Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh) Uncategorized Vietnam

A Beginners Guide to Mobile in Saigon

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 cell phone data plans in Saigon in order to help you with setting up the most suitable package for your convenient and smooth stay in the city..

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

iphone lock and unlocked vietnam

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 cost 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

mobile phone locked and unlocked vietnam


First and foremost, you need to check whether your phone is global, unlocked, or locked. 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 options. 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

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, Viettel, or Vietnamobile networks. These three brands cover more than 90% of the whole domestic telecommunication market and offer the best coverage throughout the country. In particular, Vietnamobile has been a dominant brand with the cheapest packages of data at the moment. However, Vietnamobile network is only good in big cities like Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, or Hanoi. If you only plan to visit these cities, Vietnamobile will be the most suitable for you.

telecom vietnam

Where Can We Get A SIM Card?

One year ago, people could buy as many SIM cards as they wanted. However, the government has managed SIM cards more strictly recently. Every SIM card must be registered with the full information of the user and each user can purchase a limited amount of SIM cards. Therefore, you should buy a SIM card at a telecommunication booth or store. The salespeople at the booth will need your passport and visa for the process.

At the Airport

If you want to obtain a Vietnamese SIM card the minute that you land in Ho Chi Minh City, the fastest and most convenient 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  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/4G data package.

Read more: Tan Son Nhat Airport Guide

In the City

My recommended telecommunication providers have official stores around Ho Chi Minh City. You can use Google Maps to find the nearest store to you. Then, go to this store and buy a SIM card there. Passport and visa are needed for the registry. However, this may be more time-consuming compared to doing it at the airport, and sometimes the branches in the city will have employees that speak little English.

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

sim card balance check vietnam

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

top up your telecom balance vietnam

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>#

Download the App

Every telecommunication provider has its own app for their mobile phone. Download the app and you can easily manage your SIM card without remembering the syntax above. Check the balance, top up phone credit, keep track of usage history, change data plans, and get live support with the app.

Change the Language of Your SIM Card

The language of the SIM card applies to the messages and calls received from the switchboard. If you change the language into English, it will be more convenient for you when using the mobile phone. Among telecommunication providers in Vietnam, only Mobifone offers the function to change the language of the SIM card. There are two ways to change this function:

  • Call the number “900”, press number 5, then press number 1, and then number 1 again to choose English.  
  • Send the syntax “NN E” via text to the number “901” (free)

#4 Register for A 3G/4G Data Package and Tourist SIM

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 speed after reaching the package’s limit.
  • Big data packages: The amount of 3G/4G data is larger than all of the throttled packages but you won’t receive free throttled data after hitting the limit.

The 4G SIM card is a new product launched in 2018. Its data speed is faster than the 3G SIM card. You will notice a huge difference in big cities between 3G and 4G SIM cards, but not too much will change in small cities.


a) 3G data feature packages

50 MB10,000 VNDMI10
200 MB30,000 VNDMI30
450 MB50,000 VNDMI50

Note: Overuse – 0.5 VND per KB

3 GB70,000 VNDMIMAX70
5 GB90,000 VNDMIMAX90
8 GB125,000 VNDMIMAX125
15 GB200,000 VNDMIMAX200
30 GB500,000 VNDMIMAX500

Note: Throttled

b) 4G data feature packages

150 MB10,000 VND4G10
450 MB20,000 VND4G20
1 GB40,000 VND4G40
2 GB70,000 VND4G70
3 GB90,000 VND4G90
5 GB125,000 VND4G125
10 GB200,000 VND4G200

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 “M10” 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”.

c) Tourist SIM

Tourist VoiceTypesRates
Viettel intra-network voice callVND 1,190/min
Trans-network voice callVND 1,390/min
Viettel intra-network SMSVND 300/SMS
Trans-network SMSVND 350/SMS
International SMSVND 2500/SMS
Tourist DataVietnam Inbound SMSVND 500/SMS
International SMSVND 2500/SMS
Data Overage ChargeVND 9.76/50KB


a) 3G data feature packages

50 MB10,000 VNDM10
150 MB25,000 VNDM25
500 MB50,000 VNDM50
1.5 GB120,000 VNDM120

Note: Overuse – 0.5 VND per KB

600 MB70,000 VNDMAX
1.2 GB100,000 VNDMAX1
3 GB200,000 VNDMAX2
30 GB300,000 VNDMAX3

Note: Throttled

b) 4G data feature packages

2.4 GB70,000 VNDBIG70
3.5 GB90,000 VNDBIG90
6 GB120,000 VNDBIG120
11 GB200,000 VNDBIG200
18 GB300,000 VNDBIG300

Note: Overuse – 0.5 VND per KB

The syntax for Vinaphone data packages

  • To sign up for a data package, send DK1/DK<blank space><the name of the package>” via text to the number “888” (eg: send “DK1 M10” via text to “888”).
  • To cancel a data package, send “HUY<blank space><the name of the package>” via text to the number “888
  • To check the amount of data left, send “DATA” via text to the number “888”.

c) Tourist SIM

With the price of 300,000 VND, the GCS Tourist SIM package of Vinaphone includes the below utilities:

  • 8GB of data at 4G speeds
  • 80 minutes of domestic calls
  • 80 free messages
  • 50 minutes of international calls


a) 3G data feature packages

50 MB10,000 VNDM10
150 MB25,000 VNDM25
450 MB50,000 VNDM50

Note: Overuse – 0.5 VND per KB

b) 4G data feature packages

2.4 GB70,000 VNDHD70
3.5 GB90,000 VNDHD90
6 GB120,000 VNDHD120
11 GB200,000 VNDHD200
18 GB300,000 VNDHD300
25 GB400,000 VNDHD400
32 GB500,000 VNDHD500

Note: Throttled

The syntax for Mobiphone data packages

  • To sign up for a data package, send “ON<blank space><the name of the package>” via text to the number “9084” (eg: send “ON M10” via text to “9084”).
  • 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”.

c) Tourist SIM

Tourist SIM is the optimal SIM for tourists, including a lot of data, cheap international calls, and other utilities. Tourist SIM is available at four telecommunication providers. You can ask the staff in the booth or the store to buy a Tourist SIM card instead of buying a normal SIM card and activating a 3G/4G package.

Way2go Tourist SIM package of Mobifone includes the below utilities:

  • 4G/3G Connection – unlimited data access with 6GB high speed
  • 60′ local calls & 100 local SMS
  • BONUS: 30′ free international calls
  • Access to 24/7 tourist support hotline
  • Multi-languages instruction note attached.
  • Receive discounts at merchants with Way2go PromoCard
  • Compatible with all mobile devices
  • Valid for 30 days after activation

The syntax for Tourist SIM

  • Dial 900 to activate
  • To check your number, dial 0#OK
  • To check Way2go plan, text “KT W2G” to 789
  • To check account balance, dial 101#OK
  • To call abroad, dial 1313 + 00 + Country code + Area code + Number


a) 3G/4G data feature packages

1 GB10,000 VNDM10
2 GB25,000 VNDM25
4 GB40,000 VNDM40
8 GB70,000 VNDM70
12 GB90,000 VNDM90
20 GB120,000 VNDM120
40 GB200,000 VNDM200

The syntax for Vinaphone data packages

  • To sign up for a data package, send “DK<blank space><the name of the package>” via text to the number “345” (eg: send “DK D5” via text to “345”)
  • To cancel a data package, send “HUY<blank space><the name of the package>” via text to the number “345”.
  • To check the amount of data left, send “KT DATA” via text to the number “345”.

b) Tourist SIM

Package NameTourist 100Tourist 200
Price100,000 VND200,000 VND
Voice Anynet50 mins120 mins
Voice, SMS OnnetUnlimited between Tourist SIMsUnlimited between Tourist SIMs
Balance20,000 VND20,000 VND
Package Validity30 days30 days
Registration Code*699*1#OK*699*2#OK

#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/4G 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/4G 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

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