Monday, June 23, 2008

Crossing the border: Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap

One of my favorite things to do in a foreign land is to try out the different softdrinks available. However, this is not what this post is about. This entry lists my adventure going from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to Siem Reap, Cambodia via bus as part of this backpacking trip.

One early morning of December 2007, a day after I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I boarded a bus bound to Siem Reap, Cambodia. This is a 2-part trip. The first bus took us to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This leg takes about 4 hours going to the Cambodian capital.

The bus wasn't full. In fact we're only 3 passengers that time!

One thing I like about Vietnam and Cambodia is that major roads usually have their own bike lanes so that they won't congest the lanes for the bigger vehicles.

This is me taken at a gasoline station when the bus stopped for fuel refilling.

This is how a bus looked like, typical everyday bus with a small comfort room at the rear end.

We reached the border in less than an hour in Moc Bai, Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam. This will be our exit gate from Vietnam and crossing forward, it will take us to Cambodia.

We waited for about 30 minutes. It was our driver who processed the papers for our exit in Vietnam.

Right across the Vietnamese border is the Cambodian border. We boarded the bus again and inless tha a minute we are already in Cambodia. The border is located in Bavet, Svay Rieng, Cambodia.

Unlike in Vietnam, in Cambodia we stayed in our bus until we were given a go signal by an immigration officer that we are all cleared.

near the Cambodian border are a few Casino houses

So we are now officially inside Cambodia. The trip continued further towards Phnom Penh.

It was a very pleasant day trip. Comfortable bus, beautiful scenery and lovely places!

There was a part of the trip where the bus have to cross the river. We waited for some time because there was a long line of vehicles ahead of us waiting for their turn.

It was a busy place. For those who are hungry, there are vendors who can serve your stomach needs.


After about half an hour waiting, we got our turn and our bus boarded the ferry together with the other vehicles behind us for a 15-minute crossing.

After we got off the ferry, the trip continued towards Phnom Penh.

field workers

We also experienced bad traffic because roads were being constructed.

Around lunch time we reached the city of Phnom Penh. It is very similar to provinces in the Philippines and in some parts even our capital Manila.


houses and shanties by the river

city congestion

We got to the bus station just in time. We need to transfer buses and hurry because it is about to leave. We must have been stucked long in the traffic because we are supposed to get at least an hour leeway for lunch eating.

We boarded another bus in Phnom Penh, this time going to Siem Reap. It was the 2nd leg of the trip and took us about another 4 hours.


2 hours after, we had a stopover in a restaurant. By this time I haven't had my lunch yet and decided to come down to eat.

Looking at the streetfood, I tried to look for something edible. However I decided not to eat and lost my appetite when I saw what they were serving. Are they insects?

Past 6 in the evening we reached the Siem Reap bus terminal. It was very chaotic and to go to my hotel, I need to ride a motorcycle which charged me for 1 USD.

In Siem Reap, I stayd in City River Hotel. A decent but cheap place perfect for budget travellers.

So this is my room, clean, quite spacious and comfortable for a cheap price of about 27 USD a night.

This is the backpack I have been carrying all this time. It contains my laptop, camera gear, and some clothes. This is the only bag I had for 5 days.

Because it was still early evening, I walked around the nearby places looking for something to do. Right in front of my hotel is a river.

I also passed by another guesthouse but that's about it.

It seems that there are not a lot of things to do in the area. I also saw some salons, parlors and restaurants. Because I haven't eaten lunch yet, I decided to eat dinner in Restaurant 89.

This is what I had for dinner, grilled beef of some sort, vegetables and rice.

It was still early when I finished dinner but I was so exhausted and decided to take a rest and stay in my room for the rest of the night and get ready for my adventure the next day.

More pictures are available in multiply. Just add me as a friend to view them.


Unknown said...

nice post. one question though, what's the name of the bus company you took from HCMC to Siem Reap. By any chance you still have their address and number? thanks.

Jasper said...

@agent - it was walking distance from where i stay. i forgot the name but there are lots of bus companies on that area. will check it out

Mich said...

thanks for sharing! How much usually is the budget for a HCMC and Siem Reap trip?

Jasper said...

@mich - hi there. thanks for visiting. depends, i was staying in 2 star hotels/hostels and my budget for everything was more or less USD400-500, that time around 200 for the airfare and the rest for going around. food and accomodation was cheap but going around Angkor Wat may need you to hire car or local transportation, or you may wish to rent a bike or walk around

Mich said...

thanks for your reply! ;)

Unknown said...

Hi! i was wondering how much did the bus ride cost? i'm going to BKK some time april.. i wanted to go to cambodia and from cambodia go to ho chi minh.. can u give me information with the bus fare and visa fee? :) your help will be much appreciated! by the way, love this blog! :)

Jasper said...

@fhineltots - not sure on bus fare now, but i remember it should be around USD25.. as for visa, since i'm holding Philippine passport, i wasn't required to have one due to ASEAN cooperation

szeldon said...


Your was very helpful and thanks for that, but I have a question about your trip. I'll be travelling from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap in about a month. What I'd like to know is where in Ho Chi Minh (a place on map maybe or just an address) there's a bus station from which you travelled?

Ricardo Yamakawa said...

Hi Jasper,
question, a lot of people say the bus travel is a pain, long and tedious due to horrible roads.. also that it takes 12 hours from HCMH to SiemReap.
Your thoughts? I was thinking to fly but its expensive $350 return!!!

Jasper said...

@ricardo - it wasn't that hard for me. it took, at least at that time, only around 8 hours (4 hours to PP and another 4 hours to SR). i paid around USD30 at that time at a ticket office and came in the next day and saw the bus was ready. they also were the ones who handle our connecting bus from PP to SR

Kaitlin said...


Thank you for sharing your experience. My mom and I booked a flight to Ho Chi Mihn this coming September with the aim of getting to Siem Reap by bus. I would like to ask tho, if you don't mind, if there are buses available at the HCM airport that would take us directly to Siem Reap or is there a specific terminal for the buses that would travel that route. Your help would be truly appreciated!

Thanks! :)

Jasper said...

@kaitlin - hi! thanks for reading. i'm not aware of any bus from HCM airport to Siem Reap. i took the bus and bought tikets at the offices (lots of them) in Pham Ngu Lao street

marie said...

hi.i came upon your blog because i was looking for any information if i need to make a reservation for bus ticket from ho chi minh to siem friends and i will be arriving HCM at 1230AM and was wondering if we can just go to the bus station and buy tickets there or we need to make a reservation with the bus company. if the latter, maybe you would have an idea how we can do it. we would like to take mekong express. would appreciate your advise. thanks a lot!

Unknown said...

Hi! When you go to other countries do you usually consult a travel agency for that? If yes, what travel agency is it? Can you recommend some that can give good service when you travel abroad. thanks!!

Jason Martin said...

Quite an amazing tour, loved your moments at that adventure.
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