Welcome to Seoul! As you prepare for your upcoming trip, having connectivity during your travels is essential. Getting a local SIM card in Seoul will allow you to access maps, translation apps, social media, and keep in contact with your family and friends back home.

In this blog post, we’ll provide an in-depth guide on everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Seoul. We’ll cover the best network providers, costs, where to buy cards, using eSIM, tips for avoiding issues, frequently asked questions, and more. Read on for pro tips from Seoul locals!

sim card in seoul

I. Which Mobile Operator is the Best in Seoul?

South Korea has three main mobile network operators - SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+. According to the December 2023 Mobile Network Experience Report by Opensignal for South Korea, SK Telecom delivers the best mobile experience in Seoul.

South Korea has three main mobile network operators – SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+. According to the December 2023 Mobile Network Experience Report by Opensignal for South Korea, SK Telecom delivers the best mobile experience in Seoul.

SK Telecom scored highly across all four Experience indicators – Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and Latency Experience. It achieved an overall consistent quality score of 77.1 out of 100, placing it ahead of KT and LG U+.

However, while SK Telecom has the best coverage nationally, KT and its MVNO partners provide more affordable plans for tourists and offer easier SIM card purchase options at the airport. KT also has the most extensive public WiFi network across the country.

In conclusion, for the best overall mobile experience quality and speeds, SK Telecom is the top operator in Seoul. But those looking for wi-fi coverage and more budget friendly options may want to consider KT as a suitable alternative in the city. All three operators deliver solid 4G and 5G services in Seoul.

II. Best Seoul SIM Cards and Cost

Now let’s dive deeper into the best Seoul SIM card options and pricing for travelers from the major carriers:

SIM CardNetworkData AllowanceValidity PeriodPrice (USD)
Korea SIM GoldSK TelecomUnlimited data at 20 Mbps3, 5, 10, 30 days3 days: $12.7, 5 days: $19.4, 10 days: $26.9, 30 days: $49.9
Korea SIM Blue PlusKT10GB full speed LTE, 2GB extra daily10, 30, 90 days10 days: $31.9, 30 days: $58.9, 90 days: $151.9
Korea eSIM RedSK TelecomUnlimited data at 20 Mbps3, 5, 10, 30 days3 days: $12.7, 5 days: $19.4, 10 days: $26.9, 30 days: $49.9
Korea eSIM SkyLG U+3GB full speed LTE, unlimited at 5Mbps after10, 15, 30, 60 days10 days: $27.9, 15 days: $39.9, 30 days: $51.9, 60 days: $103.8
Prices may vary due to exchange rate fluctuations

Based on the data allowances and validity periods offered, the top SIM card options for travelers to Seoul are:

  • Korea SIM Gold (SK Telecom) – Provides unlimited high-speed data for lengths of 3-30 days on the largest network in Korea. A good choice for medium to longer stays.
  • Korea SIM Blue Plus (KT) – Offers generous data bundles for longer stays of 10-90 days with the added bonus of extra daily data. Best value for visits of at least 2 weeks.

III. Where to Buy a SIM Card in Seoul

As a tourist in Seoul, you can purchase prepaid SIM cards from a few convenient locations across the city. Here are your options:

1. Upon Arrival

As a tourist in Seoul, you can purchase prepaid SIM cards from a few convenient locations across the city. Here are your options:

All three major Korean carriers – SK Telecom, KT Olleh and LG U+ – have SIM card vending machines and desks located in the arrival halls at Incheon International Airport (ICN).

This is the fastest and most efficient way to get connected right after landing in Seoul. Pickup is quick and activation straightforward with passports and payment. English-speaking staff are also available if you need assistance selecting the best plan.

Prices at the airport are competitive, on par with their downtown stores. Look for signage in the arrival halls exit to find the carrier stores and vending machines.

Get the inside scoop on Where to Buy SIM Card at Incheon Airport

2. In the City

You can also purchase SIM cards from hundreds of official retailer stores and convenience shops like 7-Eleven, GS25 or CU dotted all around Seoul, hay Jeju and every where.

Every district has multiple carrier stores – just look for the branded SK Telecom, KT Olleh and LG U+ signs. Staff will be able to assist with finding the right prepaid plan and setting up the SIM card in your device.

Seoul SIM card prices are generally the same across official shops so feel free to compare deals. Some convenience shops may have smaller data allotments on their tourist SIMs so shop around if you need more than a few GB.

Additionally, the major phone companies also have downtown customer service centers called “Telephone House” with English support to setup connectivity.

Say goodbye to roaming fees
Stay connected in Seoul with eSIMKR

IV. eSIM for Travelers to Seoul – A Smart Alternative

Traveling internationally has always come with the hassle of obtaining a local SIM card to stay connected. Whether swapping out your physical SIM card or paying high roaming rates, it’s never been very convenient.

Luckily, embedded SIM or eSIM technology is changing that. With eSIM, travelers can digitally activate a mobile plan right from their phone’s settings without having to deal with any physical SIM cards.

For travelers visiting Seoul, Korea, esimkr.com offers a great eSIM solution. Esimkr.com is the top provider of eSIM plans for Korea, making it easy to stay connected throughout your trip.

best esimkr.com plans

Our eSIM plans start at just $5.90 for 3 days of service. You get high-speed LTE data without any roaming charges. Plans are available for 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, and 30 days to suit any trip length. Data allocations range from 1-3GB per day up to 50GB total.

Best of all, activating an esimkr.com eSIM plan is simple. Once purchased, we’ll send the eSIM profile to your email address immediately. Then just open the attachment on your phone and scan the QR code to install – it takes less than 5 minutes. No need to mess with swapping out physical SIM cards abroad.


Plans that may interest you

Korea eSIM - 5 Days
Korea eSIM - 5 Days
From $8.5
Korea eSIM - 20 Days
Korea eSIM - 20 Days
From $30

V. Things to Prepare when Buying SIM Cards in Seoul

To ensure the process goes smoothly, here are some tips on items to have ready when purchasing your Seoul SIM card:

Unlock Your Phone – Most foreign phones are locked to their home carrier network initially. Prior to your trip, contact your provider to unlock so you can insert a local Korean SIM.

Passport – You will need your physical passport when registering a Korean SIM card for verification and registration purposes. Photocopies are not accepted in most shops.

Cash / Credit Card – Have some local currency (KRW) or an international credit card ready for payment. Many Seoul retailers accept Visa/Mastercard/Amex cards with no foreign transaction fees.

Know Your Device Type – Micro SIM, nano SIM or eSIM? Just check your phone’s SIM card tray slot size so you get the correct one. Or choose eSIM for simple app activation.

Mobile Accessories – Don’t forget your wall plug adapter to charge your phone! Seoul outlets fit US-style 2 prong plugs. A portable battery pack can provide backup juice when exploring around the city as well.

VI. Tips and Recommendations

Here are some final pro tips from our local experts for getting connected with a Seoul SIM card:

  • Purchase at Incheon Airport upon arrival for convenience
  • Go with KT Olleh or SK Telecom for best coverage
  • 5-8GB data is plenty for average 2 week usage
  • Grab a prepaid card for max 1 month duration
  • Enable international roaming with your home carrier as backup
  • Download offline Google Maps, translation and trip essential apps
  • Get a prepaid transit T-Money card for subway and buses
  • Learn some basic Korean phrases
  • Stay connected with KakaoTalk and WhatsApp messaging apps

VII. FAQs about Buying a SIM Card in Seoul

Which mobile carriers can I buy a SIM card from in Seoul?

The major carriers in South Korea are SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+. You can purchase prepaid SIM cards directly from these carriers, as well as from MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that operate on their networks. Some popular options specifically for tourists include Korea SIM Gold (SK Telecom), Korea SIM Blue (KT), and EG SIM Card.

Where can I purchase a SIM card?

SIM cards are available for purchase at the mobile carrier stores, convenience stores like 7-Eleven and CU, airports, as well as sometimes directly from online sites. SK Telecom and KT have global/airport stores where assistance is provided in English. Making an online purchase for airport pickup is also an option.

What identification do I need to buy a SIM card?

You will need to provide your passport for identification purposes when purchasing a SIM card. The seller will need to verify your identity and may add your details to their registration system, which takes around 20-60 minutes to activate the SIM card.

Which mobile frequencies does South Korea use?

South Korea uses 2100MHz for 3G connectivity and 850MHz (LTE Band 5), 1800MHz (Band 3) and 2100MHz (Band 1) for 4G/LTE. It’s important to check that your phone is compatible with these bands. 2G has now been deactivated on all networks.

How much data can I get on prepaid SIM cards?

Most tourist SIM cards offer 1-10GB of high-speed data valid for durations ranging from 5-30 days, with unlimited data at reduced speeds afterwards. Data allowances and package prices vary between carriers and plans but typically range from $20-60 USD depending on the duration and data provided.

Are SIM cards for tourists available at Incheon Airport?

Yes, the major carriers like SK Telecom and KT have stores directly at Incheon International Airport where you can purchase SIM cards upon arrival. It’s advised to purchase online if possible for guaranteed availability.

Maybe you’re interested in: Buying a SIM card at Korea Airports: The Definitive Guide

VIII. Conclusion

We hope this guide gives you all the important details for getting connected with a prepaid SIM card in Seoul. Finding a provider, offers, and shop locations are simplified for your arrival. With a local Korean number and mobile data, you’ll have much greater ease getting around this incredible capital city.

Have an amazing trip full of wonderful sights, food and new friends in Seoul! Let us know if you have any other questions as you prepare your visit. We’re happy to provide more Korea travel tips to ensure your journey is a smooth one!