It’s a warm Saturday afternoon in Saigon. I’m roaming the street, unusually confident in this maze of a city. How? I’m rocking Google Maps using Viettel’s 3G network on my iPhone 4. You can, too. Here’s the complete guide to using your smartphone on the next trip back to the motherland.
1. Jailbreak your phone:
If you own an Android device, no jail-breaking is necessary. If you own an iPhone, head to http://blog.iphone-dev.org/ or http://jailbreakme.com. Jailbreakme.com is the absolute easiest way, but requires you to have iOS 4.01 or less.
2. Remove the carrier lock:
To remove the carrier lock on most Android device, simply call your mobile carrier and let them know that you need to unlock your phone because you are traveling internationally to a place where they do not provide service. If you’ve had your phone for more than 3-6 months, they’ll do it for you.
For iPhone owners, to release yourself of AT&T’s death grip, head to ultrasn0w.com and download the unlock software. It should be quick and painless.
3. Download a few travel apps (Optional):
I like TripIt, EverNote, Google Mobile App, FlightTrack Pro, Meebo, and a few games and movies.
Getting the Hardware
1. Grab a SIM on Pasteur Street in Q1 (around street number 80). This should cost around 100,000 VND (around $5)
2. Cut your SIM (micro SIM for iPhone 4)
HaloShop on 82 Pasteur will do it for you if the store that sold your SIM could not. Alternatively, you could also cut your own SIM, but I opted for more professional hands.
Setting up Data
1. Text DK 3G to “191” for details on the 3G plans available.
2. Choose a plan and text in the name of the plan to “191.” Plans range from 10,000VND a month for 30MB to 200,000VND a month for 3GB. That’s cheap!
3. Text in your phone’s model D MODEL to “191”
4. Restart your phone
That’s it, you’re online! This should work for most phones. If you own a BlackBerry, reconsider taking it to Vietnam because the setup is rather complicated. Shoot me your questions in the comments!