Jun 23 2011

How to get a SIM card in Phnom Penh

Published by at 5:41 pm under Phone & internet

Despite rumours to the contrary, getting a SIM card in Cambodia is a simple process. Back in the day, foreigners needed a Cambodian sponsor to get a SIM card and special, overpriced tourist SIMs were all that were available to those just travelling through. But those laws are gone, and now one needs little other than a few bucks and a passport to get a SIM card in Phnom Penh.

Your connection to the world.

There are nine phone carriers in Cambodia: Cellcard/Mobitel, Beeline, Mfone, Hello, Metfone, Starcard, qb, Excell, and Smart. All carriers have different rates and different levels of coverage (although all seem to perform relatively well in Phnom Penh). To make matters more complicated, it can be difficult to connect to other carriers, and many Cambodians have multiple SIM cards so they can take advantage of promotional offers and to connect with their friends on the same network.

Beeline seems to be the carrier of choice for many of the Cambodian youth in Phnom Penh, and expats favour Cellcard. Cellcard offers cheap data packages, cheapish international calls, and an English-speaking staff, making it the carrier of choice for travellers as well. The setup costs are low, so even if you’re just going to be in Cambodia for a week, it’s worth getting a pay-as-you-go SIM card.

Getting a SIM card is as easy as rocking up to the Cellcard office on Sihanouk Blvd with a passport that contains a valid visa in hand. The SIM card costs $2 and you need to top it up with a minimum of $1. Calls within Cambodia cost between 5-8 cents a minute depending on network and time. International calls cost 20 cents per minute. Data packages can be added for 50 cents a day or $5 a month.

You can also get a SIM card at any of the thousands of phone shops in town. However, they will often tack on an extra couple of dollars to the price or try and get you to purchase the now non-existent tourist SIM and others will demand proof of address, which isn’t necessary if you go to the main office of any of the carriers. Beeline and QB also have stands at the airport that sell SIM cards for $5.

One thing to note is that the different between a $2 SIM card and a $50 SIM card has nothing to do with available calling time — the expensive SIM cards just have more 8s in them (considered lucky in Chinese culture) or other strings of lucky numbers. However, they don’t come with any additional calling time, so it’s best to opt for the cheapest SIM.

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11 responses so far

11 Responses to “How to get a SIM card in Phnom Penh”

  1. Brendanon 29 Nov 2011 at 9:01 am

    Just an update:

    I got a Beeline SIM at Phnom Penh airport. There are kiosks outside the terminal just before the tuktuk gauntlet. It was $5 for SIM and startup. I ran below $1 credit the same day and bought a $5 topup. This lasted my whole visit despite many calls to Canada and extensive iPhone data use. The ‘tourist’ package is 8¢ per minute for domestic calls to any network, 5¢ per minute to Canada, China, USA, and 15¢ to Australia, UK etc. Coverage was great with small gaps on Tonle Sap and the road from Sihanoukville to Koh Kong.

  2. Kumaon 03 Mar 2012 at 7:30 pm


    Does any of the mentioned above provide Blackberry Internet Services? I don’t want to roam with BIS, way too expensive for me.

    Any suggestion(s)?

  3. Caitlinon 25 Jun 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I’m going to be moving to Phnom Penh for a year, if not longer and I’m interested in jailbreaking my iPhone to put a Cambodian SIM card in it. Judging by Brendan’s comment above, this seems like a possibility; however, just wanted to check to see if anyone has advice about which SIM card is best to use with an iPhone?


  4. […] Travelfish’s advice to get a CellCard sim card when in Phnom Penh, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Cellcard retail booth selling sim cards as soon as I walked […]

  5. Sok Sabayon 07 Jan 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Any stall in one of the local markets will sell you a SIM for a fixed price without no passport or ID hassle. For providers, Hello Axiata is quite OK mainly because their price plans are -while not perfect- slightly LESS confusing than many of its competitors.

  6. Buying SIM cards in South East Asiaon 14 Jul 2013 at 1:33 am

    […] If you’re arriving into Phnom Penh airport, a Cellcard booth is in the terminal, on your right as you leave baggage reclaim.  The person […]

  7. Yoeon 06 Jan 2014 at 5:18 am

    Hi… would love to know, how about the internet coverage In Phnom Penh and Siem Reap if i going to activate the data network for mobile internet usage? is it Cellcard is the best choice? Thanks guys.

  8. Abigail Gilberton 10 Jan 2014 at 4:25 am

    Any of the main suppliers should give you reasonable coverage. However, there’s so much free wifi around – in bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels – that the cheapest option is to ask for the wifi code whenever you sit down!

  9. Viajar y trabajar | Viajeros reverdeson 28 Jan 2014 at 7:46 pm

    […] Camboya – Metfone […]

  10. Erling Steenon 02 Feb 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Do not use CellCard. This is my experience with them:
    At the airport I was met by many companies selling prepaid sim cards. Accidently I chose CellCard. I told the two young girls at the counter that I needed mostly data and SMS, not so much call time. They pointed to a list of options glued to their table, and recommended a plan costing 5 dollars, which should fill my requirements for a month. It should have 3.5 gb data, and enough SMS included. They gave me a printout of the codes to call to see my balances.

    In the taxi from the airport I received a text message that my balance was 0.01 US$. Then I started to wonder….
    Then I tried to send text messages abroad to tell my family the telephone number. It failed. I tried sending SMS to myself, that worked. I asked the staff at my hotel what to do, and that I probably had been cheated. They suggested to fill up the card with an additional 1 dollar, which I did. Then I could send the SMS abroad. OK, they screwed me I thought, so I filled additional 5 dollars to get the same as I already had paid for once. Checking the balance, I had 9 mb of data, which is nothing.

    I went to the CellCard office. After waiting long in a queue I spoke to a young lady in what they call “customer service”, which was not helpful. She checked, and said I had to use another phone code to check my balance, not any of the ones given me at the airport. And there was the 3.5 gb I was missing.
    She also said that the plan I had did not include SMS abroad!!! Why are they selling this to tourists at the airport if it is only usable for Cambodians? Tourists need to send SMS abroad, and not only inside Cambodia. I asked to get my money back, so I could go to a serious company and buy a new sim card. She said that was impossible, went away for a long time talking to someone else, but the answer was the same. So they misinformed me at the airport, and when I complained they left me, the customer with the problem, and didn’t try to solve it.
    Now, this is not the money we are talking about, but their attitude and misinformation. Use another company.

  11. Steveon 07 May 2014 at 5:47 am

    Cellcard and nearly all other providers off great coverage around the major population hubs and cheap, fast data. The post by Erling is pure nonsence, you’re in a foreign country so do some research first. Probably how you found this page and all operators have web pages in English.

    As for International SMS, with Viber, iMessage, Facetime, WhatsApp, Hangouts etc I doubt you’ll need it, WiFi is available free in nearly all hotels, cafes and bars

    SIMs need to be activated, this normally requires a copy of both your passport and visa. Anywhere selling legitimate SIMs will be able to make copies from your passport and then put the SIM in a device connected to an old Nokia phone to register it on the network, if not using the official store.

    If they just hand you a SIM, in 99% of cases it won’t be activated and you’ll be scammed. This usually happens at the small overland border crossings.

    Cheapest, reliable SIMs are from many of the roadside places selling special numbers, they’re easy to spot especially in PP and will have network operators umbrellas and signs. Just choose any from the $1 selection if you don’t care what number you get.

    In the PP tourist areas, they’ll want $5 for just a SIM, this again maybe not be activated as with the border crossings. They may tell you to wait 24 hours, this is rubbish, the SIM won’t work unless it has been activated and is just a scam.

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