Our Experience Getting a Sim Card in Cambodia

One of our concerns before leaving home for our travels was what we were going to do when we needed to make a call, or wanted to check the internet while out and about. We considered using an international plan with our US-based carriers, but we weren’t going to use the phone enough to justify the high cost. Thanks to rapid development of mobile networks around the world including Southeast Asia, it turns out that its quite easy to get a cheap sim card in basically every country we’ve visited that includes calling, texting, and 3G internet access (our most important feature), so long as you have an unlocked phone! Anna-Lisa’s two-year commitment came to an end just a few days before we left, so a simple phone call to AT&T got hers unlocked. We used TrueMove while in Thailand, but while we topped up multiple times, I never fully figured out how to get specific packages due to the site design being poor, and half the phone prompts being in Thai. Thankfully, my experience getting a sim card in Cambodia yesterday was much better. For $5 we got ourselves a plan that should easily cover our usage over the week or so we’re spending in Siem Reap and Phnom Pen. I enjoyed the process so much, I’ve decided to write a quick post about it.


The best part about trying to get a sim card in Cambodia is that English is widely spoken here, so most vendors will be able to explain at least a little bit, and the message prompts you get back from the provider will be in English as well, at least if you use Smart. Still, I was a bit confused about the process initially until I received some extra help from a couple of the employees at our hotel. It turns out there is one important step to activating your phone and plans that I didn’t know about.

Mobile Phone Companies in Cambodia

The Cambodian mobile phone market has many competitors, which means low prices for customers, always a good thing in my eyes. Some of the largest are as follows:

Mobitel (Cellcard)
Smart Axiata  (This was the company I used and one of the largest in terms of subscriber base. Their website also defaults to English)

Many of these companies will be selling plans geared directly to tourists in the Siem Reap and Phnom Pen airports, but if you want a more personalized package that will likely be cheaper, read on about my experience buying from one of the many small Smart vendors around Siem Reap

5 Steps to Getting a Plan Customized to Your Needs

1. Buy a Smart sim card from any vendor for your unlocked phone
The sim card should cost $2.50 and comes with $.50 credit to start you off.

2. Make an outbound call to activate your number before subscribing to other services
This is an important step! I didn’t do this initially and tried to sign up for other services, but none of them worked until I placed an outbound call while trying to figure out the phone with the hotel employees. Once I completed this step, the internet plan I was trying to purchase kicked into gear.

3. Choose a base call/text plan
I recommend choosing Smart’s base plan, Smart Laor. Calls are $.05/min and SMS $.01/min. You can activate it for free by dialing *500#, or you can choose another base plan from the four options on their website. If you get the base plan first, you’ll be able to receive a call bonus when you top up in step four.


Hover over tariff to see all 4 Smart base plans including Smart Laor

4. Buy additional top-up credit from the vendor
I paid for $2 of additional credit, which is easily added to your phone by dialing the number below (assuming you are using Smart) and typing in the code. See my example below:

Top up: *888* enter Pin number and press #, then dial
example: *888*1111222233344#, then dial.

You’ll receive a message confirming the top-up.

5. Purchase additional services such as an internet plan with your available funds
We got our phone in order to communicate with our friends who are also currently in Siem Reap, but we also enjoy having 3G access while out and about to find places to eat, see the map, etc. Smart’s base internet package is 1mb/$.02, but you can purchase lump packages for a better price, as shown below. Simply activate by calling the appropriate number. We chose the monthly 300MB plan, which costs a whopping $1.

Smart 3G Internet

Smart Internet Plan options

Some Useful Codes to Know if Using Smart

*888# Dial: See current cash balance on account

*500# Dial: Activates Smart Laor base plan (recommended). You can find activation codes for other Smart plan such as Smart6, WOW!! and XtraLong by clicking the links

*087# Dial: Shows a menu of Smart internet plans, starting as low as $.10 a day.

*087*888# Dial: Remaining time and MB for your current plan


That covers all the basics! Follow these steps and you’ll quickly be back to enjoying the beauty of Angkor Wat. Let us know if you have any questions.

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2 Responses to Our Experience Getting a Sim Card in Cambodia

  1. Smart SIM December 10, 2014 at 5:44 am #

    The SmartSIM Members you have personally enrolled will generate a Team Sales Bonus for you. The Team Sales Bonus is a percentage of the SmartSIM related sales like airtime, extra sim card, personal extra numbers and data packages, in any particular month. The SmartSIM Sales Volume determines the extent of your Team Sales Bonus. Smart SIM Thank you.

  2. Brendan Dempsey March 16, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    Multiple misinformations to me from Smart Internet and their agents resulted in pretty much my entire day wasted and still no decent internet connection. The worst of it was that much of their misinformation to me seemed to me to be quite deliberate and extremely blameworthy.

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