Cambodia Vietnam

Traveling from Kampot to Ho Chi Minh City by bus

We looked high and low to get details on the best way to travel from Kampot to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) by bus and found little to no information online. We also weren’t sure what to expect when we were crossing the border. Here is our experience getting from Kampot to Ho Chi Minh City. 

In this article you will find how we got from Kampot, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and what our experience was at the border crossing. This includes:

Planning to travel to Cambodia or Vietnam? Make sure to check out our Travel Guide: Cambodia and Travel Guide: Vietnam. The Travel Guides contains a lot of tips and will help you better prepare for your travels. 

Google Map screenshot – approaching the Prek Chark Cross Border Facility in Cambodia

The bus ride from Kampot to Ho Chi Minh City

Start

We had already decided that we did not want to travel back to Phnom Penh to take the Mekong Express (a highly recommended bus to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)/Saigon). Furthermore, after researching prices in Kampot town we booked the Kampot Tours and Travels (KTT) morning bus through our guesthouse, the Green House Bungalows.

We were told that the journey was 8 hours including crossing the border. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and it took us closer to 11 hours to reach our destination. Our journey (and waiting!) started at the KTT office in Kampot town. The scheduled departure was 10:00 AM, and because of a few tardy passengers we didn’t leave until 10:30 AM. The first stop from here was the Prek Chark Cross Border Facility in Cambodia. Once we got started, the journey was quick, comfortable and we were at the border by 11:30 AM.

Cambodian Checkpoint – Prek Chark Cross Border Facility

At the checkpoint, an agent, affiliated with the bus company, came around to collect our passports to fulfill the Cambodian and Vietnamese immigration formalities, including departure and visa stamping for 1 USD. We had read that this was normal procedure, and many travelers had successfully been through this process. Hence, decided to handover our passports without much apprehension. As a precaution though, I took a picture of the lady.


Note: You can choose to cross the border by yourself and not feel pressured to go through the agent. For us, using the agent made it feel a lot more convenient and hassle-free.

Crossing in to Vietnam – Ha Tien Border

After about 5 minutes, we stepped off the bus and crossed the border by foot to get to the Vietnamese immigration counter. The first step was to fill out a health card with some very basic information (name, passport #, local address, etc.). The officer checked our temperature and charged us a dollar here (not sure what this was for but we obliged). Next, we were quickly ushered through baggage check to another section of the room, where we waited for another 5-10 mins to get our passports stamped by the Vietnamese officials. This is where we met our agent as well. Once our visa was stamped she returned the passports.

The entire process took less than 30 minutes, during which we had very little to do on our own. Most of the process was handled by the agent seamlessly. In our opinion, it was USD 1 well spent.

Note: For crossing the border by land you have to obtain the visa ahead of time. We got ours processed in Phnom Penh within a day and paid USD 50 per person (there is a surcharge for Indians).

Onwards to Ho Chi Minh City

This was the end of the immigration process. We walked out of the building, and had to show our passports to another guard at a checkpoint. After 10 minutes, a minivan picked us up and took us to the KTT office in Ha Tien, where we learnt that our bus to HCMC would leave at 1:30 PM from the bus terminal (about 5 minutes from the KTT office). The KTT office had food and wifi.

As soon as we entered the bus terminal, we had to show our receipt (handed to us in the KTT office) to get our bus tickets. We then had to wait another 10 mins before boarding the sleeper bus. Finally, this was the bus that going to get us to HCMC. The 8 hour ride included a few stops on the way for bio-breaks and to pickup and drop off passengers. There was also a half an hour stop for dinner where we found a few veggie options.

Price

Kampot Tours and Travel turned out to be good and the buses were quite comfortable. You just need to go with the flow and allow time for some waiting around and usual delays. It was 17 USD per person for the ticket, however, it did not include pickup from our hotel (it did not also include the 2 USD we got charged during the travel).

Thoughts on Kampot Tours and Travels

Overall, we felt KTT offered enough support through the whole immigration process. The key is to ask questions if you are unclear about the process or if you feel uncomfortable, as they don’t volunteer information but are willing to direct you every step of the way. We weren’t aware of the various bus changes and the waits between pickups, but that didn’t faze us, as it’s part and parcel of traveling in SE Asia.

The bus to HCMC was clean. The A/C and wifi was good. At 5′ 8″ I found that the single sleeper seats were small and hence wasn’t able to stretch out completely. Beena, who is 5′ 2″ found the seat very comfortable. If you are tall you want the seat all the way at the back of the bus (preferably the ones in the bottom).

Tips

Here are some general TIPS to help make your bus journey even more comfortable:

  • If you are vegetarian, pack some fruits snacks and food to your liking. We weren’t certain of the broth used in the noodle soup that we ate at the rest stop. In hindsight, it would have been better to plan our food better.
  • Carry toilet paper and paper sheet disposable soap to use during the bio breaks. The toilets are not always equipped with soap or toilet paper.
  • Get a seat on the bottom of the bus and if you need to stretch out more opt for the seat in the last row of the bus. It may be tight since the seats are narrow but at least you can stretch out, so pick your poison.
  • To pass time, make sure to have enough entertainment.
  • Carry a external power bank to charge your phone and other devices. The buses don’t usually come with an electrical outlet. Since we travel as a couple, we bought a higher mAh powerstation.
  • Carry a sweatshirt, warm jacket or a scarf, as it can get cold when the A/C is cranked up.
  • Moderate your water consumption. As there is no toilet on the bus and you will have to wait for a stop before you can relieve yourself.
  • We prefer buses without a toilet attached to it as the air remains cleaner and fresher to breathe.
  • Since you will be on the bus for an extended period or time with many passengers, carry and wear a surgical mask as it will protect you from viruses, smells and other toxins lurking in the air.
  • Keep your eye mask handy if you intend on catching some sleep on the bus.

We would love to hear from you if you are planning to travel or are currently traveling through the countries. Comment below and share your experience. 

Planning to travel to Cambodia or Vietnam? Make sure to check out our Travel Guide: Cambodia and Travel Guide: Vietnam. The Travel Guides contains a lot of tips and will help you better prepare for your travels. 

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