Why I will not survive in Korea without Mobile Data – MobileU Review

In this new age of free and easy travelling, staying connected is pretty much a necessity rather than a want. Back in 2011, I survived on a

It was possible back in 2011 where the world was not that connected. I travelled the outskirts and survived with a Korean phone number and a lonely planet guide book.

This time round, I was too lazy busy to come up with a proper itinerary and schedule but it was fine because I had data roaming and was able to search for information while on the go.

Just a summary of my adventure – prior to my flight to Seoul, we only booked 7 out of 11 nights plus I left my options open for the cities we were visiting. We ended up spending 2 nights in Gunsan – a city that I have not heard of before and 2 nights in Chuncheon – a city that people usually just make it as a day trip. Anyway, my point is that if you have roaming/wifi/data, you can be as YOLO as me, deciding on the plan for the day on the day itself.

I used to be a super detail-oriented traveller as I believed that early planning gives you the best discounts, deals and reduce time wastage but I now that I’m getting older, covering everything and anything within the shortest amount of time is no longer my travel goal. To me, travelling is not just a ‘been there, done that’ experience but it involves resting, healing and recharging your mind. There were some issues back at home which I was facing so I kind of needed the vacation which was a short escape from the reality. Oh wells, I’m.. growing up older..

There are many options available for you to stay connected but in my post, I will be sharing with you the services from www.mobileu.com.sg, as they sponsored a mobile data sim.


I used a 30-day UNLIMITED Mobile Data Sim from KT and the reception was perfect through my entire trip, all over Korea.

I had reception in the random islands of Anmyeon-do, Seoyundo and even on the top of Seoraksan! I could snapchat and IGstory everywhere I went and I even streamed and downloaded variety shows during my bus journeys.

I used 5.1Gb of data throughout my 12-days (there was wifi at some accommodations we stayed in, otherwise it would have been 10 Gb) and with this unlimited data usage, I felt #likeaboss in Korea as I did not have to scrimp and save on data. FYI, in my home country, I only have 4Gb per month and I tend to exceed almost every month. Oh wells~ #addictedtodata

Alternatively, if you do not wish to replace the Sim Card in your phone, you can rent a wifi egg  at only $4/day (one of the CHEAPEST PRICE in the market). Although it does not have unlimited data like the mobile sim card, it has a daily usage LTE limit of 3GB (which I believe is impossible to exceed). The only downside of renting the wifi egg is that you have to make a $50 deposit and collect the device at their office in Tanjong Pagar.

Also, the good thing is that if you choose to visit their office, they will provide you a free transportation card (for Korea) and you don’t have to buy one when you are there!

Random information: Should you choose to purchase a Sim Card, do note that Korea is extra strict with the ownership (no idea why) and you will be required to provide sensitive information like passport details, nationality etc. I’ve double-checked with another of my friend who bought hers in Korea and she had to give the same information away too. So, do not be alarm when they ask you for these details as it is the norm.

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Now here’s the useful portion of this post – the various apps I used in my trip:

Getting around – Directions & Bus Timings

Google Maps

Advantages: I’ve starred most of my “want to explore” places in my google account which will be reflected in my google map. The good thing about google maps is that the interface is in English and you can pretty much route the directions to your destinations.

Disadvantages: Google Maps (being not Korean-owned) is very restrictive and you can only find directions for ‘Public Transport’. Walking and driving directions are not available. Also, their suggested route options are lesser than the Korean apps.

Kakao Maps (previously known as Daum Maps) and Naver Maps

These 2 korean-based app maps are the best option but it will require you to know basic korean knowledge. I studied Korean level 1 and I could recognize the alphabets and guess-timade the meaning and I could route the directions well as long as I am able to get the korean name of the place. The apps allow you to route directions (with voice) so there were times where we asked the taxi to follow the GPS instructions. I have no idea why the taxi drivers we met at the outskirts don’t really know the places well and there was a change in the korean address system and most of their car GPS uses the new system while the addresses we see online are the old ones so that portion was a little bit messy but oh wells, we survived through it.

The good thing about Kakao and Naver maps is that for some buses, you will be informed of the estimated bus arrival timing. It has a really cool countdown ticker. Furthermore, it informs you the fare pricing (even if you have to change multiple lines), confusing you with your decision-making process – should price, walking distance or next bus arrival timing be the most important factor?

iTourSeoul by VisitSeoul

I use this app to get access to the subway map in Seoul. The map is very useful as it has a search function in English (in case you cannot identify the station on the map) plus it even tells you the first and last train timing!

By selecting the start and end station on the map, they will advise you on the shortest time or the least transfer that you have to make. Apart from using it for transportation, they also have articles and recommendations for places to visit and various “Top 10 Lists” that you can refer to. They even uploaded PDF copies of the guide books online so you can read up even before you reach Seoul~ I highly recommend downloading this app if you are visiting Seoul.

Translation Apps

Google Translate App

If you don’t already know, the google translate app allows you to take a photo of a text, highlight the text and they will detect the characters and translate it for you. I use it occassionally this trip (since I had a Korean translator with me in my trip) but it served to be like 60% accuracy most of the time? I used it for several menus that I was unable to decipher and it was somewhat helpful. An alternative app you can consider is “Papago” by Naver. I haven’t tried it yet but the reviews seem decent.

SEARCH APP

DAUM (Requires knowledge of Korean)

If you are looking for information of something in Korea and you can’t seem to find it on ‘Google Search Engine’, before you give up, why not try using ‘Daum’? Daum and Naver is the biggest search engine site in Korea and a lot of korean information can be found from there whereas Google seems to have quite a bit of difficult in index-ing their information. For my case, we were visiting obscure attractions like Seoyundo where we can’t seem to find much information on Google. However, once we search on Daum, there will be so much more information including ferry timings, local blog posts about their experiences etc.

Assuming you don’t know korean or you are only Level 1 Korean, do not fret as you can use the translator to translate the keywords to “Hangul” before searching. Then again, if you are smart enough to do this step, you wouldn’t even be reading my post so..

SOCIAL MEDIA APP

INSTAGRAM

When I first started using Instagram 5 years ago, I never imagined that a simple ‘photo posting’ app can grow so big.

I love the IG story function as it allows me to record down my adventures, tag the locations, timings and weather. Furthermore, it allows me to download my entire day (24 hours) which I usually re-post on my Facebook page as a travlog or Vlog for my readers/followers to review since blogging will require another 2 more months.

Anyway, for travelling purposes, the most important Instagram function is actually hashtag and location tag.

When looking for recommendations in a certain location, we will usually search the hashtag and see where people visit or do. Using this method, we found several scenic places which we eventually visited!

Well, no surprises that my phone indicated that I used 2.1Gb of data for Instagram..

HOTELS BOOKING APP

Since we had to book for hotels on the go, we relied heavily on these apps to read the reviews and see which accommodation still had last minute availability.

Generally, I use hotelscombined to do the comparison and then I will go into the individual apps like Hotels.com, Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia, Airbnb to verify the amount.

Different apps can give you different pricings (so far I find that airbnb is the most expensive, given that the room is listed in all other websites) and if you’re extra cost conscious like me, you can use the Shopback app to gain extra cashback (Read more about it in my old post).

To add more complexity to your drive for cost-savings, you can even try contacing the guest house or hotel owners via SNS (Facebook, Instagram) and ask them for availability and pricing. Sometimes, they will be willing to give you a discount as they don’t have to pay third party fee. You can request for discounts between 10 to 20% but not all guest house are willing to do it as this would mean that they are unable to collect the deposit and it pretty much works on a ‘trust system’ where either party can back out since no money was transacted at the time of booking.

SPOTIFY

I have been a spotify convert for more than 6 months and the best part of being on ‘premium’ is that you will go ad-free and you are able to receive daily mixes customized to the songs that you have picked. The good thing about having data is that you don’t have to waste space to download the playlists in your phone. As we took many long bus rides this trip, music kind of accompanied me on my journey and if you’re wondering, I got myself a wireless bluetooth earphones to pair with my iPhone 7 because iPhone 7 no longer has a earphone jack.

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Yep, so that’s all the apps that kept me alive during my 12-day trip to Korea.

Do check out the pricing and offerings from MobileU in the link below and feel free to ask me any questions if there’s anything you are unsure about.

Website: WWW.MOBILEU.COM.SG

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SgMobileU


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