Communications

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TRAVEL TIPS

Communications

Internet

Free Wi-Fi is provided at most hotels throughout Vietnam and they usually also have business centers; newer boutique hotels in popular tourist destinations now offer laptops for in-room use. Internet cafés in remote areas like Sapa are rare, but there are plenty of Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the country, and most restaurants, cafés, and pho shops will lure customers by advertising an available Wi-Fi connection. However, there are government restrictions on social networking sites, so don't be surprised if you can't log on to Facebook outside of your hotel room.

Contacts

Cybercafes. www.cybercafes.com.

Phones

Due to cheap mobile networks and excellent countrywide coverage, cell phones have taken Vietnam by storm, so phone booths are rare, mostly found in post offices and rural village Internet cafés. Landline phones hardly exist outside of hotels and businesses. Generally, if you need to make a call within the country, all you need to do is ask and a cell phone will be thrust upon you with no expectation of payment. You cannot place collect calls from Vietnam.

Area and Country Codes

The country code for Vietnam is 84. When dialing a Vietnamese number from abroad, drop the initial "0" from the local area code. Some city codes follow:

Dalat, 0263; Danang, 0236; Haiphong, 0225; Halong Bay, 0203; Hanoi, 024; Ho Chi Minh City, 028; Hoi An, 0235; Hue, 0234; Nha Trang, 0258; Phan Thiet, 0252; Phong Nha, 0232; Vung Tau, 0254.

International Calls

To call overseas from Vietnam, dial 00 + the country code (1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand, and 44 for the United Kingdom) + the area code + the number. Remember when calling that Vietnam is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 15 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.

Most hotels have international direct-dial (IDD), which they advertise as a selling point and which you need in order to call overseas The connection can be surprisingly clear, but calls cost a small fortune; it’s better to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi and use services such as Skype, Face Time, or Viber. International calls made using a local mobile network are also cheap.

Calling Within Vietnam

Vietnam has an incredibly efficient operator service. Call 102 for local and international directory assistance. Calling 1080 will put you in touch with an information service staffed partly by English speakers who can tell you everything from the current time to what percentage of Vietnam's population is under the age of 20. If they don't know the answer offhand, they will take your number and call you back.

Most public phones, which accept only phone cards and no coins, are found in post offices. Look for a blue sign that reads "Dien Thoai Cong Cong." Local calls cost 5–10 cents and international calls start from as little as 10 cents a minute. You can make local calls for free from most hotels. Even if your hotel room doesn't have a phone, you can usually make calls from the reception desk. Once in a while you will be charged around 25–50 cents to make a call. When making a local call, the area code is not necessary.

Long-Distance Calls

To make an intercity or interregional telephone call, dial 0, then the city's area code + the number. For instance, to call Danang from Hanoi, dial 0236 + the number.

Cell Phones

Cell phones in Vietnam operate on the GSM900 system. Cell phones from Europe, Australia, and Asia can receive and place roaming calls in Vietnam, but this can make local calls expensive—charges are made for duration of call, exchange rate variation, and roaming charges at both ends. It's far cheaper to buy a local prepaid SIM card to fit your cell phone, and these can be purchased at phone stores and shops displaying Vietel Telecom signs. A SIM card, local phone number and $4.70 of credit costs less than $10 and in the unlikely event that it does not fit your phone, a basic Samsung or Nokia handset will cost no more than $15. Top-up cards come in various denominations from $7 to $23.50 and can be purchased from any street vendor. The standard rate for an international call is approximately 20 cents per minute, for in-country calls and texts the price is negligible, and dependent on speed; unlimited 3G can be added for between $3.30 and $5.65 per month.

Cell-Phone Rental and Services

Vietel Telecom. www.vieteltelecom.vn.

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