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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia forum

Cellphone coverage, options, ideas

Posted by itchyfeet on 3/8/2006 at 04:24

I was hoping to hear some travellers experience bringing/using a cellphone in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and vietnam. I have an unlocked GSM phone (treo 650) with data capabilities through cingular with international roaming.

My questions are:
How is the GSM coverage?
Do they have data service (gprs) there?
Should i use cingulars int. roaming or should i get a local providers sim card?
Can i get a prepaid sim card?

Also just any ideas, suggestions would be great.

#1 itchyfeet has been a member since 24/7/2006. Posts: 19

Posted by trinculo on 3/8/2006 at 05:56

I haven't been to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam yet, so I don't have any first-hand advice for you, but if you haven't checked out http://www.gsmworld.com, you may want to do that. They've got coverage maps and roaming info for these countries. (Specifically, here in the GSM Roaming section: http://www.gsmworld.com/roaming/gsminfo/index.shtml).

Hope that helps.

Jesse S.

My list of the best long-term travel sites: deleted

#2 trinculo has been a member since 3/8/2006. Posts: 3

Posted by somtam2000 on 3/8/2006 at 06:42 admin

Hi Jesse,

Thanks for the GSM links, but please see the sticky-post for information about posting personal URL's in the footer

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,090

Posted by trinculo on 3/8/2006 at 07:00

Sorry about that, I should've read the sticky post before posting myself. I'm adding a post about TravelFish to my blog at the moment...

Jesse S.

#4 trinculo has been a member since 3/8/2006. Posts: 3

Posted by exkhmer on 4/8/2006 at 03:44

Hello, itchyfeet

I went to Cambodia last year and I brought my Cingular Razr with me, included service. It cost me arms and legs. My advise to you do not bring anything, just go there and purchase a phone and SIM there, it is cheaper. My sister just came back last month, and told me that Prime Minister Hun Sen had banned all 3G technology included any cell phones that have data capability. The story was that some smart guys sent a pornographic pictures to his bitchy wife and he got pissed of. It costs only about $60-$120 for a cell phone and SIM, it is cheaper than bringing your own phone. Cambodia does not have their own wireless system service, they are using service offers through Thai companies that is why so expensive for roaming fees. I hope this help you out a bit.

#5 exkhmer has been a member since 13/7/2006. Posts: 28

Posted by exacto on 4/8/2006 at 22:52

hey itchy!

i've had good luck with cellphone roaming in thailand on several occasions. the first time was when i had a turkcell GSM phone, which had coverage pretty much everywhere i went, and the second time was with my verizon cellphone from the states, which had coverage only in bangkok. in any case, check directly with your cellphone provider to see what type of reciprocal agreements they have with the providers where you'll be visiting, and also check to see what the costs will be. my experience is that the roaming rates for local (within country) calls wasn't much more than what i paid back home for a local (domestic) call. international rates, on the other hand, were really high, so i just used international calling cards in thailand (about 10 baht per minute) or internet cafes (similar cost of about 25 cents per minute) for intl calls.

to answer your specific questions, gsm coverage, particularly in thailand, is quite good. i'm pretty sure they have gprs, but i cannot guarantee that. you can definitely get a prepaid sim card, if that is how you choose to go.

unless you'll be travelling for an extended time, or expect to make a lot of calls, i suspect that roaming will be cheaper in the long run than the investment of buying a local telephone or even a local prepaid sim card. the advantage of a local sim card of course is if local callers will be calling you.

the only other issue is how you'll keep your cellphone charged during your trip. thailand is 220V, and uses a standard two pin plug, but the electricity outlets there are surprisingly versatile and will accept a pretty wide range of inputs, but i'm not sure they can handle the plugs from the UK or AUS. a simple adapter will probably do the trick for you. cheers.

#6 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,840

Posted by itchyfeet on 5/8/2006 at 03:02

just wanted to say thanks for the great responses so far.

#7 itchyfeet has been a member since 24/7/2006. Posts: 19

Posted by DakLak on 28/8/2006 at 07:56

Low-band GSM is available is all countries but there is also limited high-band GSM. too. No North American GSM phones will work in Indochina.

Laos has simply lousy coverage limited to the major towns.

In VietNam use VINAPHONE as it owns the whole of the country and Mobifone is a subsiduary that co-shares **most** of the VinaFone (two spellings) sites.

If you buy your SIMM at a VinaFone company store they usually give you a choice of about 10 numbers. Ask them to activate and test call before you pay.

VN can also handle hand phone InterNet web and e-mail, and my 'Berry works well there, too.

They have the weird CDMA is Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCMC.

Cambodia only allows residents to legally buy SIMMs so the stores will usually have a selection of residential names handy.

#8 DakLak has been a member since 28/8/2006. Posts: 57

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