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South Korea is quickly becoming a more and more popular destination for tourists (and rightfully so because it is an amazing country). One of the things I Googled in advance of my first trip were things like “wifi in Korea”, “is there free public wifi in Korea”, “pocket wifi Korea”, and on and on.
I got a lot of conflicting information, and a lot of the information I got wasn’t super accurate.
I didn’t end up renting a pocket wifi the first time I went to Korea, and I quickly regretted it.
But just because I regretted not renting a wifi egg in Korea doesn’t mean that you will too.
This post will walk you through everything you need to know about wifi in Korea, so you can make an informed decision that works best for you and your travel style.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a better idea of whether you want to rent a pocket wifi in Korea or not.
I’m also going to discuss one of my favourite travel gadgets in case you’re looking for an alternative to renting pocket wifi in Korea and relying on public wifi in Korea.
I’ll discuss it more at the end of this post, but it is absolutely essential that you use a VPN when accessing public wifi or using a pocket wifi device.
I rely on Nord VPN to protect my devices from prying eyes, and I highly recommend you use it as well!
They normally have amazing sales, so it is extremely affordable!
Public Wifi in South Korea
When I planned my first trip to South Korea in 2017, I read a ton of blog posts that said that there was oodles of public wifi all over Korea.
These posts made it seem like I could get free public wifi anywhere and everywhere I went. It sounded like an absolute dream for travellers!
Unfortunately, those blog posts over exaggerated the reach of public wifi in South Korea, and you aren’t able to get nearly as much free public wifi in Korea as they lead me to believe.
In reality, public wifi in Korea is pretty much on par with other countries around the world.
You can most often get free public wifi in cafes, many restaurants, some museums and tourist attractions, and, of course, your hotel or apartment.
But beyond those common places, free public wifi isn’t all that widely available in South Korea.
It definitely isn’t like Taiwan where there is an entire network of free public wifi that you can connect to basically wherever you are.
Tips for Using Public Wifi in Korea
- Download your maps or screenshot any addresses you need, so you have them offline and don’t have to stress if you don’t have access to public wifi
- You can use Google Translate offline so be sure it is downloaded on your phone. Google Translate used to be horrible offline, but they’ve made improvements. It is much better now than it used to be, but it isn’t perfect.
- Pop into a cafe to get quick and easy access to free public wifi in South Korea. Korea has an amazing coffee and cafe culture, so be sure to grab a drink while you’re in there. I’m a sucker for a matcha latte!
- Use a VPN! Public wifi networks aren’t super safe, and they put you at risk of being hacked. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) helps keep your data safe and secure when you’re on public wifi. I love Nord VPN. They often run 70% off deals, so they’re super affordable too!
Renting Pocket Wifi in South Korea
If you want to have more consistent access to wifi than relying on public wifi, renting a pocket wifi (otherwise known as a wifi egg) is the perfect solution.
I’m always blown away at how affordable renting a pocket wifi in Korea is.
I rented a pocket wifi in Korea for two weeks, and it cost me less than $35USD! It is such a deal and well worth the convenience of having access to wifi no matter where you are.
I always book my pocket wifi in Korea through Klook.
It is super affordable, easy to get the pocket wifi device, and Klook is very reputable and reliable.
Where to Pick Up and Drop Off Pocket Wifi in South Korea
Picking Up Location
Most pocket wifi rental companies in Korea use Incheon International Airport as the pick up location.
There are pick up locations in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, so you can get your pocket wifi easily no matter what terminal you land in!
The pocket wifi pick up locations are located outside of security.
You need to go through customs and immigration and exit the secure part of the airport before you can collect your pocket wifi.
The pick up location is super easy to find. It is basically straight ahead once you exit the secure area and is near the main exit doors.
Pick Up Process
The best thing about renting pocket wifi in Korea is that the pick up and drop off process is incredibly easy.
Like way easier than I ever imagined.
Here are the steps you need to take to collect your pocket wifi in Korea:
- Show the person at the pocket wifi desk your reservation code (a screenshot works just fine)
- Confirm that dates you are renting the pocket wifi
- Fill out a few forms (basically if you lose the wifi egg, you’re on the hook for replacing it)
- Write down the cities you’ll be using the pocket wifi in (no need for dates you’re in each city)
- Give them your credit card. They will put a small charge on your credit card to confirm there is space on it and then immediately reverse the charge. This ensures the credit card they have on file works in case you lose or ruin the wifi egg.
- Test the wifi device with the employees
- Tell them where you’re dropping your pocket wifi off at
- Thank them for their help and head into Seoul!
I know that seems like a lot of steps, but it isn’t.
The entire process takes about five minutes!
Drop Off Location
There are a number of drop off locations you can choose from.
This is perfect for people who are travelling all around South Korea and aren’t departing from Incheon International Airport!
You can drop your wifi egg off at any of the following locations:
- Incheon International Airport (Terminal 1 or Terminal 2)
- Gimpo Airport
- Busan Gimhae International Airport
- Busan Harbour
Being able to return your pocket wifi device at both Seoul airports, the Busan airport, and the harbour is incredible and super convenient.
Last time I rented a wifi egg in Korea, I picked it up at Incheon and returned it to Gimhae and had no issue with picking up and returning my device at different locations.
Drop Off Procedure
I wasn’t sure what to expect when returning my pocket wifi in Korea because it was first time renting pocket wifi anywhere.
The return procedure was even quicker and smoother than the pick up process!
Here are the steps you need to take to return your pocket wifi in Korea:
- Go to the pocket wifi company’s booth
- Tell them you’re returning your device and give it to them
- They will scan the code on your pocket wifi
- If you kept the wifi egg longer than you pre-paid for, pay for the extra days
- Say goodbye and thank them for their help
Yes. It really is that easy!
It takes less than a minute assuming you don’t need to pay for extra days and didn’t damage the device.
Other Things to Know When Renting Pocket Wifi in Korea
You can only rent a wifi egg in Korea if you have a credit card
You’re not able to rent a wifi egg in Korea if you only have a debit card or a debit credit card.
You need a traditional credit card or charge card to rent pocket wifi in Korea.
This is because the pocket wifi companies test to make sure there is space on your credit card before they let you leave with it. They do this to ensure they will be able to recoup their money the event you lose or damage the wifi device.
It is essentially an insurance mechanism for them.
You can book your pocket wifi and pre-pay for it using a debit card or a credit debit card, but you must have a traditional credit card when you show up in South Korea to collect your pocket wifi rental.
If you don’t have a traditional credit card, you cannot rent a pocket wifi device in Korea (unfortunately).
Side note: it is always wise to book travel on a credit card rather than a debit card. Most credit cards come with some travel insurance, and it is easier to get your money back if something is cancelled through your credit card than your debit card.
You can connect multiple devices to one wifi egg
One of my favourite features of pocket wifi devices is that you can connect multiple devices to a single wifi egg.
This is perfect for families or friends travelling together.
You can connect anywhere between 3 and 10 devices to a single wifi egg. The number of devices you can connect depends on the wifi egg itself, but the website you book your pocket wifi through should include that information.
I believe most wifi egg companies in South Korea allow you to connect up to 3 devices, but you should confirm that when booking.
The charge lasts a surprisingly long time
I was blown away by how long the charge on the pocket wifi device I rented in Korea lasted. I had used a wifi egg in Japan that was included in my Airbnb rental, and its charge barely lasted for the 6 or 7 hours I was out exploring Tokyo.
The wifi egg in Korea, on the other hand, lasted for upwards of two days!
I was in the habit of charging it every night, but there were a number of times where I forgot to charge it.
Even if I forgot to charge it, the wifi egg would last me the entire day.
That means the wifi egg had enough charge to last me the first day I used it, all night, and then the entire next day without having to be charged.
That is mind blowing.
I was travelling alone and only had my phone connected to the wifi egg, so the device may lose battery quicker if there are more devices connected to it.
I’m not sure if that is the case or not, but it is something to keep in mind!
Would I Recommend Renting Pocket Wifi in Korea?
Yes. 100% without a doubt.
Having access to wifi no matter where you are adds so much to your experience in South Korea.
It makes so many experiences more accessible.
- You can eat at local restaurants that don’t have an English menu (gotta love Google Translate!)
- It is easier to use public transportation because you don’t have to rely on their English translations (if there are any)
- You can use Google Translate to have a conversation with a local who might not speak English
- If you’re travelling from city to city, it makes your train/bus ride go by way quicker
- Easily find out what attractions are near you and how to get to them
- Update social media throughout the day
Having access to wifi is such a luxury, and I certainly don’t take it for granted!
The fact that pocket wifi in South Korea works so well and is so affordable makes it a no-brainer for me.
I always find that I have a much deeper experience with a country when I have access to wifi everywhere. I’m not held back by not being able to speak the local language and can be more spontaneous because I know I won’t get lost (I really owe a debt to Google Maps for keeping me safe).
Pocket Wifi for Frequent Travellers
There is one final option, but it is only for the most serious of travellers.
You can purchase your own pocket wifi device through Skyroam.
I purchased my Skyroam in 2019 after much deliberation and absolutely adore it. I take it on all my travels, and it has made my trips so much smoother and free.
Buying a Skyroam device (I have the Solaris) is an investment. It is not cheap, but if you travel a fair amount and want to have access to wifi anywhere, it is the best solution.
Even though the device itself isn’t inexpensive, the wifi plans themselves are really flexible. You can find a wifi plan that works for you and your travel style!
You can pay for wifi on a day-to-day basis, on a monthly basis, or based on the amount of wifi you use.
I buy day passes for my Skyroam if I’m on a shorter trip or monthly passes if I’m on an extended trip.
One of the best parts of Skyroam is that they often run sales, and you can get a bunch of day passes for a fraction of their normal price.
I personally think the regular price for the day passes is a bit steep, but I’ve never had to pay full price for one.
You often know when you’ll be travelling in advance, so you can easily wait until there is a wifi sale and pick up some discounted day passes to cover your for your entire trip.
You can also rent a Skyroam just like any other pocket wifi rental company, but I don’t think it is as good of value as renting wifi in Korea through a local company.
- Access to reliable internet wherever whenever
- Can connect up to 10 devices
- Easy to use app that show how long you have left on your day pass, how many day passes or credits you have, the ability to track what countries you’ve been to, and the ability to purchase credits directly in the app
- Has a built-in camera you can remotely operate with the Skyroam app. This is great for solo travellers like me!
- Flexible plans, so you only pay for the wifi you need
- I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I’ve had success in lending my Skyroam to another person. They simply download the app, enter my login information, and use it as if they were me (using my credits). This probably isn’t the most ethical thing to do, but it nice to be able to do it if you have a friend or family member travelling when you’re not using it
- It is a financial investment. You definitely have to think about whether you’ll get your money’s worth out of it or not
- The charge doesn’t last as long as I would like. I have to charge it every night. It isn’t a big deal, but if I forget one night, then it is dead in the morning
You Need a VPN!
The last thing I want to discuss when it comes to wifi in Korea is the fact that you need a VPN.
This is non-negotiable!
A VPN (a.k.a. Virtual Private Network) gives you the protection you need when you’re using public wifi or a rented pocket wifi device.
No matter where in the world you are, there are always people looking to hack into devices that are connected to public wifi.
And as a traveller, you’re pretty reliant on public wifi and are putting yourself at risk of being hacked if you’re not using a VPN to hide your internet activity from prying eyes.
Rented pocket wifi devices are less likely to be hacked, but there is still a risk there.
I always travel with a VPN on all of my devices.
Cell phone, tablet, laptop. They’re all at risk when connected to public wifi.
Even at hotels!
It is actually pretty scary once you learn about hacking and how common it is!
I’ve tried three or four VPNs, so I have a fair amount of experience about which VPNs are quality and which ones underperform.
I love Nord VPN! I’ve been using them for ages and don’t plan on switching anytime soon.
The best part about Nord VPN is that they often run sales where you get 70% off if you purchase a multi-year subscription.
It literally costs less than $50 to protect your data for an entire year!
And you can connect multiple devices with the same license, so there is no excuse not to protect yourself online!
As you can tell, there are a few different options in terms of accessing wifi in Korea.
If you’re on a super tight budget, don’t use the internet much, or have a great sense of direction, then you may be alright using public wifi in Korea.
That’s what I did on my first trip to Seoul. It worked out pretty well for the most part.
The only times I really needed wifi and had to use my phone’s data plan was when I was meeting up with my local friend, and she didn’t turn up at the metro station (a mix up on what exit she would be at) and when I got off on the wrong metro station on my way home from a baseball game (a must-do activity if you’re going to be in Korea during baseball season).
Those two instances did cost my more than $50 in data charges though, so I would have been way better off renting a wifi egg.
For most people visiting Korea, I think the best option is renting pocket wifi. It is super affordable, easy to use, and gives you the freedom to use the internet as much as you want wherever you are.
If you’re a frequent traveller like me and loath the hassle of getting a local SIM card in every new country you visit but still want access to wifi constantly, then Skyroam might be the right option for you.
I love my Skyroam and am extremely happy that I purchased it. It is without a doubt on the best travel gadgets I’ve ever bought.
No matter what wifi option you choose while in South Korea, you’re going to have an amazing trip.
Korea is full of some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, amazing food, and incredible people.
It is one of my favourite countries in the world, and no matter how many times I visit, I keep itching to go back as soon as possible.