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.
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.
33 Sihanouk Blvd
T: (012) 800 800
By Lina Goldberg
Last updated on 23rd June, 2011.
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