Yet another perk of living in Vietnam is the cheap cost for mobile data. Most of my friends that are visiting always ask the same question: is it worth getting a SIM card on my visit? Instead of answering the same question in email, I’m creating this guide to help out the entire community. Unfortunately most of the information right now about mobile data packages is scattered across the web on unofficial websites in complicated Vietnamese.

Yet another perk of living in Vietnam is the cheap cost for mobile data. Most of my friends that are visiting always ask the same question: is it worth getting a SIM card on my visit? Instead of answering the same question in email, I’m creating this guide to help out the entire community. Unfortunately most of the information right now about mobile data packages is scattered across the web on unofficial websites in complicated Vietnamese.

This piece will explore the various types of data packages available to anyone. If there are any errors in this article, please leave a comment below so we can fix it!

At the Airport

The earliest point in time one can obtain a Vietnamese SIM card is right after you step off the plane. Outside the baggage pick-up carousels are various booths where you can purchase and sign-up for a data plan.

TIP: I usually recommend to my friends to visit the SongViet counter at Tan Son Nhat Airport. Here, you can arrange a flat-rate taxi to anywhere in Ho Chi Minh City and you can get a Viettel SIM. The cost as of August 2016 is 200,000 VND for a SIM with 3GB of 3G data (initial monthly price may vary from the airport to the city and the store where you purchase your SIM).

In the City

SIM cards are sold by street vendors on almost every corner and topped-up (refilled) by buying scratch cards of pre-fixed value. You then add value to your account balance by punching in a code that is revealed after you scratch the card.

My favorite place in the city to buy a SIM, top up, or purchasing anything electronics related are the bright yellow “thegioididong” stores that are all around Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh City, you can usually find one in every major neighborhood.

Which service provider?

The mobile telecommunications field is dominated by three state-owned entities which account for over 90% of the market share: Viettel (~40% market share), Vinaphone (~30%) and Mobifone (~20%). Most of us are Viettel users since the coverage is strongest outside of the city too, but you can’t go wrong with any of the others carriers.

Viettel

Viettel data packages come in two forms:

a) 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.
b) those without a hard cap. You will be throttled to slower 2G speeds after reaching your package limit.

Outside of data, you can receive calls at no charge on all Vietnamese networks. As for placing calls, you will be charged by the minute depending on which carrier the person you are calling has (it’s cheaper to make calls to someone within the same network).

To sign up for these plans by yourself, you send a text of the name of the package (e.g. “DMAX”) to the number “191” (Viettel’s number which automates the transaction).

a) Packages with a hard cap on all data

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

MI10

10,000đ

50 MB

25đ/50KB or 500đ per MB

MI30

30,000đ

200 MB

25đ/50KB

MI50

50,000đ

450 MB

25đ/50KB

 

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

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

MIMAX

70,000đ

600 MB

Free (throttled 2G)

MIMAX90

90,000đ

1.2 GB

Free (throttled 2G)

DMAX

120,000đ

1.5 GB

Free (throttled 2G)

DMAX200

200,000đ

3GB

Free (throttled 2G)

 

Most Vietnamese locals tend to purchase the cheapest package that does not have a hard cap, which in Viettel’s case is “MIMAX” and gives the user 600 MB of 3G for 70,000đ a month. For whichever plan you sign-up for, you will automatically be renewed after 30 days, given that you have that amount available on your “balance”. All companies also have a “promotional balance” which is bonus money you can receive if you top-up your mobile balances on certain days (it’s always changing so ask your local friends if they know of the most recent promotions).

 

Key things to remember for Viettel:

To register for a data package: send the name of the package (“MIMAX”) via text to the number “191”.

To cancel a data package: send HUY via text to the number 191, then reply to the text with a “Y” (this confirms you want to cancel the package).

To check your balance: place a call to “*101#”.

To check your promotional balance: place a call to “*102#”.


Vinaphone

Vinaphone the two types of packages above in addition to another type called “BIG DATA” packages that get you more 3G data than the throttled packages BUT does not offer free throttled data after you hit the limit.

 

To sign up for these plans by yourself, you send a text of the plan name (e.g. “MAX”) to the number “6088” (Vinaphone’s number which automates the transaction).

 

a) Packages with a hard cap on all data

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

MI10

10,000đ

50 MB

25đ/50KB or 500đ per MB

MI30

25,000đ

150 MB

25đ/50KB

MI50

50,000đ

500 MB

25đ/50KB

M120

120,000đ

1.5 GB

25đ/50KB

 

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

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

MAX

70,000đ

600 MB

Free (throttled 2G)

MAX100

100,000đ

1.2 GB

Free (throttled 2G)

MAX200

200,000đ

3 GB

Free (throttled 2G)

MAX300

300,000đ

30 GB

Free (throttled 2G)

 

c) “BIG DATA” packages: more 3G data off the bat but once you reach the limit, no throttled data

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

BIG70

70,000đ

1.6 GB

None, must buy another package

BIG100

100,000đ

2.5 GB

None, must buy another package

BIG200

300,000đ (not a typo)

5.5 GB

None, must buy another package

BIG300

300,000đ

10 GB

None, must buy another package

 

Key things to remember for Vinaphone

To register for a data package: send the name of the package (such as “MAX”) via text to the number 6088.

To cancel a data package: send HUY + name of the package via text to the number 888 (example: “HUY MAX” to 888).

To check both your balance and promotional balance: place a call to “*101#”.


Mobifone

Mobifone has the the same three types of packages that Vinaphone has (hard cap, no hard cap and hard cap with no additional data) in addition to a unique data-only SIM card (called “FastConnect”) that can neither receive nor place calls.

 

To sign up for these plans by yourself, you send a text of the plan name (e.g. “MAX”) to the number “9084” (Mobifone’s number which automates the transaction).

 

a) Packages with a hard cap on all data

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

M10

10,000đ

50 MB

25đ/50KB or 500đ per MB

M25

25,000đ

150 MB

25đ/50KB

M50

50,000đ

450 MB

25đ/50KB

 

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

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

MIU

70,000đ

600 MB

Free (throttled 2G)

MIU90

90,000đ

1 GB

Free (throttled 2G)

BMIU

200,000đ

3 GB

Free (throttled 2G)

 

c) “Big Data” packages: more 3G data off the bat but once you reach the limit, no throttled data

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

M70

70,000đ

1.6 GB

None, must buy another package

M90

90,000đ

2.1 GB

None, must buy another package

M120

120,000đ

3 GB

None, must buy another package

M200

200,000đ

5.5 GB

None, must buy another package

 

d) “FastConnect” packages: data-only SIM card that can neither receive nor place calls

 

Name of Package

Price of Package / 30 days

Amount of high-speed data

Cost of data thereafter

F70

70,000đ

7 GB

FastConnect, cannot receive nor place

F90

90,000đ

9 GB

FastConnect, cannot receive nor place

F120

120,000đ

12 GB

FastConnect, cannot receive nor place

 

Key things to remember for Mobifone

To register for a data package: send the name of the package (“MIU”) via text to the number 9084.

To cancel a data package: send HUY + name of the package via text to the number 999 (example: “HUY MIU” to 999).

To check both your balance and promotional balance: place a call to “*101#”.

Vietcetera’s Recommendations:

The best package for you will depend on the length of your stay and data usage. I personally find that I use less 3G data than I did back in America because of the availability of free WiFi at almost every place I go to, including restaurants and cafes.

 

I also never make phone calls in Vietnam even as a long-term resident. And as a traveler, you probably won’t either unless you speak Vietnamese.

 

I almost always recommend to my local and traveling friends the Viettel DMAX200 package. It costs 200,000 VND, comes with 3GB of 3G data and throttled to free 2G afterwards, and allows you to receive calls for free and to make calls if you have a balance.

 

Happy browsing!