by: Robelyn M. Yambao
To plan your trip in going to Cambodia by bus, you need to check online what bus lines is good for you. We tried booking our tickets online through the website Camboticket.com, we chose Mekong express in the site. After paying it using credit card they sent us our itinerary ticket and receipts through email. I liked it because no hassles and a lot of bus lines to choose from with or without meals. We chose the $14 fare for each person.
NHA TRANG TO SAIGON
In my situation, we are living in the beautiful beach located in Nha Trang Vietnam. There are options in going back to Ho Chi Minh ( Saigon) whether taking bus, airplane or train. During our trip in going to Cambodia, we traveled using the sleeping bus. We got our bus tickets ahead of time but you can get it anytime you want or the same day of your trip. So, from Nha Trang to Saigon, we take a ride for about 9 hours and paid $10 each for fare in Phuong Trang or Futa Buslines. Since, our trip to Cambodia is 8 a.m. we chose night trip from Nha Trang so we can arrive at 6 a.m. in Saigon the next day to have enough time for breakfast. You can check their website through google. Their buses are orange in color like in the picture below:
This bus will park at the Miendong Bus Terminal in Ho Chi Minh so you will need to take a taxi going to Pham Ngu Lao Street where most of the bus lines offices going to Cambodia are located. It will take about 30 minutes by taxi.
SAIGON TO PHNOM PENH
We arrived at Pham Ngu Lao street at our expected time. Since it was very early we stayed first at the big park to rest and to eat our breakfast that we brought with us. Then, I searched the Mekong office along the street across the park and found it next to Burger King. We sat across that office in the park bench while it's still close. When I saw someone opens the office, I went directly to him to show my Cambo itinerary to get my print-out ticket for my 8 a.m. trip to Cambodia. He asked me to wait for awhile to print our tickets. When he gave my my tickets, I asked him where am I going to wait for the bus because I read online that there is a terminal for those buses but he said that their bus will park just across in their office. So, we don't need to go to terminal instead just wait at the park for our bus.
The bus is equipped with toilet. We also had snacks and bottled water in our trip. They have steward inside aside from the driver. Before it departs the steward will announce something and welcome all the passengers using their dialect and repeat the announcement using English. As soon as the bus departs, they will give embarking card to the passengers to be filled out and will ask you if you already have Cambodian Visa. Then, they will collect all the passports after filling out the form.
The steward then will submit all the passports in just one hand over to the Vietnamese Immigration Officer at the checkpoint when reaching the border exit gate in Mocbai at the Cambodia-Vietnam border which is the last town of Vietnam. All the passengers will then follow him/her inside and wait for your name to be called after the stamping to return your passport with you. After leaving the building, you will find your bus parking nearby. So, better remember the plate number of the bus because sometimes there are other bus lines parked side by side so it will be confusing in getting inside your bus or just remember your fellow passengers' face.
After leaving the Vietnam territory, your bus will go to the Cambodian border in the town of Bavet. The bus will enter the compound of the immigration authority and stop at the building where all passengers will enter to the Cambodian passport checkpoint by their own without the steward but the steward will guide those who doesn't have visa yet. You will lined up inside going to the immigration counter one by one and present your passport personally then, the immigration officer will check your passport and ask you for finger print scanning before stamping your entry date.
After that, your bus is ready to travel again but will let you have your lunch break at the nearby restaurant next to the border before proceeding to another 4 hours journey. The bus will stay in the said restaurant for 30 minutes. They accept US dollars and Vietnam dong if you don't have Cambodian money yet.
After lunch, we continued our journey and arrived at Phnom Penh public market in the afternoon. That place is not the terminal stated in my research next to the river. They have one office where you get your ticket located in the public market and another office at the same time their terminal where you departs going to Saigon, this one is located at the riverfront not in Phnom Penh Central market.
In our experience, when we went back to Saigon we asked tuktuk driver to bring us to Mekong express office to print our tickets and the driver brought us to Phnom Penh Central Market. Then, after the staff printed our tickets she asked me if I know the location of their bus station so, I said no, I thought it is the same place. She then talked to the tuktuk driver for instructions on how to get there. And he brought us to the riverfront far away from that market.