The Vietnam Tourist SIM Card Guide

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Dustin Kemp
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Last Updated: March 20, 2024

In 2024, having a SIM card that keeps you and your phone connected to the worldwide web at all times via mobile data is basically a necessity. And the need to stay connected is even more pressing when you’re traveling in a foreign country. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Vietnam SIM card purchases and data packages, from where to get them to what networks you should choose.

Do you need a SIM card in Vietnam?

Yes, you do need a SIM card in Vietnam. Having a mobile data connection allows you access to apps will make your trip run MUCH more smoothly. A few of the essential mobile apps that need a data connection to use when you’re on-the-go include:

  • Maps — A maps app is absolutely essential to find the exact locations you want to go to, as you can use the GPS to constantly monitor where you are in relation to your destination.
  • Translate — A mobile data package allows you to key in the phrase you want to communicate and have it translated into Vietnamese to show the person you’re talking to.
  • Ride-sharing apps (Grab, Xanh SM, etc.) — Taxis are hotbeds for scams in Vietnam, so being able to pull out your phone and call a safe ride to your location whenever you want is a fantastic option.
  • Messenger — First of all, a messenger app can act as your lifeline in a situation where you can’t communicate what you want to say; you can call your hotel or your travel agency and someone who speaks both English and Vietnamese can advocate for you over the phone. Second, being able to communicate with friends back home or your travel party members is important, especially if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation while you’re out and about.

Honestly, it’s difficult to imagine how a tourist would survive a trip to Vietnam without a SIM card and these apps.

And if you’re thinking about simply relying on your home country carrier’s roaming plan while you’re in Vietnam, don’t. Roaming plans are very expensive, and a prepaid SIM card will be a much cheaper option.

The different types of SIM card for tourists

There are two main types of tourist SIM cards to consider: a physical SIM card and an eSim. Both types provide the same benefits, but you may need to go with one or the other depending on the type of phone you have.

Physical SIM Cards

A physical SIM is an actual plastic card that you insert in your phone’s SIM card slot to get service. Different phones accept SIM cards of different sizes: either mini SIM, micro SIM, or nano SIM. You can ask the sellers at shops or counters selling SIM cards to give you one of the appropriate size for your phone, and they’ll help you out.

Physical SIMs are very easy to find, as pretty much any SIM dealer in Vietnam will carry them. They can also be moved from one phone to another if their initial phone runs out of battery on the road, which is another benefit.

The largest potential downside is that physical SIMs cannot be used in all phones. A dual-sim phone allows you to easily insert a local SIM card while traveling. But some phones have an embedded SIM and do not allow for external carriers.

Another downside that’s actually just more of an inconvenience is that you need to register for a physical SIM card, meaning you’ll have to bring your passport to a SIM card seller and fill out some paperwork to get started.

eSIMs

An eSIM is not an actual SIM card; rather, it is just a digital profile of a carrier’s plan that is downloaded to a compatible phone. It’s no pricier than a traditional SIM card, and it’s extremely convenient because you can just buy it online from anywhere in the world and then activate it remotely after you arrive in Vietnam by providing the activation code you received when you bought the eSIM. You can’t lose or damage the eSIM, either.

The downside is that eSIM is not compatible on all phones. The technology did not become popular until 2020 or so and even now is not included with some models of phone, so you’ll have to check whether your device is compatible.

The top Vietnamese SIM card providers

Just like most countries, Vietnam has its own mobile network providers. The main Vietnamese mobile providers are Viettel, VinaPhone, MobiFone, and Vietnamobile. Each of the providers has its own strengths and weaknesses, summarized below. Keep in mind that SIM cards from all these providers are available throughout Vietnam, whether at airport kiosks selling SIM cards or at mobile phone shops in the city center.

Viettel

Viettel is the most popular mobile network provider in Northern Vietnam.

vietnam tourist sim card
Sim data Viettel. Photo: Collected

Pros

Consistent coverage: Viettel has extensive coverage across Vietnam, including both urban and rural areas.
Affordable data packages: Viettel offers competitive data plans suitable for tourists.
Good customer service: Viettel is known for its responsive customer service, which can be helpful for tourists with inquiries or issues.
Unlimited data bundles are available.

Cons

Language barrier: Customer service might not always be available in English, which could be a challenge for tourists who don’t speak Vietnamese. It might be best to enlist a Vietnamese speaker to call on your behalf.

Limited international roaming options: Viettel’s international roaming options may not be as extensive as some other providers.

VinaPhone

VinaPhone is also popular in the North, and it’s especially good for urban areas. Consider it if you are planning to stay in or near the big cities for your entire trip.

vietnam tourist sim card
Sim data Vinaphone. Photo: Collected

Pros

Network quality: VinaPhone offers good network quality in urban areas and popular tourist destinations.
International roaming options: VinaPhone provides various international roaming packages suitable for tourists traveling to other countries around Vietnam.
English support: VinaPhone may offer better English language support compared to other providers.

Cons

Limited coverage in rural areas: While VinaPhone’s coverage is generally good in cities, it may not be as reliable in rural or remote areas.

Data package pricing: Some tourists might find VinaPhone’s data packages relatively expensive compared to other providers.

MobiFone

MobiFone is the most popular carrier in Southern Vietnam.

vietnam tourist sim card
Sim data Mobifone. Photo: Collected

Pros

Flexible prepaid plans: MobiFone offers a variety of prepaid plans that can be suitable for tourists with different needs and budgets. You don’t need to worry about it if you’re just going to buy a prepaid SIM card at the airport.
Excellent coverage in Southern Vietnam: In the south, MobiFone has strong coverage nearly everywhere, from the chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City to remote countryside trails. It still has good coverage in the North, but it’s best near cities.
Easy to find: MobiFone SIM cards are widely available at convenience stores and kiosks across Vietnam.
Unlimited data packages are available.

Cons

Inconsistent network quality: While MobiFone’s coverage is generally good, network quality might vary in certain areas, especially remote Northern ones.

Limited English support: Like Viettel, MobiFone’s English-language support is not always the best.

Vietnamobile

Vietnamobile is a great budget option for your Vietnam SIM card.

vietnam tourist sim card
Sim data Vietnamobile. Photo: Collected

Pros

Budget-friendly options: Vietnamobile offers some of the most affordable data plans, making it a good choice for budget-conscious tourists.
Easy to set up: Vietnamobile SIM cards are easy to purchase and activate, requiring minimal paperwork.
Flexible options: Vietnamobile offers flexible prepaid plans with options for short-term use, suitable for tourists.

Cons

Limited coverage: Vietnamobile’s coverage might be limited in rural or remote areas compared to other providers.

Customer service: Vietnamobile’s customer service might not be as responsive or readily available compared to larger providers like Viettel or VinaPhone.

How much mobile data do you need?

Vietnam SIM card sellers generally offer data packages in seven sizes ranging from 1GB to unlimited data plans. Those seven sizes are listed in the table below, along with how many hours of various popular online activities that amount of data will allow for.

Data Package1GB2GB3GB4GB12GB15GBUnlimited
Streaming Music (Standard Quality)23 hours46 hours69 hours92 hours276 hours345 hoursUnlimited
Streaming Music (High Quality)11 hours23 hours34 hours46 hours138 hours173 hoursUnlimited
Web Browsing (Average)20 hours40 hours60 hours80 hours240 hours300 hoursUnlimited
Social Madia (Average)15 hours30 hours45 hours60 hours180 hours225 hoursUnlimited
Email (without attachments)200,000 emails400,000 emails600,000 emails800,000 emails2,400,000 hours3,000,000 hoursUnlimited
Video Streaming (Low Quality)2 hours4 hours6 hours8 hours24 hours30 hoursUnlimited
Video Streaming (Standard Quality)1 hour2 hours3 hours4 hours12 hours15 hoursUnlimited
Video Streaming (High Quality)20 minutes40 minutes60 minutes80 minutes240 minutes300 minutesUnlimited

Vietnam SIM cards loaded up with prepaid plans tend to be much cheaper than in most of the world, so most tourists are fine with “splurging” a bit to get more data then they feel they may need just in case.

Where to buy Vietnam SIM cards?

On site

Most tourists prefer to buy a SIM card in person at one of the locations below.

At the airport

Whether you’re arriving at Noi Bai International in Hanoi, Tan Son Nhat International in Ho Chi Minh city, or any of Vietnam’s other international terminals, there will be lots of SIM card kiosks as soon as you leave your gate. The booths will generally carry prepaid SIM cards from one or all of the carriers listed in the previous section, and they will offer prepaid data package options in whatever size you feel you need — you can refer to the table above to decide what one is best for you.

Once you settle on a carrier and a prepaid plan size, the person working at the booth will help you to open up your phone, insert the new SIM card, and activate it. You’re good to go!

Pro Tip: Immediately take a photo of your new Vietnamese phone number so that you won’t forget it. You can find the number on the packaging that comes with the SIM card.

At a mobile store

If you can wait to go into the city to buy a SIM card, you might be able to get a slightly better deal. By getting a SIM card at the same place the locals do, you can pay the local price for the card and then buy the plan separately.

Though this method is cheaper and might be the only option for those not traveling through an airport, it might not be as convenient for those who speak no Vietnamese since the clerks at the mobile stores may not speak English.

Online

If you’re buying an eSim, purchasing electronically is almost certainly easier. You can buy from anywhere in the world, meaning that you can buy the eSIM before your trip and then activate it for free as soon as you get to Vietnam. What’s more, it’s the same price as buying a SIM once you’re here.

Pro Tip: Buy your eSIM through this Vietnam eSIM for tourists portal.

Wrapping Up

SIM cards and data plans in Vietnam are amazing. They’re convenient to buy and install, extremely inexpensive, and have great coverage and speed. Which is a good thing, because they’re basically essential to a successful Vietnam vacation. We hope this guide makes the Vietnam SIM card process easier for you to handle.

Other Resources

There are a few other guides you should check out while planning your Vietnam trip, including:

Viettel is best for Northern regions, MobiFone is best for Southern regions, VinaPhone is best for cities, and Vietnamobile is best for budget travelers.

Prepaid SIM cards for tourists start at about 100,000 VND for 1GB of data and go up to about 300,000 VND for one month of unlimited data.

You can find 1GB prepaid data plan SIM cards for as low as 100,000 VND. You can also get unlimited data plans that are valid for one month from VinaPhone for 300,000 VND.

You can find 1GB prepaid data plan SIM cards for as low as 100,000 VND. You can also get unlimited data plans good for one month from VinaPhone for 300,000 VND.

Tourists should buy a SIM card at the airport. It’s convenient, inexpensive, and safe. If your phone is compatible with eSIM, you should instead look into buying a Vietnamese eSIM card online beforehand and activating it once you get to Vietnam.

Vietnam Sim cards for tourists are available for periods of up to 30 days. If you are planning to stay in Vietnam for longer than a month, you may want to consider buying a standard SIM card and learning how to top up using a monthly plan. You can get help with that at a mobile phone shop, with the shops near the city center offering better English-language support.

You need a passport to buy a physical SIM card in Vietnam. If your phone is compatible with eSIM, you can buy the activation online without needing a passport.

Most vendors in Vietnam only take cash, so you should always carry some Vietnam Dong with you when you’re out and about. Large shops like mobile phone stores, hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants take Visa and Mastercard, however. For more help on dealing with money in Vietnam, check out our detailed guide.

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Dustin Kemp
Content Writer - Vietnam Is Awesome
Dustin moved to Ho Chi Minh City in 2014 and quickly fell in love with the culture and people of Vietnam. He brings his passion to his writing and planning as the Content Manager at Vietnam Is Awesome.

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