Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Taiwan Guide

There is so much to explore in Taiwan. Exciting cities, heritage in towns and villages, and many temples. Taipei is a hot destination for visitors, so are Hualien City, Hengchun, and Xitun.

What is not so popular with travelers is the extremely high costs associated with roaming with your provider. That is why many travelers want to buy a Taiwanese SIM card when exploring Taiwan. Before you go on your exploration, I have studied the SIM card options of Taiwan so that you do not have to roam while visiting Taiwan. Let’s go.

Telecom Providers in Taiwan

Taiwan has 5 telecom providers: Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, FarEasTone, Taiwan Star, and Asia Pacific Telecom (APTG). Chunghwa Telecom is the largest carrier in Taiwan with more than 10.5 million subscribers, Taiwan Mobile and FarEasTone are following each other closely with more than 7 million subscribers. Both Taiwan Star and Asia Pacific Telecom have more than 2 million subscribers and are, therefore, servicing a smaller base.

Taiwan has three major Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), which are Line Mobile and Ibon Mobile on the FarEasTone network, and Circles.Life using Chunghwa’s network. Ibon will the only MVNO that will be discussed in this article.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Taiwan? If you want to buy a SIM card in Taiwan, I would recommend going with any of the airport plans (tourist plans) provided by Chunghwa, Taiwan Mobile, FarEastTone, or T Star, which all come with truly unthrottled unlimited data and airtime credit.

Taiwan Mobile and APTG have, according to OpenSignal, the best coverage by covering more than 90% of the Taiwanese population. The other providers are lagging behind a little bit but still have acceptable coverage.

All Taiwanese telecom providers have shut down their 2G network in 2017 and 3G in 2019. As a result, you need a 4G/LTE capable phone to use any of Taiwan’s network. Most modern smartphones support 4G/LTE. If you have an older phone, you may be able to rent a traveler’s phone, borrow a phone from a friend or family (low chance of succeeding, by the way), or stay offline – that can be fun too… right?

Visitors planning on buying a Taiwanese SIM card have to bring their passport to the store, just like many other countries in East Asia. Most providers sell tourist SIM cards, also referred to as airport cards, cards with airport packages. Worry not, you can use your SIM card outside of the airport and can be bought in town at a higher price. They come with unlimited data and airtime for calls and SMS. The packs, however, cannot be renewed.

Those who want to buy a SIM card in town or buy a regular SIM card need to show a second piece of identification besides your passport, like your ID, driver’s license, or visa. These cards and packages can, unlike tourist cards, be renewed.

Do note that you can only have one SIM card active at a time, which should not be an issue for most travelers.

Let’s see what the providers have to offer for us. Whenever applicable, I will mention the details of the traveler's plans before mentioning the details of regular SIM cards.

Tip: Looking for cheap flights? Book with AirWander and add stopovers! Not in a hurry yet? Set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog and get notified when ticket prices for your preferred route(s) drop!

Emome by Chunghwa Telecom

Emome Logo

As established in the introduction, Chunghwa Telecom is the largest provider in Taiwan. Their prepaid brand is called Emome, and their airport SIM cards can be bought at Taipei Taoyuan Airport, Songshan Airport, Taichung Airport, Kaohsiung International Airport, and some service centers in cities. You can even reserve your card online, although the selection is not as broad as buying it at the airport itself.

Below are the prices and perks of Chunghwa Telecom’s airport plans. All come with unlimited data (without being throttled) and unlimited Chunghwa Telecom WIFI usage:

  • 300 TWD ($10): 100 TWD airtime for 3 days
  • 300 TWD: 50 TWD airtime for 5 days
  • 500 TWD: 300 TWD airtime for 5 days
  • 500 TWD: 150 TWD airtime for 7 days
  • 500 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 10 days
  • 700 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 15 days
  • 800 TWD: 250 TWD airtime for 15 days
  • 1000 TWD: 430 TWD airtime for 30 days

Unlike most providers around the, 1 day is 24 hours and does not reset at midnight (unless you activated your card at midnight, of course – this applies to all Taiwanese providers, it seems).

Chunghwa WiFI has more than 50000 hotspots throughout Taiwan, which is a neat feature. However, WiFI can be slow with Chunghwa (and all other providers), so be aware of that. It is not that you would really need it with your unlimited data plan.

You can buy a regular Emome SIM card, called Ideal Card, at Chunghwa stores, several convenience stores, or on the Emome website. The SIM card is sold for 300 TWD and comes with the same amount in credit.

The following starter packs can be added:

  • 300 TWD: 120 TWD credit, 1.2 GB and 100 SMS
  • 500 TWD: 200 TWD credit, 2.2 GB and 250 SMS
  • 1000 TWD: 8 GB

Data volume plans can be added as well:

  • 180 TWD: 1 GB for 60 days  
  • 300 TWD: 2.2 GB for 60 days
  • 699 TWD: 5 GB for 120 days
  • 1000 TWD: 8 GB for 180 days

Big WeChat user? The WeChat GO So SIM card is sold at airports and some stores for 250 TWD, 100 TWD credit, 1 GB, and 205 MB for WeChat. More data can be added, but the SIM card will expire after 16 days.

myfone by Taiwan Mobile

Taiwan Mobile

Taiwan Mobile was the second provider in Taiwan. It has good coverage around the country and provides good speeds. Its prepaid brand is called myfone.

Airport plans are sold at various airports and some Taiwan Mobile stores.

Taiwan Mobile’s airport plans are listed below, which all come with unthrottled unlimited data:

  • 300 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 3 days
  • 300 TWD: 50 TWD airtime for 5 days
  • 400 TWD: 40 TWD airtime for 6 days
  • 500 TWD: 300 TWD airtime for 5 days
  • 500 TWD: 150 TWD airtime for 7 days
  • 500 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 10 days
  • 700 TWD: 350 TWD airtime for 7 days
  • 700 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 15 days
  • 800 TWD: 400 TWD airtime for 10 days
  • 1000 TWD: 400 TWD airtime for 15 days
  • 1000 TWD: 430 TWD airtime for 30 days

Want to live like a real local and want to get a regular SIM card? Myfone SIM cards are sold 300 TWD at the airport and other stores. You only need your passport to buy a myfone SIM card from a Taiwan Mobile store.

Several started packs can be added to your myfone account:

  • 300 TWD: 1.2 GB for 60 days, 2000 TWD airtime for on-net calls for 30 days, and 100 TWD credit
  • 300 TWD: unlimited data for 3 days and 300 TWD credit
  • 500 TWD: 2.2 GB for 60 days, 2000 TWD airtime for on-net calls for 30 days, and 195 credit
  • 1000 TWD: 8 GB for 185 days

Need more data? The following plans can be added with unlimited data:

  • 100 TWD for 24 hours
  • 899 TWD for 720 hours (30 days). Data will, however, be throttled after using 10, but speeds will be manageable at 5 Mbps.

FarEasTone

FarEasTone Logo

FarEasTone entered Taiwan back in 1998. They have been a good player with excellent speeds and good coverage. Airport plans can only be bought at Taoyuan International Airport and come with unlimited data.

Below are FatEasTone’s airport plans:

  • 300 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 3 days
  • 300 TWD: 50 TWD airtime for 5 days
  • 450 TWD: 300 TWD airtime for 5 days
  • 450 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 7 days
  • 450 TWD: 50 TWD airtime for 8 days
  • 500 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 10 days
  • 700 TWD: 700 TWD airtime for 15 days
  • 850 TWD: 1000 TWD airtime for 30 days

For 350 TWD, you can buy FarEastTone’s IF SIM card that comes with 350 in credit as well. IF cards are sold in FarEastTone stores. Two types of data plans exist: unlimited data for a set amount of days or a set amount of data for 60 days.

Below are the FarEastTone unlimited data packs:

  • 100 TWD for 1 day
  • 300 TWD for 3 days
  • 500 TWD for 5 days
  • 899 TWD for 30 days, but the speed will be throttled to 5 Mbps after using 10 GB

The other data plans are mentioned below, which are all valid for 60 days:

  • 180 TWD for 1.2 GB
  • 300 TWD for 2.2 GB
  • 699 TWD for 5 GB
  • 1000 TWD for 8 GB

Taiwan Star (T Star)

T-Star Logo

Taiwan Star, mainly known as T Star, is, together with APTG, the smallest operator in Taiwan. T Star is the only provider that allows for its airport plans to be extended, which is a lovely perk for those planning on staying in Taiwan for more than a month (the cards are valid for 180 days and can be renewed with another 180 days). Unfortunately, you cannot buy a regular SIM card with T Star.

T Star’s airport plan comes with a SIM card called Taiwan Card. You need two forms of ID to buy it, and it can only be purchased at Taoyuan International Airport. The plans come with unlimited data:

  • 250 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 3 days
  • 250 TWD: 50 TWD airtime for 5 days
  • 450 TWD: 120 TWD airtime for 7 days
  • 450 TWD: 100 TWD airtime for 10 days
  • 950 TWD: 300 TWD airtime for 30 days
  • 2700 TWD: 1000 TWD airtime for 90 days

GT Mobile by APTG

GT Mobile Logo

APTG is Taiwan’s last operator with a market share of more than 5%. Its prepaid brand is called GT Mobile. GT Mobile does not sell airport SIM cards and regular SIM cards are not sold at the airport either. GT Mobile SIM cards are sold for 300 TWD that comes with 120 TWD credit, unlimited calls, and 1.8 GB for 30 days, or 500 TWD with 200 TWD credit, free calls, and 2.2 GB for 30 days.

The GT Mobile packs are listed below:

  • 180 TWD: 1.2 GB for 30 days
  • 300 TWD: 1.5 GB and 120 TWD call credit for 30 days
  • 300 TWD: 2.2 GB for 30 days
  • 500 TWD: 2.5 GB and 200 TWD call credit for 30 days
  • 699 TWD: 5 GB for 90 days

Ibon mobile by 7-Eleven

Ibon by 7-Eleven Logo

Ibon mobile is Taiwan’s largest MVNO and was started by 7-Eleven. They use the FarEasTone network to operate. Ibon mobile SIM cards are only sold at 7-Eleven stores for 350 TWD. Upon purchase, you can choose from two started options:

  • 1.02 GB for 60 days, free on-net calls, and 100 TWD airtime
  • 120 hours of unlimited data, free on-net calls, and 50 TWD airtime

Two types of data plans exist: unlimited data for a set amount of days, or a set amount of data for a set number of days, also referred to as volume-based data packs.

Below are ibon mobile’s volume-based data packs:

  • 180 TWD: 1.2 GB for 60 days
  • 300 TWD: 2.2 GB for 60 days
  • 699 TWD: 5 GB for 90 days
  • 1000 TWD: 8 GB for 185 days

Want unlimited data? You can get up to 30 days of unlimited data with ibon mobile:

  • 180 TWD for 1 day
  • 300 TWD for 3 days
  • 500 TWD for 5 days
  • 899 TWD for 30 days, but your speed will be throttled to 5 Mbps after using 10 GB  

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Taiwan

Besides getting a Taiwanese SIM card, there are different ways of staying connected when exploring Taiwan, such as using an international SIM card, roaming with your provider, using pocket WIFI, or WIFI networks.

International SIM Cards

You can consider purchasing an international SIM card. International SIM cards are SIM cards that can be used internationally without the roaming charges.

There are many international SIM cards out there, such as OneSimCard and SIM cards from SimOptions. These SIM cards with the same as roaming with your provider, but the charges are often way less than actually roaming because they have been set up for international travel.

International SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. As in, not having to get numerous SIM cards, you will not use again, and being reachable on one number instead of multiple. In most cases, you can use your international SIM when back home, but their rates will be high compared to using your carrier.

Do note that using an international SIM card is often more expensive than using a local SIM card but cheaper than roaming with your provider. International SIM cards are appealing for those who travel frequently and cannot be bothered with the hassle of purchasing a SIM card each time they arrive at a new destination. Additionally, constantly having to switch SIM cards and using different phone numbers may discourage seasoned travelers from buying local SIM cards.

If you are visiting only one destination for a short period, get a local SIM card (or roam with your provider if they have attractive roaming rates or plans). If you travel often and want to be able to be contacted on one phone number when visiting multiple destinations, international SIM cards could be attractive. Check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyzed the top 10 leading international SIM cards out there.

Roaming with Your Provider

Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. If you use your phone in Taiwan without changing SIM cards, you would be roaming in Taiwan.

You have probably read numerous horror stories of travelers who went abroad for a while and came back home to a phone bill in the thousands because they were roaming. An example of such a story is this individual who received a bill of £8,348.41 for data roaming for 40 minutes. I also found the reason why roaming is so expensive.

No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!

Roaming can be convenient because you do not have to wait in line to get a local SIM card, go through the whole SIM card registration process, and can easily be reached when friends and family who are in your home country want to call or text you.

However, this convenience comes at a cost – a high cost if you do not watch out. But this does not always have to be the case.

Some carriers allow you to roam for free in select countries, such as Sprint (American provider). They have a program called Sprint Global Roam, which allows its customers to roam in 205 destinations, including Taiwan, for free at reduced speeds.

Other carriers allow you to use your plan's allowance if you pay a fixed daily fee. For example, Koodo, a Canadian provider, allows you to use your plan's allowance with their program called Koodo Easy Roam International for $12 a day, which can be used in Taiwan as well. This means that if you get 10 GB a month, you can use those 10 GB in Taiwan as well.

However, you should take caution with such plans. They are convenient and inexpensive when done for a few days, but not when going abroad for a week or more. I often argue that one can use these plans if you are staying abroad for a maximum of three days. If longer, than you are better off with a local SIM card, which will give you more bang for your buck. Check out my articles to see if your provider offers roaming bundles.

Finally, you can roam on Pay As You Go roaming rates. With standard roaming rates, you get charged per action on the go. In other words, you get charged per minute, SMS, or KB/MB. Often, Pay As You Go roaming rates are insanely high (which leads to those stories where people got charged into the thousands), and should be avoided in most cases. However, some providers do have reasonable standard roaming rates, especially to neighboring countries.

In general, I would discourage you from roaming on Pay As You Go roaming rates when visiting Taiwan, but it is still an option to explore. If you want to see what your carrier would charge you, check out my roaming with your provider articles with my analysis and verdicts.

Pocket WIFI

If you do not want to get a local SIM card or an international SIM card and do not feel like roaming either, then you can get pocket WIFI. A portable hotspot is a device that acts as your personal router that you can take with you. This hotspot connects to the cellular networks of your destination – just like your phone would do but without the roaming costs.

There are many portable hotspots out there. Two reputable pocket WIFI companies I know are Skyroam (use coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ) and Vision Global Wireless. WIFI access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day. Using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.

A pocket WIFI device is ideal for those who are traveling with families or multiple individuals. This way, everyone can connect to the device and enjoy the WIFI network on the go. Some companies will charge you per GB while others will give you unlimited data. Be aware of the data restrictions of your device so that you will not receive a high bill after your travels.

Using Free WIFI Connections

If you do not want to pay anything extra for staying connected while in Taiwan, then you can choose to connect to WIFI networks instead of cellular networks.

Although using WIFI hotspots may save you money, it may not be convenient as using a SIM card. First, you would have to find WIFI hotspots. There are plenty of operator-bound hotspots. You can also use hotspots from office buildings (which shut down after office hours) or the Taipei hotspots. They are quite slow, which can make your experience frustrating.

Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. I would recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to an unfamiliar network. The VPN will encrypt your data and will keep your data private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get yours today or find out more about NordVPN.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Taiwan

Getting an airport SIM card from any would do you well when considering a Taiwanese SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.

You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.

Visiting other countries in East Asia? Check out my East Asian SIM card buying guide, covering other East Asia countries, such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mongolia, and South Korea. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

What is next?

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Book Your Flight for Taiwan

It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Taiwan. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Taiwan drop.

Book Your Accommodation for Taiwan

I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Taiwan. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Taiwanese hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Taiwain

You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Taiwan, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.

Get a Travel Debit Card

Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the local currency for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.

Enjoy your trip!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 6 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region in Asia, in particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently lives in Tainan, Taiwan, and plans on exploring Oceania and more of East and Southeast Asia.

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