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Mobile Phone Apps You Need to Live in Cambodia
Written by: Kate John
Last Updated: November 17, 2020
We all have that group of apps we use frequently to help get us through our day. Well, Cambodians are no different. This list should make your transition into teaching English in Cambodia and the Khmer tech world slightly easier.
So, without further ado, these are the apps you need to live in Phnom Penh:
Passapp, GRAB, and Itsumo for Public Transportation
Cambodia’s roads are ruled by scooters, or motos. The roads are crowded, and it’s difficult to navigate the traffic if you can’t weave through it. Larger vehicles like cars, buses, and trucks just contribute to the traffic jams that plague this city. That being said, I didn’t really want to spend the cash to buy a scooter, or rent one. I was left commuting to school every day by tuk-tuk. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tuk-tuks, but the drivers do frequently up-charge. It’s difficult to want to negotiate price every time you want to go somewhere. But, now there is hope!
I have no idea what I did before PassApp came into my life. PassApp and other apps like it work a lot like Uber. They are ride-ordering services that charge you a taxi-like fee. Drivers arrive in rickshaws, much smaller than cars but safer than scooters. It’s good to have more than one of these applications because sometimes the servers go down, but they’re fairly similar. I prefer PassApp because it’s usually a bit cheaper. The only remarkable difference between these apps and Uber is that you pay cash on delivery, so make sure to carry small bills! You can use Uber too, Cambodia just recently launched the app here. It’s making a huge rise so keep your eyes peeled.
Meal Temple - for Eating With Ease
Much like GrubHub in the US, Meal Temple allows you to order food from restaurants from around Phnom Penh. Delivery drivers come on scooters, so they can cut through traffic easier than you can get around in a tuk-tuk or PassApp rickshaw. It’s nice to not have to go out, and buying food here is frequently cheaper than cooking on your own. This is definitely one of the apps you need to live in Phnom Penh, if for no other reason than discovering new local restaurants.
Khmer24 - for Second Hand Items
Basically the Cambodian version of Craigslist, this app has many of the same features. If you want to find someone offering a service or item this is a good place to start. It’s not perfect, there’s a surplus of some things and virtually none of others, but it can help. I used Khmer24 a lot when I first arrived to find an apartment, and then to pick up furnishings for the kitchen. It’s also a good app for finding a moto if you’re in the market for one, or even a teaching position.
Cellcard/Smart - for Responsible Phone Ownership
These are the two major cell phone providers in Phnom Penh. Once you’ve purchased a SIM card ($1-5 depending on where), you can replace your American one, and your phone will likely work right away without special modification. Phones here run on a top-up card system for minutes, and you can opt into various different data packages. We have one that costs $1-2 a week and gives us all the data we need, it pulls this out of top-ups. So every once in a while we just purchase a $5 card to top up. Be careful though, if you go over your allotted data it will eat through your minutes really fast, so it’s good to keep an eye on it. It’s convenient to be able to watch your balance, so you know when you need to top up. While these apps aren’t as fun as the others, they are useful for sure. They will also provide you with some tech support for your service provider. A note of caution; I wouldn’t recommend using your minutes to call home though, it will add up fast.
Facebook and Messenger - for Talking to Everyone
Facebook is incredibly popular here. People use it as more than just a platform for pictures of their smiling babies though. There are numerous groups of expats, locals, teachers, NGO workers, residents of certain areas, athletes, etc. It’s a great way to network with people when you first get here. Also use the ITA Alumni Cambodia Facebook Group prior to moving out here to get all the details and find some assistance with snagging a job and a place to crash. Phnom Penh is a small town though, so watch your online presence. We use the Facebook communities mostly to hear about new restaurants, or events in our area. It also helped us find the apartment we ended up living in. Messenger especially is super useful for contacting people and businesses with ease.
This may not be a list of every app Cambodia has to offer, but these five will really help you get started. Just like any other country, apps come and go frequently. Don’t be surprised if something fabulous and new is on the scene soon!
After volunteering for a year in the Denver Public School System, Kate felt like she needed a change. She and her boyfriend both got TEFL certified and set off on an adventure of a lifetime in the Kingdom of Wonder. Since then Kate has written extensively about her life teaching English in Cambodia as one of ITA's Writing & Content Ambassadors.
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