These days, cell phones have become essential when it comes to traveling for many reasons – from being able to inform your loved ones that you’re safe, to using GPS to find a specific location, and to watching cat videos to kill time during long inter-city bus rides. All of these involve using the internet, therefore having a good data package is essential. Here is our guide to Mobile in Saigon in order to help you with setting up the most suitable package for your convenient and smooth stay in the city.

Is It Worth Getting A Sim Card on My Trip to Ho Chi Minh City? Undoubtedly, Yes!

Nowadays, in such an urban area like Ho Chi Minh City, WIFI seems to be available at almost every destination. Malls, restaurants, coffee shops, etc, all seem to have it. However, if you are going to travel to Saigon and you need to use your phone to surf the Internet, check maps, or keep in touch with your family and friends along the way, you definitely need to buy a local SIM card. In fact, the costs for mobile services in Vietnam is quite cheap. Getting a SIM card will probably make your vacation much easier.

Right now, most of the official information about mobile in Saigon is unfortunately in Vietnamese. Although there are also many blogs, queries and forum posts, the majority of them are no longer accurate. Luckily, Christina’s is here to provide our readers with the most up-to-date and simple-to-follow guides for mobile in Saigon.

#1 Check Your Mobile Phone

First and foremost, you need to check whether your phone is of the global, the unlocked, or the locked versions. If you are bringing a global or unlocked phone, you can simply insert a local SIM card and use all its services, from calling to accessing the Internet. In case your phone is still locked by the telecommunication provider, you can have a look at the international roaming option. However, this can be too complicated or uneconomical. Ensure that you bring along at least one phone that is unlocked to be able to use any domestic mobile network.

Don’t worry about the size of the SIM card slot you are able to click out what size (Micro or Nano) is appropriate for your phone.

#2 Buy A SIM Card

Where Can We Get A SIM Card?

In Saigon, a SIM card can be found anywhere, from the telecommunication booths near the arrival terminal in the airport, to mobile shops, convenience stores, credit kiosks, or sometimes even small stalls on the street.

At the airport

If you want to obtain a Vietnamese SIM card the minute that you land in Ho Chi Minh City, the fastest way is to look for a telecommunication booth at Tan Son Nhat Airport. Outside the baggage pick-up carousels, there are various booths from the three popular telecommunication providers in Vietnam. The salespeople at these booths can speak good English and the process takes just about five minutes to complete. You can question them about the procedures, the prices, and also ask for their assistance in signing up for a 3G data package.

Read more: Tan Son Nhat Airport Guide

In the city

If you can wait a bit longer, getting a SIM card in the city is as easy as it at the airport. Although phone stores and official retail stores are not hard to find either, getting SIM cards from a street stall can be more convenient. They are sold by street vendors and convenience stores on almost every corner of the city and there will be printed signs outside the locations providing SIM cards.

Which Telecommunication Provider Should We Choose?

For the best coverage and service, make sure that the SIM card you buy is either on Mobiphone, Vinaphone, or Viettel networks. These three brands cover almost 90% of the whole domestic telecommunication market, Viettel (~40% market share), Vinaphone (~30%) and Mobifone (~20%), and offer the best coverage throughout the country. Meanwhile, other providers’ offers may be lower price but the connection is pretty poor when you are out of the urban areas.

How Much Does It Cost?

Initially, it usually costs around 50.000 VND to 100.000 VND (2.5 USD ~ 5USD) for a SIM card with a prepaid credit of 50.000 VND to 200.000 VND available (2.5 USD ~ 10 USD). Also, notice that the prices offered at the airport are often slightly higher than what you pay in the city.

#3 Set Up Your SIM Card

To Check The Balance of Your SIM Card

A Vietnamese SIM card has two types of balances, including the official balance and the promotion balance.  For calling, surfing the Internet as well as signing up for data packages you use the official balance; meanwhile, to sign up for data packages you can’t use the promotion package.

In order to check how much you have in your balance, here is the syntax:

  • For Viettel SIM card: On the dial screen, call “*101#to check the official balance or call *102#to check the promotion balance.
  • For Vinaphone and Mobiphone SIM cards: On the dial screen, call *101#”. TKC” is the official balance and the others are the promotion balances.

To Add More Money to Your Balance

In actuality, it is even easier to top up your credit than it is to buy the SIM in the first place. You can buy credit pretty much anywhere you are ever likely to go as a tourist, and the vendor is highly likely to sort the process out for you even if they speak very little English.

Here is the syntax to add more money to your balance: *100*<code on the top-up card>#

#4 Register for A 3G Data Package

There are three types of data packages, as stated below:

  • Those with a hard cap on all data: After you use your allocation, your internet will get cut off and you will have to pay per MB used.
  • Those without a hard cap: You will be throttled to the slower 2G speed after reaching the package’s limit.
  • Big data packages: The amount of 3G data it is larger than all of the throttled packages but you won’t receive free throttled data after hitting the limit.

Viettel

a) Packages with a hard cap on all data

b) Packages with throttled data after you reach a certain limit

c) Big data packages

The syntax for Viettel data packages

  • To sign up for a data package, send the name of the package via text to the number “191” (eg: send “DMAX” via text to “191”).
  • If you want to cancel a data package, send “HUY” via text to the number “191”, then reply to the text with a “Y” (this confirms as a YES).
  • To check the amount of data left, send “KTTK” via text to the number “191”.

Vinaphone

a) Packages with a hard cap on all data

b) Packages with throttled data after you reach a certain limit

c) Big data packages

The syntax for Vinaphone data packages

  • To sign up for a data package, send DK<blank space>the name of the packagevia text to the number “888” (eg: send “DK MAX” via text to “888”).
  • To cancel a data package, send “HUY<blank space>the name of the package” via text to the number “888” (eg: send “HUY MAX” via text to “888”).
  • To check the amount of data left, send “DATA” via text to the number “888”.

Mobifone

a) Packages with a hard cap on all data


b) Packages with throttled data after you reach a certain limit

c) Big data packages

Mobile in Saigon

The syntax for Mobiphone data packages

  • To sign up for a data package, send the name of the package via text to the number “999” (eg: send “M10” via text to “999”).
  • To cancel a data package, send “HUY<blank space>the name of the package” via text to the number “999” (eg: send “HUY M10” via text to “999”).
  • To check the amount of data left, send “KT DATA” via text to the number “999”.

#5 Check Out The Writer’s Recommendations for Mobile in Saigon

  • You don’t have to pay for incoming calls on all Vietnamese networks. As for outgoing calls, you will be charged per minute depending on which service provider the person you are calling uses (it is cheaper to make calls to someone within the same network.)
  • The suitable package for you will depend on the length of your stay and data usage. Actually, the amount of 3G data you need seems to be lower than what you think because of the availability of free WIFI at almost every place you go to.
  • Remember to register for a 3G data package as well as avoid paying per MB used because it would be unreasonably expensive and your mobile phone balance will run out of money sooner than you ever thought it would.With all that said, travel safe!

Read more: The Ultimate Packing List For Vietnam

Found this article helpful? Want more interesting and fun articles on what to do, see, and eat in Vietnam? Follow us at the Christina’s blog!

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