Reduce your roaming rates by using a local SIM.
If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, a top tip for keeping down costs is to switch to a local SIM card. Take advantage of better tariffs, plans and deals to reduce your roaming rates. Vietnam has some good SIM card options, but the coverage can sometimes be questionable. You can get 1GB of data from Vietnam’s top telco providers for just VND100,000 (US$4.40). So, whether you’re a short- or long-term traveler, you can save money by comparing your SIM card options on finder.com.Prices up to date: September 2017
There are four main telco providers in Vietnam: Viettel, Vinaphone, Mobifone and Vietnamobile. Locals and travelers use SIM cards from all four networks, and they can be trusted whatever plan you choose. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Vietnam has a good or above average signal for South-Eastern Asian standards. Coverage can suffer in the remote country regions, but that will happen on any phone or provider you use there.
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 Tan Son Nhat 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 Vietnam.
Viettel is the largest operator in Vietnam, owned by the government and ministry of defense. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Network coverage is strong around the main towns and cities, and is reliable throughout the rest of the country. Viettel is the best operator to use in the rural areas. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers. Take your passport along just in case it’s needed for set-up. Credit can be purchased from most retailers across the country.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for VND50,000-VND60,000, and come with the same amount of credit. The “Tomato” and “Economy” prepaid SIM cards offer several different plan options, but data packages will have to be added to surf the net. Dial *101# to check your balance and *102# for any bonuses. To add credit, dial *100*<voucher PIN>#. There is also an English language setting in the menu, otherwise the SIM card will operate in Vietnamese.
The standard default data rate is charged at VND75 per 50 KB. The following packages can also be added:
Dial *098#” and follow the instructions to activate the relevant pack.
The following data packs can also be added:
- 150MB: VND8,000, activation – MT1
- 20MB: VND2,000, activation – MT2
- 100MB: VND4,000, activation – MT3
Text “KTTK” to 191 to check your data usage.
In addition, there is a tourist SIM card offering the following options:
|Price||Data||Local call minutes||International call minutes||Validity|
|VND100,000||1GB||20 mins||10 mins||5 days|
|VND200,000||2GB||40 mins||20 mins||10 days|
|VND300,000||3GB||60 mins||30 mins||15 days|
|VND500,000||5GB||100 mins||50 mins||25 days|
Data over-use is charged at VND9.76 per 50 KB. Dial *101# to check balance.
The following “DCom” data plans can also be purchased:
Text the name of the relevant bundle to 191 to activate.
Viettel’s APN: v-internet, and website: http://4gviettel.vn
Vinaphone is the second largest operator in Vietnam. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Network coverage is strong around the main towns and cities, and is reliable throughout the rest of the country. Internet speeds are good. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, but take your passport along just in case it’s needed for set-up. Credit can be purchased from most retailers across the country.
The “VinaCard” prepaid SIM card can be purchased for VND50,000. Credit can be purchased in varying amounts between VND5,000 and VND500,000. Dial *100*<PIN code># to add credit. Dial *101# to check balance and *102# for data usage. If you’re having trouble using data, text “GPRS ON” to 888 which will ensure your data line is active.
The standard default data rate is charged at VND1.5 per KB. The following data packs can be added:
- 1.2GB per day: VND7,000. Activation: D7
- 2GB per day: VND10,000. Activation: D2
- 1GB (valid for 7 days): VND20,000. Activation: DT20
The following packages are valid for one month:
|4G SIM card only:|
Text “DK”<blank><activation code> to 888 to activate.
The following data boosters are also available:
- 350MB: VND15,000 – activation: X15
- 600MB: VND25,000 – activation: X25
- 1GB: VND35,000 – activation: X35
The Vinaphone tourist SIM card can be purchased for VND300,000 and comes with 8GB data, 80 local minutes, 80 SMS and 50 international minutes to the following countries: US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. Landline calls can be made to Japan, Taiwan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and Russia.
Vinaphone’s APN: m3-world, and website: http://vinaphone.com.vn
Mobifone is the third largest operator in Vietnam. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Network coverage is strong around the main towns and cities, but will struggle in the remote regions. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, but take your passport along just in case it’s needed for set-up. Credit can be purchased from most retailers across the country.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for VND50,000. Top-ups can be found between VND5,000 and 500,000. Dial *101# to check balance. Text “DATA ON” to 999 to activate data usage. The standard default data rate is charged at VND75 per 50 KB or VND8,000 for 150MB of data use in one day. The following monthly packs are also available:
|Data Volume||Price||Activation SMS|
|50MB||VND10,000||M10 to 999|
|150MB||VND25,000||M25 to 999|
|450MB||VND50,000||M50 to 999|
|600MB||VND70,000||MIU to 999|
|1.5GB||VND120,000||M120 to 999|
|3GB||VND200,000||BMIU to 999|
|1.6GB||VND70,000||M70 to 999|
|2.1GB||VND90,000||M90 to 999|
|3GB||VND120,000||M120 to 999|
|5.5GB||VND200.000||M200 to 999|
Data boosters can also be added:
- 350MB: VND15,000. Activation: Text MAX15 to 999
- 600MB: VND25,000. Activation: Text MAX25 to 999
- 1GB: VND35,000. Activation: Text MAX35 to 999
The following data packs are offered for longer periods of time:
- 1.8GB per month for 3 months: VND210.000
- 2GB per month for 6 months: VND420.000
- 2.2GB per month for 12 months: VND840.000
- 4GB per month for 12 months: VND1,440,000
- 7GB per month for 12 months, VND2,400,000
As well, there are tourist SIM cards called “Happy Tourist, which can be purchased for VND250,000 for either of the following options:
- Happy Tourist Data: 3GB valid for 30 days, plus top-ups:
- VND200,000 for 3GB
- VND300,000 for 5GB
- VND500,000 for 8GB
- Happy Tourist Voice and Data: 1.5GB and VND80,000 call credit, valid for 30 days, plus top-ups:
Mobifone’s APN: m3-world, and website: http://mobifone.vn/wps/portal/public
Vietnamobile is the smallest operator in the country with the best rates. It also provides customers with 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services on a GSM platform. Network coverage is strong around the main towns and cities, but may struggle in the country areas. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers. Take your passport along just in case it’s needed for set-up. Credit can be purchased from most retailers across the country.
The “VMOne” prepaid SIM card can be purchased for VND25,000, which comes with VND10,000 credit, valid for 30 days. Credit vouchers can be purchased in the following denominations: VND10,000, VND20,000, VND50,000 and VND100,000.
The standard default data rate is charged at VND25 per 50 KB. The following packages can also be added:
There is also a tourist SIM card that comes with the following two options:
- Tourist 100: VND125,000 – 50 minutes to USA, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong. 1GB data per day, unlimited Vietnamobile on-net calls and SMS for 7 days. Activation: *699*1#
- Tourist 200: VND250,000 – 120 minutes to USA, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong. 1GB data per day, unlimited Vietnamobile on-net calls and SMS for 14 days. Activation: *699*2#
Dial 118 and select the relevant pack to activate.
The data-only SIM can be purchased for VND65,000, which comes with 5GB of data, valid for 30 days. The following data packs can be added:
- 1GB: VND20,000. Activation: DK USB20
- 5GB: VND50,000. Activation: DK USB50
- 10GB: VND100,000. Activation: DK USB100
Text the code to 345 to activate.
Vietnamobile’s APN: internet, and website: http://www.vietnamobile.com.vn
Some top tips from finder.com staff:
- The official language is Vietnamese. Not many locals speak English, so download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel if you need help with the language.
- Locals call a SIM card a “Chip” or “SIMkaa”.
- 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.
- Get to the shops early to receive better assistance and 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 Vietnam.
Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
“In the big cities, Mobifone is always recommended to use, but if you will travel to remote areas, VIettel is the best one.”
“You will be able to buy SIM cards at nearly every shop. If Nano SIM cards are needed they will cut it accordingly.”
“If they don’t have a micro sim they use a cutting press to create a micro SIM card out of a standard SIM.”
Pros and cons of Vietnam’s top telco providers
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible phone. To double check you have this phone, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.
- Some areas can suffer from bad coverage
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
Q: Is the signal really that bad in the countryside?
A: All networks will suffer in the countryside, no matter what provider you use. Vietnamese networks offer a relatively reliable service that is no worse than what you would get on your home phone there, so it makes sense to opt for a local SIM card because the rates are reasonable.
Q: What should I do if I lose my phone?
A: Your phone is your lifeline, especially when traveling around Vietnam. 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!