Traveling to Vietnam in a different continent, a cellphone becomes an essential thing to keep in touch with your family at home, to navigate on Google map, to call your hotel/ travel agent on-a-go, or simply to access Facebook, Instagram, etc. You have two options, bringing along your locked phone to Vietnam using decent roaming service (which can charge up to 5 USD/ EURO per minute on receiving or making phone calls), or to bring an unlocked GSM phone and buy a local sim card, easily at a very reasonable cost.
Where to buy sim card?
Pre-activated GSM sim cards can be found almost everywhere, at the airports in arrival areas, convenient stores, telecommunication shops, little street stalls, etc. It is recommended to buy sim card right at the airport, as the sales persons are mostly fluent in English, know exactly the best data package for tourists, got all the tools available to cut the sim card into different sizes (normal/ micro/ nano), and above all, very fast. If you can wait a bit longer till you arrive your hotel, ask the hotel receptionist where the most nearby shop that sells the sim card locates. Walking on the street, pay attention to the little printed signs (often in red) hanging outside the shop with the name of different wireless providers and numbers (often in white or yellow). Bring along your passport copies as they may ask your information to register the tourist sim. Make sure the sim works before you leave the shop.
Which mobile network provider is best to use?
There are four mobile network providers at the moment, which are Viettel, Vinaphone, Mobifone and Vietnamobile. We suggest that you give Vietnamobile a miss, as though their data rate is cheapest, 3G coverage is very poor outside the big cities. The one that provides best coverage is Viettel (owned by Ministry of Defence who have privileged access to the most remote regions like borders, islands, etc.), then Vinaphone, and Mobifone. There are really no significant difference in terms of data price, SMS & calling rates (they are very competitive), thus, pick any of the three that are available.
As there is not any single information on the sim card box, details of data packages & other information should be found on their website:
· Viettel: www.vietteltelecom.vn
· Vinaphone: www.vinaphone.com.vn
· Mobifone: www.mobifone.com.vn
How much it cost and how to use?
A sim card can cost you from 100,000 VND to 250,000 VND (4 – 10 EURO) depending on the included data, call & SMS credit. Remember that each type of sim has different expiration date, for example, some 100,000 VND sim cards can expire in 7 days while some 200,000 VND ones can expire in 30 days. So make sure you take into account how long you will need to use the sim, then ask the seller to find you a suitable one.
When you buy a sim card, you are already rewarded some credit that can be used to call, SMS or surf Internet. Press *101# to check your credit balance and expiration date.
One important thing, to avoid your credit running out so fast, the first thing you should do is to register for a data package. Check the website or ask the seller to do so for you. 3G speed in Vietnam are pretty good and coverage is widespread, so it will be more than simple to make a stable phone call via Viber/ Whatsapp/ SnapChat, etc. Wi-fi is also available everywhere at every shop, restaurants, coffee, hotels, etc. Politely ask the owner the Wi-fi password, they are always happy to give you.
Else, international SMS is pretty cheap (around 2,500 VND/ message), so as international calls (around 4,000 VND/ minute).
When you need to top up your credit or extend expiration date, buy the scratch cards available at plenty of street stalls (card has different values of 50,000 VND/ 100,000 VND/ 200,000 VND, etc.). Scratch the card then press *100*The12DigitActivationCodeThatYouScratched#
How to dial?
● Country code: +84
● From cellphone to landline: 0 + Area code + Phone number (Example: Area code of Hanoi is 024 and you want to dial the Mai Linh taxi 38333333 then dial 02438333333)
● From cellphone to cellphone: 09y xxx-xxxx or 01yy xxx-xxxx
● From cellphone to International phone number: 00 + Country code + (Area code + Phone number) or (Cellphone format)