Reduce your roaming rates by using a local SIM.
If you’re planning a trip to Taiwan, a top tip for keeping costs down is to switch to a local SIM card. Take advantage of better tariffs, plans and deals to dramatically reduce your roaming rates. You can get 1GB of data from Taiwan’s top telco providers for about TWD180 (AUD$7.60). So, whether you’re a short- or long-term traveller, you can save money by comparing your SIM card options on finder.com.au.
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Telco providers in Taiwan
There are four main telco providers in Taiwan: Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, FarEasTone and T Star. Both locals and travellers use SIM cards from all four networks, and they can be trusted no matter which plan you choose. According to OpenSignal, coverage and speeds are very good across the entire country. Although the island is part of China, it operates independently and has a great telecommunications network.
About Taiwan’s operators
All four operators offer prepaid SIM cards, and you can buy them from stores, supermarkets, kiosks, drug stores and official outlets, as well as at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. 2G, 3G and 4G plans are available on all networks for unlocked GSM phones. You can buy a SIM card by showing your passport, and your telephone number is already active when you purchase it. To add credit, there are several prepaid card machines around various towns and cities, and vouchers are stocked in stores and supermarkets.
Below, we have broken down each telco provider to highlight exactly what they can offer you during your stay in Taiwan.
Chunghwa Telecom is the largest provider in Taiwan. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Its network coverage is the best, and its Internet speeds are the fastest. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and your passport must be shown before a SIM can be activated. Credit can be found at the same retailers plus most supermarkets, corner stores and petrol stations.
Chunghwa Telecom sells prepaid SIM cards through the “Emome” brand name, which is the most popular prepaid SIM card on the island. The “Ideal Card” is the best option, and it can be purchased for TWD300, with that amount of credit to be used only for calls and SMS. Data packs will have to be purchased to surf the net.
The standard data rate is charged at TWD0.05 per KB. The following 3G packages can be added:
Call 539 and select the relevant pack to activate.
The following 4G/LTE packs are also available:
|TWD300||TWD120 credit||1.2GB||100 SMS|
|TWD500||TWD200 credit||2.2GB||250 SMS|
The standard data rate for the 4G/LTE packs is charged at TWD0.001 per KB. The following data packs can also be added:
Dial 539 to activate the relevant pack.
There are also data-only SIM cards available, which provide the following data packages on a 4G/LTE platform:
There are more than 50,000 Chunghwa Wi-Fi hotspots around Taiwan, and they can be accessed by prepaid SIM card users.
Chunghwa’s APN: emome
Prepaid website in English: http://www.emome.net/channel?chid=251
Taiwan Mobile is the second-largest provider in Taiwan. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Its network coverage is good, and Internet speeds are fast. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and your passport must be shown before it can be activated. Credit can be found at the same retailers plus most supermarkets, corner stores or petrol stations.
Its 4G/LTE prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for TWD300, and 3G SIM cards start at TWD345. Credit can be uploaded in the following denominations: TWD300, TWD600 or TWD1,000. Dial *101*2*VOUCHER# to add credit. Dial *867# to check your balance. Dial *867*100# to check your data usage.
The standard data rate is charged at TWD0.045 per KB. The following data plans can also be purchased:
Volume plans (3G and 4G)
Day plans with unlimited data (3G only):
Dial 535 and follow the instructions to activate the relevant pack.
The following 4G plans are also available:
- TWD300: 1.2GB data for 60 days, TWD2,000 free intranet calls for 30 days, TWD100 credit
- TWD300: Unlimited data for 3 days, TWD300 credit
- TWD500: 2.2GB data for 60 days, TWD2,000 free intranet calls for 30 days, TWD195 credit
- TWD1,000: 8GB data for 185 days.
In addition, the following unlimited data packs can be added to 4G SIMs:
Dial 535 and follow the prompts to activate.
The following tourist SIM cards can be purchased at the airport. We recommend these as the best option for travellers:
4G/LTE with unlimited data (short-term users)
Taiwan Mobile’s APN: internet
Website in English: http://english.taiwanmobile.com/english/product/4GPrepaidCard.html
FarEasTone is the third provider in Taiwan. It also offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. The network coverage is reliable, and Internet speeds are good. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and your passport must be shown before a SIM can be activated. Credit can be found at the same retailers plus most supermarkets, corner stores and petrol stations.
The “IF” prepaid SIM card can be purchased for TWD350, which comes with the same amount of credit. Dial 777 and select the English language option from the list; otherwise it will operate in Cantonese. Credit is valid for 6 months, and the SIM card will terminate after 6 months if it has not been used. Credit can be purchased in the following denominations: TWD300, TWD500 and TWD1,000.
The standard data rate is charged at TWD0.0025 per 128 bytes. The following packages can be added:
3G data (unlimited):
3G data by volume:
4G/LTE data (unlimited):
4G/LTE data for 30 days:
Dial 777 and follow the prompts to activate the relevant pack.
The following tourist plans are available, as well:
|TWD300||3||TWD100||3G and 4G|
|TWD300||5||TWD50||3G and 4G|
|TWD450||5||TWD300||3G and 4G|
|TWD450||7||TWD100||3G and 4G|
|TWD450||8||TWD50||3G and 4G|
|TWD500||10||TWD100||3G and 4G|
FarEasTone’s APN: internet, and website: http://www.fetnet.net/cs/Satellite/eCorporate/ecoPD2_1_1
T Star is the smallest provider but offers some good deals. It provides customers with 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Its network coverage is good, and the Internet speeds are reliable. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and your passport must be shown before the SIM can be activated. Credit can be found at the same retailers plus most supermarkets, corner stores and petrol stations.
Its tourist SIM card can be picked up for free at the T Star store in Terminals 1 and 2 of Taoyuan International Airport. The following combo packs are available:
T Star’s APN: internet, and website: http://www.tstartel.com/static/twcard/en/index.htm
- The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin and not many people speak English, so you may need to download Google Translate onto your phone before departure.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM Kaa” or “SIM”.
- Ask the sellers to set up the SIM for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to get advice.
- We advise you to purchase your SIM card from official stores rather than through a street vendor.
- Get to the shops early to receive better assistance and to avoid the crowds.
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
While it’s well known for reviews, booking hotels, flights and holidays, TripAdvisor also has many user comments that can help guide you through which SIM cards have been tried and tested in Taiwan.
“I've just reached Taiwan today. You can apply for the SIM card before you clear immigration. There's 3 main operators there and Chunghwa telecom is the only operator that offered unlimited 4G data when I was there.”
“Just for reference, for those landing at Kaohsiung International Airport, Chunghwa and Taiwan Mobile are both there. Once you exit customs, turn left and you will see 2 queues (assuming there is a crowd). Nearer to the Family Mart convenience store is Taiwan Mobile. Away from that will be the queue for Chunghwa. Both only sell the unlimited day plans. Just ensure you have 2 photo IDs in case they change the rules again.”
“The counter staff offered to swap out my current SIM for the prepaid SIM, and the whole purchase process took less than 5 mins (if you knew what you wanted).”
Pros and cons of Taiwan’s top telco providers
- Good value for money
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Signal is good across the entire island
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Take your passport along in case there are rules and regulations in place
More questions about finding the best SIM?
Q: What about other providers in Taiwan?
A: Ibon mobile is the biggest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Taiwan, operating on the FarEasTone network. Although you may find slightly different deals and plans offered by this provider, we feel it’s always better to stick with the main providers we have listed above. However, if you do find a better deal, it can be trusted.
Q: What should I do if I lose my phone?
A: Your phone is your lifeline, especially when travelling around the Far East. Make sure you keep it safe and always make a note of where it is. The importance of having a direct link to family and friends via social media or through phone services can never be underestimated! If you do lose your phone, then retrace your steps and ask around. If you don’t have any luck, then report it missing. Finally, find a cheap replacement to keep in touch with the outside world, and don’t let this one out of your sight!