From Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh by Bus

As I was sitting on a six hour bus ride the other day with absolutely nothing to do, I began to contemplate this terrific waste of time. If you are capturing a bus to somewhere for the first time, then it's a little interesting, but when you are on a bus trip that you have done many times, it's simply dead time unless you have a book to check out, some work to do, or you delight in watching movies with voice dubbing. I have actually gotten an in depth knowledge about many of the bus services that run the flat as a pancake run from Phnom Penh to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and back.

Air plane or bus?

The flight is typically around $165USD minimum and takes fifty minutes or so. It's a monopoly by Vietnam Airlines, so rates aren't going to drop whenever soon. By the time you get to the airport, await the flight, exit the other end and wait for luggage, you are taking a look at three and a half hours. The bus expenses in between $8 and $12 and takes six hours usually, so you are paying $1.02 for each minute of the one hundred and fifty minutes you are starting saving.

Bus-lines ranked by record

Mekong Express Lmousine Bus (8/10) $12.

When the bus shows up, the well dressed bus guide, will show you to your seat. The Cambodian crowd that you meet on this bus are typically well mannered and friendly. The bus leaves from O'Russey market in Phnom Penh generally and finishes it's trip in Pham Ngu Lao HCMC.

Sapaco Tourist 7/10 $12.

This is the Vietnamese equivelant to the Mekong Express. They have newish Samco/Hino buses that are fairly comfortable. They have a toilet in the middle of the bus (sunken a little into the floor with actions). These people do about 7 buses every day in both instructions and are the first choice for the Vietnamese travelers (primarily business travelers). These buses are often full. Where the Mekong Express personnel are gentle and adorably over-polite, the Sapaco personnel are normally gruff, however efficient (a cultural thing). There are normally an over-supply of these staff, dressed in blue workers shirts and blue jeans. The English and Khmer language skills aren't great, and they do not tell you a lot about exactly what is taking place or exactly what to expect next. They simply sort of grunt and point. They constantly examine your tickets for a legitimate visa and will mostly leave on time. If they don't then they offset it with the most likely quicker, newer bus. The bus leaves from Olympic Stadium location in Phnom Penh usually and finishes it's trip in Pham Ngu Lao HCMC. Tickets can be brought through agents and hotels all over.


Malinh Express/ Malinh Tourist 6.5/ 10 $9-10.

Malinh are a transport empire in Vietnam. They do everything from micro taxis, to big buses and everything between. All these automobiles are driven by personnel worn white shirts with green ties. They have a strict services charter that restricts them from trawling for extra customers along the way and they are quite prompt. The buses are normally good new Hyundais without a toilet which means that they stop periodically for a toilet break. The personnel don't typically speak much English or Khmer, however they generally try to be useful manuallying you a fake-silk pillow to rest your head on.

The bus leaves from Olympic Arena area in Phnom Penh normally and finishes it's trip in Pham Ngu Lao HCMC. Tickets can be brought through hotels and representatives everywhere.

Kumho Samco 6/10 $11.

Strange name, nice bus. I just recently discovered this bus company returning from Saigon. They have newish Samco/Hino buses withe the toilet in the middle of the car. They have decreased the seating storage capacity to 32people, thus giving some nice extra legroom and seats that recline a long way. The staff were nice enough, however entirely disorganised at the start. They enhanced when we reached the border. The primary disadvantages where that they left twenty five minutes late due to the fact that they were waiting for a traveler that was a friend of among the staff and also that the volume on the entertainment system was too high. Their taste in voice dubbed motion pictures was likewise dreadful, however hey, nothing brand-new there. The bus leaves from somewhere in Phnom Penh generally and finishes it's journey in Pham Ngu Lao HCMC. Tickets can be brought through agents and hotels in some places. I believe this company is inadequately managed, but they have nice buses:-RRB-.

Phnom Penh Sorya 168 Bus Services 6/10 $6-7.

These guys are OK, they are simply a cheapo bus services. Ageing Hyundai buses, in some cases with doors that don't close effectively. The bus leaves from Central market in Phnom Penh usually and completes it's trip in Pham Ngu Lao HCMC.

Van Rec Co 5/10 $6-7.

Aging buses that they drive like fighter planes. It stopped in a location of HCMC that I am unfamiliar with. I just got onto a motorbike taxi.

Paramount Angkor Express 2/10 $10-12.

These men draw. I have tried them a few times due to the fact that they have double deckers with loads of area for cargo (which I sometimes have a little) where they have actually eliminated seats. The first time I tried them, their bus left fifteen minutes ahead of schedule and I had to argue for a refund. The 2nd time, the staff spent the whole time babbling their avoid so you could not hear yourself think. We showed up at the border and they realised they had not examined their travelers visas. Two young girls didn't have them (believed they might get them at the border). So they turfed the women out and said "find a taxi". My final effort with Para-pathetic Angkor Express failed at the border. The guide was so hopeless at getting the passports marked, that I fled the scene. I currently had mine and I might hear that he had lost a few of the arrival kinds. After thirty minutes, I strolled and got hold of a public bus on the Vietnam side.

So, there it is folks. I hope my understanding on this obscure matter will help someone in their quest for a smooth bus trip in between these 2 cities.

If you are capturing a bus to someplace for the first time, then it's a little fascinating, but when you are on a bus ride that you have actually done many times, it's just dead time unless you have a book to read, some work to do, or you delight in watching films with voice dubbing. When the bus shows up, the well dressed bus guide, will reveal you to your seat. The bus leaves from O'Russey market in Phnom Penh generally and finishes it's trip in Pham Ngu Lao HCMC. The bus leaves from Olympic Arena location in Phnom Penh usually and finishes it's journey in Pham Ngu Lao HCMC. The bus leaves from Central market in Phnom Penh generally and finishes it's journey in Pham Ngu Lao HCMC.

Banteay Meanchey Province

Situated in northwestern Cambodia, Banteay Meanchey--“Fortress of Victory” in Khmer--is a charming province that offers a wide selection of natural and historical attractions, including ancient temple complexes, wildlife reserves, and a crane sanctuary. Though primarily known to visitors for its Thai-Cambodian border crossing in Poipet, Banteay Meanchey is much more than just a passing-through spot. Adventurous travelers will find the province presents plenty of opportunities to sample authentic Khmer culture and take in the stunning natural beauty Cambodia has to offer. Banteay Meanchey's capital is Serei Sophon (also known as Sisophon).

The main attraction in Banteay Meanchey is the 12th century temple of Banteay Chhmar.

Built under Jayavarman VII between the 12th and 13th centuries, the Banteay Chhmar Temple complex is a lesser-known, but equally magnificent, alternative to the Angkor Wat temples. Just two hours from Siem Reap, Banteay Chhmar is a unique historical treasure: a massive, sprawling temple complex tucked away in a largely-untouched location, surrounded by lush vegetation. Banteay Chhmar Temple is one of the two temple complexes outside of Angkor that feature massive stone “face-towers” bearing Bayon-style enigmatic smiles. Abundant sandstone bas-reliefs in the temples depict images of mythical Cambodian battles along with scenes from daily life.

The enormous complex of Banteay Chhmar is perhaps one of the most intriguing in the Khmer empire, both in terms of its scale and its relative seclusion. This mysterious temple complex embodies perfectly the image of a lost Khmer city; ruined structures with exotic carvings are strewn about in dense forest surroundings, while the occasional bird call echoes through the temple walls to break the stillness. Those who visit the temple will find many beautiful carvings hidden amongst the ruins and broken colonnades.

In the vicinity, there are at least a dozen smaller temples, all in ruinous state. These include Prasat Mebon, Ta Prohm, Prom Muk Buon, Yeay Choun, Pranang Ta Sok and Prasat Ciem Trey.

Banteay Chhmar is not on the tourist map, but a trip to this exotic site is one adventure you will harbor in your memory for a long time.

Preah Sihanouk Province

Preah Sihanouk province is Cambodia's most famous beach town. Better known as Kampong Som to locals, it is about 230 km southwest of Phnom Penh and boasts pristine white-sand beaches, unspoiled tropical islands, and a dynamic nightlife.

Preah SihanoukPreah Sihanouk

With its palm-studded shores and warm, clear waters, it hardly comes as a surprise that Preah Sihanouk attracts crowds of locals, expatriates, and tourists eager for a beachside holiday. Do as locals do and enjoy the stretches of powdery white sand with a chilled coconut and some toothsome grilled seafood. Or, indulge in a beachside massage, take a dip in the sea, and go for dinner in any of the local restaurants that serve fresh crabs, prawns, lobsters, fish, and scallops in a mouth-watering array of styles.

Preah SihanoukPreah Sihanouk

There are dozens of untouched islands off the coast of Preah Sihanouk: Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samlon both feature blissfully uncrowded beaches with palm-shaded shorelines. Being a beach town, there are also many sea-based activities for adventuous visitors, including boating, island-hopping, fishing, diving and snorkeling in crystal clear waters. For the expert enthusiast who wants to explore the mysterious underwater world of coastal Cambodia, the province has PADI Dive Centers and qualified instructors who know just the right spots to take you.

In the evenings, the nightlife heats up, and those in search of pulsing bars and nightclubs won't be disappointed. Many entertainment venues, especially those on Weather Station Hill, stay open well into the wee hours.

Siem Reap Province

Siem Reap, located in northwestern Cambodia, is the gateway to the world-famous Angkor temple complex, which includes the magnificent Angkor Wat. The province also contains a vibrant capital city boasting many luxury hotels, beautifully-aged colonial buildings, a buzzing Pub Street, silk farms, markets, and much more.

The city of Siem Reap, also the capital of the province, is a ‘must-visit’ destination for all visitors to Cambodia. This is where the glorious 12th Century Angkor Wat temple, the largest religious building in the world, is located. Situated on the northern bank of the Tonle Sap Great Lake, this mesmerizing eighth wonder of the world can be easily accessed by plane, land, and boat.

The ruins of Angkor, located in thick jungle, are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are over one thousand temples ranging in scale from nondescript piles of rubble scattered through rice fields to the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat--the best-preserved temple.

Apart from the legacy of the vast Angkor temple complex, Siem Reap has a lot more to offer to tourists, from the spectacular floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake to the heritage site of the Kulen Mountain, to the recently discovered Koh Ker ruins.

In town, there are a bevy of ethnic craft shops, galleries, cafes, eateries and top-notch restaurants serving every type of cuisine. The famous ‘Pub Street’ and the night markets of Siem Reap are now renowned tour destinations in their own rights. Additionally, siilk farms, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a very rich bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake make Siem Reap one of the most captivating places in the world.
Angkor WatElephant Trekking at BakhengBanteay Srei TempleAngkor Thom Gate

The province of Siem Reap is conveniently situated 314 km northwest of Phnom Penh, along National Road No 6. It can be reached all year round by National Road No 6 from Phnom Penh, Poipèt Border Checkpoint from Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham Province and Kampong Thom Province, and by National Road No 5 and 6 from Kampong Chhnang province, Pursat province and Battambang province.

How to reach Siem Reap

Siem Reap is accessible by direct flights from many major cities in the region including Bangkok, Danang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Paksé, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kunming, Taipei, etc.  From the capital of Phnom Penh, Angkor Air operates several direct flights per day to and from Siem Reap.

There are also speedboats operating along the Tonlé Sap from Phnom Penh and Battambang Province.

Mondul Kiri Province

To the south of Rattanak Kiri is Mondul Kiri, the most sparsely populated province in Cambodia, despite being the largest in land area. This province is known for its thickly-forested hills, verdant landscapes, and cascading waterfalls. Its capital is Sen Monorom.

Though remote, Mondul Kiri will awe visitors who make the trip with its otherworldly tranquility and beauty. To truly appreciate this province, one should arrange for a trek (or an elephant ride!) through the area's lush jungles to enjoy unspoiled scenery and the bracing fresh air, not to mention some of the country's most spectacular waterfalls. Few visitors will pass up the chance to soak in the rare and dramatic beauty of a waterfall tucked in the thick of the Mondul Kiri jungle.

Mondul Kiri also offers a handful of unforgettable cultural attractions. Many visitors enjoy a stop at the Phnong minority villages where they can observe the rich culture belonging to local hill tribes. There are even opportunities to experience cultural community life on the edges of the forest through ‘home stay’ arrangements in the corridor zone of Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mondul Kiri Protected Forest.

Rattanak Kiri Province

Rattanak Kiri is the mountainous northeastern frontier province of Cambodia that borders Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, Mondul Kiri Province to the south, and Stung Treng Province to the west.  It extends from the mountains of the Annamite Range in the north, across a plateau between the Tonle San and Tonle Srepok rivers. Famed for its stunning natural beauty and ethnic diversity, Rattanak Kiri is full of natural and cultural treasures just waiting to be discovered. Its capital is Banlung City.

Rattanak Kiri boasts some of the most striking landscapes the region has to offer and is home to several settlements of ethic hill tribes. Among the many picturesque natural sites are the crystal clear Yeak Laom volcanic lake, incredible fresh waterfalls, gem mines, and a dense rainformest teeming with exotic flora and fauna. In contrast to modern day opulence, this province remains largely untouched as the majority of the population in Rattanak Kiri is made up of ethnic minority groups living harmoniously with nature.

Most visitors to Rattanak Kiri choose to base themselves in Banlung City from where excursions can be arranged to visit the Khmer Loeu villages and an array of natural sites.

Stung Treng Province

Stung Treng is a beautiful province located on a high sandy bank overlooking the Mekong River. It is about 455 km from Phnom Penh and some 40 km to the Laos border. This charming city is linked to Banlung (Rattanak Kiri) and is more than just a ‘stopover’. The Sekong Bridge, itself an attraction, serves as a convenient passage to the border of Laos.

There are several noteworthy attractions in the province of Stung Treng. The incredible Sopheakmith Waterfall never ceases to mesmerise visitors, and neither does the stretch of the mighty Mekong, which is home to the incredibly rare Irrawaddy dolphins.

The Thala Barivat is only 4 kilometers from the provincial town. This is accessible by crossing the Se Kong River. Thala Barivat is the historical site where the Preah Ko, a 7th century brick temple of King Jayavarman I is located. Preah Ko is consists of six brick towers arranged in two rows of three towers each perched on a sandstone platform. This is one of the earliest temples built during the Angkor era.

Here in the vicinity are a few other small ancient temples; the Prambuon Lveng Temple, Srei Temple and the Angkor Kmao Temple. The Hang Kho Ba Pagoda, a 300 year old temple in the Hang Kho Ba Village, is also only about 6 Kilometers from the provincial town and worth the while to pay a visit.

Stung Treng province is also famous for sweet tamarind Pa Si Yi fish, a local delicacy enjoyed by many tourists.