• Jon Herbert

Cambodia: essential smartphone apps

Updated: Aug 11

Cambodia has embraced mobile technology offering accessible and convenient apps for (nearly!) everything from grocery shopping to transportation


1. Transportation

2. Food delivery

3. Banking and payments

4. Mobile internet support

5. Online shopping


In an era defined by smartphone addiction people of a certain mindset could be forgiven for hoping that in Cambodia one can let go of handset culture and do things the 'old fashioned way' without screen time - and that's fine because this absolutely can be done.

On the other hand, Cambodia has embraced the use of mobile technology as a tool for daily living and 'smart' handsets are a ubiquitous accessory. Below we consider reliable regional and home-grown apps that are useful for visitors and expats in Cambodia.


Photograph of some tuk-tuk taxis in Phnom Penh

1. Transportation


Ride Hailing


Ride hailing apps are a reliable choice for visitors to Cambodia offering features such as secure online payment, fixed tariffs, destination assurance, and journey tracking, which are attractive for expats and visitors wishing to avoid the misunderstandings that inevitable do arise from time to time when dealing directly with a driver.


Grab


Headquartered in Singapore Grab is Southeast Asia's most widely recognised 'super app'. At the time of writing in June 2022 Grab's services in Cambodia are focused on ride hailing and express delivery services in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and the app offers the following:

  • Internationally recognised brand assurance

  • Setup online payment options to avoid the need to deal with cash

  • Destination and pick-up assurance with track journey tracking

  • Choice in vehicles including tuk-tuks, remorques and airconditioned taxi's

  • Price is fixed on booking so there is never any need to negotiate pricing

  • Service ratings and cashless gratuities can be added via the app

PassApp


Cambodia's home-grown alternative to Grab and Uber, PassApp has wider geographic coverage than Grab. The default setting on the app is to pick you up and follow verbal instructions to a destination with a metered fare, but there is also an option to fix the destination and price in advance as per Grab. The following can be considered when using PassApp:

  • Well known and reliable service in Cambodia - smaller tuk-tuks that can convey a maximum of 3 passengers tend to be the norm

  • Generally speaking cash payments are preferred, but there is an option for online payment, which needs to be set-up in advance of your ride

  • Vehicles tend to be smaller tuk-tuks although there is an option for remorques, which is viable in Siem Reap but less so in other locations

  • Metered fair and fixed destination options: track progress and ETA on your mobile

  • Widely available service including in locations outside of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap


Minivan and taxi bookings


For longer distance journeys within Cambodia travel by road is often still the balanced option in terms of price, availability, and comfort. For those not using their own vehicle, taxis and minivans offer a comfortable ride, although there are cheaper (and slower) 'big bus' options for those with a preference or looking for an economy fair. Minivan tickets are by the seat and therefore more economical than taxis - especially for groups of less than four passengers, but do not offer the flexibility and door to door service available through a private taxi booking.


Camboticket


Camboticket is an aggregated ticketing service covering Cambodia and also road connections to Thailand and Laos offering a convenient 'one stop shop' for bus, minivan, and taxi tickets across different operators, with a useable interface, online payment options, e-ticketing and online customer support. While it might be possible to personally shop around for slightly better prices (for taxis in particular), Camboticket provides convenient and accessible customer support.


Monitoring your journey


It may be stating the obvious but using Google Map or an alternative maps application for tracking journeys is useful, but also recommended to avoid any misunderstandings on the intended destination.


2. Food delivery


Food delivery apps have had a relatively soft opening in Cambodia, perhaps influenced by relatively limited covid lockdowns in 2020/21, but also because home-cooked and street food remain culturally significant, popular and cheaper alternatives. That said, there are a number of food delivery applications which - in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in particular - cater to the needs of foreigners.


Take away food delivery


Nham 24

logo for Nham 24 takeaway delivery service

Cambodia's self-proclaimed super app, Nham 24 ('Eat 24') is a reliable and flexible food delivery platform, which enables longer distance deliveries by adjusting the delivery price. Service is good with neat touches like presenting the delivery in a tray from the back of the delivery bike and cashless payment options including tips to simplify customer experience.


Shopping and grocery functionality is still formative because of a lower uptake by retail partners, so time will tell.


Grab Food


Grab - which is Southeast Asia's best known 'super app' - has only recently announced that it is opening its food delivery service in Phnom Penh. An institution since covid in many cities in Southeast Asia, as at the time of writing in July 2022 grab food has had something of a soft opening in Phnom Penh with limited availability and delivery range.


Food Panda


Food Panda is a reliable and well-known food delivery service across Southeast Asia and is well established in Cambodia serving over 15 towns and cities. With a focus on consistency and low delivery pricing, Food Panda is a safe bet when ordering delivery from well-known chain restaurants.


Food Panda does offer a grocery shopping service, but while we have only had positive results when ordering one or two items, as our attempts to order a full shop have resulted in most items being missing (with a refund) which may be down to the retailer.


Meal Temple


An alternative to Nham24, meal temple offers food delivery services in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang and Sihanoukville.


Grocery shopping


While not as established as some other locations, there are a few online grocery shopping options in Phnom Penh that are worth mentioning.


Delishop

bag of groceries ordered from Delishop in Phnom Penh

Delishop proclaims itself as Phnom Penh's first online supermarket and offers a range of local and international products aimed towards expats living in Phnom Penh. Rather than stocking its own items Delishop has teamed up with a range of retailers including specialty grocers, bakeries, delicatessens, and even a farm, to bring a wide range of food and household essentials that can be ordered online for next-day delivery in Phnom Penh. Online and cash payment options are available, and customer service is good including personalised updates on item availability and delivery ETA.

Aeon


The best known and established supermarket in Phnom Penh, Aeon delivers a selected range of grocery and other products from either of its principal malls through its own marketplace website.


3. Banking and payments


ABA bank

ABA bank mobile application

For longer term visitors eligible to open a bank account in Cambodia, ABA has quickly become one of the most popular banks in Cambodia with both expats and locals due ease of accessibility - both physically through the many branches and online.


Preeminent amongst the useful tools offered by ABA through its mobile app is its payment platform, which is widely accepted, simple to use (usually by scanning QID), and enables the user to make payments and transfers in both riel and US dollars at no cost to the consumer.


Unlike some countries operating a unified payment system across retail banks, in Cambodia each bank seems to have its own payment platform requiring both the customer and the vendor to have an account, and the popularity of ABA ensures robust coverage.


Other banking apps

Acleda, Canadia other Cambodia based banks operate competing account services to foreigners and include online and application based banking functionality. A number of overseas headquartered banks including Shinsei (Japan) and Maybank (Malaysia) also operate in Cambodia, although app based banking options may be limited or less widely accessible.


4. Mobile internet support


Using an app to manage mobile internet usage and account maintenance is useful and in Cambodia can also include optional top-ups enabling vastly increased data at a fixed price of c.$5+ per month. Various affiliate offers including discounts on movie tickets and at food outlets can also be worth considering. Metfone and Smart both offer apps with a range of incentives and non-essential notifications can be switched off.


5. Online shopping


The reason that online shopping is at the end of this list is that - broadly speaking - Cambodia does not yet do regular online shopping: for example there is no Amazon or Lazada based in Cambodia, and although products can be ordered internationally the import related administration implications need to be very carefully considered.


However, although there are as yet no dedicated apps there are a few locally based companies offering some useful online options for shopping:


Household general stores and electrical appliances


Aeon


The best known and established mall in Phnom Penh, Aeon delivers a selected range of household products from either of its principal malls through its own marketplace website.


Makro


Makro is a cash and carry offering a range of bulk and single items including electrical appliances, cleaning products, household items and knickknacks, and bulk groceries and beverages, which can be ordered for delivery through Makro's website.


Home Improvement and Furniture


Global House


Global House is Cambodia's answer to Home Base and has an eclectic range of tools, utility furnishings, garden and home accessories and DIY items many of which can be ordered online with the Global House website. This is useful if customers have toured the store to view and size up options and can then later make a decision on what to buy without needing to make a second trip to the physical store.


Komnit Store

Komnit Store is an online furniture store delivery within Cambodia offering a wide range of flat-packed and other furnishings including some Ikea products. The list pricing is as delivered to your address in Cambodia.


Sport and Leisure


Decathlon


Decathlon is equipped with a wide range of deliverable items across sports and activities which can be viewed in store or through a very navigable website. The range of products sold in Decathlon in Cambodia is identical to stores in France and Thailand, which is to say that the store is stocked with affiliate branded sports and hiking apparel and exercise equipment ranging from bicycles to home gyms.


Peer to peer sales and secondhand items


Facebook / Khmer24.com


Many retailers and consumers in Cambodia use Facebook as their primary retail platform, and the largest peer to peer facilitator on the platform is Khmer24 listing products ranging from mobile phone accessories to houses and everything in between. This is a peer-to-peer platform so buyers should "beware" and check-out resellers and products before parting with any cash.



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