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How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

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How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

Some detailed instructions on how to rent a Korean phone with internet data plan (3G) for KRW6,500/day (about EUR4.30/day).

Even if you do not need internet, renting a local phone (only KRW1,500/day) will allow you to make cheap local calls and SMS. Good for contacting each other if your group splits up for shopping etc. IDD calls for calling home are cheaper using a local phone too(vs. auto roaming).

This is meant for people who are in Seoul for a short holiday and not long-term stay. Convenient collection/return at Incheon airport.

By the way, people say that wifi is everywhere in Seoul but I found this not to be true. You have to go to a cafe or something if your hotel doesn’t provide free wifi. And although there are wifi hotspots everywhere these are paid wifi. Furthermore free wifi is hard to find outside of Seoul (I went to Daemyuung Vivaldi resort to ski, no free wifi even at the Starbucks there).

For those who do not already know why you cannot easily get a prepaid sim card in Korea, please read the discussions here.

forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php…

1. Reserve a phone online at least 3 days prior to your trip. You will receive an email confirmation.

- For iPhone rental (I used this because I’m using iPhone 4S in Singapore) :

www.visitseoul.net/en/article/article.do…

- For Samsung phone rental:

www.sroaming.com/eng/Guide/Guide_Roaming.asp

2. At Incheon airport (Arrivals, 1st floor, after you collect your baggage and pass customs), look for the rental counters. For iPhone rental, this is the “Olleh” counter near Exit 6-7 (opposite door “C”).

3. Show your reservation email to the staff at the counter (the Olleh counter staff speak English). I forgot to print mine out so I just showed them the email on my Singapore iPhone and it was fine. You will also need a credit card and your passport (they will make a copy of it).

4. The iPhone rental costs KRW3000/day (EUR2/day) but you can ask them for a 50% discount voucher that brings it down to KRW1500/day. They gave me an iPhone 3GS (if you are lucky you may get an iPhone 4) which was on iOS4.

5. If you need 3G internet, sign up for the KRW5000/day data plan (c.EUR3.30/day). They were having a promotion when I was there last week (Dec 2011) so the data plan was unlimited :))) But normally (according to the website) it’s 16MB data per day for the KRW5000/day data plan, which should be enough for your daily dose of facebook, whatsapp, normal emails (i.e. no big attachments), basic surfing etc.

6. The phone comes with only the basic iPhone apps so you have to download all the other apps you need using the app store (whatsapp, viber, tango, facebook, skype etc) with your own itunes ID and password. Of course, you would need to manually transfer some of your contacts over for whatsapp and viber. If your data plan is limited, use the free airport wifi to download your apps before your leave the airport.

7. Return your phone at Incheon airport on your departure day. I went to the original counter on the Arrivals floor to return my phone. Later I realised that there is another Olleh counter on the Departure floor, near Gate 2 (International Departures – before customs screening). Not sure if you can return at a different counter though. You can pay the bill in cash.

I really struggled to find detailed information on this topic so hope that this guide is helpful to those who absolutely must have internet on-the-go like me!

Singapore
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1. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

oh yea, the rental iphone 3GS battery life is not that great so bring some mobile battery chargers if you can.

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2. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

Smittenangel, thanks for sharing. Very useful.

5k per day for unlimited plan is a great deal. Hope they can continue to offer unlimited plan as it's troublesome to monitor daily usage.

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3. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

Hi Smitten, gd to know that u had a gd rental experience after so much homework :P. agreed w u abt the free wifi, it is common but there r still places (esp higher end hotels) without free wifi.

just to add on,

1.when u make an online reservation, make sure u key in your IC name as they will cross check yr name with your passport (u need to present yr passport upon collection).

2.the kind staff will advise u to turn off the cellular data n rely on free wifi to save cost but if u have taken up the data plan, u cld swtich it on.

3. try to download a few apps around the counter in case there's problems n the msg pop out is in korean.

4. i have problem trying to transfer pic over to my own iphone. try not to take picture with the rental iphone as battery runs down easily. the only way to transfer photo was taught by shop188, email to yr own email account but it took time and i didn't manage to email all.

5. for young smitten, the rental phone is for gp communications. for family, we can use it to call korean helpline to facilitate our travel. n some hotel provide free mobile phone so it facilitate communications within family as well.

6. inserting yr own SIM card in olleh rental phone is not allowed. You will be given a korean number for your rental phone.

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4. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

Very useful info from both of u. Suggest to link to top qn for future travellers.

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5. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

hi janet I used whatsapp to transfer pics from Korean phone to my own phone. you can just send them first and retrieve them later when you are back in your own country.

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6. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

Hi Smittenangel,

When used whatapps, it will compress the photos, right? When retrieve, does it becomes smaller in size?

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7. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

Hi all, thanks for the information.

Just wanna check do i still need to apply for auto-roaming with starhub (i'm using starhub) in singapore if i were to rent the phone in SK?

KRW6,500/day include the rental of the iphone & data plan?

how to ask them for the discount?

TQ

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8. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

hi smitten, do u need to pay when u download whatapps? i rec'd msg that i cannot use my acct to make purchases outside s'pore.

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9. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

shop: I think whatsapp does compress the photos but i doubt it'd make that much difference as the iphone 3GS photo quality is pretty lousy. lol.

janet: no you don't have to pay again if you have already purchased whatsapp before. the app store will change country automatically once you log in with your itunes user id and password, even if it is on a different phone/device.

dreambear:

- you need auto roaming if you still want to receive calls and messages on your singapore phone. the rental phone is a local korean number.

- yes, KRW6,500/day includes rental of iphone and data plan (KRW1500/day for the phone rental after 50% discount and KRW5000/day for the plan). By right you should have some sort of discount voucher to show them, but I just asked the staff at the Olleh counter for the discount and they gave it to me.

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10. Re: How to get 3G Internet on prepaid phone in Seoul Korea

Thanks, Smiitten.

One more way of transferring.