Guide to Using your iPad 3G or iPhone 4 in Vietnam [Techie in Vietnam]

I've found that it's a perfect travel companion. Light to carry, battery that lasts an entire day, and with 3G, you're always connected. A while ago, I asked "Will my smartphone stay smart in Vietnam?" Naturally, I asked myself, "can I use my iPad in Vietnam?" The answer, in short, is yes, with a little bit of work.


Travel with Ipad & iPhone
Photo by Yutaka Tsutano

Technology is one of my guilty pleasures.  When the iPad 3G came out, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  There’s a lot of debate about how useful the iPad really is (just a giant iPod ,right?), but I’ve found that it’s a perfect travel companion.  Light to carry, battery that lasts an entire day, and with 3G, you’re always connected.

A while ago, I asked “Will my smartphone stay smart in Vietnam?“  Naturally, this time around I asked myself, “can I use my iPad in Vietnam?”  The answer, in short, is yes, with a little bit of work.

PS. I don’t own an iPhone, but for those of you that do, this guide will work just as well!

Step 1: Unlock your iPad or iPhone

Every iPad or iPhone is paired with AT&T (in the US).  If you want to use any other carrier, you will have to unlock your iPad.  The term for that in the tech world is “jailbreaking” your phone.  If you have an iPad or an iPhone that runs OS 3.2 and below, the easiest thing to do is use a free software called Spirit.  It’s really as simple as a few clicks.

If you using an iPhone 4, you have to do a little bit of computer work using a software called “redsn0w beta.”  There are a few more steps, but it’s not hard.  Jump over to the Lifehacker article for instructions.

Step 2: Get a SIM card in Vietnam and make it “micro”

Getting a SIM card in Vietnam is a little more cumbersome now, since individuals are  required to register their card in Vietnam.  However, it’s done all the time and shouldn’t be much trouble aside from some extra paperwork.

Now, the tricky part is marking your SIM card fit into your iPad or iPhone.  Apple devices use a small SIM slot, called micro-sim.  However, the folks over at Engadget figured out a way to make your regular card work with just a knife and scissor.

If you made it after your SIM card surgery, all the hard parts are over!

Step 3: Internet on your iPad and iPhone!

As our previous article discussed, Vietnam is rolling out 3G.  I asked one of our writers who spent 2 years in Vietnam, Phong Quan, about home much data on my mobile device would cost.  According to Phong, most people use prepaid cards in value from 10K VND to 500K VND.  Rates are usually about 1-2K per minute and data usage rounds in about that price, too.

Just like that, you can enjoy the iPad’s goodness when you travel to Vietnam.  I do have to make a disclaimer that you should be careful when trying any of the techniques mentioned above and check with your product warranties.

Until next time, techies!

Update: One of our readers pointed out that the jailbreak for iOS4 is only for 3GS phones and below.  To jailbreak your iPhone 4, follow these guys: the infamous Dev-Team.


  • Jennie Le

    Genius! I’m definitely trying that :D

  • Paul Pham

    nice tutorial. the only problem i have with bringing something as big as the iPad to VN is how to keep it from drenching in sweat and i can’t fit it in my front pocket.

    • max

      good point

  • Brian Luong

    Wow did not know Vietnam is 3G capable… hahah that ipad is a neat thing to have when traveling on motocycles/mopeds… its just so light and portable.

    Awesome article yet again!

  • http://analyticaledge.wordpress.com Huy J

    This post comes in right time when IPad is hot in VN.

  • Duc

    There is no jailbreak for iphone 4 right now, and there probably won’t be one for awhile either. If you have an iphone 4, you have no way of using it in vietnam unless you bought it factory unlocked outside of the US.

  • Bobo

    To Paul Pham and Brian Luong
    If you have the smallest hint of sarcasm in your message you better keep it for yourself.
    Vietnam has 3G and it works
    In villages next to pig farms you DO find places:”ADSL -game online”
    And I don’t think anyone uses iPad while driving a Ferrari.
    Think again
    In bigger cities you can find a working free-wi-fi in an cafeteria maybe every 500m (not yards)
    It is very sad when people talk bad about other, especially when talking bad of his own country, especially when still bearing Vietnamese names.

    • Tamanhwinn

      Totally agree with u bobo

  • http://www.facebook.com/bgp64 Barry Piper

    Wait, the iPad is not carrier-locked like the iPhone is, so why is it necessary to jailbreak?  When I took my iPad to Thailand last January, DTAC stuck their SIM card in and it worked like a charm without any additional adjustment.

  • Anhkieuphong35

    I agree, with my knowledge so far, ipads are not locked. You don’t have to unlock for use them in other countries like Vietnam

  • Jsuggs1

    absolutely impossible for ordinary travelers to understand this “advice.” Can you think of a simpler way of telling me whether or not I can use my iPad 1 in Vietnam without getting a degree in auto mechnaics first? I have 3g (ATT) and wifi; can’t i just turn the damn thing on and fire up?

  • tud

    If I bring my iPad 4g to vietnam, does it work with a micro sim there? is a micro sim even available in VN? Thanks!

  • Kieu

    It is very sad when people talk bad about other, especially when talking bad of his own country, especially when still bearing Vietnamese names.
    totally agree…first of all every culture has it’s good and bad that is a universal. Secondly, most people in VN who can afford an ipad or iphone most likely make a decent living and drive cars now bikes and mopeds. Apparently, some people have a lot to learn about their own culture. Parts of VN are even more developed than some places in America.
    My cousins asked us to buy them an ipad from here, because apparently VN prices are even higher than our prices. They are obviously well off enough to afford to buy 1 for each of their children. Don’t assume everyone in VN is dirt poor or living in slums. There is a working class there and depending on their form of business they make a good living. Like in any country, you have your wealthy, middle class and poor.
    thanks for your tip BOBO. I was going to jailbreak the Ipad for them but it would seem it doesn’t require it and will save me some time.