Where to ride? How to go? Crossing Border Q’s and details you need to consider and be ready about. Onto your Indochina Trip as well?
Backpacking? Yiiiipppppieee! It was like every traveler’s dream to venture into this kind of trip. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds or as adventurous as it is. It takes effort, research and the will to do it all.
So if you’re wondering how to really cross border and to travel from one country to another via the cheapest way – which is thru bus; then you have come to the right page. Let me share with you our entire experience on this. So read on,
How to go to Cambodia (Siem Reap) from Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh)?
- There were actually 2 options to look at; (1) via plane – which is more convenient, easier and time efficient but is definitely much expensive or (2) like what we did – to travel via BUS.
- A part of me wanted to really feel the backpacking trip and so we go to BUS option instead 🙂 hahaha!!
WHERE TO BOOK FOR THE BUS TRIP?
- Researched will tell you that there are options from various bus company in Ho Chi Minh, if you won’t plan ahead you’d end up choosing what is only offered to you.
- Based on my experience and based on the blogs I have read as well it is said that the best bus company for transport is thru “Mekong Express Bus”
- I book and paid this in advance via this site : https://catmekongexpress.com/booking.aspx
- Choose a seat of your preference and have an emailed voucher with you
- The whole trip cost 24 USD (as of 2018) it was credited thru my credit card while I was still in Manila and the currency exchange differs depending on the season as well
- The bus package comes with : a free snack for breakfast, bottled water, an English Speaking guide to help you with the entire process (SUPER THANKFUL FOR THIS!!!!) and assistance with the border crossing thru the Immigration as well
- The entire travel time is 12 hours inclusive of the stop overs and the crossing thru the borders which I would explain later on to this blog post also
- For ASEAN passport holder, there is no VISA fee going to Cambodia from Vietnam, and you may stay a maximum of 21 days — should you wish to have your stay extended make sure to file it properly as well
WHAT TO EXPECT FOR THE BORDER CROSSING?
- The trip to Cambodia only happens once a day — meaning if you lose your trip in the morning you have to wait for the next day to travel to Siem Reap. So really really really be cautious with this.
- Me and my best friend Kim started our day pretty early – as we prepare ourselves to the bus meeting place, we couldn’t wait for our breakfast in hostel as it’ll be ready by 8AM.
- Our bus trip was scheduled at 8:30AM; we were really cautious with the time on this as one late and it would ruin our entire Indochina Itinerary!! Hahahah!!
- The goodness of the meeting place, it was also just near our hostel in Vintage Hostel, so we only walked going the bus station.
- Also read my Vietnam Itinerary Guide : #SaigonWithTheWind : Vietnam Itinerary for 4D/3N
We waited for the operator to assist us while the rest of the passengers were arriving as well. There was even a group of Filipino Teachers who were all travelling with us so it was really a full packed bus ride for that morning.
8:30AM we rode thru the bus and thank god for reserving the seat in advance as we were able to choose our seat in advance.
The safe side – the driver side, second row 😀 being near the door and near the guide and free from the noises from the bantering of people as the same time.
- From Ho Chi Minh after almost 2 hours we reached the exit border of Vietnam. Having the English Speaking tour guide was really helpful – she gotten all our passports and inserted the Cambodia arrival form in time for crossing border
STEP BY STEP CROSSING OF BORDER :
- From the Vietnam Border — We all went down to the border gate only bringing our hand carry bags with us, the big luggage’s all stays in the bus as the bus operator were the ones who handles all transfers on that. It was really risky I must say but I just had to trust the bus company we were at and just follow on instructions.
- It was our guide who handed all our passport to the officer in charge as we lined up and wait for our names to be called
- Then we exit to the gate and ride back to the bus
- there was no questions asked, the Immigration Officer just stamp each of the passport — called each of the tourist and gave us our passport as we exit
- Make sure when you have your passport with you check if there is the exit stamp in it
- as we exited, we waited for the rest of the tourists from our bus ride until everyone is back in the bus and started once again our travel heading to Cambodia
- after a couple of hours we are in Cambodia Border already and we are instructed to unload the bus once again.
- From Cambodia Border – Same process as what we did in the Vietnam border, but this time we were holding each of our passport as we lined up in the Immigration Officer (*similar feeling in NAIA IO)
- You are only holding your personal bags as the big luggage was being handled by the bus company
- Inside the border crossing we do the usual — Fingerprint then photo capturing then stamp – then exit
- NOTE : again, make sure you double check the Entry Stamp for Cambodia
- For ASEAN country passport holder there is no payment for VISA anymore
- They do not actually ask for your accommodation or questions such as how many days will you be staying in the country and the likes (*but still, just make sure you are ready with docs)
- Also make sure that you fill up the Cambodia Arrival form completely to avoid further questions and delays
- After riding the bus, a couple of minutes after we had a quick lunch for 20 mins
*Notes : since you travelled and cross bordered already – make sure you have a Cambodia or US Dollar to pay for your lunch
*Extra Notes : Cambodia – since influx of tourists is rampant – most of the establishment uses and accepts US Dollar as payment
2:00PM – touch down Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
- For some tourists who wanted to maximize Cambodia; you can actually drop off at Phnom Penh and spend a day or 2 before you head to the capital in Siem Reap
- Our bus ride had to stop at another terminal and we had to change bus from there that would take us straight to Siem Reap
- Do not worry and make sure you always keep your voucher with you – as this would only be the only basis for you to ride the next bus (*this second bus is part of the package payment already when you book online)
- The bus trip was then smooth sailing as we reached Siem Reap at around 8PM.
- the bus ride would feels like forever hahaha!! so make sure you have food with you, water, candies and the likes — as for me, I have a Kdrama ready for me hahahaha!! (I was interchanging sleeping with Kdrama watching the entire time)
8:00PM – touch down Siem Reap ❤ ❤
Exploring Cambodia on my next blog post —-– *blog post to follow
Final Notes and Guidelines :
- I strongly suggest you book the same bus company that I had crossing border to Cambodia, it was very convenient and I couldn’t imagine crossing border without a guide to help you with
- You see, SCAM is pretty rampant in the border crossings – I also always feel not safe when I’m crossing border
- Make sure you carry all your belongings with you
- I hardly take out my phone and camera coz snatching is also unavoidable in these areas especially for tourists
- As for the big luggages, make sure you sealed it as well and have a lock in it also since we always never know the danger
- I was praying the entire time of the trip hoping nothing bad would happen with our luggage, because I have read a lot online that scares me to death !!! hahahahahahaha!!!
- The English Speaking Tour Guide was really very helpful it gave me that confidence at some point that we are safe with the entire crossing border process
- Bring enough cash with you, make sure you have US Dollar or Cambodia Riel so you have something to spend with
- Just make sure to be extra cautious with your surroundings, remember to keep an open eye wherever you are.
- Ask the best person for your inquiries, if not – try your best to solve it your way
- AS for the internet connections – better if you have a Wifi with you or a simcard with internet so you get yourself covered should there be anything you needed to know at the moment
- Please be extra careful with SCAMS!! it is indeed rampant — never let your guard down — I realized when my parents taught me to never talk to strangers — this is indeed the best time to have it applied :p
I was so happy the moment we landed in Cambodia – our Tuktuk driver / service was waiting for us the moment we get there and bring us to our accommodation.
Will be sharing our Cambodia itinerary on my next blog post! So stay tune.
Should you need an excel file of my full itinerary during my trip, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @nathaliecsalcedo send me a DM! I’ll be happy to share it too ❤ ❤
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TO MORE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS. – XOXO