My first travel experience in Vietnam was not a very pleasant one and looking back, I knew I had to write about this guide to the best mobile apps to use in Vietnam for tourists and travelers. These are the best mobile apps to use in Vietnam whichever city you may be in:
GRAB – I will primarily start with the transport service mobile app Grab because of that not so pleasant incident when I first arrived in Ho Chi Minh via the land border. When you don’t know the language of the place you’re going into in Southeast Asia, Grab can be trusted to give you the correct fares and take you safely to your booked accommodation. It’s not uncommon for unsuspecting Ho Chi Minh tourists to report being charged ridiculous exorbitant fares by unregistered taxi drivers. If you came from a neighbouring country like Thailand, Laos or Cambodia and you already have a Grab account, you can still use your Grab mobile app to book a ride to get to your hotel. If you’re coming to Vietnam via the land border, you’ll be glad to know some buses offer free WiFi and this will allow you to book a Grab ride long before the bus leaves the drop-off spot. If you’re coming in via an international flight, the airports offer free WiFi too.
I personally have taken more Grab Bike rides than the Grab Car/Taxi ones because I prefer to look around and explore.
GOOGLE TRANSLATE – There aren’t a lot of Vietnamese on the street you can ask clear directions or recommendations about so you need Google Translate mobile app for communicating with them.
Google Translate mobile app does not always get it right but it can get across the general idea of what you’re trying to inquire.
MY VIETTEL/MY MOBIFONE – If you intend to stay longer than a week, you might want to get serious about buying a local SIM card. You can see Viettel and Mobifone SIM cards being sold in airports and some currency exchangers even sell them. Once you have bought a SIM card, you can download the corresponding mobile app. I had a brief experience with using Mobifone last year so I cannot write about it. I’ve used Viettel the longest. You can top up at Circle K or Vinamart convenience stores or any stores with the sign boards Viettel or Mobifone.
A local SIM card is very useful for answering your Grab driver’s calls. Even if I don’t understand the driver, I would ask for help from a guard or valet nearby to assist me by letting them talk to the driver on my behalf. No need to be shy. It’s also useful for food delivery.
NOW.VN/FOODY – NOW.VN or Foody is a food delivery service with many merchants to use from ranging from lunch, drinks, desserts, or fast food. There are a lot of healthy choices and some stores offer discounts. My only problem with NOW.VN is the debit card limitation – it won’t accept my home country-issued Visa and MasterCard debit cards. I’ve tried only to be greeted with a card declined confirmation.
I could only pay in cash for my orders. However, you will be granted 1,000 VND credits to your Foody account after a completed delivery.
VIETNAMMM – Vietnammm is also a food delivery service although it’s not as varied as Foody, its best feature is the availability of PayPal as a payment option. I did compare the menu of one restaurant which is also listed on Foody and the latter has one item more. You can filter your searches via payment options as well.
CGV CINEMAS – There are more CGV Cinemas here in Hanoi and I’ve used it to check schedules. Pre-booking cinema tickets is not ideal for those holding a non-local debit card. Again, this has something to do with the same debit card limitation I mentioned with the Foody mobile app. I could only really browse for schedules on the day I’m watching the movie as their schedules often vary. By downloading the app and signing up for an account, you are eligible to earn rewards points for money spent as long as you present the CGV Cinemas mobile app to the ticket counter for QR scanning.
LOTTE CINEMA VIETNAM – There are more Lotte Cinema branches in Ho Chi Minh than there are in Hanoi. It’s a shame there is no IMAX theatre here, though.
SPEED LOTTE – I only knew about Speed Lotte mobile app because one store clerk approached me about it and had me sign up while I was browsing tissue boxes at Lotte Mart. Speed Lotte allows you to pick items on their grocery menu and Lotte Mart will have it delivered to your doorstep.