Seoul has one of the highest broadband penetration rate in the world, not to mention one of the world’s fastest broadband connections. The government has invested millions of dollars to boost its infrastructure to provide free WI-FI to its citizen. Enough though it is indeed true that free internet may be dispersed throughout Seoul, the connection will cease when you start walking and move away from the cafe or WIFI-zone. As such, for many of us who are so attached to Facebook or Instagram, it would be difficult not to immediately share the beautiful holiday pictures with friends who are back at home! We shall explore the possible options for wireless internet access in this post.
1. Local SIM Card
Having a local SIM card is probably one of the best options available in the market since you will be constantly connected to the internet. Of course, there is always a hassle of changing your SIM cards and storing your existing one in a safe place. Not to mention that you may potentially miss important phone calls from Singapore – which is probably not a bad thing since you have to pay roaming charges just to pick up those calls.
One of the more popular choices amongst foreign visitors to South Korea is EG SIM Card, which has an english website that is very user-friendly. What I would recommend is to order the SIM card online before you fly, and arrange to collect it at the airport when you arrive. You need to pay 20000 KRW for the SIM card + 9900 KRW for Nano or 5500 KRW for standard or Micro-SIM. That means 29900 KRW for the Nano-sim or 25,500 KRW for standard or Micro-sim. I would recommend collecting from “K Books” which is found on 1F at Incheon International Airport (0700-2000 Mon-Sun) once you touch down since you get to use the SIM card on the go! An alternative is for it to be delivered to your hotel (at no additional cost) but that means you ought to know where your hotel is and do not get lost in the meantime!
Updated Feb 16: The collection of Sim card from the K Book Store near Exit 7 of Level 1 is no longer available as it had been replaced by another new bookstore. The new collection point is at Counter 45 between exits 8 & 9 of level 1.
Once you have the SIM card, then it’s time to subscribe to a plan using your stored value of 20000 KRW. Since 1GB costs 16500 KRW and 500mb 11000 KRW, it makes more sense to get the former just in case you end up using more data than you planned to. A good news is that if you subscribe to either of these plans, once you turn on your WIFI, you automatically get connected to Olleh WIFI when a hotspot is available and you can surf using WIFI and save on your data! Surprisingly, Olleh WIFI is available everywhere – even in the train! Last but not least, the validity of the SIM card is for 30 days, so it is useful for those who are travelling for long periods of time so as to reduce the average cost per day.
To recharge the card, simply do it online using your credit card. All instructions available on the website.
2. Olleh/KT WIFI Egg
If you are travelling in a big group of up to 5 people, then getting a WIFI egg will be a cheaper option. At 8000 KRW/day, it gets cheaper from the 11th day on with a massive discount of 50%! Of course, do take note of its coverage in the map below. I thought the egg was spoilt when I was in Paju visiting the DMZ, only to find that it worked fine once back in Seoul! So if it’s just the two of you travelling for 7 days, then it will still be cheaper to get the WIFI egg and share rather than get 2 separate SIM cards. However, do note that you need to place a deposit of 200,000 KRW when you book an egg. More information is available on their website here, and collection/drop-off is also at Incheon Airport which is a breeze.
If you are not keen to spend that much on a WIFI egg or SIM card, then this is a cheaper alternative. As mentioned previously, the Olleh WIFI is available almost everywhere in the city – much more than the free WIFI that you can leech on to. And at 3300 KRW per day, it is a much cheaper option compared to buying a buy of coffee just to use the free WIFI in the cafe. For more information, check out the website here
4.Free WIFI using Boingo for American Express Platinum members
At the beginning of December, I covered an article on the free Boingo WIFI service provided for all American Express (AMEX) Platinum members. Using the app provided, it appears that there are many hotspots in Seoul. I have personally yet to use this service, but visitors to Seoul who are not willing to pay for the above mentioned services should consider activating this service if possible and keep it as a backup!
5. Free City WIFI
If you are not that hardcore, and are comfortable with using your hotel/hostel WIFI and some free WIFI here and there, then do check out Seoulistic’s list of free WIFI here