Getting a SIM card when you arrive in Vietnam
Getting a local Vietnamese SIM card when you arrive in Vietnam can not be recommended enough.
We are not the sort of people who choose to disconnect from our social media platforms when we travel because we are travel writers, and staying connected with both our readers and clients is imperative. From what we saw of our time in Vietnam, regardless of whether a person was on vacation or working, they also definitely wanted to stay connected to the rest of the world also. The local people of Vietnam love to be also connected, and everyone has a cell phone, and are on them constantly.
I will put some gorgeous photos of Vietnam throughout this article, to show you why you will want the Best SIM Card in Vietnam to share with everyone.
So here is the new Sim Card reality in Vietnam
Besides being able to make local calls theH SIM card that are sold at the airport will give you enough data to use throughout your entire trip to Vietnam. The Hanoi Airport offers a wide selection of mobile data plans inq the arrival hall.
After clearing customs and the baggage claim you will see plenty of booths in front of you that will be offering transfer services to the city center and local SIM cards. This should definitely be the first step of action for anyone arriving in Vietnam as a traveler.
The recommended choice is Viettel as they have the largest coverage network in Vietnam. The sim card also gives you international minutes to call friends back home and impressively offers you unlimited 3G data. Vinaphone works as well but not necessarily all over Vietnam like Viettel.
It’s really cheap and easy to get a Vietnamese SIM card when you get to Hanoi, and if you’re in the country for a while it’s probably worthwhile, particularly if you plan to book hotels in advance.
I was fortunate enough to inherit a Mobifone card from some girls we were travelling with in 2009 and, surprisingly, it still worked when we got back here in 2010. My boyfriend and various visitors have all bought cards here themselves, however, with no problems.
Tips for buying sim card
So, you need to look out for stalls advertising ‘SIM The’ — in my experience there’s never one there when you want one i.e. when you run out of credit, but keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot them around. There’s a small stall on Hang Bac in the centre of Old Quarter anyway, so try there if you’re having trouble. They speak some English and the last card I bought there had a sticker attached with details about the credit on the card e.g. how many international minutes it included.
Even if you don’t go there, don’t worry about the language barrier, particularly if you’re in a touristy area, as it should be easy enough to indicate what you’re after. To start with, they’ll probably just sell cards and top-ups anyway, and besides they’ll be in a glass case, so you can just point and wave your phone about.
If you’re just on holiday then it doesn’t really matter what network you’re on but each time we’ve bought a new SIM we’ve been offered Vinaphone so chances are that’s what you’ll get. The card will probably cost 100,000VND (about $5) and that should have a little bit of credit on it but if you expect to use it a lot you might want to get one with more credit on it, or buy a top-up there and then. You can check the credit by keying *101# and OK / Call so if they’re pushing you to buy extra credit you might want to do this first. Top-ups are available in a range of denominations and instructions are on the back.
After Getting the SIM card
You need to provide your passport to purchase the sim card as per government regulations. You do not have to sign a contract, nor ring any number to activate the package or have it verified. The staff at the kiosk’s will assist you in taking out your old sim card and putting the new one in. You should be online instantenously and the whole process should not take more then 5 minutes.
You can find many official stores in Hanoi Old Quarter from Viettel, Vinaphone, and Mobifone, Noi Bai Airport offers a wide range of mobile data plans in the arrival hall.
You can either wait for a taxi in the line just outside the terminal or you can book a private transfer directly to your hotel HERE. The private transfer offers added comfort and service for a slightly higher price. If you are arriving in Hanoi after a long inter continental flight this can not be
A couple of final things worth noting. Firstly, you won’t be able to use the card outside of the country and secondly, check you can use your phone with other SIM cards. If you’re on a pay monthly deal back home you might find that your phone is locked, meaning you can’t put another SIM card in. Check with your provider well before you leave home or be prepared to buy a cheap phone when you get here.
Coverage and Data Speeds
Viettel coverage was very good anywhere and everywhere I tested it. Data speeds were also impressive, and in smaller cities like Danang it wasn’t unusual to see 4G/LTE downloads approaching 50Mbps.
Speeds slowed somewhat in Hanoi and Saigon, likely due to the larger population there. I couldn’t get any data service at all when bad weather caused flight cancellations at Saigon airport, although to be fair it seemed like half the city was crowded into the domestic terminal with me at the time.
There you have it. We loved the reliability and were blown away by the price. Well done Viettel, the Best SIM Card in Vietnam.
I’ve had full signal with both Vinaphone and Viettel in and around Hanoi, Saigon, Danang, Mui Ne, and Hoi An, as well as pretty much anywhere with signs of habitation all through the Mekong Delta.