When traveling to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam, having access to mobile data is extremely useful for maps, transportation, and communication. The most convenient option is to get a local Vietnam SIM card for your phone. This guide will provide complete details on how and where to buy the best SIM card at Tan Son Nhat Airport (SGN), Ho Chi Minh City.

Where to Buy SIM card at Tan Son Nhat Airport

I. Should I Buy a SIM Card at Tan Son Nhat Airport (SGN)?

If you need internet access right after landing in Ho Chi Minh City, buying a SIM card at Tan Son Nhat Airport (SGN) is an option: 

Availability & Selection

Tan Son Nhat Airport has several shops and kiosks selling SIM cards from major providers like Vinaphone, Viettel, and Mobifone. The selection includes prepaid voice & data plans, tourist SIM cards with bundled packages, and even eSIM activation. Prices are reasonable and comparable to shops elsewhere.

Convenient First Purchase

For short connections, buying airside means you can insert the SIM and have it working for immigration and onward travel. For long layovers it’s easy to go landside downtown with mobile data already activated.

Activation & Registration Requirements

Some SIM plans require activating and registering with your passport. This is easily done with staff assistance at SGN airport shops. However, SIMs bought downtown may require finding a mobile carrier shop for registration.

The airport SIMs are a convenient option in a pinch. But for better value and selection, moving around Ho Chi Minh City, you’re usually better off waiting until you settle into your accommodation to pickup a SIM.

II. Where to Buy a SIM Card at Tan Son Nhat Airport?

SIM card at Tan Son Nhat Airport - Airport map
Tan Son Nhat Airport map.

Buying Online Before Departure and Airport Pickup

Several Vietnamese e-commerce platforms allow purchasing a SIM card online in advance, selected based on your usage needs. You then simply collect the SIM upon arrival at dedicated airport counters or convenience store locations. This avoids queues and shops at the airport. Providers offering this service include Viettel, Vinaphone, and Mobifone.

While convenient, one downside is you have less flexibility to choose a plan based on your needs once in Vietnam. You also cannot see the full selection of promotions that may be available in stores.

Specifically, the pre-ordered Vietnam SIM card will be available for pickup at the counter located in the airside area, which is past security checkpoints but before immigration processing. This airside area allows passengers to collect their SIM cards immediately after security clearance and before immigration procedures into Vietnam.

Good to know: Pick-up counter is 10 meters away from the entering zone of Immigration Counters - Next to Internal Landscape - Opposite the International Time Zone Clocks Area.

Buying at Airport Shops & Kiosks Upon Arrival

If you didn’t order online beforehand, there are plenty of clearly marked SIM card sellers after both domestic and international arrivals areas at SGN airport. Major mobile networks have stores located before and after immigration checkpoints (both landside and airside). Independent resellers also offer SIM cards with good rates.

While convenient due to immediate availability, purchasing a SIM upon arrival at the airport tends to be more costly. An better option is buying from city retail stores after transit to save money. However, airport purchase is suitable if internet access is urgently needed on arrival.

Getting SIM card at Tan Son Nhat Airport
Getting SIM card at Tan Son Nhat Airport upon arrival

III. What to Prepare for Getting a SIM Card at Tan Son Nhat Airport

Registration Process

Some prepaid SIM plans require registration using your passport as a one-time identity verification process before activation. Airport shop staff can assist you with any registration steps when you make your purchase. Ensure you have your passport handy for a smooth experience.

Unlocking Phone

Double check that your phone is unlocked and able to insert a foreign SIM card. This usually just involves contacting your home carrier in advance to request unlocking. Alternatively, some handsets have the option to unlock international SIM use under network settings.

Micro & Nano SIMs

Buy the appropriate size SIM card for your phone’s SIM slot. Standard SIM size is microSIM or smaller nanoSIM for iPhones and newer devices. Nearly all phones now use nanoSIM. Shops have adapters to insert a larger SIM if your device requires it. Know your device SIM card size before going to the airport.

Cash Payments

Have some local currency ready if paying in cash. Credit cards also widely accepted. ATMs available landside and airside if you need to withdraw Vietnamese dong (VND). Some airport retailers may apply small surcharges for credit/debit card payments.

IV. Best Vietnam SIM Card at Tan Son Nhat Airport: Options & Price

Popular options to consider buying at the airport include:

OperatorSIM Card TypePrice Range (approx.)Data AllowanceValidity
ViettelTourist SIM$10-165-15GB30 days
VinaphoneTourist SIM$9-124-12GB30 days
MobifoneTourist SIM$5-163-10GB30 days

*It should be noted that the prices and data allowances shown above are approximate figures and may vary depending on promotional offers available or specific package options at the point of sale.

When comparing, check fine print for roaming differences, calling credits, exact 4G/LTE data amounts allowed, number of days valid, and activation fees if any. Prices and plans change frequently.

V. Vietnam eSIM for Ho Chi Minh City – An Alternative to Airport SIM

An eSIM for traveling to vibrant Ho Chi Minh City offers many advantages over procuring a physical SIM at the airport. It is conveniently ordered online and delivered instantly via email, so no waiting around or dealing with long lines at the airport. 

For a hassle-free connection, consider the Vietnam eSIM provided by GIGAGO. With competitive data plans from 7-30 days validity on Vietnam’s top Vinaphone network, GIGAGO Vietnam eSIM is perfect for exploring HCMC and beyond. It offers great value, seamless coverage, and 24/7 online support – meaning you can enjoy your trip to Ho Chi Minh City without worries about slow wifi or expensive roaming fees.

Vietnam eSIM plans
Vietnam eSIM plans

Important Note: Just remember eSIM activation requires a newer phone model. Check if your device supports eSIM before counting on this option.

VI. Where to Buy Vietnam SIM Card Outside Tan Son Nhat Airport

If you don’t get a Vietnam SIM card upon airport arrival, don’t worry. Plenty of other shops and malls in Ho Chi Minh City sell prepaid SIMs with competitive tourism packages:

  • Mobile carrier stores – Viettel, Mobifone, Vinaphone outlets
  • Electronics stores – Pico Plaza, Nguyen Kim, FPT Shop
  • Convenience stores – Circle K, FamilyMart, VinMart

Be sure to get an affordable starter pack with plenty of data to navigate the city and stay connected during your Vietnam adventure.

VII. FAQs

Does WhatsApp work in Tan Son Nhat Airport? 

Most of the apps on your phone will still be useful in Vietnam, and there is no need to download a VPN. Popular apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Uber will all work (although you can Uber a motorcycle as well as a car!) You can also use Google Translate and Maps to get around and speak to locals!

How long for activation a SIM card at Tan Son Nhat airport?

Prepaid SIM cards available over-the-counter will activate instantly when inserting into your phone. Some tourist SIMs may require additional registration before completely working.

Do I need to provide any identification to buy a SIM card at Tan Son Nhat airport?

You typically don’t need to show ID as prepaid SIM cards only require cash payment. However, some stalls may ask for your passport number which is optional.

Can I purchase a Vietnam SIM card with international calls included?

Some packages include a small allowance of international call minutes. But it’s better to use VoIP apps like WhatsApp for calling abroad using data.

Is there free Wifi at Tan Son Nhat Airport?

The free Wi-Fi service at SGN is provided by Tan Son Nhat International Airport so you may choose user name: “FreeWifi TanSonNhat AirPort” then connect your device. Is there a time limit on free Wi-Fi connections at SGN? Yes, free sessions last for 240 minutes.

VIII. Conclusion

In conclusion, buying a prepaid SIM card at Tan Son Nhat Airport upon arrival is a convenient option for staying connected while traveling in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam. Purchasing a SIM is a worthwhile investment that allows exploring the city and staying in touch freely without reliance on hotel or café WiFi.

However, for those looking for an even more hassle-free digital SIM could consider activating a Vietnam eSIM from GIGAGO instead.