Get a SIM card at the Airport in Hanoi
Getting a local Vietnamese SIM card when you arrive in Vietnam can not be recommended enough. Besides being able to make local calls the 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 in 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.
Viettel has the largest coverage in Vietnam
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 nescessarily all over Vietnam like Viettel.
Viettel Tourists Plans
“Tourist plans are prepaid plans designed for foreigners who “Tourist plans are prepaid plans designed for foreigners, who come to Vietnam for travelling or working in a short time. There are two Tourist plans for your own demand: (1) Tourist Voice plan offers Voice, SMS, and Data; (2) Tourist Data plan offers Data only for mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, USB 3G with many attractive offers and easy to use.” Read more details on their website .
Mobile Data is Cheap
Like previously stated mobile data in Vietnam is incredibly cheap. You can use your 3G data as a mobile hotspot for your entire stay, you wont ever need to ask for a WIFI password at a cafe if you dont want to. Weather you are trekking in Sapa or on a cruise in the Mekong Delta, you will be covered everywhere.
To buy a prepaid SIM card, you have to officially show your ID or passport and need to be registered first, before the SIM card can be activated. But in practice, this was not really much enforced before November 2016. Then the government shut down 12 million falsely registered SIM cards. The rules are now more strictly enforced, that you bring your passport and register to activate your SIM card in an operator’s store. Small independent corner shops can’t activate them for you and they still sell a SIM on somebody else’s identity to you.
With these vendors make sure that they activate it for you or show where and how to do it. Official registration can done in the major stores of the operators or the seller will direct you to a registration point, where you’ll need to show your passport. Don’t leave the store without instructions, how to activate or with a SIM which is already activated. You can check whether your SIM has been registered by texting ‘TTTB’ to 1414 on all major operators. If registered, the response will include the name, birthdate, and ID number (Vietnam ID or foreign passport) of the registered individual.
Topping up can be done online easily HERE. Although most likely wont be required if you are staying for less then a month.
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.
After Getting the SIM card
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 recommended more!