus)
For both eSIM and SIM cards, LG U+ offers unlimited data-only plans and unlimited data+voice plans. Free inbound calls and messages are offered by all plans. By visiting an LG U+ counter in a Korean airport, you may select a duration between 5 and 60 days and receive a FREE T-money card. While in Korea, you are free to extend your plan’s duration and purchase more voice minutes.
With KT’s prepaid option, you can make payments in advance for a specific number of days. There are two options available: unlimited data only, or unlimited data plus rechargeable cell and SMS service (extra fee).
Prepaid data tickets are an option offered by SKT and are priced per day of use. You are given limitless data but cannot text or call.
What to Prepare Before Purchasing a SIM Card for Korea Travel?
There are a few things you should look into to be sure you’ve covered all your bases before subscribing to a SIM card. What to check before clicking “purchase” is listed below.
Locked or Unlocked: You won’t be able to use a SIM card when you receive a phone if it isn’t unlocked. If it’s locked, you’d need to contact your phone provider, which is not enjoyable when you’re halfway across the world. Do this before boarding the aircraft.
The Right Fit: The majority of SIM cards currently come in various sizes. However, the size of SIM cards has dropped over time and some are only available in nano-small, so double-check that it will fit your phone just in case. You may do this by looking at the technical characteristics or by removing the SIM card from the slot on the side.
Data-only or Data + Call & Text: The most popular SIM cards for travelers to use data-only SIM cards. Voice calls and text messages wouldn’t often be possible, but you could use applications like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Kakao, or Skype to call and text.
Validity: SIM cards are designed for a specific number of days of use. Although there are some particular SIM cards that may be extended, the term generally begins when you activate the card and cannot be extended.
Data: Although many SIM cards guarantee unlimited data, the speed frequently drops after a while. If you just plan to connect to the internet sometimes during the day, this is perfectly OK. If you stream audio or video frequently or frequently check your social media applications, you’ll rapidly approach the restrictions.
SIM Card and Other Alternatives in Korea
There are a number of methods for connecting to the internet, including eSIM, pocket wifi,… To help you decide on the best option for an internet connection, let’s look at some comparisons below.
SIM Card vs. eSIM
It is easy to observe the differences between using an eSIM and a traditional SIM card when you stack them up side by side:
|Feature||Physical SIM card||eSIM|
|Locked to a carrier?||One carrier per SIM||Multiple carriers per SIM|
|Dual-SIM||Some phones have two SIM card slots.||Use an eSIM and a physical SIM, or 2 eSIMs simultaneously.|
|Switch phone lines||Pop out the SIM tray, remove the card, and pop a new one in.||Go to phone settings and turn your lines on/off.|
|Size dimensions||12.3mm x 8.8mm||6mm x 5mm|
There are now eSIMs, which are embedded SIM cards, in addition to SIM cards, the regular card that you place into your phone. In essence, they function like SIM cards, although nothing is actually inserted. Most modern phones now enable eSIMs, which are even more user-friendly. You may simply sign up online or connect immediately using a QR code rather than using a SIM card. It’s a really practical approach to organizing your trip to Korea.
eSIMs are only supported in newer phones, so you may still need a traditional SIM card. Just check what your phone supports HERE.
SIM Card vs. Pocket Wifi
Each has some significant benefits and drawbacks, so be sure you know what you’ll need a phone number or WiFi for while you’re here.
|SIM card||Pocket Wifi|
|Pros||+ It will be more convenient for you to book and buy certain items in Korea, such as concerts and show tickets since you’ll have a local phone number. |
+ There is no need to bring along an additional gadget or charge it.
|+ If you don’t require a local number but yet want access to WiFi whenever and wherever you go, a portable Wifi is great. |
+ When traveling with a family, you can connect numerous devices to one Pocket Wifi, which is ideal because you don’t need various local phone numbers anyhow.
+ Pay daily. This might also be a drawback. However, with Pocket Wifi, you have greater flexibility in this scenario.
|Cons||+ Your relatives and friends back home won’t be able to reach you directly as you no longer have access to your home carrier’s number. Of course, you’ll be able to call people using Google Hangouts, Skype, and other services. One SIM card cannot be used on multiple devices. |
+ People who are back home won’t be able to immediately call you up because you won’t have your home carrier’s number anymore. Naturally, you’ll be able to make calls using Skype, Google Hangouts, and other programs.
+ Using one SIM card for many devices is not possible.
|+ Another item to charge. You must keep in mind to charge the Pocket Wifi every night so you can use it the following day because it does have a battery. |
+ A second item to keep in mind to bring. A Pocket Wifi is one additional item to remember to bring and take about.
Mobile Network Carriers in Korea
There are 3 main mobile operators in Korea. SK Telecom, KT South Korea, and LG U+ (formerly LG Telecom). They offer mobile networks that are 2G, 3G, and 4G.
SK Telecom (에스케이텔레콤), popularly known as T World, is the biggest mobile operator in South Korea. Additionally, it is the finest mobile provider in the nation.
For postpaid plans, it is South Korea’s most expensive mobile operator. In contrast to its rivals, SK Telecom’s Korea SIM offerings (Korea SIM Gold, Korea SIM Purple, and Korea eSIM Red) are cheaply priced.
Network coverage: In South Korea, SK Telecom has strong coverage. Additionally, it has the best 5G NR reach and availability (together with KT South Korea). Unfortunately, prepaid users, Korea SIM cards, and eSIMs are not yet able to use 5G NR. SK Telecom’s coverage map is shown below:
If you have a large budget for a trip and want to have a stable internet experience, you can buy a prepaid SIM card from SK Telecom.
KT South Korea
- 2G Voice: 1.8Ghz CDMA2000 1x (currently not available)
- 2G Data: 1.8Ghz CDMA2000 1x Ev-DO rev.0 (currently not available)
- 3G Voice: 2.1Ghz WCDMA
- 3G Data: 2.1Ghz WCDMA HSDPA/HSUPA/HSPA+
- 4G Voice: 1.8Ghz LTE (Only in case of VoLTE voice call)
- 4G Data: Bands 3, 8, and 26
The second-largest mobile operator in South Korea is KT South Korea (주식회사 케이티), also known as just KT and formerly known as Korea Telekom & Olleh. SK Telecom has the best 5G NR availability. Unfortunately, prepaid consumers cannot currently access 5G NR.
Network coverage: KT has superb coverage throughout South Korea. In addition, it boasts the best 5G NR reach (together with SK Telecom) and the best 5G NR availability. Unfortunately, prepaid users and Korea SIM cards are not yet able to use 5G NR. Here is a map of KT’s coverage:
KT is also a good option for network operation for those who have a good budget and look for a quite good LTE connection for the South Korea trip.
- 2G Voice: 1.8Ghz CDMA2000 1x (expires on 2018)
- 2G Data: 1.8Ghz CDMA2000 1x RTT (expires on 2018)
- 3G Voice: 1.8Ghz CDMA2000 1x
- 3G Data: 1.8Ghz CDMA2000 Ev-DO rev.A
- 4G Voice: 2.1Ghz/800Mhz Multi-carrier LTE (Only in case of VoLTE voice call)
- 4G Data: 2.1Ghz/800Mhz Multi-carrier LTE
The smallest mobile operator in South Korea is LG U+ (LG LG유플러스), also known as LG U+. It features the nation’s fastest 4G/LTE upload speeds.
Network coverage: There is great LG U+ coverage all around South Korea. Here is a map of LG U+’s coverage:
Despite being a small network operator, LG U+ has great coverage that can ensure your connection is stable during traveling with an LG U+ SIM card.
Top SIM Cards for Korea Travel
Below are some SIM card options from Korean network carriers and other mobile virtual network operators (MVNO).
SKT (SK Telecom), KT (Korea Telecom), and LG U+ are the 3 largest carriers in Korea and they have joined hands to provide a Korean travel SIM card service called Korea SIM.
Korea SIM offers 4 types of SIM cards, including Korea Sim Blue Plus, Korea Sim Gold, Korea Sim Sly, and Korea Sim Red. Each of these cards offers different features and prices.
|Korea Sim Red||Korea Sim Sky||Korea Sim Gold||Korea Sim Blue Plus|
|Type||eSIM||eSIM||SIM card||SIM card|
|Price||From 5.9 USD||From 19.9 USD||From 4.7 USD||From 22.9 USD|
|Validity||1, 3 , 5 ,10, 20, 30 days||5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 30 days||1, 3 , 5 ,10, 20, 30 days||5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 30 ~ 90 days|
|Data||Unlimited data 4G LTE||Unlimited data 4G LTE||Unlimited data 4G LTE||Unlimited data 4G LTE|
|Feature||No Speed Down||Full Speed Internet||No Speed Down||Unlimied calls & texts|
|Network Carrier||SK Telecom||LG Uplus||SK Telecom||KT|
|Receiving method||Airport, Post office||Airport, Post office|
Both their website and the airport’s stores sell these cards. At Incheon Airport, these SIM cards are also sold at a mobile desk.
Using KT as a hosting service provider, Code Mobile introduced an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service in 1999. At the moment, Code Mobile offers EG SIM cards to visitors visiting Korea. Data-only and data + calls & texts SIMs are also available with EG SIM.
Data-only EG SIM plans:
|SIM card plan||Price||Validity|
|Prepaid SIM 5 days||19.250 KRW||5 days|
|Prepaid SIM 10 days||26.950 KRW||10 days|
|Prepaid SIM 30 days||50.050 KRW||30 days|
|Prepaid SIM 60 days||76.700 KRW||60 days|
|Prepaid SIM 90 days||97.500 KRW||90 days|
- The SIM card will be automatically activated after 9 am on the next business day of the delivery requested day.
- Locked phones are not available to use EG SIM.
- Unlimited 4G LTE DATA. (Speed is limited to up to 3Mbps after exceeding 15GB)
- Cannot use a 3G mobile phone. (Can use 4G and 5G mobile phones)
- Call and SMS services cannot be used.
Data, voice, and SMS EG SIM plans:
|SIM card Plans||Price||Validity|
|LTE 1.5GB + 50min||15.000 KRW||30 days|
|LTE 5 GB + 50min||30.000 KRW||30 days|
|LTE 10GB + 100 tin + 100min||45.000 KRW||30 days|
|All free 8||12.000 KRW||8 days|
|All free 15||18.000 KRW||15 days|
|All free 30||29.250 KRW||30 days|
|All free 60||130.000 KRW||60 days|
|All free 90||195.000 KRW||90 days|
|All free Plus 30||71.500 KRW||30 days|
|All free Plus 60||143.000 KRW||60 days|
|All free Plus 90||214.500 KRW||90 days|
1.5 GB + 50 min LTE: Data and calls are not separate, and the fee will be deducted from your balance when you use it.
LTE 10GB + 100 messages + 100 minutes: After 10GB of data is exhausted, the data rate will slow down to 400Kbps. If you have exceeded the limit (100 minutes/100 messages), the available usage time will be deducted and all services will end.
All free plans: Unlimited Data (after 300MB high speed will slow down to 3Mbps) + Unlimited Calls + Unlimited SMS.
All Free plus Plan: Unlimited Data (speed limited to 3mbps after 2GB daily high-speed data used) + Unlimited Calls + Unlimited Messages.
- The SIM card will be automatically activated after 9 am on the next business day of the delivery requested day.
- Locked phones are not available.
- Passport required.
Klook is a provider offering self-sufficient travel services and activities, including international SIM cards in general and Korean SIM cards in particular. The SIM card from Klook is not the cheapest one you can find. However, Klook is a famous travel agency. You can expect good service and experience from Klook.
|Validity||1 day||5 days||10 days||20 days||30 days|
|Price||5.900 KRW||24.800 KRW||34.700 KRW||60.500 KRW||64.400 KRW|
Data, call, text plans:
|Validity||5 days||10 days||20 days||30 days|
|Price||24.800 KRW||34.700 KRW||60.500 KRW||64.400 KRW|
- Type: Physical SIM card.
- Unlimited data usage.
- Internet speed: 4G/LTE.
- With the Data + calls & texts plan, you will need to top up for calling and texting.
- Pick up SIM at the airport.
- Present your voucher along with your passport or photo ID when picking up the SIM.
- If you have previously used another SIM card in Korea, you may not be able to activate it. If you are unable to activate your pass at the counter, you can contact Klook for a full refund.
Trazy is a platform providing Korean tourism services and products including booking, tour booking, travel sim, concert & show tickets…
|Validity||1 day||5 days||10 days||20 days||30 days|
|Price||5.900 KRW||24.800 KRW||33.000 KRW||54.450 KRW||62.000 KRW|
- As a physical SIM that cannot call and send messages, it can be recharged to use.
- You have 3GB data at 4G/LTE speed per day after you use up 3GB data per day you will be able to use unlimited data at 5mbps. 3GB will be reset every day at 12 am.
- SIM card validity can be extended for 1/5/10/20/30 days.
- Pick up the card at the airport.
KKday offers travelers a wide selection of Korean tourist sim cards, including
30-day prepaid SIM card 4G / LTE carrier KT
|Top up||Can top up to continue using (36000 Won to use for 30 days including data and calls; top up 11000 Won for calling only)|
30 Days Prepaid SIM Card 4G / LTE LG Uplus
|Plans||Lightweight Plan||Economic Plan||Standard Plan||Deluxe Plan|
|Price||17,27 USD||26,06 USD||39,49 USD||47,38 USD|
|Data||300 MB||300 MB||11 GB and 2 GB bonus/day 11 GB run out||5 GB / day|
|Call and Text||300 calls & 300 texts||Unlimited calls and texts. 50 minutes video calls||Unlimited calls and texts. 300 minutes video calls||Unlimited calls and texts. 300 minutes video calls|
|Validity||30 days||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Top up||17,27 USD||26,06 USD||39,49 USD||47,38 USD|
There are also:
- 4G / LTE SK Telecom Unlimited SIM Card
- Korea 4G/LTE SIM card combined with T-Money card…
KKday also provides a SIM delivery service to the recipient’s address when customers buy SIM here.
KoreaTravelEasy is the last travel agency in this section that offers the same options as the companies above.
|Validity||1 day||5 days||10 days||20 days||30 days|
|Price||6 USD||24 USD||32 USD||50 USD||60 USD|
Note: This is a physical SIM, with unlimited data.
The options at KoreaTravelEasy are a bit more expensive than the alternatives. However, they provide an additional SIM delivery point at Jeju airport which is very convenient for some tourists just visiting this island.
SIM Card Alternatives for Korea Travel – GIGAGO eSIM
eSIM is a type of electronic SIM that is pre-installed in smartphones. To use this type of SIM, you can buy an eSIM plan, and install and activate them right on your phone with a QR code without disassembling them like a normal SIM card.
GIGAGO is currently the first travel eSIM provider in Vietnam. This place not only provides eSIM for foreign tourists to visit Vietnam but also provides travel eSIM for global tourists to many countries such as Korea, China, Japan, USA, Australia, and Canada…
eSIM GIGAGO has many packages with different data traffic and usage time to meet all user needs and help optimize costs for travelers.
eSIM plans from GIGAGO for Korea travel:
- Carrier: SKT, support 4G/3G network.
- Package will be terminated if data usage exceeds eSIM high-speed data limit.
- Network sharing: support.
- APN: the internet.
- Receive eSIM: Immediately.
- Validity of eSIM: within 30 days after purchase. Please activate the data plan before it expires; Once Expired, No Cancellation, Refund, or Change is allowed.
- Please make sure you have an eSIM-enabled mobile phone before purchasing.
Which SIM Card should You Buy When Traveling to Korea?
Below is a brief comparison of all options above. You can check it out and make your own decision.
|GIGAGO||Korea SIM||EG SIM||Klook||Trazy||KKday||KoreaTravelEasy|
|Price||6,7 – 23,97 USD||From 5,9 USD||13,8 – 154 USD||4.32 – 46 USD||4,23 – 44.46 USD||4,14 – 45,54 USD||6 – 60 USD|
|Data||500 MB – 10 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Validity||5 – 30 days||1 – 90 days||1 – 90 days||1 – 30 days||1 – 30 days||1 – 30 days||1 – 30 days|
|Network carrier||SK||SK, LG U+, TK||MVNO||KT||KT||KT||KT|
|Support||English, Korean||English, Korean||English, Korean||English, Korean||English, Korean||English, Korean||English, Korean|
|Type||eSIM||eSIM và SIM card||SIM card||SIM card||SIM card||SIM card||SIM card|
Through the table above, we can see that the types of SIM and eSIM for Korean travel are quite diverse, but the packages all have features and the price is not too different.
If you can use an eSIM, choose an eSIM instead of a SIM card for more convenience and ease of use. Out of the three types of eSIM, you should choose to use an eSIM of GIGAGO or Korea SIM because these two providers have good data plans at affordable prices. The price of GIGAGO is slightly higher than that of Korea SIM.
If you can only use a physical SIM card, you can choose Korea SIM or travel companies like Klook, and Trazy… with similar features and prices that are not too different. Compare prices at the time of purchase and choose the best one.
Experience Using SIM Cards for Korean Tourists
Having a steady connection when traveling is made possible by using Korean travel SIM cards. The SIM card can still lose its network, though, under some circumstances.
Handling Network Disconnection on SIM Card
You should verify that mobile data and international roaming are turned on for SIM cards that have lost network connection and are unable to access the Internet. Try rebooting your device and switching the two aforementioned features on and off. You’ll need to go forward with the carrier APN settings if you’re still unable to resolve the network failure.
Handling Network Disconnection on eSIM
In rural and distant places, using an eSIM might result in network loss. Resetting the device will allow the eSIM to be renewed, which will resolve the issue. Additionally, you may upgrade the software because devices running iOS versions prior to iOS 12 are frequently highly prone to signal loss while in operation.
If the aforementioned steps are unsuccessful in resolving the network issue, you can speak with the provider directly for assistance and prompt guidance.
FAQs about SIM Cards for Korea Travel
Do I Need a SIM card in Korea?
You are in charge of this. A SIM card, however, is a fantastic (and affordable) method to stay connected while you are in the nation. With a SIM card, you can always stay connected, which might be useful for transportation, translation, getting about, and other things.
Although there is a lot of free WiFi available in Korea, a SIM card is always the most secure alternative.
What Is Better, a WiFi pocket or SIM Card?
In general, a SIM card is more practical and simple. A WiFi pocket adds another item to take about and remember, requiring charging every night (and occasionally more frequently). A WiFi egg, however, may support numerous device connections. For those who need to stay connected across numerous devices, such as families, it is a fantastic solution.
What Is the Best Korean SIM card for travel?
Although I recommend reading this Korean SIM Comparison for more information, the short answer is this:
- It’s advised to get a tourist SIM from Trazy or Klook if you’re only spending a few days.
- A SIM card from EG SIM or Korea SIM is recommended if you want to remain for a few weeks.
Where Can I Get a Korean SIM?
There are several locations to get Korean SIM cards. SIM cards will be sold at airport convenience stores and at mobile desks in Incheon Airport (as well as other foreign airports in Korea). They may be picked up in a variety of places across the city.
What Is the Price for a SIM Card in Korea?
Korean SIM cards with unlimited data may be purchased for as little as $1.50 per day!