Sometimes I envy the convenience of belonging to a country located on the mainland. I live in Indonesia, an archipelago country surrounded by sea, and cannot travel by bus to other countries from Kalimantan (Borneo). I always have to go by plane or journey forever on a boat, ferry, or cruise. I wasn’t made for it; I wasn’t meant to be a sailor or pirate. Just thinking about 1 day on a boat, even 1 hour or 10 minutes alone is enough to torture me!
So, I was so relieved to know I could go by bus, not an airplane or boat, to my next destination.
Getting to Cambodia
Are you an adventurer and think that going by bus would be boring? You can go by boat, but I don’t suggest it and have heard it was really awful. The boats are not very reliable (normally), the journey takes longer than by bus, and if you can’t swim, be prepared to worry the whole trip. But, it’s not impossible. Some travel agents have special offers for crossing the border by river. You need to purchase a tour from Vietnam, stay somewhere and continue the journey till the end. This will take 3-4 days I don’t have.
Plane? Sure, but it’s expensive and I won’t feel that safe, even though it only takes a couple of hours.
So, I chose the bus. I chose Giant Ibis because they are reliable, comfortable, cheap and fast. Tickets can be booked in advance through the site or bought directly from the agent. http://giantibis.com/
The ticketing office in Ho Chi Minh is located at this address:
237 Phạm Ngũ Lão, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
+84 120 890 2333
Large buses are usually taken for long journeys, and medium coaches for trips of medium distance (3-4 hours). Giant Ibis offers full service which will help you get your visa or stamp at the border. Check whether you need a visa to enter Cambodia.
They will collect your passport before the journey, complete the immigration forms, and save them until you cross the border. You don’t need to be afraid of losing your passport, because they will give it back as soon as you pass the immigration check.
Besides visa service, they also serve snacks or a meal with a drink during the journey. Passengers are free to bring their own food, as long as it is not durian (I think). In summary, here are the facilities you’ll get with Giant Ibis:
- Visa service (fill out immigration form, border check)
- Snack and drink
- Free Wi-Fi (but after you pass the Vietnamese border, the Wi-Fi disappears!)
- Sometimes they will drop you off at the terminal or your hotel (depending on the location of your hotel).
My opinion of the bus:
The drivers were careful, so you won’t need to hold your breath like you’re watching Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton competing. The AC works well and the food is enough. Remember guys, it’s not a restaurant, so please don’t complain if they don’t have much variety in their menu, or they don’t serve hot coffee or tea. It costs less than 50 dollars per person, so be reasonable. Before passing the Cambodian border, the bus will stop at a restaurant where you can fill your tummy before continuing the journey.
Arriving in Cambodia
When to go to Cambodia?
Based on my experience, November is a good choice. The weather was fine, although we were interrupted by a brief shower on the second and third day. Believe me, it was nothing and won’t affect your journey.
Where to stay?
Sisowath Quay is actually a long boulevard located along the intersection of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. Basically it’s the river bank, and is the best place to witness the water festival that is usually held in November. The other advantage of staying in Sisowath Quay is the distance. The National Museum of Cambodia and the Royal Palace are just a stone’s throw away, there are millions of restaurants and cafes (local or international), and hundreds of travel agents if you later decide to visit other cities in Cambodia.
Which currency do they use?
How about the language?
What to bring along?
- Mosquito repellent
- Mineral water wherever you go so you won’t get dehydrated
- Comfortable sandals or shoes