To Cambodia by bus

We’re travelling so I’ve taken a break from posting Peru things and hope my accumulating stock of photos will keep me busy for those long winter nights. It’s been a wonderful adventure — only a smidge of the runs and that passed fast. Imodium and cipro are my friends!

After a few days in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC or, as they still call it, Saigon) we were off on our six hour bus trip to Pnomh Penh. More about the rest of our trip later but, in case it’s helpful, I thought I’d describe the whats and wherefores of crossing the Vietnam-Cambodia border by land.

After a few days in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC or, as they still call it, Saigon) we were off on our six hour bus trip to Pnomh Penh. More about the rest of our trip later but, in case it’s helpful, I thought I’d describe the whats and wherefores of crossing the Vietnam-Cambodia border by land.

First and very important, we had valid multiple entry Vietnam visas. Important because you can’t get a Vietnam visa at the border and if you don’t already have one and want to return they’ll turn you back. In contrast, Cambodian visas are available at the border and cost US$35 — 30 for the government and 5 for a bus company service fee.

Next step was booking the US$15 tickets which was easy-peasy at 12GO, a web booking service for many Asian transportation companies. It worked flawlessly and seems to be very professional outfit. We got tickets with Kumho Samco Buslines and headed off to their depot in Saigon leaving lots of time to spare. The bus left on time and it will not wait so check the departure time and location carefully. Make allowances for bad traffic and for navigating any vast and confusing bus terminals (e.g. Bangkok). Plan to be at the terminal at least half an hour early. It’s good to have a paper copy of your booking as some companies including Kumho require it. Our hotel printed it for us.

So there we were at an ungodly hour at a bus depot on a busy Saigon street. We gave them our printed confirmation and they gave us our tickets. We took our bags to the bus and were off to Cambodia in a nice air-conditioned coach bus with its staff of four. I trusted them with our luggage but a few things are just too important so I hand carried my meds and cpap machine. We handed our passports and US$35 each to a guy on the bus. He vets the passports and pays in bulk. This is how it works and it’s not negotiable.

First stop was Vietnam border control. We followed the crowd into the building and waited for our names to be called to retrieve our passports – we had to listen carefully as it was a creative pronunciation. We lined up for a Vietnam border officer who checked us out and, since we hadn’t overstayed our visas or committed any crimes, gave our passports a stamp and sent us back to the bus. No photos were allowed inside and I declined to test the rule.

Then it was a short drive through the red & white pole barrier at the boundary and a hundred meter walk to Cambodia immigration. We showed our passports to a surly man who made sure we were us, pasted Cambodia visas into our passports, gave them another stamp and sent us on our way. We put our carry-on stuff through an x-ray and emerged into the tropical sunshine with fresh 30 day Cambodia visas.

On the walk back to the bus we bought a Cambodian SIM card and had it installed on our phone. It took about two minutes and the card cost US$2 (yes, two whole dollars!), plenty for our four day stay. Five bucks will get you the deluxe version. I should mention that Cambodians prefer US money (all prices you see will be in US$) so be sure to bring some with you. And make sure the bills are nice and new with no tears or stains. Less-than-perfect US bills will be refused.

A pee stop, a lunch stop and then on to Phnomh Penh and a US$5 tuk tuk ride to our hotel. Altogether a pleasant experience and a nice little adventure.

The next leg of our trip was also by bus, from Phnomh Penh to Siam Reap, the hometown of Angkor Wat. Another simple booking  through 12GO, this time on Giant Ibis. Also a good ride on a slightly newer, cleaner bus with  narrower leather seats. Both bus lines were fine.

This is what we experienced in November of 2018. Visa rules, bus lines and procedures change so be sure to check directly with current sources if you are making critical travel decisions.

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3 thoughts on “To Cambodia by bus

    1. I expect someone with the handle ‘flushitout’ knows of what he speaks and I agree, only if necessary. Believe me, it was necessary! I never leave home without it and, mercifully, this is the first time I’ve used it.

      Like

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