Monks crossing the road in Phnom Penh Cambodia

Best SIM Cards for Backpacking in Cambodia

Cambodia is steeped in bloody history and until recently, it was almost impossible for tourists to get a SIM card in the country. In fact, in 2006, the government was actively blocking the construction of 3G networks to prevent offensive (read: political) content from being easily distributed. 

Thankfully, times have changed and you can now pick up a decent Cambodian SIM for cheap. There are three major networks across the country and competition has led to low prices. Coverage varies across Cambodia but after travelling all over and maxing out our visa extension, we were able to use all the main SIMs and have learnt a thing or two about the best! 

If you’re in a rush and want a quick recommendation, the best SIM for backpacking in Cambodia is the Cellcard Tourist SIM. If you want to know why we’ve selected this one, keep reading! 

Related: (opens in new tab)

A Guide to Cambodian SIM Cards

Where to Buy a Cambodian SIM

When buying a SIM in Cambodia, it is best to head to one of the official stores as opposed to buying from a street vendor. Whilst most shops and vendors do have SIM cards for sale, they often whack the price up to make a healthy profit. It is not uncommon to see SIM cards being sold for five times their actual value! Don’t get ripped off!

You will be required to show your passport for the purchase of a SIM card, no matter where you buy it. This ID will be copied and kept on file to register the SIM. Small vendors may not be able to register the SIM but will still be willing to sell you one. This means that there is a possibility that the SIM could be cut off without warning.

Be sure to ask for a 4G SIM card as these are not always given out as standard. If you do accidentally get given a 3G SIM, it can be swapped at an official store free of charge. You may be surprised to know that some Cambodian network providers now offer 5G coverage – you could be even better connected than at home!

If you’re arriving at one of Cambodia’s airports such as Angkor International in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh International, you may find that Smart or Metfone are offering free SIM cards to passengers. You will need to activate and top these up following the instructions given to you in the welcome pack.  

Network Coverage

Each network covers almost all major towns and cities and the speed is comparable from one to another. Outside of large population centres, each network varies dramatically, with some working very well in the north and others working very well in the south.

If you’re in doubt, check to see which carrier the locals are using in the specific area you will be visiting. If you will be travelling in the country for a while, Metfone is well known for having the most reliable coverage across Cambodia but their speeds are often lower than the competition.

It is worth noting that phone calls or text messages between different carriers can be very expensive. If you are travelling with a friend or in a group and want to stay in contact easily, make sure you stick to the same network or use WhatsApp and iMessage, otherwise, you will find yourself topping up every other day. 

Heading East? 🧭

If you’re heading to areas in the east of the country like Sen Monorom, Banglung or Kratié, pick up a Metphone or Smart SIM. These offer the best coverage in these lesser-visited parts of Cambodia. 

Best Cambodia SIM Cards:


  • Where to get a SIM: Official stores and some street vendors 
  • Where to top up: Anywhere displaying the Metfone logo or online
  • Cell network: 2G/3G/4G
  • ID Required: Yes
  • Bands/Frequencies: 2100MHz (3G) Band 3 (4G)

Metfone is owned and operated by the Vietnamese military network Viettel and as such, provides decent coverage across much of the country. The peak 4G speeds are often slightly slower than the competition but the larger coverage area makes Metfone an attractive option for travellers.

Whilst there is no straight-up tourist SIM available from Metfone, they do have several options that work great for backpackers. The deals are often changing so check out their website for the most up-to-date information.

As a general rule, you will not be able to use data unless you have purchased a package. $20USD will buy you around 20GB, valid for 30 days. Often, you will be able to find deals with top-up bonuses or extra data so don’t just settle on the first package you see – some are only available in person and others are only available online. 


  • Where to get a SIM: Official stores, some shops and street vendors, plus the arrivals area at Cambodian airports 
  • Where to top up: Official stores, any shop displaying the Cellcard logo and online 
  • Cell network: 2G/3G/4G
  • ID Required: Yes
  • Bands/Frequencies: Band 3 (4G) 2100MHz (3G)

Top Tip!

When you pick up your SIM, make sure you get the regular SIM and not the discounted option that does not have data packages available. 

Since introducing its 4G network in 2015, Cellcard has been going from strength to strength and is quickly becoming Cambodia’s fastest 4G network. Their cell towers now cover over 80% of the country and offer great deals for locals and backpackers.

Before the introduction of the 4G network and the massive expansion that has taken place over the last few years, Cellcard was not a good option for travellers. Recently though, they have been winning Cambodia’s fastest network awards and are looking set to become the dominant force of Cambodia’s mobile networks.

Tourist SIMs are only available in airports and offer competitive rates with up to 5GB of data per day as standard. Initially, the tourist SIM is only valid for seven days but this can be extended with each top-up. Make sure you keep the SIM topped up because some users have reported being unable to reactivate it once it has expired. 


  • Where to get a SIM: Official stores, street vendors and shops with the Smart logo
  • Where to top up: Anywhere you can buy a SIM.
  • Cell network: 2G/3G/4G/(5G Phnom Penh only)
  • ID Required: Yes
  • Bands/Frequencies: 2100Mhz (3G), Bands 1&3 (4G)

Smart claims to have covered 98% of Cambodia with its 2G network and over 75% of the country with 3G. The 4G network was originally only rolled out in large population centres but as of 2017, it has been spreading further afield. It is the first company to implement 5G but currently, this is only available in Phnom Penh. 

Tourist SIMs are only available in the arrival areas at Cambodia’s international airports. The 30-day tourist SIM package costs around $10USD and will buy you unlimited network minutes and texts, plus 60GB data, as well as unlimited data for Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp and Viber. 

Sometimes staff run out of tourist SIMs at airports and end up pushing normal SIM cards instead. If this happens to you, it is worth paying attention to the deals that are offered with each SIM. Some give you extra minutes each day and others provide bonuses with each top-up, however, data does not come as standard with any of them. You must purchase a data package to access the internet – these are usually valid for between 1-30 days.

Overall, coverage in cities and large towns is great but as with all the networks, it does drop off as you get more rural. We can personally vouch for the effectiveness of Smart in the Mondulkiri region, however, it is always worth checking with the staff in an official shop if you are curious about coverage in a specific area.

E-SIMs in Cambodia:

If you’re looking for a hassle-free way to stay connected in Cambodia, there is also the option to purchase an E-SIM. While buying a local SIM is far cheaper, these can be a good option for travellers with limited time who don’t want to spend time in a mobile shop when they arrive. Read more about E-SIMs here.

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

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