How to Use a Mobile Phone in Vietnam in 5 Easy Steps

Use a mobile phone in Vietnam
Use a mobile phone in Vietnam

Cell phones are an essential part of international inter-connected travel nowadays.  Whether it be for calling home, calling hotels, planning travel logistics, map surfing, navigating, or Facebook-ing, your cell phone is the one-stop resource for it all and mobile phone will be really helpful during your Vietnam trip .  Of course, every country has their own system, we have put together a simple 5-step process in understanding the ins and outs of how to use a mobile phone in Vietnam.

5 steps to use a mobile phone in Vietnam
5 steps to use a mobile phone in Vietnam

Check out 5 steps to use a mobile phone in Vietnam:

  1. Think about your phone
  2. Find a sim card
  3. Set up 3G/4G
  4. Understand the Usage Rules
  5. Understand the Phone Numbers


You have three options: bring a locked phone with you, bring an unlocked phone with you, or buy a relatively cheap phone here.  If you bring a locked phone, make sure you understand the terms for international roaming (this can expensive depends on your service provider; for example, T-mobile charges several dollars a minute and does not offer mobile data here).  With an unlocked phone or a phone that you buy here, you can simply purchase a SIM card and have a local number.  Keep in mind that the unlocked phone that you bring must be a GSM phone, but most phones are these days.  Smartphones are beneficial here because you can have access to the 3G/4G network via 3G/4G sim card.

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SIM card stalls at the airport

There are stalls, stores, booths, carts and even bicycles that will sell SIM cards the minute that you land in Vietnam (we are not exaggerating… there are establishments in and around the airport!).  If you can wait a bit, ask the staff at your hotel or hostel to point you towards the nearest telecommunications store.  The associates at the store will provide a SIM card for you, cut the card according to your phone and install it for you.  For the best coverage, ensure that the SIM card you get is either on the Viettel, Mobifone or Vinafone networks.  These three companies control 90% of the mobile market in Vietnam and offer great coverage throughout the country.  Before you walk out of the store, make sure you check that the phone works. Don’t forget to bring Vietnamese money to pay your SIM card.


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3.  SET UP 3G/4G

Sim 4G Viettel

Fortunately, the three top mobile companies also provide decent 3G/4G service in Vietnam.  Having internet access on a smartphone can be extremely beneficial to navigate around, especially since Google Maps works very well in the cities.  More importantly, you can access the Grab app (like Uber for Asia) so that you can arrange a driver from practically anywhere in the country without the risk of being scammed!  Additionally, you can be in constant touch with the outside world via the internet, Facebook, Twitter, or social media app of your choice.

And if you find yourself in a bind, you can access our XO Tours blog for travel advice on the go!  If you didn’t buy a SIM with a data activated, setting it up latter can be a little bit tricky but not difficult.  The basic procedure is the same for all companies but the details might differ.  In general, you will have to send a text message along the lines of “3G ON” to a special network number (eg. *888) and then configure your phone’s settings, but many mobile stores will do it for you.  If not, they will give you the detailed procedure so you can do it on your own.

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There are very few differences between the companies as to how much for local calls, international calls and text messages cost, and they are quite low.  To give you an idea, on Mobifone, a phone call to a cell phone on another network is 1800VND/min and an international text message is 2500VND/text.  The exact details can be found on their respective websites.

The initial SIM Card that you purchase will come with pre-paid minutes in a denomination that you choose.  It will also come with an expiration so choose wisely.  For instance, the 100,000 VND card may expire in 7 days and the 200,000 VND card may expire in 30 days.  If you plan on being in Vietnam for around 1 month, it might be beneficial to choose the option that spans the entire time you will be here.  Topping up your minutes is also quite easy.  In order to top up, you can purchase a minutes card that looks like a ‘scratch-n-win’ card in any denomination that you want.  When you scratch the card, it will reveal a 12 digit activation card.  Then, simply enter *100*code# and ‘Send’.  You will get a message instantly saying that your minutes have been topped up.  Dial *101# to check your balance as you go.

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Once you have your phone ready to go, you will need to know how to dial phone numbers here as it may be different than what you are used to.  Here are the basics –

Country Code: + 84

Trunk Prefix: 0

International Prefix: 00

Land Line format:  Area Code (1 to 3 digits) + Phone Number (5 to 8 digits)

Cell Phone format: 09y xxx-xxxx or 01yy xxx-xxxx

FROM: Land Line  TO: Local Land Line

Area Code + Phone Number

FROM: Land Line  TO: Cell Phone

09y xxx-xxxx or 01yy xxx-xxxx

FROM: Cell Phone  TO: Land Line

0 + Area Code + Phone Number

FROM: Cell Phone  TO: Cell Phone

09y xxx-xxxx or 01yy xxx-xxxx

FROM: Anything  TO: International Phone Number

00 + Country Code + (Area Code + Phone Number) or (Cell Phone format)

Please have a look at the list below for Vietnam Area Code:

No.ProvinceArea code
1Ha Noi24
2Ho Chi Minh28
3Thua Thien-Hue234
4Da Nang236
5Dong Nai251
6Ba Ria - Vung Tau254
7Lam Dong- Da Lat263
8Hai Phong225
9Can Tho292
10Son La212
11Lai Chau213
12Lao Cai214
13Dien Bien215
14Yen Bai216
15Quang Binh232
16Quang Tri233
17Quang Nam235
18Thanh Hoa237
19Nghe An238
20Ha Tinh239
21Quang Ninh203
22Bac Giang204
23Lang Son205
24Cao Bang206
25Tuyen Quang207
26Thai Nguyen208
27Bac Can209
28Hai Duong220
29Hung Yen221
30Bac Ninh222
31Ha Nam226
32Thai Binh227
33Nam Dinh228
34Ninh Binh 229
35Ca Mau290
36Bac Lieu291
37Hau Giang293
38Tra Vinh294
39An Giang296
40Kien Giang297
41Soc Trang299
42Binh Thuan252
43Quang Ngai255
44Binh Dinh256
45Phu Yen257
46Khanh Hoa258
47Ninh Thuan259
48Kon Tum260
49Dak Nong261
50Dak Lak262
51Gia Lai269
52Vinh Long270
53Binh Phuoc271
54Long An272
55Tien Giang273
56Binh Duong274
57Ben Tre275
58Tay Ninh276
59Dong Thap277
60Vinh Phuc211
61Phu Tho21
62Hoa Binh18
63Ha Giang 19

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We hope you found this Vietnam travel tip useful!  To find more useful information about XO Tours and Vietnam, take a look at our FAQ section!


  1. Very nice and informative post. This really amazes me that we still have people who will sit down and write great information just to educate others. Thanks for this

    • Wonderful article, and I had such a blast when I went to Ho Chi Minh 🙂 I second everything the blog mentioned, particularly about the unlocked phone. There’s nothing worse that realising when you get there that you can’t use a local SIM and have to opt to pay roaming charges instead. I would definitely recommend making sure your phone is unlocked before the trip. Call your phone network and have them do it for you. If the cost and time of wait is too much, you can also try the websites. There are plenty of websites that offer to give a code to unlock your phone, and they’re often relatively cheaper than going to a phone network… it doesn’t take as long too! I personally used and it was very helpful. I just needed to fill up a short survey before getting the code, but that’s about it. Hope this helps anyone planning to go to Vietnam. Happy trip!

      • Thank you for sharing your experience with Melina! I’m sure it will be helpful for many other travelers to Vietnam.

  2. Hi, thank you for sharing – is there any way to figure out remaining credit and remaining 3G data volume? Using Viettel dialing *101# and *102# only show prepaid credit but nothing on the 3G data.

  3. The info on mobile phones answered all my questions – I am a mobile/techno dummy but think it would be handy while travelling
    Thank you for all the tips

  4. Alternative to the simcardasia website mentioned here. There is a website which only specializes in Vietnam SIM cards with many services and options, the service is fast and reliable, plus there price is the best on the entire internet.

  5. Dear Brinda, thank you so much for all of your articles. I will be leaving to Vietnam in 2 weeks where I plan to be living there for quite some time. I am truly excited about this adventure and your articles are beyond helpful for my pre-arrival research. Thank you so much!


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