Buying Local SIM Cards Abroad Can Save You Money!
Are you planning a trip to Vietnam or indeed anywhere in Asia soon?
A quick tip to save you some money is always welcome and this one will enable you to stay connected while travelling through the country outside of Wi-Fi areas. These days most phone providers have roaming packages but they can cost anything from $5-10 a day. If you plan on staying a while travelling in one country and as long as your phone is ‘unlocked’, then buying a local SIM card is the way to go! In Vietnam, the three main local providers are Viettel [best coverage throughout the country and good data speeds], Vinaphone and Mobifone. Our advice though is to avoid Mobifone if you plan to venture outside the main cities as their coverage is not as good.
The equivalent of under CAD 15 can get you an unlimited plan for a month, saving you a great deal and allowing you to have more of your budget to spend on in-destination adventures. If you plan on buying a SIM card, remember to let people know back home that you will not be reachable on your regular number by text message or call in case of an emergency. However if you use Facebook Messenger as a means to communicate, you’ll still be connected as usual and if you are a WhatsApp user, then you can choose not to migrate your new local number over on WhatsApp, meaning you will still be reachable on your existing one via this platform! Service is also great in most of the country so you can use your phone just like back at home but make sure you purchase the SIM card plan that best matches your usage – if you think you’ll mainly be using data rather than making use of unlimited minutes, then opt for a plan that will enable this.
Where to buy a local SIM – note, you may need to show your passport before purchasing a SIM for registration reasons and this is often a good sign that the place you are buying your card from is legitimate! Before leaving wherever you end up purchasing from, be sure to check that everything is fully working and you are in fact connected!
Official phone provider shops – this is the least risky option and is often a quick 10 minute process to review the different plan options and to get fully set up.
Airport – you can buy a SIM right when you land at the airport – in Vietnam, they often have deals catered to tourists so it does not work out more expensive than buying in the city.
Tourist Information and corner shops – Once you are in town you can buy them at most tour booking locations or tourist information shops with a ‘4G’ sign.
The worst that will happen if you end up buying a SIM from a vendor which sells unregistered cards or ones which are not registered correctly is that your SIM may stop working and be cut off, and you’ll need to find your way to an official shop to complete the registration properly.
While this blog is centered on our recent experience in Vietnam, much of this information and advice is easily transferred and applicable to other countries in Asia as well, particularly Cambodia and Laos!