We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

Which Cambodia hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Melbourne, Australia
posts: 49
reviews: 21
Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

Hi All!

We will be in Cambodia (via KL) Thursday afternoon (can't wait!) for our first visit. We're not booking much in advance, and was hoping to get a simcard to use mainly for SMS and internet. Just wondering if we are better off getting a sim in Malaysia or Cambodia? We have acouple of days in KL on the way home and will there in September for a couple of days (then off to Thailand).

I'd rather have one sim card to use all over the place so people back home have a consistant number to contact. Can anyone share their experience with moving between countries and keeping the same sim? Secondly, is a particular network significantly cheaper for data usage.

Thanks in advance.


17 replies to this topic
Bangkok, Thailand
posts: 2,724
reviews: 90
1. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

If your intent is to use Internet, the data roaming charges will be very expensive while outside the home country of the operator that issued your SIM card. Quite often prepaid SIM cards will not even work abroad unless you order the international roaming service from the call center of the mobile operator. You may also find it impossible to add credit into your prepaid account outside the country in which the SIM card was issued, since the operator's payment systems are not geared for this. For example, you cannot buy the top-up vouchers of a Malaysian operator in Cambodia and vice versa.

If the convenience of a single permanent contact number is really important for you, the simplest solution is just to keep using your Australian SIM card and pay the obscenely huge roaming charges. If you want to save money, you need get a local SIM card as you arrive in each country.

In my home country I have enrolled with a discount international operator which provides me with a local number that will transfer calls to an international number defined by me. I will then change this number each time I switch to using another SIM card. This provides the people back home with an unchanging domestic contact number, and I pay for the actually international call according to the cheap rates of this discount operator. The drawback is that the people back home cannot send text messages to this number. Maybe you have a similar service provider in Australia.

posts: 9,113
2. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

As each of the countries you mention operate on different mobile phone systems, you either suffer the horrific charges of "global roaming" of your normal Telco or you need to buy a cheap SIM Card for each of the countries you are in.

I am frequently in KH, VN and LA and all I do is just buy a local SIM Card for circa $4 or $5 - and which often contains almost as much initial credit as the purchase price, so as to get you started - and just take out my AU SIM Card and slip in the SIM Card of the country I am in.

The SIM Card seller usually does this for you anyway.

All so simple and hundreds of dollars cheaper than Global Roaming charges.

Best regards. Ian

Edited: 5:16 pm, June 11, 2013
Amsterdam, The...
posts: 3,853
reviews: 32
3. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

If one of your concerns is having one consistent number for people to get in touch with you via sms then consider buying a cheap dumb phone to put your AU sim into while travelling and purchase a local sim in each country for your data and outbound sms needs.

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 49
reviews: 21
4. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

Thank you all for the prompt replies. The priority will be cheap internet to search/research our accommodation at each new place, the same number would have been a bonus but not essential. Any recommendations for the best mobile Internet cover in Cambodia?

posts: 9,113
5. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

For Cambodia, Cellcard is the national carrier and with the largest user base.

It operates on 3.5 G.

And it is my prefered and regular choice.

You get what you pay for with Telcos.

Best regards. Ian

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
posts: 319
6. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

Sorry to nitpick, but Cellcard is at best the 3rd largest provider in Cambodia. Metphone has the most subscribers in Cambodia, followed by Smart in #2 spot.

In my experience Cellcard has always been the most expensive for what I need to do.

Edited: 9:53 am, June 12, 2013
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
posts: 319
7. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

As far as coverage goes, it does depend where you will be. For example, we were on one of the islands recently and Metphone was the only mobile phone service available. On the other hand, cellcard may have better coverage in other areas. Smart does not have particularly good coverage in the provinces.

posts: 9,113
8. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

Sorry to nit pick.

But with the closure due to bankrupcy of Mfone.

The sale of Vimpel Coms Telco Holdings.

Cellcard is the major and most reliable telco provider within Cambodia.

Currently KH has six telcos but soon to drop to five with the merger of two small fry telcos, Hello (Axiata) and Smart Phone.

You get what you pay for with telcos.

Best regards Ian

Port Elizabeth
Destination Expert
for South Africa
posts: 5,564
9. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

WiFi was available everywhere we went in Cambodia. Everywhere we stayed had it and it was free. Upmarket places tend to charge. A lot of restaurants also have free WiFi.

The only place we had any issue was the Mekong Hotel in Kampong Cham. There we had to go downstairs to the lounge or to an area outside our room with no seats to use it.

I guess it depends whether you are going far off the beaten track.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
posts: 319
10. Re: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia

Hi Ian,

I'm not sure what the bankruptcy of MPhone and the sale of Vimpel (AKA Beeline) have to do with the fact that Metphone (which is not the same as MPhone or Beeline) has the most subscribers in Cambodia, which they do - around 7million

Smart (which merged with the Hello network months ago) has the second largest number of subscribers (5 million).

Cellcard/Mobitel has less than 4 million subscribers.

The quality of service is, of course, subjective, and while I wouldn't recommend Cellcard, their reliability isn't bad. For the record, I use smart in the city and Metpone in the country.

But the size of the subscriber base is not subjective. And Cellcard does not have any where close to the largest user base.

If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe the Phnom Penh post: phnompenhpost.com/2013051065556/IT-and-Telec…

Sorry for hijacking your thread BigA!

Reply to: Sim Card for use in Cambodia, Thailand & Malaysia
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted