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Updated 4 months ago

You may be surprised to find that Cambodia is a well-connected hub, so you can easily keep in touch with loved ones overseas and new friends in the kingdom while you're living there.

Cambodia may be one of the least developed countries in South-East Asia, but its telecoms infrastructure is rapidly developing. In spite of the overarching poverty, the number of mobile phone users has increased exponentially over the past decade, and several local service providers now offer competitive packpages and prices.

Roaming charges are extraordinarily high in Cambodia so it's definitely worth investing in a local SIM on arrival, especially as set-up prices and plans are extremely affordable. WiFi is also widely available across the country and is useful for saving further money on data.

Phones

If you don't want to bring an expensive phone to Cambodia in case it gets stolen, lost or broken, you can easily buy a phone at any of the many phone shops across the country. A popular choice among expats is a Nokia, which is practically indestructible and costs only about US$20. They also have a little flashlight that can come in very useful when negotiating any dark passageways or staircases in old apartment buildings.

Alternatively, if you can't live without a smartphone, then you can also buy these in the country, or most phone stores can unlock the one that you bring with you.

Nowadays, anyone can buy a regular SIM card in Cambodia with minimal hassle and cost. You'll just need to show your passport and a valid visa, and you can then choose a SIM card for about US$2. Some people choose to pay more to have a number that is easy to remember or one that is considered lucky. Depending on the provider, after buying your SIM, you may be required to add at least US$1 in credit to activate it.

Cambodia has a competitive mobile market, with several service providers, which means you can often take your pick of special promotions and deals. The main mobile networks in Cambodia are Metfone (Cambodia’s largest mobile phone provider), Cellcard/Mobitel, Beeline, Smart, qb, Excell and CooTel, and all of these tend to have good coverage in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. However, do note that levels of coverage can vary when travelling around the country depending on the provider, and calling a different network can be expensive and unreliable. As a result, many Cambodians have a few SIM cards to call people on corresponding networks and save money. So, if your best friend or boss is on Metfone, for example, it can be worth signing up with them too.

Many expats tend to opt for a pre-paid plan with Cellcard, as they have English-speaking staff and cheap data packages, and Cellcard also tends to be the carrier of choice for those looking for a data plan. It's also affordable to make international calls on this network, so long as you dial 177 before the country code.

Although you can buy SIM cards at any phone shop, it's a good idea to buy them directly from the provider of choice. This is because they will keep a copy of your passport on file, whereas many small shops don't adhere to this requirement and are also known to charge a mark-up. If you lose your phone for any reason, and have registered your passport directly with the mobile phone company, you can easily get a replacement SIM card.

Internet

You're likely to find that reliable WiFi connections are available in many western-style cafes and hotels in the big cities. And internet cafes are still popular amongst travellers and are relatively easy to find in tourist hotspots.

However, if you plan to be in Cambodia for the long haul and are renting a property that doesn't come with internet, then you may wish to invest in a connection on your own accord. Many internet providers now operate in Cambodia, but some have a better reputation than others. In Phnom Penh, Open Net, ONLINE, Digi, and EZECOM are some of the better established, more reliable service providers for homes and businesses. Opennet and Digi are considered to be the best value for money, as they offer cheap prices and good speeds, but you may need to brace yourself for poor customer service.

Prices do change regularly, particularly when it comes to fibre connection, so it's a good idea to research current offers across the board before you decide. It's also worth checking with other expatriates about what they would recommend, as different ADSL services can slow down significantly when many users are active, so if you choose this service instead of fibre, your choice may depend on the area you live and the times you intend to be online.

Do be aware that it can be quite common for your internet to drop out, as both ADSL and fibre-optic cables can get disconnected at any time without notice.

Many expats have started to take advantage of the 3G and 4G coverage that is now available across the country, by buying a portable 3G/4G modem and a monthly package with a phone provider, such as Cellcard or Metfone. Before choosing your package and provider, be sure to check the coverage beforehand, as connections can vary depending on the area.

  Useful links:

Cellcard

Metfone

Digi

SINET

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