tigolaoAfter about 5 months of traveling through Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Thailand, and Cambodia, my lovely fiancee and I decided to check out Laos. Before even going there, I had a bad feeling about the place.

I had done some research online to find out what seemed to be the carrier of choice so I can enjoy the freedom of the Internet on my iPhone. I found some contradictory information and was more confused than not. I gave up on my research thinking that as usual, I’d be able to find a SIM card for my iPhone while at the airport in Laos.

Well, we got there and nowhere was a phone shop to be seen. After settling in our hotel room in Luang Prabang, we went for a walk around town and I bought a SIM card from one of the zillion stores that sell them.

There are several carriers to choose from. I went with Tigo because that’s what the lady at the store gave me. It could have been any other carrier, I don’t think it would make a big difference in the end.

I asked the lady about Internet. She said “yes yes”. After a few months spent in South East Asia, I can tell when someone has no idea what I’m talking about, and she clearly was just saying “yes” to please me and close the deal. So anyways, I have nothing to lose but my $2 so I get a SIM card, pop it in and bingo, it’s working without requiring me to tweak the APN settings.

So now I can enjoy calls and data on my iPhone, in Laos, on the Tigo network. Turns out there is no 3G (not a big surprise), and Edge is painfully slow. What’s more annoying is that this data plan is costing me a fortune. The $1 credit I was given when I bought the SIM card was gone in 4-5 tweets.

There had to be a better plan than that. Like I did in Cambodia, I have to be able to subscribe to some kind of plan that gives me unlimited Internet for a good price.

I went back to the shop where I got my SIM card and asked the woman about plans. She was absolutely clueless. To this date, I still think she had no idea what I was talking about. So I asked her the phone number for Tigo Customer Service, which she gave me.

I called Customer Service, hoping someone would be able to help me figure out the best option for me. Well, if I hadn’t hung up the phone after 15 minutes, I think I’d still be trying to get in touch with them. Basically you just go through an automated menu with no option to talk to a real person. I managed to find an alternative phone number for Tigo’s offices and the phone rang and rang forever, with no one answering.

I was really really pissed. I think I was more pissed than I would have normally been in such a situation because I didn’t really want to be in Laos in the first place. This whole phone thing was just an excuse for me to justify even more my desire to leave this country asap.

For the next few days, I just recharged my iPhone plan $5 at a time each day. I spent about 4 days in Laos and decided to go back to Cambodia.

Next step is Vietnam. This should be fun!

Oh, did I tell you I shot a bazooka in Cambodia?

  • Spazbite

    Hey Sebastian Hope The Holiday Is Good, I Did Some research For You Dunno IF You Seen It Already But, Iv Managed To Get On There Website (Took Ages, So Slow) And Found Out About Price Plans Heres The Link If You Manage To Get Round To Having A Look, Let ME Know IF Its Any Help.

    http://www.tigolao.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=111&Itemid=136

  • Spazbite

    Oh And I Just Watched The Video For The Bazooka Looks Sweet.

  • Paul

    Ok, follow this link:

    http://www.tigolao.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=18&Itemid=52

    Scroll the page to point 5 under “Available positions”.

    Read the four dots…

    Then read again the paragraph about customer care phone call!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    • @Paul Yeah obviously they still haven’t filled this position…

      @Spazbite These are post-paid plans, which means you need a contract. I needed pre-paid plans. It’s alright though. Thanks

  • thomas

    i think travel is wasted on a fool such as yourself,laos has spectacular scenery,temples,waterfalls,templecaves.the people,unlike the rest of S.E.Asia,are laid back,not greedy,helpful etc.

    • Ash

      Yeah I agree

      • David Aaron

        Oh my god I can’t get Internet on my iPhone in a third world country!!!!!!!!! Moron

  • @Thomas I think it is my right to dislike a country despite the beauty if its people and landscapes, isn’t it?

    I never said the country sucks or anything like this. I simply didn’t like Laos. I don’t see what’s foolish in that.

  • thy

    VN should be ok for now i guess , i suggest u go with viettel or Vinaphone services , their 3G is much coverage and realiable .. u can install APN from ( giaitri.net) directly from ur iphone . but i think u need google to translate it . More questions lmk .. enjoy !!

  • @Thy This is great info! Thank you. I might need this later today when I get a SIM. It’s all in Viet but I guess I just need to click on “internet tethering” and look for my carrier.
    S

  • Sebastien,

    I’m sorry you had a bad time in Laos, but I’m glad you didn’t like it.

    That probably sounds contradictory and it is. I don’t wish unhappiness on any person, and I do hope your travels are always enjoyable to you. The contradiction is that I hope peole like you stay away from and don’t come back to Laos.

    Anything that robs people of the crutches of every day life makes it less likely that I’ll find fellow travelers cluttering the landscape. Luang Prabang is a tourist anthill, and thankfully most tourists stay there. It’s the other towns I worry about. ATMs and airports are the biggest problem, if a lack of unlimited I phone usage is what does it for you, well it’s certainly good enough for me.

    I hope in the future that I phones don’t even work in Laos, and I hope you can always find a place for your texting in unlimited minutes.

  • laoboy

    hi Sebastien9 . first , thank to visit laos . there is great view right ? but you did not enjoy for the internet mobile . you should ask the seller first , which company can use 3g in laos . there are 2 companies . and laos have many thing that you can do , please make plan clearly before going , it can help u more than go direct there without plan .

    btw, i saw the bazooka clip ready , where did u take it << i want to try one . hahahaha

    anyway have a nice trip in vietnam, there are 3g for ur mobile sure . i went there many times.
    you should ask them the price down half of the first price them said. ok . and take a motorbike aroud Hanoi . hanoi is very very nice .
    good luck

  • @LaoBoy Thank you very much for your comment. The bazooka video was shot in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It’s very nice there…

    I’m already in Vietnam and rocking the 3G on my iPhone 🙂

  • Spazbite

    Nice to hear your back up and running? Any chance of some pitures? Would be nice to see that part of the world.

  • Brendox

    You need a life, who the hell cares about 3G and iPhones when you’re travelling SE Asia? Absolute weirdo.

  • I care! I will be traveling there in a couple days with my husband and two small boys. If you’ve ever traveled to a new place with small children then you’ll understand how incredibly helpful Internet access is. For the record we are NGO workers based in Thailand and we love SE Asia.

  • junianto

    please do some research before going to any country, pity on sebastien didnt find the ‘simcard with cheap 3g’, shouldnt dislike the place because of self ‘mistake’.
    http://www.retire-asia.com/lao-communications.shtml

    • I did pretty extensive research before going to Laos and I couldn’t find anything. It’s definitely not my bad if Laos companies can put up a properly translated site that foreigners like me can find, and access.
      Besides, the fact that I didn’t get cheap 3G is not the reason why I didn’t like Laos.

  • jimnor

    Laos is a beautiful country, but it’s obviously not for everyone since there are those who visit countries like Thailand just to sleep with prostitutes. If someone prefers something more traditional and enjoy seeing beautiful landscapes and interacting with very friendly people, then Laos is heaven on earth.