We made the trek into Cambodia from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and back out again travelling from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand. You do not need to acquire a visa before entering Cambodia, you can get one at the border. The tourist visa last 30 days. There is a $30 US charge when getting the visa, and most buses will charge $5 US for processing. Make sure you confirm this when you buy your bus tickets, as some companies will lower the advertised bus ticket price, but up the visa and administration price. There is no charge when leaving Cambodia. Traversing boarders is always something you should read up on when travelling foreign countries, and here we share our experiences as well as some tips to make your travel go smoothly!
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We took a bus from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam across the border to Phnom Penh. It’s about a 7 hour bus ride, including the time spent at the border. Make sure to pick a good bus company, as there are a few that will scam you. All buses will collect your passport before you get to the border, and will either charge you for your visa when you pay your ticket or when they collect your passport. The visa should cost $30 US. They will also charge a small processing fee, but it shouldn’t be more than $5 US. We’ve heard a lot of people complain about this and try to argue it, but in the end it’s more of a hassle than it’s worth, and it has just become standard when crossing the border. We heard one story about two girls arguing and refusing to pay for the processing fee, who were actually left behind at the border by the bus. We booked with Mekong Express who have an office in the main backpacker district on Pham Ngu Lao Rd. The ticket cost us $15 US, and they assured us the visa would cost $35 US which included the processing fee. Our hostel tried to sell us a ticket for $9, which we were excited about, until we asked how much the visa was. He told us it was $45 US, which is way more than it should be, and there was a processing fee on top of that.
The Mekong Express from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh bus was one of the more spacious buses we travelled on, and it also had A/C. They provided a small breakfast of a sugar cake and a pizza bun too. During the drive they put on an English movie, and the wifi actually worked! We hit the Cambodian border within 2 hours, left our luggage on the bus and were led into the border building. We basically just waited in a group of people while our bus driver got our visas processed (they had collected our passports earlier), and then called out our names. Make sure to listen carefully as they will often mispronounce your name. You get your passport back, get back on the bus and drive 20 seconds to the Cambodian side. Then you get off again, go inside to get your passport stamped, and get back onto the bus. Two minutes later we stopped at a cafe for lunch, they accept both US dollars and Vietnamese dong. We rolled into the Phnom Penh bus station at 3:30pm, which will drop you off east of Olympic Stadium near Preah Monivong Blvd. We walked about 20 mins to our hostel. We would definitely recommend travelling with this company!
We travelled between Siem Reap and Bangkok by bus. It cost about $28 US and took 2 hours to the border then another 2 hours to Bangkok. The bus ride is pleasant as there are no crazy turns or mountains on the route. The border crossing is a little confusing. When you reach the border you leave the bus and collect your luggage, and get your passport stamped on the Cambodia side. You then have to walk with your luggage for a while through “no mans land” between the two countries. After two minutes or so you’ll see some stairs to your left, and you walk up those to get checked in on the Thailand side. Our bus was around the corner to the left once we made it through this process, but the was a worker who was there to help us find it. The whole process took about 45mins, our best advice is to follow the crowd and you’ll make it across just fine!
Now that you know how to get in and out check out our Cambodia post for the best places to visit!