Breaking news: Vietnam issues e-visa for all countries Read more »
Plan a trip Before you go

Cell Phones in Vietnam

On this page:

As a traveler visiting Vietnam, your mobile phone can be an invaluable tool for navigating an unfamiliar place and staying connected. However, using your phone in Vietnam does require some advance planning to avoid issues. Before your trip, check with your carrier to enable international calling and data plans to avoid excessive charges. Register your phone upon arrival to Vietnam. Stop by one of the main mobile carriers like Viettel, Vinaphone, or Mobifone and provide your passport to get a local SIM card with a Vietnamese phone number. Top up the SIM with data and call credit as needed. With a local SIM, you'll have a reliable way to call hotels, tour companies, and new friends as well as access maps and translation apps. By preparing properly, your phone can enrich your experience by exploring the vibrant culture and natural beauty of Vietnam. With the right precautions taken, you'll be snapping and sharing photos of Ha Long Bay's limestone islands and chatting with new friends over ca phe sua da in no time.

Activating Your Phone in Vietnam

To use your mobile phone in Vietnam, you will need to activate international roaming or purchase a local SIM card.

  • Activate international roaming with your carrier before leaving your home country. This allows you to continue using your current phone number and data/call allowance while traveling in Vietnam. However, roaming charges can be expensive, often costing $5-10 per day.

  • Purchase a local Vietnamese SIM card after arriving in Vietnam. SIM cards can be purchased for around $5 USD at most phone shops and come with a Vietnamese phone number and data/call allowance. Top-up or reload the SIM as needed. The major networks are Viettel, Vinaphone, and Mobifone. Their SIMs work in most unlocked GSM phones.

  • Register your new SIM card by providing your passport as ID. Some shops can register the SIM for you, otherwise, you may need to go to a network service center to register within the first month of use.

  • Choose a data-only or call-and-data package based on your needs. Packages are dirt cheap in Vietnam and provide reliable and high-speed connections. Data-only SIMs are good if you primarily use messaging and internet services.

  • Consider an international call/data add-on if you frequently call or message contacts outside Vietnam. Most networks offer affordable add-on rates to popular destinations like the US, Europe, and Australia.

  • To recharge or top up your account, purchase additional credits at stores, kiosks, or online using the SIM card number or your new local phone number. Most plans auto-renew at the end of each cycle if enabled but double-check your balance to avoid service disruption.

Smartphone or Basic Phone: What to Pack

When traveling to Vietnam, you’ll need to decide whether to bring your smartphone or opt for a basic phone. Both options have their pros and cons to consider based on your needs and length of stay.


If you plan to stay connected on social media, need mobile data and navigation services, or want to take high-quality photos, bring your smartphone. However, be aware of the following:

  • Mobile data and calling rates in Vietnam are expensive, especially if using your home carrier's international roaming. Consider buying a local SIM card with a data package to save money. Major carriers like Viettel, Vinaphone, and Mobifone offer SIMs for around $5 USD with several gigabytes of data.

  • Smartphone theft is common, so keep your phone secure. Don't leave it unattended in public places.

  • Download useful apps like Google Translate, maps, ridesharing, and travel guides before your trip. Many Google services like Search, Maps and Translate work well in Vietnam.

  • Unlock your phone before leaving in case you need to change your SIM cards. Most major carriers will unlock your phone once you've paid off your device or contract.

  • Make sure you have proper travel adapters to charge your phone. Vietnam uses either Type A, C or G plugs with 220V power outlets.

Basic Phone

If you just need basic calling and texting, bring an unlocked quad-band GSM phone. Buy a local SIM card for around $5 USD and you'll have a Vietnamese phone number to give out, with some money for calls and texts. A basic phone also has advantages:

  • Less worry about theft since it has little resale value.

  • Easy to buy cheap replacements if needed.

  • Long battery life.

Whatever you decide to bring, do some research on using phones in Vietnam to have a smooth experience. With the right planning, you can stay conveniently connected during your trip.

Choosing a Cellular Provider: Viettel, Vinaphone, and Mobifone

When traveling to Vietnam, choosing a reliable mobile carrier is important to stay connected. The three major network providers are Viettel, Vinaphone, and Mobifone. Evaluate each based on coverage, data speeds, and price to find what suits your needs.


Formally known as Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group, Viettel is the largest telecom provider in Vietnam with over 100 million subscribers. They offer competitive prices and the fastest 4G (and soon 5G) connection in all 63 provinces. Viettel has the best coverage throughout the country if you plan to travel out to rural areas. All communication providers in Vietnam are controlled and regulated by the government, so don't worry about the Military Industry part in the name ;).


Vinaphone is state-owned with over 90 million customers. They provide reliable 3G and 4G coverage in urban and rural areas. Vinaphone offers some generous data plans if you intend to use lots of data (and connection speed is generally good in urban areas).


Mobifone is a smaller government-run network with 70 million subscribers. They offer basic 3G and limited 4G coverage, mainly in cities and towns. Mobilefone can be a good choice, especially when they have some promotional packages.

In summary, Viettel likely provides the best coverage, speeds, and English services for most visitors. However, Vinaphone and Mobifone can also work well depending on your specific needs and budget. There are other smaller providers such as Vietnamobile, Gmobile (Beeline), Wintel. These smaller providers often offer more generous packages but their connections can be unreliable sometimes. Whichever you choose, be sure to check that your phone is compatible with Vietnam’s mobile technology before your trip.

Important: there are call-only, data-only, and call-and-data SIMs. It's important to pick the right one that suits your needs. For example, if you need 4g/5g only then picking the data-only SIM will give you better data packages.

The majority of Vietnamese have Zalo (an Over The Top (OTT) service), so if you have a data plan, it's best to use it to call your Vietnamese friends and tour guides. You will save a lot of call minutes (and money) this way. You can download the Zalo app for Android or Apple.

Mobile Internet Options: Prepaid Data Plans and Dongles

To stay connected while traveling in Vietnam, you have a few options for mobile data and internet access. Depending on how long you'll be in the country and how much data you need, you can choose between prepaid SIM cards with data packages, pocket Wi-Fi rentals, or USB modems. Check our guide to stay connected to the Internet when you are in Vietnam.


Vietnam has one of the world's best mobile networks, contrary to some beliefs (myths). The service is reliable and cheap. Vietnam also has widespread Internet access and most websites and social networks are accessible. If you plan ahead, you can stay connected to share updates from your trip without breaking the bank.