From Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh by Bus

To go to Vietnam while in Cambodia you can take a flight or go by bus. We decided for the second option because it is cheaper and we are in the adventurous mode. Also, we had so many flights lately and so many more to come, that we’d rather stay a bit in the ground. Click here to read about the ways to travel inside Cambodia.

The Pre-Travel

Besides having much more options of bus companies to Vietnam, we decided to stick with the Giant Ibis (click here to know why we recommend this company at most). We read some very bad stories about people that were left in the border by non trustable bus companies, so we kept with our safe choice, Giant Ibis, because we know that they always kept their promises.

Before arranging this travel you need to have a Vietnam Visa in your passport. When you arrive in Vietnam via some airport, you can make an online visa and have the proper visa printed at the airport. But to arrive their by bus you don’t have this option, so you need to go to some Vietnam Embassy or find a travel agency to arrange the visa for you. One thing is for sure: It doesn’t matter how you are going to Vietnam, save at least 2 days before to get your visa. For us, each visa costed 42 dollars and were ready in around 32 hours.

The travel

Usually there are two different times you can go to Vietnam from Phnom Penh: mornings and afternoons. The travel lasts around 7 hours and the buses are very comfortable, with a lot space to the legs, with electric plugs, a Wi-Fi that works while the 3G works and some water and snacks.

The road adventure is the same one that we mentioned in this post about traveling in Cambodia and you need to be brave or simply relax and understand that this is the Cambodian way and you can’t change that.

The travel started pretty punctually, but we realized that they were putting some locals in the bus like if they were giving them a ride (or maybe selling them cheaper tickets without telling the company), because they had no marked sit (everyone with a ticket has one) and they were jumping from one sit to another as soon as the owner of the sit arrived. They even stoped on the way to pick more locals, which was a little bit annoying, but most of them left the bus before it left Cambodia.

The border between Cambodia and Vietnam

When the bus arrived to the border, a very easy and safe procedure happened in 3 steps:

  • The bus stops right at the passport control to stamp out of Cambodia. You go back inside the bus that is waiting for you right there. There were no lines, because only our bus was there at that moment. It is at this time that the bus staff collect your passport.
  • The bus stops at the Duty Free and Restaurant between the borders for 25 minutes. There you can eat the local food or have a burger or a sandwich.
  • The bus stops at the Vietnamese border control and you must take your luggage with you to be scanned. The bus staff already took your passport to be stamped, so after you are inside the immigration to Vietnam, they will return your passport and you go straight to the bag check, which is just a very small and simple place, with only one x-ray scan. After you are done, you go back to the bus and head to Ho Chi Minh.

Everything at the border is pretty easy and the bus staff is pretty helpful, exactly the opposite when you arrive in Cambodia from Thailand.

The very good news when you get in Vietnam is that the road has two lines for each direction and it is divided in the middle by a concrete small wall, so the very dangerous overtaking times are over and you can relax a bit more.

It took around 4 hours from Phnom Penh to the border and another 3 hours from the border to Ho Chi Minh. Might happen that you face a little bit of traffic in Vietnam, so this will make the travel slower. We faced this traffic and the total hours of the travel was exactly 7.

So, if you want to make this travel through diferent countries by bus, there’s nothing to fear about. Just don’t forget your visa and to fasten your seatbelt.

We also made a night travel by bus from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville. If you want to know more about it, click here to read.

Date of our travel from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh: 12.04.2017