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East Asia: Best Prepaid SIM Cards Buying Guide (2023)

Being completely redone.

In This Guide Show
Buying a SIM Card in East Asia Guide (logos of China Mobile, Chunghwa Telecom, SK Telecom, China Unicom, Taiwan Mobile, Mobicom, csl., Mobal, Sun Mobile & KT)

Original publication: 17th of November 2019. Last updated: 23rd of September 2022.


Best Prepaid SIM Cards in East Asia

SIM Card Prices in East Asia

Best eSIMs in East Asia

Best International/Travel SIM Card for East Asia

VoLTE & VoWiFi in East Asia

5G NR in East Asia

East Asian Prepaid SIM Cards

I will be covering eight countries in this guide.

Well… seven because North Korea is special – more about that later.

While I would love it if you read this whole guide, it has more than *k words.

Moreover, you may not even visit all these countries, so I do not blame you for just wanting to focus on the country you will go to.

Therefore, I created this index so that you can jump to the country you are interested in (instead of having to scroll for ages).

If you are done reading about a country and want to read another one (let’s say from Hong Kong to Taiwan), you can easily do so by jumping back to the index.

There will be a Jump back to the Index button at the end of each country section.

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Macau
  • Mongolia
  • North Korea
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

In this guide, I will:

  • introduce you to the mobile operators in each country
  • give my SIM card recommendation(s) for each country
  • give you eSIM recommendations
  • show you the coverage map(s) of the recommended mobile operator(s)
  • tell you how much SIM cards cost and where to get them
  • explain where to get top-up vouchers, how to top-up & how to check your balance
  • give you the recommended plan(s) by the recommended mobile operator(s)
  • provide a short recap of what you need to know about SIM cards in the country

With that being said, let’s see what East Asia has to offer to us.


China Prepaid SIM Cards

Flag of China

Hong Kong Prepaid SIM Cards

Flag of Hong Kong

Recommended Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Hong Kong

Prepaid SIM Card Price(s) & Availability in Hong Kong

Recommended Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Hong Kong

Recommended eSIM(s) in Hong Kong

Coverage Map(s) of the Recommended Mobile Operator(s) in Hong Kong

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check in Hong Kong

Recommended Prepaid Plan(s) in Hong Kong

Recap of the Best Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Hong Kong


Japan Prepaid SIM Cards

Flag of Japan

Recommended Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Japan

Prepaid SIM Card Price(s) & Availability in Japan

Recommended Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Japan

Recommended eSIM(s) in Japan

Coverage Map(s) of the Recommended Mobile Operator(s) in Japan

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check in Japan

Recommended Prepaid Plan(s) in Japan

Recap of the Best Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Japan


Macau Prepaid SIM Cards

Flag of Macau

Mongolia Prepaid SIM Cards

Flag of Mongolia

North Korea Prepaid SIM Cards

Flag of North Korea

South Korea Prepaid SIM Cards

Flag of South Korea

In South Korea, you have three mobile operators offering prepaid services easily accessible to travelers:

  • SK Telecom (also known as T World)
  • KT South Korea (formerly Korea Telekom & Olleh)
  • LG U+
Buying a SIM Card in South Korea Guide (logos of SK Telecom, KT & LG U+)

Recommended Prepaid SIM Card(s) in South Korea

I recommend going with SK Telecom. It is the fastest mobile operator in the country. Its Korea eSIM Red offer truly unlimited data. SK Telecom’s tourist SIM cards (Korea SIM Gold and Korea SIM Purple) also offer unlimited data at slower speeds (5 Mbps and 10 Mbps).

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Prepaid SIM Card Price(s) & Availability in South Korea

You can get a South Korean SIM card for 8800 KRW (6.70 USD) from SK Telecom in its stores. Tourist SIM cards (known as Korea SIM) by SK Telecom, KT & LG U+ are sold between 5.90 USD (1 day) to 384 USD (6 months) primarily at airports, including Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN).

For up-to-date KRW:your currency (let’s say PY – Japanese Yen) exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

50 000 South Korean Won Bank Note
© Bank of Korea/한국은행
  • Find out how much SIM cards cost in every country, including data-only SIM cards and tourist SIM cards, offered by each mobile operator + information about starter benefits (lookup tool)
SIM Card Prices Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Recommended eSIM(s) in South Korea

SK Telecom (through Korea eSIM Red) and LG U+ (also through Korea eSIM Sky) offer eSIMs to prepaid customers.

Be aware that you can order the Korea eSIM Red (SK Telecom) and Korea eSIM Sky (LG U+) can be ordered on the Korea SIM website, which is the official collaborative brand between the Big Three before arriving in South Korea.

The same applies to the LG U+ Data & Voice and Data-only eSIMs, but they have to be ordered on the LG U+ rental service website.

All Korea SIM tourist SIM cards and eSIMs offer unlimited data for up to 6 months, although often at throttled speeds.

However, these eSIMs (and Korea SIM tourist SIM cards) are expensive, especially for those who want to stay in South Korea for a prolonged period or do not use a lot of data.

Note that the South Korean mobile operators require your identification (passport) for eSIMs and physical SIM cards.

Therefore, if you wish to get an eSIM for South Korea without personal detail capturing, you can get the South Korea eSIM from Nomad (1 GB/7 days, 2 GB/30 days, 3 GB/30 days & 5 GB/30 days).

South Korea eSIMs Nomad

Use code ADU123 for the best deals available when getting Nomad eSIMs (on the site or their apps) and as getting 3 USD off!

For an in-depth analysis of eSIMs in South Korea (covering prices, discounts & pros + cons), check out my South Korea eSIMs Compared guide.

Buying an eSIM for South Korea Guide (logos of Airalo, Holafly, Nomad, SK Telecom & LG U+)
  • Find out about the best local eSIMs, local travel eSIMs & regional travel eSIMs for every country (lookup tool)
Best Local & Travel eSIMs Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Coverage Map(s) of the Recommended Mobile Operator(s) in South Korea

Below is the coverage map of SK Telecom:

If you want to see the coverage maps of the other mobile operators, head to my South Korea SIM Card Buying Guide.

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check in South Korea

SK Telecom top-up vouchers (for the PPS SIM card – not the Korea SIM Tourist SIM cards) are sold in SK Telecom (T World) stores, kiosks, gas stations & grocery stores.

To top up your SK Telecom SIM card, call 01052004949 and follow the instructions (not for the Korea SIM tourist SIM cards).

To extend the validity of your Korea SIM Purple SIM card, use this page (cannot be used for the Korea Gold SIM card or Korea eSIM Red).

Call 01052004949 to check your SK Telecom balance (not for the Korea SIM tourist SIM cards).

Recommended Prepaid Plan(s) in South Korea

SK Telecom has only one data-featured plan: PPS (Pre-Paid-Service) Smartphone Plans.

They are data bundles (without 5G NR access).

The following PPS (Pre-Paid-Service) Smartphone Plans are available, which initially have to be activated in an SK Telecom (T World) store:

PriceDataValidity
2000 KRW100 MB1 year
10 000 KRW500 MB1 year
15 000 KRW1 GB1 year
19 000 KRW2 GB1 year
33 000 KRW5 GB1 year
SK Telekom T World South Korea PPS (Pre-Paid-Service) Smartphone Plans

Recap of the Best Prepaid SIM Card(s) in South Korea

  • SK Telecom is recommended
  • South Korea SIM cards are available for 8800 KRW (SK Telecom)
    • Tourist SIM cards are sold for between 5.90 USD and 384 USD (SK Telecom, KT South Korea & LG U+)
  • SIM cards are also sold at Daegu International Airport (TAE), Gimpo/Kimpo International Airport (GMP), Gimhae International Airport (PUS), Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN) & Jeju International Airport (CJU)
  • Topping up can be done in SK Telecom and KT stores and through top-up partners.
  • SK Telecom’s PPS (Pre-Paid-Service) Smartphone Plans (data) range from 2000 KRW to 33 000 KRW
  • Read my South Korea SIM Card Buying Guide for (much) more about South Korean SIM cards

Jump back to the Country Index. | Jump back to the Table of Contents.

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Taiwan Prepaid SIM Cards

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Recommended Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Taiwan

Prepaid SIM Card Price(s) & Availability in Taiwan

Recommended Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Taiwan

Recommended eSIM(s) in Taiwan

Coverage Map(s) of the Recommended Mobile Operator(s) in Taiwan

Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check in Taiwan

Recommended Prepaid Plan(s) in Taiwan

Recap of the Best Prepaid SIM Card(s) in Taiwan


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It takes a lot of time to analyze, translate & review the SIM card options worldwide (especially to test them out).

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Every Ko-Fi donation, one-time or monthly, helps me to spend more time creating local SIM card buying guides.

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Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

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If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!

Learn About Your Phone Travel Options

You can buy local prepaid SIM cardsinternational SIM cardsmobile hotspots, or roam internationally.

Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.

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