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Airalo Discover eSIM in Vietnam Review (+Speedtests)

Vietnam is the fourth-largest country in Southeast Asia.

And like its neighboring countries, it is full of jungles, forests & mountains.

If you are not interested in them, you can enjoy stunning beaches or islands.

When trying to find the best way to stay connected in Vietnam, I tried out nine travel eSIMs from various eSIM providers, including Airalo's Discover (global) eSIM, and four Vietnamese SIM cards.

Airalo Discover+ eSIM
© Airalo

In most countries, getting a local SIM card is the cheapest way to stay connected (and you will have a local phone number, something you often do not get with a travel eSIM).

But installing an eSIM is quick, easy & convenient, as you do not have to queue up upon landing (after a long flight) or deal with SIM card registration requirements (such as getting your passport details captured in Vietnam – mandated by law).

And travel eSIMs, like Airalo's Discover(+), are relatively affordable (especially when you plan to visit multiple Asian countries or other ones globally).

So, let's see how the Discover(+) eSIM performed in Vietnam.

Airalo Discover eSIM in Vietnam Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Original publication: 7th of February 2024. Last updated: 29th of February 2024.

Table of Contents

Airalo's List of Compatible eSIM-Supported Phones

Before I even focus on Airalo's Discover(+) eSIM (in Vietnam), does your phone support Airalo eSIMs?

If you have an eSIM-compatible smartphone, it is almost guaranteed that you can use an Airalo eSIM.

While Airalo had to certify phones in the past, almost all are supported nowadays.

As of December 2023, the phones shown in the infographic below are compatible with Airalo eSIMs:

Airalo eSIM Compatible Devices List Infographic (December 2023 Edition) by Phone Travel Wiz

Now we can actually focus on the Discover(+) eSIM (in Vietnam).

Airalo Discover (Global) eSIM Prices

You can get the Airalo Discover (global) eSIM for between 9 USD (1 GB for 7 days) and 89 USD (20 GB with 200 international minutes and 200 international SMS for 365 days).

You should know that Airalo's Discover eSIM has two variants: Discover and Discover+.

Airalo Discover eSIM
© Airalo
Airalo Discover+ eSIM
© Airalo

The Discover eSIMs are your standard data-only Airalo eSIMs – but they can be used in 125+ countries globally.

The Discover+ eSIMs, the ones I always get, can also be used in the same 125+ countries. Still, you also get an Austrian (+43) phone number, an international call allowance (up to 200 minutes) & an international SMS allowance (up to 200 SMS).

And you can call and text to any country you want. It does not have to be one of the 125+ supported countries. I confirmed this by calling a random airport in Russia (you cannot use the allowance from the Discover+ eSIM in Russia) from Australia, and it went through.

The eSIM has been a lifesaver in case I need to contact a foreign-based airline or hotel before arrival.

Or even calling back to Australia or the Netherlands while overseas (both my Australian and Dutch mobile operators would charge me an arm and a leg for calling back home!).

The price difference between the two variants is up to 20 USD, and the data allowances will stay the same.

This is an incredible deal, especially when you remember that the previous global offering by Airalo, Discover Global, charged about the same prices as the new one.

Discover Global eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

But you only got data (up to 20 GB), validity was up to 180 days (instead of 365 days/1 year) & was restricted to 4G/LTE (compared to up to 5G NR access).

Here is a list of all the 12 Airalo Discover(+) eSIM options:

  1. Discover 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 9 USD
  2. Discover+ 1 GB (with 10 minutes and 10 SMS) eSIM for 7 days, costing 15 USD
  3. Discover 2 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 17 USD
  4. Discover+ 2 GB (with 20 minutes and 20 SMS) eSIM for 15 days, costing 27 USD
  5. Discover 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 24 USD
  6. Discover+ 3 GB (with 30 minutes and 30 SMS) eSIM for 30 days, costing 36 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  7. Discover 5 GB eSIM for 60 days, costing 35 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  8. Discover+ 5 GB (with 50 minutes and 50 SMS) eSIM for 60 days, costing 50 USD
  9. Discover 10 GB eSIM for 180 days, costing 59 USD
  10. Discover+ 10 GB (with 100 minutes and 100 SMS) eSIM for 180 days, costing 79 USD
  11. Discover 20 GB eSIM for 365 days, costing 69 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  12. Discover+ 20 GB (with 200 minutes and 200 SMS) eSIM for 365 days, costing 89 USD

>>> Get your Airalo Discover(+) eSIM now! <<<

Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in December based on data up to the 30th of December (2023 data only).

Airalo Discover+ eSIM with Prices
See the list above for up-to-date prices and allowances. The figures in this image may be outdated.

In general, purchasing a Discover(+) eSIM does not make sense if you plan to visit only one country (only Vietnam, for example).

For example, 3 GB of data for Airalo's Vietnam eSIM, Xin Chao (formerly Cu Chi – review), costs 9.50 USD.

Airalo Xin Chao eSIM in Vietnam Review by Phone Travel Wiz

This would be 24 USD (Discover) or 36 USD (Discover+).

However, the eSIM becomes interesting if you visit multiple countries within the same region during your trip or numerous globally within a year.

If you stay within the same region, regional eSIMs will be much more exciting and cheaper (in the case of Asia, Airalo's Asialink eSIM (Vietnam review) covers Vietnam and 13 other countries).

Airalo Asialink eSIM in Vietnam Review by Phone Travel Wiz

But none of them give you a phone number for global use.

If that is important for you, the Discover+ eSIM is for you.

Anyway, the links from earlier will bring you to the product page of the Discover(+) eSIM.

And if you already have the Airalo app installed on your phone, the links will open the respective app (Android or iOS).

Regardless of the currency used in your country, Airalo will always charge you in USD (US Dollar).

If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.

Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).

I have saved THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.

Open a Wise account for FREE!

Wise Currency Exchange Banner
© Wise

What if you buy the 20 GB Discover+ eSIM, as I did, and realize you need another 10 GB of data close to exhausting your data allowance or need more minutes/SMS?

Would you need to purchase a new eSIM? Not at all.

Airalo Discover Global Usage by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

You can top up your Airalo Discover(+) eSIM for the same amount of data and prices as listed earlier.

The 10 GB top-up would still cost 50 USD (or 35 USD for Discover) as if you bought the 10 GB eSIM from the start.

And you can purchase as many top-ups as you wish/need.

Airalo Discover Global Purchases by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz
I sometimes get insanely fast download speeds in countries with 5G NR access. Those tests take up a lot of data, which is why I have to top-up again, even though I have plenty of minutes and SMS left 🫠

That way, you will never run out of data.

A handful of Airalo eSIMs do not allow for top-ups. But that does not apply to the Discover(+) eSIM – so worry not.

Airalo Discover+ Global eSIM Top Ups

You can top-up on the Airalo website or its apps.

And if you buy a top-up before you have fully exhausted your data, call, or text allowance, Airalo will not use your top-up yet.

As a result, the validity of the top-up will not start until you start using the top-up (which is not the case with all travel eSIMs).

But if you run out of data, the top-up will start, regardless of whether you still have enough minutes or SMS left if you have the Discover+ eSIM, like in my case. Just be mindful of this, though.

>>> Get your Airalo Discover(+) eSIM now! <<<

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Airalo Discover (Global) eSIM Country List

The Airalo Discover (global) eSIM can be used in 125+ countries worldwide, including Vietnam.

Airalo Discover Global Eligible Countries Map Infographic by Phone Travel Wiz (October 2023 Version)

The eSIM can also be used in some of Vietnam's (in)direct neighboring countries (Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan & Thailand – not in Laos).

Below is a complete overview of countries where the Airalo Discover(+) eSIM works:

  • Åland Islands 3
  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia (new)
  • Australia 5
  • Austria 3
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain (new) 3
  • Bangladesh (new)
  • Belarus 1
  • Belgium 3
  • Bolivia (new)
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Botswana (new) 2
  • Brazil 5
  • Brunei (new) 1
  • Bulgaria 5
  • Cambodia
  • Canada 5
  • Central African Republic (new) 1
  • Chad (new)
  • Chile
  • China 3
  • Colombia
  • Congo, Democratic Republic of (new)
  • Congo, Republic of (new)
  • Costa Rica (new)
  • Croatia 3
  • Cyprus 5
  • Czech Republic 3
  • Denmark 5
  • Dominican Republic 1
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt (new)
  • El Salvador (new) 1
  • Estonia 5
  • Eswatini (new) 1
  • Finland 5
  • France 3
  • French West Indies (new) 3
  • Gabon (new)
  • Georgia
  • Germany 3
  • Ghana (new)
  • Gibraltar 1
  • Greece 3
  • Greenland (new) 1
  • Guatemala (new) 1
  • Guernsey (new)
  • Guinea-Bissau (new) 1
  • Honduras (new) 1
  • Hong Kong 3
  • Hungary 5
  • Iceland 3
  • India
  • Indonesia 3
  • Ireland 3
  • Isle of Man (new)
  • Iraq 1
  • Israel 5
  • Italy 5
  • Ivory Coast
  • Japan 3
  • Jersey
  • Jordan (new)
  • Kazakhstan (new)
  • Kenya (new)
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait 3
  • Kyrgyzstan (new)
  • Latvia 3
  • Liberia 1
  • Liechtenstein 4
  • Lithuania 5
  • Luxembourg 3
  • Macau
  • Madagascar (new)
  • Malawi (new)
  • Malaysia
  • Mali
  • Malta 3
  • Mexico 5
  • Moldova
  • Monaco (new)
  • Montenegro 5
  • Morocco (new)
  • Netherlands 5
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua (new)
  • Niger (new) 1
  • Nigeria (new) 2
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway 5
  • Oman (new)
  • Pakistan (new)
  • Panama
  • Paraguay 1
  • Peru
  • Philippines 3
  • Poland 3
  • Portugal 3
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar 5
  • Réunion (new)
  • Romania 5
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia 5
  • Senegal (new) 1
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles (new)
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia 3
  • Slovenia 5
  • South Africa
  • South Korea 3
  • Spain 5
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Sweden 5
  • Switzerland 3
  • Taiwan 3
  • Tanzania (new)
  • Tajikistan 1
  • Thailand 5
  • Tunisia (new)
  • Turkey 3
  • Uganda (new)
  • Ukraine (new)
  • United Arab Emirates (new) 3
  • United Kingdom 5
  • United States 5
  • Uruguay (new)
  • Uzbekistan (new)
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen (new) 1
  • Zambia (new) 1

* “(new)” is compared to the previous Discover Global eSIM (discontinued) or recently added countries
1 on 3G only
2 check the networks section on the Airalo website or app because at least one of the available networks is on 3G only (while the others are up to 4G/LTE)
3 5G NR access for all available networks
4 even if your phone does not support 5G NR, select FL1 Telecom/Telecom Liechtenstein for 4G/LTE access because Salt Liechtenstein is restricted to 3G only
5 check the networks section on the Airalo website or app because at least one of the available networks is up to 4G/LTE (while the others are up to 5G NR)

As I mentioned, you can save a lot of money by skipping the initial SIM card costs per country you visit, especially if you explore several countries on multiple continents during your trip or within a year.

Moreover, you will save a lot of time and do not have to deal with each country's individual SIM card registration requirements.

SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

>>> Get your Airalo Discover(+) eSIM now! <<<

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My Airalo Discover+ eSIM in Vietnam Experience

Flag of Vietnam

During this trip, I used my Airalo Discover+ (global) eSIM only in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

Although I plan on testing the eSIM in various other Vietnamese cities in the (near) future.

I had an 11-hour layover in HCMC – often enough to get plenty of test results. However, a typhoon was raging through Vietnam. So, I was mostly inside and did not go to as many locations as I wanted to. A solid reason to revisit HCMC!

Travel eSIMs, including the Discover+ eSIM, roam on the networks of local mobile operators.

Airalo itself is not a mobile (network) operator (MNO), so it partners with various MNOs, which roam on local MNOs' networks.

Okay, that may sound a bit confusing – all you need to know is that you will be treated as a guest on one of the Vietnamese mobile networks while using another network to make this system work.

Airalo's global eSIM uses the Vietnamobile while being powered by Drei Austria (so your phone, some apps, or sites you visit may claim you are on Drei instead of Airalo – that is correct).

Vietnamobile Vietnam Logo
© Vietnamobile

Which Vietnamese mobile operator is the best?

In terms of coverage, the Big Three (Viettel, Vinaphone & MobiFone) cover the most populated and many remote areas in Vietnam.

Vietnamobile, the smallest and youngest mobile operator, does well in urban settings but still needs to build its network in rural areas.

In terms of availability, which Opensignal defines as “[…] what proportion of time people have a network connection, in the places they most commonly frequent”, the Vietnamese mobile operators are doing well, with a minimum availability of over 92.5%.

If we focus on 4G/LTE availability, Viettel is leading (92.7%), followed by MobiFone (86.7%), Vinaphone (85.9%) & Vietnamobile (74%).

These numbers are very high, even for Vietnamobile…

Well, Opensignal has availability/coverage maps of the four mobile operators too:

Yes, you truly do not want to be on the Vietnamobile network if you are not staying in cities.

Now, let's talk about speeds.

Vinaphone was the fastest mobile operator in Q2-Q3 of 2023, with a median download speed of 53.24 Mbps.

It even won the Speedtest Fastest Mobile Network Q2-Q3 2023 award.

Speedtest Awards - Fastest Mobile Network 2023 Award
© Speedtest/Ookla

It was followed by Viettel (49.53 Mbps) and MobiFone (36.30 Mbps).

Speedtest did not include Vietnamobile in its report because it could not collect enough data from Vietnamobile users 🗿.

Worry not; I can get you some figures from Opensignal instead (but compared to Speedtest, its sample size is much smaller).

Opensignal also claims Vinaphone is the fastest mobile operator (31.8 Mbps – average download speed instead of median download speed), followed by Viettel (25.7 Mbps) and MobiFone (24 Mbps).

The ranking did not change compared to Speedtest's.

What about Vietnamobile? An average download speed of 7.9 Mbps 🗿.

So, even where Vietnamobile has coverage, you must deal with 3G-like speeds.

The same applies to upload speeds – an average of 2.9 Mbps. Behind Vietnamobile (8.2 Mbps), MobiFone (9.4 Mbps) & Vinaphone (10.5 Mbps).

If we look at Speedtest's numbers, the ranking is the same as Opensignal's: 23.39 Mbps for Vinaphone, 19.19 for MobiFone & 16.17 Mbps for Viettel.

In my Vietnam SIM card buying guide, I claimed that Viettel is the best overall mobile operator, but it is not winning in all categories. What gives? The mobile operator has the best coverage in the country – even in places where its competitors do not bother installing their equipment. As these remote places are not profitable, speeds are slower (or even in busy areas – the network may be overloaded because Viettel has the most customers).

The report also looked at speeds in HCMC specifically, where the order for median download speeds was different: Vinaphone (62.55 Mbps), Viettel (48.53 Mbps) & MobiFone (40.93 Mbps).

I did speed tests with the Speedtest app throughout HCMC.

Speedtest Logo
© Ookla

For reference, I consider an average download speed of 25 Mbps and an average upload speed of 10 Mbps fast enough.

Why is that? A more than 25 Mbps download speed is enough to video stream content @ 4k resolution.

Social media sites that do live streaming, like Facebook Live, recommend an upload speed of at least 10 Mbps.

I have way higher standards, but not everyone demands a download speed of 500 Mbps 🤪.

In the section below, you will find various colors and formatting.

Results in dark green mean that the result was the fastest download or upload among all SIM cards and travel eSIMs I tested at that location.

Fastest Result (Dark Green) Among All Example for Speed Test Results

Whereas results in light green were the fastest download or upload within the category (among all SIM cards OR all travel eSIMs) but not the fastest when considering the other category.

Fastest Result (Light Green) Within Category Example for Speed Test Results

The same applies to dark red and light orange results – the slowest download or upload among all (dark red) or the slowest within a category (light orange).

Slowest Fastest Result (Dark Red) Among All Example for Speed Test Results
Slowest Result (Light Orange) Within Category Example for Speed Test Results

All underlined results are on 5G NR, while results in italics are on 3G – results without additional formatting are on 4G/LTE.

Underlined (5G) Result Example for Speed Test Results
Italics (3G) Result Example for Speed Test Results

That should clear up the colorful speed test results in the next section.

For now, let's see how the Airalo Discover+ eSIM performed in HCMC.

>>> Get your Airalo Discover(+) eSIM now! <<<

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Airalo Discover (Global) eSIM in Ho Chi Minh City Speed Test Results

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) City Seal

I used my Airalo Discover+ (global) eSIM only in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

But as I mentioned before, I did not visit as many locations as I usually would because of a typhoon.

Worry not; I will revisit HCMC/Vietnam for sure and get more results for you in the (near) future.

Depending on the travel eSIM you buy, you can access one or two Vietnamese networks.

In the case of the Discover+ eSIM, only one network – Vietnamobile.

Vietnamobile Vietnam Logo
© Vietnamobile

No other eSIM, including the other two Airalo eSIM (Xin Chao (formerly Cu Chi – Vietnam – review) and Asialink (Vietnam review)), I tested was on Vietnamobile, so it was an excellent opportunity to see if eSIM providers should add Vietnam to their portfolio.

I will compare Discover+ with Vietnamobile and other (Airalo) eSIMs in the next section.

Below are the results:

Airalo Discover+ eSIM Speed Test Results in Vietnam vs Vietnamobile Vietnam, Airalo Xin Chao, Airalo Asialink

Poor speeds with the Airalo Discover+ eSIM.

First, let's look at the results I got with my Vietnamobile SIM card.

It was not as slow as I anticipated, with an average download speed of 26.53 Mbps.

Vietnamobile Vietnam Overall Speed Test Results in Vietnam

But with the Discover+ eSIM, I got an average download speed of 6.95 Mbps 🗿.

Airalo Discover+ Overall Speed Test Results in Vietnam

These results would be understandable if Vietnamobile also sucked at each location, but it did not.

So, where did it go wrong?

It probably has to do with Drei Austria or Vietnamobile… maybe.

Three (3) Logo
© Three (3)

Typically, Holafly also uses Drei Austria for its eSIMs (or China Mobile Hong Kong for various Asian destinations).

For Vietnam, it used Proximus from Belgium for some reason.

Proximus Logo
© Proximus Belgium

Anyway, Holafly's eSIMs could use Mobifone or Vietnamobile.

I picked Vietnamobile with the Vietnam eSIM and Mobifone with the Asia eSIM for comparison purposes.

(Un)surprisingly, the Holafly Vietnam eSIM speeds were also terrible (average of 6.80 Mbps).

Holafly Overall Speed Test Results in Vietnam

What about the other Airalo eSIMs: Xin Chao (formerly Cu Chi – Vietnam (review)) and Asialink (Asia – Vietnam review).

Airalo Xin Chao eSIM in Vietnam Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Airalo Asialink eSIM in Vietnam Review by Phone Travel Wiz

They did well, averaging 20.46 Mbps and 19.30 Mbps, respectively.

Airalo Xin Chao Overall Speed Test Results in Vietnam
Airalo Asialink Overall Speed Test Results in Vietnam

Both eSIMs were powered by Singtel from Singapore and could use Viettel or MobiFone.

I picked MobiFone with the Xin Chao eSIM and Viettel with the Asialink eSIM… and the results were practically the same.

Unfortunately, you can do nothing with the Discover+ eSIM to improve your performance because Vietnamobile is the only network you can pick.

And as we just saw… it sucks 😔.

But do not assume the Discover+ eSIM sucks in every (Asian) country. In my ongoing Discover+ review, you can see how it can be fantastic, average, or terrible, depending on the country. Relatively to country-specific conditions, the eSIM was alright/great in these Asian destinations: Indonesia and Taiwan.

>>> Get your Airalo Discover(+) eSIM now! <<<

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