Crossing the border into Cambodia was another new experience.
We purchased our tickets from Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) to Phnom Penh (Cambodia), from the reputable travel agent Sinh Tourist for the equivalent of £5.50 each. Our bus was due to depart at 8.30am with Long Phuong bus company. At 8.15, ahead of schedule, a guy came and got us from the waiting room and ushered us on to the bus and we departed. So far so good, this was the first bus in Vietnam we hadn’t had to wait an hour for.
We had read up about the border crossing and knew we needed $30 US dollars and a passport photo. We had also read about bus company scams charging $35 to process the entry visa (instead of $30) essentially as a tip off to get the passport stamped at border control for you. Sure enough when the man came to collect our passports he asked for $35 (but no passport photo), we tried to ask what the extra $5 was for but he pretended not to speak any English. In order to avoid any cross-border hassle we paid the man his money and sat back in our seats.
2 hours later we arrived at the border crossing and hopped off the bus and entered the Vietnam exit border. This was the tedious bit. And by tedious I mean a 1.5 hour wait, standing in a stuffy room with hundreds of other people with absolutely no clue what’s going on. From what we gather we were waiting for everyone on our bus’s passports to be stamped but the system lacked any organisation. Locals appeared to be slipping 60,000 VND (roughly £2) in their passports to get theirs stamped quicker.
Liv also went to use the toilet at the border and was asked for 2,000 VND which she didn’t have. She showed the lady her purse and said she only had foreign currency – a Croatian coin. The lady was impressed, took the coin and let Liv through.
1.5 hours later we were handed back our passports, walked through control and hopped back on the bus for a few minutes until we reached the Cambodian entry point. We handed over our passports again and simply walked straight through and waited for our bus to pass through. We got back on the bus and waited until the man returned with our passports and visas. All completed, we set off on Cambodian soil.
Overall, it was a relatively straight forward and inexpensive way to travel to another country. We met 2 Canadian guys in Nha Trang who crossed the border into Cambodia from Bangkok who had a horrendous experience which included an excessive and patting down. Comparatively, I think we had it easy.
First land border crossing complete. Hello Cambodia.