Local SIM card or portable WIFI
Even though the Singapore telcos offer roaming services for SGD15 per day, i never use these services overseas as there are cheaper options available. Unlike the sim card in other countries, the visitor sim card in Japan is only valid for data usage and there is no free calls or sms service. However, since most people are on the smartphone these days, apps such as line or facetime provide one with the option of voice call or video calls as well, so it is really not much of an issue here.
a) B Mobile
The b-mobile visitor sim card offers 14 days of 4g service or 1gb worth of data (whichever expires first) at 3791 yen. Do note that you need to book online first and the card can be delivered to your hotel or address in japan for free or self-collect at the airport for an extra fee of 210yen. The good thing about this company is that the service has always been reliable and comes in normal, micro and nano sizes. The 14 days of service starts from the day of activation which you will predetermine when you book online. Do note that you should choose this 1gb version rather than the green 14 day option (unlimited data) as the latter has a data speed of up to 300kbps only, and honestly 1 gb of data should be more than sufficient for most people on an overseas trip.
Econnect is b-mobile’s direct competitor and offers 1gb worth of data or 30 days at 4100yen + 790 yen for shipping. They also have portable wifi which costs as low as 420yen per day (300 kbps) up to 1080 yen per day (21mbps download/5.8mbps upload). However, the portable wifi are always in popular demand so you will need to book early if you are interested.
Personally, I think the sim card is a better option that the portable WIFI, which is essentially a router that you carry on the go. Do note that the battery life for some may be up to 8h only so it may not be very realiable.
If you are not a heavy user and do not intend to use your phone much except for the occasional whatsapp or facebook message, you can look out for free wifi at certain places
As in Singapore, Starbucks Japan provides free wifi. All you need to do is to sign up here (it’s in English 🙂 beforehand then logo to their wifi when you are in close proximity to Starbucks.
Most of their ubiquitous convenience stores offer free wifi, but like Starbucks, you need to sign up on their page here. Do it in Singapore at use google chrome to help translate if you are unable to understand Japanese.
This website offers a map where you can find free wifi hotspots.
iv) Wi2 300
Get a free 1 day pass from now till 30 Sep 14. After that, you can get a 20% discount if you wish to get the 3 day pass at 1200yen (UP 1500 yen) or 1 week pass at 1600 yen (UP 2000 yen). However, do note that this is a WIFI service so you need to find participating stores before you can use the service, which i feel is quite trouble as compared to a local sim card. If you are interested in the free 1 day trial, check out their website here
Stay tuned for part 4 – how to navigate the local tokyo rail and subway