Saigon (HCMC) to Phnom Penh by bus in 2013

After catching the train from Hanoi to Saigon we continued on into Cambodia by bus.  We had thought of taking a more interesting route, as actually we were heading for the beach at Sihanoukville,  but due to limited time we thought it faster and easier  to go via Phnom Penh.
We were lazy and booked the bus to Phnom Penh through the hotel.  Thus we could be picked up at the hotel. We were charged VND546,000 for two tickets or about USD$13 each.

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Punctually at 7.30AM they picked us up in a minibus, and then picked up others in the vicinity, and finally transferred everyone to a full size bus around 7.55AM.

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The bus departed at 8.05AM and stopped three more times to pick up more people, by which time it was almost full. There was heavy traffic and it was slow going. As we progressed the going became faster. But there were still a lot of traffic lights which frequently stopped us.  At about 8.30 the conductor collected passports and also $25 for the Cambodian visa. It was still slow going at 9.05.

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There was one 330 ml bottle of water inthe  seat pocket. The overhead shelf only 6″ high, so not spacious, but the space between the seats was quite roomy. The bus was cool with the aircon and had a toilet in the back of the bus.

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The journey was slow because of the  traffic and the red traffic lights at every major intersection. Basically it is built up all the way to the border with just a few stretches of fields.

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It is supposed to be 2 hours to the border, but we got there at 10.46 – that is after 2 hours 40 minutes. The conductor had filled in all forms for Immigration for both countries, it turns out.

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We alighted from the bus, went into the building and waited near the immigration counters for our names to be called. Then we were handed our passports, duly stamped, and  we walked through the counters, saw a small duty free store  and at the door a guy checked our passports, and then we boarded the bus. It took about 15 minutes. We’d exited Vietnam.

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The bus drove for 2-3 minutes, and then we slighted again at the Cambodian border. The conductor took our passports before alighting.

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Then we waited in the building for about 10 minutes.

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He returned the passports one by one and then we queued for Immigration. This time went to counter and guy took fingerprints and photo.

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Then we walked out to bus again.

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Left at 11.25, drove 3 minutes and stopped for 15 minutes at a roadside rest stop.

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Once across the border it was immediately drier, more rural, dusty and the road narrower and with a poorer surface.

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We drove on through dry country.

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At 1.25 we reached the Mekong River. We waited for about 20 minutes to get onto a ferry, although we didn’t get on the first that came. It took only a few minutes to cross.

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Vendors on the ferry had a difficult time as bus windows didn’t open and passengers wouldn’t go to the door.

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 Once across the river the land by the road was much greener. The road followed the river for a while.

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From about 2.30PM the traffic was slow and we crawled through towns, and then the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

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Finally we arrived about 3.30PM at the Sorya Transport bus station, near the central markets. Once alighted many tuk tuk drivers accosted us. We liked one who spoke good English.  He stopped and helped me buy a Sim card on the way to the hotel. Then wewaited until the phone network started working and I could phone the hotel to confirm our booking.

So, it is supposed to be a 5 1/2 – 6 hour trip, but it was actually 7 1/2 hours.  However, it was comfortable, and well organised, so it was very easy crossing the border with the conductor taking care of the formalities.

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