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For travelers, there’s a lot to like about Cambodia. Laid-back islands and great seafood on the south coast, beautiful colonial architecture in Phnom Penh, the jaw-dropping temple complexes of Angkor Wat, and much more.
It’s often overlooked by visitors to the region, especially anywhere outside Siem Reap and Angkor, but the country deserves far more time and attention than that.
If you’re planning to stay connected while you’re there, the news is good. It wasn’t so long ago that tourists couldn’t even buy a local SIM, but that’s all changed in recent years.
Prices are extremely reasonable, the process is very straightforward, and speeds and coverage are more than acceptable.
Here’s what you need to know.
There are five cell networks in Cambodia, although some are quite limited outside the major cities. Of the major players, Metfone has the best coverage. Cellcard and Smart both have good service in the cities, and reasonable service outside them. 4G/LTE service is available with all three providers.
If you’re only visiting the major tourist hotspots, any of those three providers should meet your needs. If you’re going off the beaten track, stick with Metfone.
I went with Cellcard, as I was only visiting major centers on this trip, there was an official store a few hundred yards from my hotel in Kampot, and prices were low.
How to Buy a Prepaid SIM in Cambodia
Buying a Cellcard SIM in Cambodia is straightforward. If you’re arriving into Phnom Penh airport, there’s a booth in the terminal, on your right as you leave baggage reclaim.
When I flew in there on a previous trip, the person working at the booth spoke excellent English and set everything up for me in a few minutes, at no charge. If you’re buying elsewhere, as I was this time around, it’s still not a complicated process.
You’ll see Cellcard signs everywhere, but while any tiny store can likely sell you a SIM, you’ll get better service (and the official rate) at official stores. At the store in Kampot, all setup was done by the salesperson.
In either case you’ll need your passport, plus 5-10 minutes of your time. All SIM card sizes were available.
Prepaid SIM Costs
Both the cards and data packages were very inexpensive. You’ll pay all of $1 for the card itself (Cambodia operates a dual currency system, but all prices were quoted in USD).
“iNet” data packages range from $0.25 for 1GB valid for one day, to $20 for 40GB valid for a month. As I’d only be in the country for another week by the time I bought the card, I opted for the $2/7 day/4GB option. Yes, my total price for a week of connectivity was $3.
If you’re in the country for longer, 8GB of data for 30 days costs $5. Bundles that include calls and texts are also available if you need them, otherwise you’ll pay a few cents per minute or text. If you have enough credit on your account when a package runs out, it’ll automatically renew.
A tourist SIM option is also available in some stores. Costing $6, it’s valid for a week and includes 5GB of data per day, with some credit for domestic calls and texts. There’s no particular reason to seek it out, but since it’s reasonably-priced and you can top up after the initial package expires, it’s not a terrible option either.
It’s almost impossible to walk a hundred meters in any Cambodian town without seeing the logo for a cell company. You’ll be able to top up pretty much anywhere you’re ever likely to be as a tourist.
Coverage and Data Speeds
Coverage was good in the major towns and cities I visited, but less so outside them.
I had full signal in Kampot, Siem Reap, and in and around Sihanoukville. There was only limited (or no) service in much of the Angkor Wat complex, though, or on the roads between towns.
HSPA+ data speeds weren’t super-fast, although they were fine for browsing, emails, using maps, and making voice-based Skype calls. The speed shown below was fairly typical wherever I tested it.
Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.