A guide to find the SIM card when travelling to Cambodia

A guide to find the SIM card when travelling to Cambodia

If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia, a top tip for keeping down costs is to switch to a local SIM card. Take advantage of better tariffs, plans and deals to reduce your roaming rates. Cambodia has some good SIM card options, but the coverage can sometimes be questionable. You can get 1GB of data from Cambodia’s top telco providers for less than AUD$2. So, whether you’re a short- or long-term traveller, you can save money by comparing your SIM card options on finder.com.au.

Telco providers in Cambodia

There are four main telco providers in Cambodia: Metfone, Smart, Cellcard and qb. Locals and travellers use SIM cards from all four networks, and the networks can be trusted regardless of the plan you choose. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Cambodia has strong network coverage around Phnom Penh and other main cities and towns. Other areas can be weak, and in some country areas, it can be difficult to find a signal at all.

Cambodia’s telco providers

Cambodia’s operators offer some of the best roaming rates and sell prepaid credit, which allow users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals. Although the Cambodian riel is the official currency, most stores deal in US dollars. All networks offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Locals call their SIM cards “SIMs” or “Chips” and there are a number of rules and regulations when purchasing them. Tourists can only buy SIM cards from approved dealers, after showing their passport and visa stamp, and you will need to register your SIM card or it could be cut off within seven days. You can ask the shop assistant to register your SIM card when you purchase it.

Metfone

Metfone is the largest network provider in Cambodia with more than a 50% market share. You can purchase prepaid SIM cards for $1-$2 in official stores. The MetTravel Tariff is the best SIM card on offer for tourists, and they also offer 4G/LTE services.

You can buy credit for $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50, which is valid for  days depending on the amount added. You will need to call 1770 to activate the SIM card and the PIN code is 0000 until you change it. You will need to dial *197*<14-digit scratch card code># to top up, and if you want to check your balance, you will need to dial *097#.

There are several limited and unlimited data plans on offer:

Limited data plans

1GB 1 night $0.10 Dial *133*110# to activate 100MB 1 day $0.10 Dial *133*1*1# to activate 500MB 30 days $1 Dial *133*1# to activate 1.2GB $2 Dial *133*2# to activate 2GB $3 Dial *133*1*3# to activate 4GB $5 Dial *133*5# to activate 8.5GB $10 Dial *133*10# to activate 20GB $20 Dial *133**20# to activate

Unlimited data plans

200MB 1 day $0.20 Dial *133*25# to activate 1.5GB 1 week $1.50 Dial *133*150# to activate 2GB 30 days $3 Dial *133*4# to activate 3GB $5 Dial *133*50# to activate 7GB $10 Dial *133*100# to activate

The standard default data rate is 2 cents per MB and you can dial *133*097# to check your data balance.

Smart

Smart is the second largest provider in Cambodia and one of the cheapest. It has the best coverage in the country and was the first to introduce 4G/LTE. It’s available in all major towns and cities, including Phnom Penh.

You can purchase Smart’s prepaid SIM cards for $1 from official stores. They have three prepaid plans: Super 60, which gives 60 Smart minutes per day; Power+, which gives a bonus for each top-up; and Xtra Long!, which is valid for 6 months.

You can purchase Smart credit for $1-$50, which is valid for 8 to 200 days depending on the amount you purchase. You will need to dial *888*<13-digit PIN code># to top up and *888# to check your balance.

The standard default data rate is 1 cent per 500 KB. There are also several “SurfLikeCrazy” data packs on offer:

100MB 1 day $0.10 Dial *087*10# to activate 250MB $0.25 Dial *087*25# to activate 1GB $1 Dial *087*100# to activate 500MB 30 days $1 Dial *087*101# to activate 2GB $3 Dial *087*300# to activate 4GB $5 Dial *087*500# to activate 8.5GB $10 Dial *087*1000# to activate 13GB $15 Dial *087*1500# to activate 25GB $25 Dial *087*2500# to activate

The plans automatically renew, so you will need to dial *087*0# to stop the plan at the end of each cycle. You can also dial *087*888# to check your balance.

For night users (1am-5am), there are two discount packages available, which are valid for 1 month:

  • 1 GB for $0.10: Text *087*11# to activate
  • 5 GB for $0.40: Text *087*55# to activate

You can also dial *087*888# to check your balance.

There are two tourist SIM cards available:

  • 10 Smart minutes, 10 Smart texts and 10 MB of data (2G and 3G only), valid for 3 days and available at no charge
  • 10 Smart minutes, 10 Smart texts, a $5 credit and 1.5 GB of data, valid for 40 days for $5

Cellcard

Cellcardis the third largest provider and provides good coverage in the main towns and cities. Its network signal can be a bit unpredictable in the country areas. You can purchase prepaid SIM cards for just $1 from official stores. Avoid the “Niyeay” plan because you won’t be able to upload any add-on packs. You should stick to the regular SIM card, so you can add data. The standard SIM card comes with 50 Cellcard texts and 10MB of data, which is valid for 30 days.

You can purchase credit for $1, $2, $5, $10, and $50, which is valid for 8-180 days depending on the amount you purchase. You will need to dial *123*<14-digit PIN code># to purchase credit and if you want to check your balance, you will need to dial #823#.

The standard default data rate is 1 cent per 400 KB and you can add the following iNet plans:

1GB 1 day $0.25 Dial #1000# to activate 4GB 7 days $2 Dial *6767*200# to activate 8GB 30 days $5 Dial *6767*500# to activate 18GB $10 Dial *6767*1000# to activate 40GB $20 Dial *6767*2000# to activate

You will need to dial #823# to check your balance.

Cellcard also sells the following tourist SIM cards:

  • No plans, credit or data are included with the free SIM card
  • $0.50 credit and 1.4GB of data, valid for 7 days, for $2
  • $0.50 credit and 3GB of data, valid for 30 days, for $5

qb

qb is the smallest provider in the country. They offer the lowest data rates but the network coverage can be very limited in some areas. qb is not a good choice if you’re planning on going on a tour of the country. You can purchase qb credit for $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50, which is valid for 45-365 days depending on how much you have uploaded. You need to dial *133*<PIN code># to top up your credit and #132# to check your balance.

The standard default data rate on all prepaid SIM cards is 1 cent per MB. You can also add the following extra “data Xchange” packs:

120MB 1 day $0.10 Dial *888*10# to activate 250MB $0.20 Dial *888*20# to activate 700MB 7 days $0.50 Dial *888*50# to activate 1GB 3 days $1 Dial *888*100# to activate 2.5GB 14 days $2.5 Dial *888*200# to activate 4.5GB 30 days $5 Dial *888*500# to activate 9.5GB $10 Dial *888*1000# to activate

You will need to dial *888*0# if you want to check your balance.

You can buy the qb tourist SIM card in two different variations:

  • 1.5 GB, 20 on-net minutes and 200 on-net SMS, valid for 7 days, for $2
  • 4 GB, 60 on-net minutes and 500 on-net SMS, valid for 14 days, for $5

Both SIM cards are valid for 45 days in total, and you can add other plans and packages to the two plans mentioned above during this time.

Some top tips from finder.com.au staff:

  • They speak Khmer in Cambodia. It’s highly unlikely that you will know this language, as it’s unique to the locals. Download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. The good thing about Cambodia is that tourism is so popular that English is widely spoken.
  • Locals call a SIM card a “Chip” or “SIM”.
  • Ask the seller to set up the SIM for you since they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
  • Get to the shops early to receive better assistance and avoid the crowds!

TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them

While it’s well known for reviews, booking hotels, flights and holidays, TripAdvisor has many user comments that can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in Cambodia.

Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:

  • “You can purchase SIM cards at the airport, expect to give them a copy of your passport. Often airport kiosks will try to sell you a travel SIM which has different inclusions/rates/validity to regular/local SIMs. Purchase SIM cards from official stores to be sure you are getting the right plan.”
  • “I have Metfone. It’s great value for money and I use Internet, email, FB, WhatsApp etc. It only cost me $2 and I top it up with a $5 credit for 2GB of data a month.”
  • “I recommend Cellcard to all my friends and family that visit, and none have had a single complaint.”

Pros and cons of Cambodia’s top telco providers

 

All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible phone. To check whether you have this phone, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Prepaid credit when required
  • No in-store contract needed
  • Could be compatible with your current phone

Cons:

  • Some areas can suffer from bad coverage
  • No phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
  • Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
  • Rules and regulations can make buying a SIM card difficult

Q: How bad is the signal in the countryside?

A: All networks will suffer in the countryside, no matter what provider you use. Cellcard’s service can be problematic in some areas, so it’s best to avoid this provider if you’re going on a trek. All other networks offer a more reliable service and are no worse than what you would get on a home phone in Cambodia. It makes sense to opt for a local SIM card because the rates are ridiculously cheap.

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