Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand Overland

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Traveling overland is a cheaper but slower way to get around Indochina. But since my friend, Lor and I were traveling on a budget, this was the best way to go. When we were planning our Indochina trip, we had a hard time finding out how to travel from Vietnam to Thailand overland, particularly the Saigon-Siem Reap-Bangkok route. This is the reason why I want to share our experience with you. Hopefully this can help you plan your trip.

Saigon to Siem Reap (Stopover: Phnom Pehn)

We rode the Mekong Express bus that took us to Siem Reap with a 30-45 minute stopover in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Pehn. We reserved the bus through the travel agency inside our hotel and ticket price is 25usd per pax inclusive of breakfast, water and afternoon meal. The bus also has a toilet inside which is a real plus for me. We took the 7am bus to Siem Reap, so around 6:55am, someone picked us up from our hotel and brought us to the place where the bus was waiting.

Mekong Express Bus (taken on August 21, 2009)
Mekong Express Bus Contact Numbers (taken on August 21, 2009)

At around 9am, we arrived at the Vietnamese border, Moc Bai. Here, we had our passports checked. Prior to this, the conductor of the bus had already collected all our passports and departure cards. He has also distributed the arrival cards for Cambodia. Then, we were asked to alight from the bus and bring our bags with us because these had to be checked. After passing through immigration, we went back to the bus.

Moc Bai (taken on August 21, 2009)

After a minute or two, we arrived at the Cambodian border, Bavet. Once again, we were asked to alight from the bus, pass through immigration, and get back on the bus. Then we were back on the road. I think the whole immigration control from Vietnam to Cambodia took around 40 minutes.

Bavet (taken on August 21, 2009)

After 10 minutes from the Cambodian border, we had a short stopover for some early lunch. Lor and I were full, so we decided to walk around area (although there is nothing to see) and take some pictures. 20 minutes later, we were back on the bus and on our way to Phnom Pehn.

30 minutes later, we arrived at the terminal of the Neak Loeung Ferry which is like a small roll on roll off boat used to carry cars and buses across the Mekong River.

Neak Loeung Ferry (taken on August 21, 2009)

Neak Loeung Ferry (taken on August 21, 2009)

We finally arrived at the Phnom Pehn terminal at around 1pm. All of us going to Siem Reap transferred to a minivan which took us to the other terminal of Mekong Express where the bus to Siem Reap is waiting.

Minivan to Second Terminal (taken on August 21, 2009)

10 minutes later, we arrived at the second terminal and since the bus to Siem Reap will not depart until 2pm, Lor and I decided to take in as much as we can of Phnom Pehn in 40 minutes. Because of the limited time we had, we only saw the Sisowath Quay (where the terminal is located) and Royal Palace from the outside.

Sisowath Quay (taken on August 21, 2009)

Royal Palace (taken on August 21, 2009)

Near the Royal Palace (taken on August 21, 2009)

At exactly 2pm, our bus departed from Phnom Pehn and made its way to Siem Reap. At around 7pm, we finally arrived in Siem Reap. The whole trip (plus immigration control and stopovers) took around 12 hours.

Mekong Express Bus to Siem Reap (taken on August 21, 2009)

Toilet of Bus to Siem Reap (taken on August 21, 2009)

Siem Reap to Suvarnabhuni International Airport or Bangkok

Since we were catching an 11pm flight from Bangkok to Manila the day we left Siem Reap, our hotel advised us to take a taxi to the Cambodian border, Poipet instead of taking the bus. It may be a bit more expensive, but it would be faster and scam-free. Based on a hotel staff's experience, traveling from Siem Reap to Bangkok normally takes around 6-7 hours, but if you take the bus, it might be extended to 12 hours or more because of the stopovers. He even told us that some drivers will not leave the stopovers unless the passengers buy something from the vendors. Because we were pressed on time, we decided to forego the bus and take the taxi to Poipet.

Taxi to Poipet (taken on August 23, 2009)

We left Siem Reap at around 830am and arrived at Poipet at around 1030am. We then passed through immigration controls in both Poipet and the Thai border, Aranyaprathet. We finished everything by 1120am. Honestly, looking for a bus going to either Bangkok or the airport is not hard in Aranyaprathet. There are lots of bus reservation offices around. Just look for people who speak English and they will surely be happy to guide you. Buses to Bangkok leave every 1.5 hours but I am not sure of the airport bus' schedule. Luckily, we were told that the next bus to the airport leaves at 1230pm so we had time left to eat our lunch and do some shopping. Aranyaprathet has a big market selling clothes, bags, shoes, etc. There is also a bank where you can change your money.

Near Poipet (taken on August 23, 2009)

Approaching Aranyaprathet (taken on August 23, 2009)

Airport Bus from Aranyanprathet (taken on August 23, 2009)

Inside the Airport Bus from Aranyanprathet (taken on August 23, 2009)

We left Aranyaprathet on time and arrived at Suvarnabhuni Airport at around 4pm. The airport bus costs 184baht inclusive of water and some crackers. It also has a toilet which is good for me.

Our Itinerary:
Day 1: Saigon

Day 2:

7am: Left Saigon for Siem Reap

9am: Immigration control in Moc Bai (Vietnam border) then Bavet (Cambodian border)

950am: Early lunch/stopove
1pm: Arrive in Phnom Pehn
2pm: Left Phnom Pehn
7pm: Arrived in Siem Reap

Day 3:
Siem Reap

Day 4:

830am: Left Siem Reap
1030am: Immigration control in Poipet (Cambodian border) and Aranyaprathet (Thai border)
1230pm: Left Aranyaprathet for the airport
400pm: Arrived in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand


Saigon to Siem Reap:
Mekong Express bus - $25 per pax inclusive of breakfast, water and afternoon meal

Siem Reap to Suvarnabhumi Airport:
Taxi to Poipet: $30 per taxi booked from our hotel
Bus from Aranyaprathet to Suvarnabhumi Airport: 184 Thai baht

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  1. So great reading about your experience/ choise of trip on this route. Sounds great with a toilet on bus... haven't been that lucky my self, a big problem for me, and torture;) I think it's great that you write down the costs of each thing... have been on that though myself... because it's very interessting. Everytime I read you blog, my heart jump in to a big ??!!! difficult to explain, but I really do miss Asia a lot and are desperate to go back again - to visit both same places, but also see new things and places of course... there is something about Asia that really got in my heart forever;) In the future, I will post my experiences with travelling around Vietnam and Cambodia, in different routes. Fun to read about your journey on same places (and different;)

  2. @ana hahaha yeah toilets in the bus are such big help! :D wooow nice to hear you love Asia. I am really looking forward to your future posts :D

  3. Nice post guy. have been in china but not in vietnam

  4. @anicam hi! oh I would also love to return to China someday :D

  5. looking forward to read about your experience after your trip to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. I hope you will get the chance to go there as planned and have a fantastic trip:) I would like to see more of Malaysia some day, because of it's exeptional beautiful nature. I know you have been visiting Cambodia and Vietnam earlier. Two countries with an important history to tell and also worth visiting (as you know;). More post from Cambodia and Vietnam will follow up soon on my blog - and of course my visit to the Philippines :)

  6. @ana thanks! yeah I am really looking forward to that trip :D wooow can't wait for your posts about Cambodia and Vietnam and of course the Philippines :D keep me updated!!

  7. thank you for posting!! i have been looking for this kind of information everywhere and have found none as precise -- with pictures to boot! again, thank you! and happy travels! :)

  8. thank you for posting!! i have been looking for this kind of information everywhere and have found none as precise -- with pictures to boot! again, thank you! and happy travels! :)

  9. @Kat your welcome!! Enjoy your future travels :D

  10. Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing on your feed and I am hoping you write again very soon!