Tag Archives: internet access

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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Hanoi 2013: Getting an internet connection on your mobile device

Another trip and I haven’t finished posting about the last one. What’s new. :p

Made my maiden visit to Vietnam, and here are a couple of tips on hooking up to the internet while in Hanoi.

When you arrive at Noi Bai airport, exit customs and turn right.

Arrival waiting area
What you see when you exit customs

You might come across an information counter along the way and if you ask, they’ll point you in the same direction, telling you to look for the “Post Office”.

Nobody at the post office
Nobody’s home at the “Post Office” at the moment

Nobody was around when I got to the Post Office, so I got directed to the minimart next door.

They have everything
They sell everything and the kitchen sink

The tricky thing is they sell full-sized SIM cards here, and if you’re using something that requires a microSIM that most of us take for granted these days (like an iPhone or Samsung S3), it’s going to be a gamble. The first SIM card that they massacred cut didn’t work when slot into my S3 – No SIM detected. They then went on to snip another one which worked. Unfortunately, I tried removing the SIM card a few days later (long story… ) and it didn’t work after I put it back. From the looks of it, the ladies at the airport cut too close to the shiny gold portion on the SIM card. (sorry, no photo!) I looked around for a shop that could slice up a new microSIM for me, but couldn’t find one in time before we headed to Halong Bay, where I assumed reception would be rubbish anyway.

When I got back, I recalled seeing a shop that wouldn’t look out of place in Sim Lim along Hang Bac street. Turns out I was right! Think the shop’s called “Cua Hang

Best place to get your microSIM!
53 Hang Bac… Bingo!

The great thing is that the dude in the shop speaks decent English and could tell me exactly how much each minute and kb of data would cost, though I’ve completely forgotten now.

Both times (at the airport and at Hang Bac), I was offered a prepaid mobifone SIM card which apparently gives better value than competitors Vina and Viettel (can’t even find their websites, actually!). The standard starter pack costs 150,000VND. On average, I ran out of 100,000VND (approx S$6) value every day with fairly heavy usage. Even with double the load (200,000 VND or S$12), it’s still cheaper than the S$20/day I would have had to pay SingTel for their Bridge Dataroam, but granted the SingTel deal is for unlimited data. At the moment, SingTel charges more for data in Vietnam than places like Thailand and Malaysia which cost S$15/day.

Or if you really don’t want to bother, wifi seems widely available in most cafes and restaurants though I think some are heavily overloaded (e.g. Highlands Cafe along Nhà Thờ) and the connection really crawls. Free wifi in hotels is more widely available than many other places I’ve visited!