How To Use Cell Phone In Vietnam: Traveler’s Guide

Vietnam is a beautiful country with rich culture, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine that draws visitors from all over the world. However, one thing that travelers often worry about is staying connected while visiting Vietnam. Will your cell phone work there? What are the best options for international plans, SIM cards, or pocket WiFi?

This comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know about how to use cell phone in Vietnam as a traveler.

How to Use Cell Phone in Vietnam

I. Highlights of Phone Compatibility, Frequencies and Networks in Vietnam

When visiting Vietnam, it’s important to understand the type of cell phone networks and frequencies used in Vietnam. Here are some key things to know:

Phone Compatibility

  • GSM network – Most global cell phones designed for international travel are compatible with Vietnam’s GSM networks. CDMA phones may not work unless they have a SIM slot.
  • Most phones will work as long as they support common frequencies in Vietnam like 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz for 2G, 3G and 4G networks. Major brands like iPhone, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo etc. are compatible.

Cellular Frequencies

Frequencies supported in Vietnam - How to Use Cell Phone in Vietnam
Frequencies supported in Vietnam. Source: kimovil

So if your phone has multi-band support for those frequencies, you should be set.

Major Networks

The three major mobile networks in Vietnam are:

  • Viettel – Owned by the Vietnamese military, has the best nationwide coverage
  • Vinaphone – Owned by the government, also with strong coverage
  • Mobifone – Another state-owned provider with extensive reach

There are also smaller private networks like Vietnamobile but they have more limited coverage in rural areas specifically.

II. Use Cell Phone in Vietnam – Will My Phone Work?

Can I use my cell phone in Vietnam?
Can I use my cell phone in Vietnam?

If you have an unlocked global GSM phone or smartphone like most iPhones or Samsung Galaxy models, chances are that your device will work fine in Vietnam. Simply put in a local Vietnam SIM card and you are good to go. Other device types may have more issues:

  • CDMA only devices (common with many US carriers like Verizon, Sprint) will not work because Vietnam uses GSM networks.
  • Region-locked phones also won’t function abroad unless officially unlocked first by your home carrier.
  • Local SIM card sizes can also pose challenges if your device doesn’t support mini or nano SIM. Adapters are available in Vietnam but can still cause headaches.

The bottom line – the best bet for Vietnam cell phone usage is bringing an unlocked global quad or multi-band GSM phone. Then get yourself a local prepaid SIM card on arrival. More on that next.

III. Do I Need An International Plan In Vietnam?

Yes, with a proper data plan for your Vietnam trips, it would be a great solution to look up directions, to navigate unfamiliar areas, translating signs and menus, or staying in touch with friends during your travels.

While public WiFi networks can be found fairly easily in hotels, restaurants, cafes and other establishments across Vietnam’s major cities, relying solely on these comes with some disadvantages. The availability and quality of free WiFi can vary greatly depending on location and time of day. With roaming, one of the biggest issues is cost – roaming charges, these exorbitant fees can quickly add up over the course of a trip.

For the peace of mind that comes with being online anywhere at affordable rates, an international cellular plan is highly recommended for tourists visiting Vietnam.

IV. What Are International Plan Option To Use Cellphone in Vietnam For Tourists?

Connectivity Options for Cell phone in Vietnam
Connectivity Options

Instead, if getting smartphone service during your Vietnam trip is a priority, the smartest options are:

  1. Purchase a local Vietnam SIM card for your phone
  2. Get an international eSIM data plan
  3. Rent a mobile WiFi hotspot

Let’s explore those top choices in-depth:

OptionProsConsBest For
eSIM– No physical SIM card needed
– Remotely provisioned
– Can switch plans easily
Limited carrier support currently
Setup process may be complicated
Still emerging technology in VN
– Internationally compatible phones
– Tech savvy users
Physical SIM card– Wide carrier support
– Inexpensive
– Established technology
– Need valid ID for purchase
– Extra thing to carry
– Activates right away at purchase
– Travelers staying >1 month
– Digital nomads
– Expats living in Vietnam
Pocket WiFiPortable hotspot for devices
No phone number needed
Coverage may surpass carriers
– Higher rental cost than SIM
– Subscription time limits on devices
– Potential loss/damage fees
– Large groups traveling together
– Families with kids/elderly

For most tourists visiting Vietnam, purchasing an eSIM plan will provide the best connectivity solution. While local SIM cards are very affordable for long-term stays, obtaining them requires ID verification that many short-term visitors prefer to avoid.

► Our recommendation: You can conveniently purchase and activate an eSIM Vietnam directly from gigago.vn. Its plans provide generous data allowances from 7GB up to unlimited data, perfect for exploring Vietnam, all the plans also include valuable extras like on-network calls. This makes eSIM with GIGAGO the best choice for ensuring smooth digital connectivity while traveling around Vietnam.

V. Will My Local Network Work in Vietnam?

Most likely possible. If you have an unlocked phone, it will likely connect to a Vietnamese network once in the country. However, coverage varies between carriers.

Major US carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all have roaming agreements with Vietnam providers. But you’ll waste a lot of money in fees without an intentional add-on roaming package. Expect to pay $2 to $10 per Megabyte of data used in Vietnam with standard rates.

Calling and text messages also see extraordinary roaming surcharges around $1- $2 per minute or per text! Using your phone without an international plan is extremely costly so handle with care! Better yet, safeguard your bill by adding an affordable daily foreign data pass or simply disabling mobile data access completely. Offline maps are handy since WiFi hotspots allow messaging apps access without paid data.

So in summary, a Vietnam SIM provides better value, reliability, and inclusive rates. It avoids unwanted surprises from roaming bills.

Tips: For a hassle-free trip in Vietnam, choosing a Vietnam eSIM provided by GIGAGO is the best solution for saving time and money.

VI. GIGAGO eSIM – An Alternative to Get Internet Access in Vietnam on Your Cell Phone

One great option for fast, convenient connectivity in Vietnam is the GIGAGO global eSIM. With 200+ countries covered, plans start around $8.90 across Vietnam with affordable packages.

GIGAGO eSIM offers that always available data connection as a cell signal backup. Though local SIMs provide cheaper rates typically, GIGAGO wins points for no roaming headaches plus ease of use on arrival. Multi-country travelers love having an eSIM safety net when crossing borders.

Especially, with an eSIM from GIGAGO, you get your own Vietnam phone number. It’s great for calling and texting within Vietnam, as you can easily book Grab or order food using your local number.

If keeping mobile costs low in Vietnam is a priority, GIGAGO Vietnam eSIM plans also present an excellent and reliable means to continuously use a cell phone during your visit to Vietnam. Let’s take a look at their plans: 

Vietnam eSIM plans
Vietnam eSIM plans

Note: Be sure to check if your device is eSIM-compatible before purchasing. Also, make sure to choose a package that best fits your needs.

VII. Extra Tips to Use Your Cell Phone in Vietnam

Beyond sorting your international cell phone plan for Vietnam through SIM card or eSIM, a few extra pointers will keep your mobile connected abroad:

  • Access Electricity On-the-Go: Carry a portable charger or battery pack while sightseeing to keep devices powered up without hunting for outlets. Vietnam uses 220 volt electricity and common plug types A, C, and G. So pack a universal travel adapter to enable easy charging via wall sockets too.
  • Use Vietnamese App Transportation: Key ridesharing apps like Grab or Be operate widely across Vietnam for affordable transport. Having these on your phone with an internet plan facilitates getting around main cities efficiently. Offline mapping comes in handy when without paid data access too.
  • Unlocked Phone: Make sure your phone is unlocked and able to accommodate a Vietnam SIM before traveling. Learn how to check if your phone supports eSIM for sure.

Having the right cell phone plan coupled with handy local apps makes on-the-ground travel across Vietnam much smoother. Just stay flexible as connectivity could sometimes drop briefly when visiting extremely rural or mountainous areas in the countryside.

VIII. FAQs

Can I use my foreign SIM card in Vietnam?

You can, but roaming charges will be very high. It’s recommended to get a local Vietnamese SIM card instead.

Which carriers have the best coverage in Vietnam?

Viettel has the most extensive coverage nationwide. Mobifone and Vinaphone are also good options with wide coverage in major cities and towns.

Is mobile payment common in Vietnam?

Yes, e-wallet apps like Momo and AirPay are popular for bill payments and e-commerce across Vietnam. Now, you can also use Apple Pay in some places. 

How do I get a local SIM card?

You can purchase SIM cards from Vietnam’s major carriers like Vinaphone, Mobifone, Viettel at airports or carrier stores. Passport is required for registration. For saving time, another solution is purchasing Vietnam eSIM from GIGAGO with no proof of identification required.

Can I use my phone in border areas?

Reception close to border gates is generally good. However, the signal gets patchy deeper inside more remote border areas due to infrastructure limitations.

IX. Conclusion

So, with the right Vietnam SIM card/ eSIM plan, you have extra peace of mind to freely immerse in lovely Vietnamese experiences knowing vital connectivity won’t get lost along the way. Just focus efforts prioritizing an international cell phone setup that aligns with the length of your trip and usage amount needs. Hope you have a great trip in Vietnam. Bon voyage!

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