DNG #32: Getting mobile broadband (3G/4G) at Tan Son Nhat airport (Ho Chi Minh city a.k.a. Saigon)

My post on getting internet service on mobile in Hanoi seems to get me a consistent stream of traffic, so thought this would be a useful follow-up.

If you’re travelling to Ho Chi Minh City and can’t live without cheap/free internet, you’ll want a local SIM card. While wifi is quite frequently offered at F&B establishments in urban Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh), it’s spotty, and not practical when you’re using the internet to help you navigate.

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Once you’re out of the immigration area, you’ll go down either one of two escalators to the luggage carousels. Pick up your bag(s) if you have any and head out the customs clearance. If you’re at the doors with the larger numbers, you’ll be closer to the shop you need to go to. But don’t worry anyhow, just need to walk a little bit further if you’re at the other end of the (small) Tan Son Nhat airport.

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Immediately after you have your bags pass through the scanners, you’ll pass through some sliding doors. Turn left and walk to the end. Go to the LAST shop.The staff in the last shop speak good English, and will understand your questions and requests easily. Don’t go to the outdoor area where the general public (waiting taxi drivers, relatives, random people) gather. If you have, you’ve gone too far! Not sure if you can u-turn, but you can get the same SIM card in town, I’m sure.

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Note that my personal preference is for Vinaphone. I’ve tried Mobifone before, and the coverage didn’t seem as good. The shop next door (2nd last shop) carries Mobifone/Viettel I think, but I’ll stick with what I know.

There’s a promotion (as of yesterday, 8 May) where you get 5GB of data for 100,000VND. That’s about S$6, or US$5. Pretty damn good deal compared to Singapore.

But I went for the “D1” deal where you buy a SIM card for 148,000VND and you get 1GB of data every day when you SMS “D1 on” to “888” for 5,000VND (S$0.30 or US$0.23). If you exceed that 1GB, you just SMS “D1 on” again and you can do this 3 times a day apparently. (I’ve never exceeded 1GB a day, I think, but just in case…) Don’t worry about figuring out what kind of SIM card you have, what settings you need to fiddle with. Just hand your phone to the ladies and they’ll get you sorted. You’ll also need to hand them your passport for them to make a photocopy.

Happy surfing!

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