If you’re anything like me you can’t survive long without your cell phone. When I step off the plane I’m already calculating the number of steps to the nearest SIM card Kiosk. It’s a good thing there are plenty of places to buy a prepaid SIM card in Taiwan!
Taiwan is less traveled than many other Asian countries. But don’t let that fool you – this small island is quite advanced from a technological standpoint.
Thankfully, visitors can expect affordable high-speed cell connections across the island. And the best part is that prepaid SIM cards in Taiwan come at a budget-friendly price.
There are three major companies operating in Taiwan.
- Chung Hwa Telecom (中華電信) often abbreviated CHT. The mobile company was once government owned and was Taiwan’s only telephone service. More providers have entered the market since regulations opened up roughly 20-years ago. However, Chung Hwa Telecom holds a dominating position in the Taiwanese mobile market.
- Taiwan Mobile (台灣大哥大) The company has a 25% market share in Taiwan. Taiwan Mobile offers a competitive rate on SIM cards and monthly data plans.
- Far Eastone (遠傳電信股份有限公司) Far Eastone is similar in size to Taiwan Mobile and offers prepaid SIM cards with good coverage in Taipei City.
The three companies offer comparable service in Taipei save for a few minor differences. If you are looking for a prepaid SIM card in Taiwan all three will be able to serve your needs.
Which company should I choose?
When you travel to Taiwan you should definitely look for a 4G prepaid SIM card. All the major companies now offer 4G LTE cell service as a standard feature.
I would highly recommend Chung Hwa Telecom if you plan on traveling to less populated cities or mountains around Taiwan. CHT has the most expansive coverage out of the top three mobile phone providers. CHT service extends to some of the less populated areas of Taiwan’s mountainous interior.
However, any of the three companies will suffice if you plan on staying in the city. As noted above, the network coverage in Taipei is consistently fast. (check the bottom of this post for a 4G speed check).
I personally prefer Taiwan Mobile in Taipei City. Especially if signing a long-term contract. When I first came to Taiwan, I signed a 2-year contract with Chung Hwa Telecom. The service was good but my data speed was throttled after the first 2GB. That part of the contract wasn’t explained to me when I signed the contract so I am not a big fan of the company. I’ve since switched to Taiwan Mobile which does not limit my connection speeds.
With that said, please note that this was my personal experience. You shouldn’t face any throttling issues when purchasing a short-term SIM card. The main factors to consider are your length of stay and the cost of the tourist SIM card.
Cost of a prepaid SIM card
For up-to-date information and prices please check out the following links:
Chung Hwa Telecom Multi-Day SIM Card – 3 to 7 day SIM cards for short-term visitors.
Taiwan Mobile Pre-Paid SIM Card – Value-added SIM cards to be used within a 2 – 6 month period.
Taiwan Mobile Multi-Day Sim Card – 3 to 15 day SIM cards for short-term visitors.
Far Eastone Multi-Day SIM Card – 3 or 5-day SIM card options
Multi-Day SIM Cards
Chung Hwa Telecom – The biggest carrier with competitive rates.
- 3-Day SIM – NT$300
- 5-Day SIM – NT$300
- 7-Day SIM – NT$500
- 10-Day SIM – NT$500
Taiwan Mobile – Rates below are from the Airport Kiosk. Tourist sim card prices are slightly higher once you leave the airport.
- 5-Day SIM – NT$300
- 6-Day SIM – NT$400
- 7-Day SIM – NT$500
- 10-Day SIM – NT$500
- 15-Day SIM – NT$700
- 30-Day SIM – NT$1000
Far Eastone seems to offer the fewest options (or perhaps their website hasn’t been updated).
- 3-Day SIM – NT$250
- 5-Day SIM – NT$350
Prepaid SIM Cards
Consider using Taiwan Mobile if you plan to stay in Taiwan for a month or more. These SIM cards are also good if you plan on entering the country multiple times over an extended period.
They are great for extended travel but come with limited data. If you don’t use much data I would highly recommend this option. Example: 1.2GB of data + NT$100 calling time can be had for as little as NT$300! The best part is that this SIM is valid for 60 days!
Where to buy a SIM card in Taiwan
The best place for a tourist to buy a SIM card in Taiwan is at the Taoyuan International Airport. You can choose your preferred carrier and simply head to their kiosk in the arrival hall.
- Reservations can be made online through CHT – although this is generally not needed in my opinion. Staff at the airport are able to assist you in English and the process is over-and-done-with fairly quickly.
CHT Kiosk Locations
Taiwan Mobile Kiosk Locations
The Kiosks open at 7am-8am and close between 10 pm and Midnight.
You will need to get a tourist SIM card at a branch location if you are arriving at Taoyuan Airport outside of normal hours.
Don’t worry, there are branches literally everywhere. Most locations seem to open at 11 am so don’t plan on going there too early!
February 2018 Update:
It is possible to buy a WIFI hotspot for Taiwan while still in Singapore. A number of locations at the Changi airport have been seen offering WIFI hotspots to tourists visiting Taiwan. This will let you avoid registering for a SIM card in Taiwan, but the downside is that you will need to carry an additional piece of equipment.
SIM Card Type
Both Micro-SIM and Nano-SIM cards are available at all carriers in Taiwan.
What documents Do you need?
To buy a SIM card in Taiwan you will need to provide your passport, as well as a second form of identification. This second ID could be in the form of a residency card, drivers license, or student ID.
- Passport (not a photocopy)
- A second form of ID such as a Driver’s License, Student ID, etc.
In Taipei city, you will have nearly full 4G coverage no matter where you go. The network has undergone serious development over the last few years. The result has been a significant improvement in Taipei’s 4G network and coverage area. Some areas on the outskirts of New Taipei City may still get 3G coverage, but those areas are the exception rather than the rule.
If you head out of the Taipei you will see the cell data speeds drop significantly. The speed is not that slow, however. I think I’ve been spoiled by the smooth connection in Taipei. Most of the island receives a strong 3G signal that powers the internet use for millions of people each day.
Only rarely will you lose your 3G cell signal in Taiwan. This typically happens when hiking Taiwan’s central mountains, or occasionally when taking a train through the countryside. This is when you will encounter the dreaded 2G icon. Thankfully, 2G cell service is something that won’t be experienced by normal visitors getting a SIM card Taiwan.
I have a monthly contract with Taiwan Mobile which gives me unlimited 4G data. The cost comes out to NT$600 / $20 USD per month. Pretty inexpensive as I stream around 20GB of Netflix and Youtube each month!
The picture below is my current network speed with Taiwan Mobile 4G LTE.
Around my office, I get a respectable 51MB Upload and 35MB download.
I hope this information helps you get a prepaid SIM card in Taiwan!
If you’re looking for more information about Taiwan, or want to know the cost of living on this beautiful island be sure to check out my other articles on Taiwan!