Internet and Phone
This is why entrepreneurs and casual tourists love it here. Internet cafe, restaurants, hostels, houses… you name it. They all have a good internet connection. So it’s no problem to get connected and stay in touch.
Local Tip: Yes, the internet really is this great most of the time. However, sometimes it is in the news that the cable bringing the internet connection into Vietnam is interrupted under the ocean, and it can cause slower connection speeds. It varies and usually a slow connection is just temporary. So be patient- and remember you are in a developing country! Or, if you are a techie genius, you could figure out how to re-route to a VPN.
Planning on living in Vietnam? Your apartment will likely already come with a wifi internet connection already set up- but if not, it is very easy to speak with the person you are renting from to help you to contact the company that provides for your building. You can expect your monthly bill to be a very affordable 4 - 15 USD, depending on your plan.
Public phones for use: Hotels and hostels always have international phones for customer use. There aren’t pay phones on the street.
Bring a phone from home: SIM cards can, as you may already know, go into any “unlocked” phone. That means if your current carrier doesn’t lock you to their service, you can use a SIM in any country. Therefore- bring your phone from home and set it up to use here. It’s a very quick, easy and cheap process and will afford you the ease of making phone calls to anyone you meet or businesses/tour guides that you have questions for, etc.
Pick up a phone in Vietnam: Mobile phones ranging from the latest smart phones to something that looks like you would get out of a cereal box can be purchased pretty easily. The most recognized name in cell phone stores is The Gioi Di Dong, (this is a big, yellow-fronted store that you will easily see around the big cities), and is a sure bet to get a cheap old-school kind of phone to use while you are here if you just want to be able to make phone calls.
You can also get a SIM card (and put on calling time and also 3G data service for smart phones) at many of these shops, which will allow you to make local or international calls. When you empty your initial balance, you can go back to a phone shop or you can find any place with “Mobi” or “SIM” written on a sign.
Local Tip: Often this means an old lady with a cart on the street! Really- just show her your phone and say calling or data depending on which you need to refill. They’ll scratch a card and punch a number in… BANG you’re back in business!
Prices for mobile phone use: As mentioned above, getting a SIM in your phone to get a phone number activated costs from 2 - 7 USD. The price for using services is different for each provider, but it’s about 1,200 to 2,500 VND per minute (0.06 to 0.122 USD). Therefore, putting 100,000 VND on your phone for calling/texting allotment, as well as about 120,000 VND for 3G data will be enough for a month’s usage or more (depending on how much you are using it).
Here are some places you can pick up a sim card (other than the cart ladies):
You can pick up a sim card of any mobile carrier at most post offices, especially, in city centers. *Note: You won’t be able to have any say over the phone number you get- so if this is important to you, (maybe for those that are here for a long term stay), then go to a mobile shop or service center instead.
These are located all over Saigon, with the major brand names being Mobifone, Viettel and VinaPhone. They sell sim cards for the same 2 - 7 USD range, too, and for those that to choose their phone number, they will be entertained with many options. It’s somewhat amusing to look at the list of available numbers for different purchase prices- the “better” or “easier to remember” numbers are the priciest!
Mobile carrier service centers:
Mobile carrier service centers, offer pre-paid or post-paid sim options.
More fast facts about telecom in Ho Chi Minh City:
- The mobile phone companies include: Mobifone, VinaPhone and Viettel Mobile.
- There are over 15 million cell phones with registered phone numbers, growing annually by 20%!
- The ISP companies in HCMC include: Vietnam Data Communications Company (VDC), Corporation for Finance and Promoting Technology (FPT), Netnam Company, Saigon Post and Telecommunications Services Corporation (Saigon Postel Corporation, SPT) and Viettel Company.
- Internet access is somewhat regulated. Certain websites containing content regarding sensitive political or religious issues are routinely monitored and censored/ blocked.
- Internet connections, (majority ADSL connections) are also rapidly growing. There are over 2.5 million subscribers and around 5.5 million frequent users.