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Getting the right sim card and visa for Vietnam

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When going abroad, getting the right sim card or call credit for your mobile phone can be quite the confusing ordeal. Avoid unnecessary costs by getting your sim card at the right place, and make sure you have a valid Vietnam visa since this document can be asked for, especially if you’re a tourist.

Unlock your phone
First things first, check whether your phone is not sim locked. Providers tend to lock their sim cards, preventing you from switching them for a different brand. This is especially the case if you bought your mobile phone as part of a package deal. So unlock your phone, otherwise you won’t be able to change cards once in Vietnam and your phone will be useless.

Sim cards and credit can be found anywhere
If you walk along the street in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minth City, you’ll likely pass several mobile phone shops that offer sim cards. Be wary though. Unlike other countries, sim cards found at these shops can in fact be more expensive than the ones you can purchase at the airport. You are therefore better off getting your card before you leave the airport, both for price and convenience. The kiosks at the airports are located in very obvious places, you can’t miss them.

Likewise, you can very easily purchase credit at most street shops. The cards come with instructions in English, so you don’t need to worry you won’t understand anything.

A general safety tip: don’t have your phone out in the open too much. Thieves on bikes or scooters are known to simply snatch them out of your hands while your texting or calling. Don’t expect the police to do anything about it either, since tracking down the culprits is very difficult. At that point, you might as well consider your phone lost.

Getting a Vietnam visa
One thing you might also need to get a sim card in Vietnam is a Vietnam visa. This is mainly the case for short-term tourists on holiday. Thankfully, getting a Vietnam visa is just as easy as getting a sim card, if not easier. The visa can be applied for online before departure using the digital application form. In fact, you can apply for the visa with your mobile phone. All you need is a stable internet connection.

The Vietnam visa form asks all of the basic questions, such as address and passport details. Some unusual questions are also asked, such as your religion. This field has to be filled in even if you’re an atheist.

After making the payment, the visa takes about one week to be approved. This can be circumvented by checking the ‘urgent delivery’ option. This comes with a surcharge, but the delivery time of the visa is then shortened to 3 working days. You will receive it via e-mail. No visit to the embassy is necessary. The Vietnam visa is valid for 30 days. This date is not counted from the moment of approval, but from the date you fill in on the form. In other words, you just need to have your date of arrival match the starting date of the visa. UK travellers can in fact travel without a visa, provided their stay lasts less than 15 days.

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