HOW TO GET FROM PHNOM PENH TO HO CHI MINH
If you are doing the reverse banana pancake trail, you will have to cross the land border between Cambodia to Vietnam, which is from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh city or Saigon. There are different ways you can do this. Depending on your travel style, budget, and how much time do you have in your backpacking in Vietnam.
If you need suggestion for a place to stay in Vietnam, check our very own best Vietnam hostels list. Perhaps you want to go on a motorbike trip in Vietnam, find here all the information you need to know. While here are some fun and unusual things to do in Vietnam.
You can use the table of contents belo to navigate faster:
NOTE: All prices are in US Dollars
LAND BORDERS BETWEEN CAMBODIA AND VIETNAM
Bavet / Moc Bai
The first land border crosing between Vietnam nad Cambodia that was opened to foreign travellers, it is also the most popular until today.
Kaam Samno / Ving Xuong
This border is know river crossing between Phnom Penh and Chau Doc. You can get a fast and/or slow boats here. Once you get to the border, a fixer will collect all the passport to process the paperwork. You can come if you are feeling uncomfortable to give away your passport.
Phnom Den / Tinh Bien
This border is close to Kampot or Takeo. and is open for foreign travellers. However, it is quite expensive to get a transport from here.
Prek Chak / Xa Xia
It is a Cambodia/ Vietnam coastal border and is open to travellers with valid visa. It is only twenty minute motorbike ride from Kep and it costs about $7.
BUS FROM PHNOM PENH TO HO CHO MINH CITY
The most common way to cross the border is to take a bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh city. Some travellers wonder if they can cross the border from Siem Reap directly Ho Chi Minh city but that's simply not possible. There are travel agency who offers this but the truth is, the bus will still have to stop in Phnom Penh where you can change to another bus.
RELATED POST: Here is our backpacking in Vietnam article which we tackle different topics under it.
How Long is the Bus Journey
The bus journey will be about 6-hour journey with a 10 minutes lunch break before crossing the actual border. Some buses have a toilet in the bus some doesn't. While other bus companies offer a free lunch too. The landscaper during the trip is quite nice, you will see the green fields and country life of Cambodia.
There are overnight buses where the travel time takes about 11 hours instead of 6 hours. This is mostly because of number of stops and the fact that the border only works during the business hours, therefore, you need to spend a few hours in the bus until the border is open. Also, the sleeping berths they have is basically a double sized bed, whereas you have to share it to a stranger.
How Much is the Ticket for the Bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City
Depending on your budget it ranges between $12-$18 depending on the time schedule and company.
I personally have tried The Sinh Tourist, Kumho Samco, Mekong Express, and Giant Ibis. The Sinh Cafe was okay but not the best but it's the cheapest. The buses are old and the seats are not comfortable. While Mekong Express was a little better than The Sinh Tourist, there seats are more comfortable, some buses can be old. There was a time where water was dripping right on top of me, luckily, the seat next to me was empty. They also offer mini vans which are faster than the big buses. On the other hand, I also tried their new bus which was great.
Kumho Samco is not bad either, they have reclining seats which is good, however, their air-conditioner is not the best. Giant Ibis is the tourist's and expat's favourite. Spacious, newer buses, great air-conditioning, and their staffs speak good English. They are also the most expensive, starting $18.
Our luggage was not scanned during the crossing, they were left in the bus. Remember to bring your valuables like passport, wallet, and gadgets.
EXITING THE BORDER OF CAMBODIA
Your driver or conductor will explain to you how to cross the border, get to the immigration office, and how to find your bus again. Go the the immigration office to get your exit stamp, it's easy and straight forward, unless you have overstayed.
You will hop back in to the bus until you reach the border office of Vietnam which is about 2-3 minutes.
ENTERING THE BORDER OF VIETNAM
Depending on your nationality, there are free visa available at the border. If you need a visa and your country is accepted for visa on arrival, all you need to do is give your passport and pay the fee.
If you need a visa before entering Vietnam and is not applicable for a visa on arrival, you need to process your visa beforehand. You can do this in Phnom Penh. Check this guide about how to apply for a Vietnam visa in Phnom Penh.
Your bus company conductor will collect your passport, this is mostly for those who are doing a visa on arrival or simply to fast track the process, it is common that they charge $5 for this service, on top of the visa fee (which is $35 for those doing a visa on arrival). You can chose to not give you passport and stand on the line and get your own stamp if you feel uncomfortable to give your passport to someone apart from the immigration officer.
You will give your passport to the person in charge (normally you will see a pile of passport on the desk, just ask if you should add it there). Your name will be called once your passport has been stamped.
Proceed to the exit of the building and hop back in the bus. Enjoy the rest of the journey.
WHERE WILL YOU BE DROPPED OFF
If the bus company have an office at the backpacker's street (Pham Ngu Lao), you will more likely to be dropped there. If you are unsure, ask you conductor where the drop off will be.
HOW TO GET TO YOUR ACCOMMODATION FROM HERE
You can easily walk to most hostels from Pham Ngu Lao, if you have too many luggage or your hostels is quite a walk, hop on a taxi or book it through the app called Grab (this work just like Uber). You can order a motorbike taxi, a real taxi, or a car.
CROSSING THE BORDER WITH YOUR MOTORBIKE
You can bring your motorbike to Vietnam from Cambodia with you as long as you have the right documents. Here are the expected things you need and the what you need to do when crossing the border with your motorbike:
What you need:
- International driver's license from your home country
- Valid driver's license
- Blue card or the document that shows you bought this bike legally
- Cash (much better in USD)
- You can do the immigration first (get exit/entry stamp)
- Head to customs, ask the personnel around where to go for exporting/importing your motorbike
- Fill out the form
- Give the form and your documents to the person in charge
- Pay - it was said that the fee is $20 and a stamp fee of $1-$2. You should bring enough cash in case there are other fees that you need to pay
Here is a in-depth guide about motorbiking in Vietnam; find out what you need to know before starting your trip.
FLYING FROM PHNOM PENH TO HO CHI MINH CITY
If you prefer to fly or your budget permit, there are direct flights between Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh city. They are usually carried by Cambodia Angkor Air, Vietnam Airlines, and Qatar Airways with at least once or twice a day schedule.
However, flight tickets are not the cheapest. They range between $75 to $130 for one-way. You can check flights here.
WHERE TO STAY
Either you are a backpacker, on a full-on holiday, or a family traveller, Ho Chi Minh City can accommodate your need well enough.
Best is to check out our where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City guide to compared the best ones from another and see what suit you better.
WHERE TO GO NEXT
From Ho Chi Minh City, travellers would either go to Phu Quoc, an island best for holiday makers or tourists who love to relax on the beach. Vung Tau, a beach town not far from Ho Chi Minh City (how to get to Vung Tau from HCMC) - also a less travelled place in Vietnam. While most people would head to Mui Ne (here is how to get to Mui Ne from Ho Chi Minh City), another beach town known for water activities such as kite and wind surfing, sand dunes, and visiting small villages.
I hope you find this article about how to get from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh city has been useful for you. If you have questions, let us know on the comment section.
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