Internet in Vietnam – Wifi and Cellular

Internet in Vietnam

Cheap and working good. At least in the big cities and touristic destinations.

Internet Speed in Vietnam

From my experience, fast enough.
In all the touristic places, I was able to work with my computer and watch Youtube videos. When I say touristic places, I mean destinations like : Saigon  Hanoi  Mui-Ne  Dalat  Nha-Trang Hoi-An Danang  Hue  Sapa  Halong-Bay.
It is possible that in remote places in Vietnam it is less good because on a global ranking, Vietnam is not on the top.

Wi-Fi in Vietnam

Highly available in all the hotels and cafés in the big cities and tourist attractions. In fact, it is more available than in many European countries. Saigon is a paradise for people who want to sit with a laptop in a café, there are always sockets and the Wifi is working and it is strong. There are endless coffee chains in Saigon like : Trung Nguyen Legend, Phuc Long, Highland, The Coffee House, Starbucks and the Coffee Bean.
As a bonus : The coffee is excellent in Vietnam. See the page about the cafés in Vietnam.

Cellular Internet in Vietnam

Easily available for the tourist. You can buy a local SIM and fill a pre-paid program.
A local SIM will almost always be cheaper than using your SIM of your country abroad.

Who are the Cellular operators in Vietnam ?

The biggest operator is Viettel. It is state owned and has about 40 % market share. The two other big ones are : Vinaphone and MobiFone. There are also smaller ones : G-Mobile and  S-Fone.
I am personally using Viettel while staying in Vietnam and I am satisfied.

Where to Buy a local Vietnamese SIM ?

At the airport, you will see many booths offering a local SIM and pre-paid programs. It is very cheap compared to Europe or even compared to Thailand but if you want to make it even cheaper, buy your SIM outside the airport.
You can buy a local SIM and pre-paid programs in a grocery store like FamilyMart, which are on every street.
Tip 1 : It’s better to buy a SIM card which has also a telephone number associated with it because you may need a telephone number to use Grab Taxi services (yes, there are SIM cards without a telephone number, in case you need only internet access, these SIMs are cheaper).
Tip 2 : If you are staying in a small hotel, ask your receptionist about the SIM card. He may help you by buying for you the SIM card from the grocery store (or go with you) and set for you the pre-paid program. The advantage of the receptionist over you is that he can speak Vietnamese and you not. At least like this, you will have a good reason for leaving the receptionist a tip, when you leave.
Tip 3 : It is usually better (cheaper) to buy the SIM card and the Internet plan in a big telecom shop, like the one you see in the photo. These shops mainly sell mobile phones but they also have a corner in the shop for cellular plans.


How to subscribe to a pre-paid Internet program with the Vietnamese SIM ?

It is the same all over the world.

  1. First you need to “Top up”(fill, charge) money into your account that is associated with the SIM. Do charge with the same amount of the price of the pre-paid plan you are going to subscribe to. In Vietnam, you can do this operation in a grocery store type FamilyMart.
  2. Buy a pre-paid plan. You do this by dialing a specific number from your smartphone. Each pre-paid plan has a different number. In order to know the available Internet plans (and the number to dial) you must ask a person or consult the cellular company website (not always good in english).

Note : It is best (easier) if both operations will be executed by the person from which you buy the SIM. He knows how to do it.

How much does it Cost ?

In 2024 :
A pre-paid Internet plan with 6 Gb to use each day, valid for 1 month : About 200,000 Dong. Yes, it is cheap. The plan includes only Internet access and no phoning.
A SIM card with a phone number, about : 80,000 Dong.
Note : Like in all Internet plans, if you consume all your GB (data ) before the end of validity, you pass to a low speed instead of the full speed.

How to Phone from Vietnam ?

Buy a local SIM card and a pre-paid Internet plan and use Internet to phone. Use a software program like Skype. Of course you can also use Wi-Fi for Internet access.
You can also use normal phoning (no Internet) with a local SIM, with the tariffs the company offers for international calls. You may choose to do it if you want high quality voice for your conversations. From my experience, Internet in Vietnam is fast enough for phoning.

The International phone prefix of Vietnam is : 84

General Useful Information about cellular Internet

Understanding the Pre-Paid packages of the cellular companies

They play with 3 factors:

  1. The total amount of data that you can get (the more you use
    Internet, the more you consume data)
  2. The speed that you will get the data (How fast the Internet pages will be displayed on your device)
  3. For how long (days, hours) you will be entitled to get internet.

The amount
of Data :
The cellular companies charge you by amount of data used. If you are viewing a simple page on a website, you use a small amount of data. If you are viewing a youtube video, you use a big amount of data, so you should restrain yourself from high consuming datas if you are connected via a cellular company, otherwise it will get expensive (or move to a wifi connection).
The Speed :
As long as you are within your Data allowed in your package, you get it at the maximum speed that the company can deliver, and it is pretty fast. When you have finished your Data, they don’t cut you, but they deliver the internet at a very low speed, one that may be enough to view a simple Internet page but not to make, comfortably, a voice call with Skype.
The Time : When you buy a pre-paid package, it fixes the amount of Data you can use and the total length of time that you can use it.
For example, lets say you have bought a package including 6 GigaBytes of Data and valid  for 1 month. If one month has passed and you have used only 5 Gigas, you have lost 1 Giga.
On the other hand, if you have finished your 6 Gigas in just 1 week, you have 3 weeks left of Internet at low speed.

Note 1: If your package is finished and you have credit (money) in your pre-paid account, you may still use Internet but they can charge you by minute. Beware of that option, it may be very expensive. Protect yourself from this by disabling the Data Transfer on your smartphone.
Note 2:
Don’t get confused :
Megabits per second (Mbps) and Kilobits per second (Kbps) is about speed
Megabytes (MB) and Gigabytes are an amount of data.

If you need Cellular Internet on your Laptop or Tablet – Tethering

Your laptop can receive wifi, but unlike your smartphone, it usually cannot get cellular reception. Thankfully it is possible (and very easy) to transfer the internet of your smartphone towards your laptop, it is called Tethering.
tetheringYou can do it with a cable or wireless (wifi). The speed you get is like the one you get on your smartphone. Wireless is the easier option because with a cable you may miss a driver.
Here are the general steps:
1. Make sure you receive internet on your smartphone.
2. It depends on your smartphone, if it is an Apple or Android and which version, but generally you should go to the “settings” and search for a menu with a name like “tethering” or “hotspot” or “transfer of data”.
3. You will find an option to make it wireless or with a cable.
It is easier wireless. If you choose the cable option, then the one you use to charge your smartphone may be fine.
4. You will also find a menu in which you can see the wifi password (and change it if you want), you will need that password in order to connect your laptop to this wifi network.

aircardAnother option to get cellular Internet on your laptop is with an Aircard, but I don’t see why you would do that, if you have a smartphone. An Aircard is a small device (looks like a thick USB key) that can get internet from a cellular company (wireless), it is connected to the
laptop via a USB socket. Inside the Aircard, you should put the SIM of the cellular company you want to use. You can buy an Aircard from one of the cellular companies or on the free market (but then make sure it can work with any SIM and not just a certain cellular company).

What to check on your phone if you can’t get

When you are abroad, the best is to get human assistance when
you put a new local SIM. In case you prefer to do it all alone, make sure that :

  1. You should have a valid pre-paid or post-pay subscription with a
    cellular company, the same company of the SIM you inserted into your smartphone.
    If you are using the SIM of your country make sure it includes International use. If it is a pre-paid plan, check that your have credit (with the special number the company provides for that). Make sure the plan includes also Internet (usually it does).
  2. Make sure the “allow cell phone data receiving” is enabled on your smartphone (this is different than wifi reception). You should find it in the “settings” menu of your smartphone.
  3. Make sure your smartphone is not in a “flight mode” (the mode that cuts all communications)

More on Vietnam :

  On Thailand :

Other Stuff :

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