Traveling to Korea and want to keep in touch with friends or have a backup phone?
Rent a phone.
Firstly, Korea is a CDMA based network and most foreign phones won’t work here. If you’re able to use your phone, but are tethering it to your mobile server back home, then be prepared to suffer long-distance roaming fees.
It’s not worth it.
Korea rents cheap mobile phones, smartphones and WIFI eggs, that you can use as hotspots.
How much does it cost?
Renting a basic phone can run around 6,000 won/day. If you’re returning to Korea and use the same account, you could get as much as 1,500 won per day (under $1.50) !
On a recent trip, my mom paid 18,000 won for 12 days!
Usually, locals calls cost around 600 won/minute, while text is 100 won/ text. Long distance charges range.
Smartphones with an unlimited data plan, a SIM card option and internet hotspot eggs will price higher.
Unless you’re doing business, a basic phone is all you need.
Why get a phone?
In many cases, having a phone is nice to have as a safety backup. But here’s two reasons I’d recommend getting a phone:
1. You have friends you’re traveling with or want to meet up with .
2. You need help getting around.
When I visit Korea, I have friends I want to meet up with. Korean cities tend to be big and spaced out, addresses don’t run chronologically and subways can have multiple exits, letting out on different streets. Unless we know the neighborhood we’re meeting at, a phone comes in handy.
Secondly, the information hotline in Korea is 1330. If there’s a number you want to remember to call for train times, directions, restaurant information, or last-minute information,.. this is it. It directs you to the tourism office. While there are city prefix codes, 1330 is the number calls will route back to.
What are the major rental companies?
Where to get a rental phone?
There are rental stalls at the main airports, such as Incheon (not far outside the international baggage claim), Gimhae- Busan , Jeju International Airport, Gwangju rent them. Domestic airports in Korea, generally don’t have mobile rental shops.
Where can you drop off your phone?
You can pick them up and drop them off at the main airports that rent them out. You can drop them off at different airport locations as long as the airport has a kiosk rental desk.
Some airports, such as Busan and Incheon have their rental shops placed in travel convenient spots. For instance, downstairs (near ‘Baggage Claim and Arrivals’) is where you’d rent the phone and upstairs (‘Departure and Check in’) is the drop-off.
The mobile rental shops tend to be located side-by-side.
Can I reserve them in advance?
You can rent your mobile phone on the spot as soon as you arrive into the airport. If you want to reserve them in advance, you can do so here.
What you will need?
You’ll need a passport and a credit card.
More information about phones in Korea, click here.