We had booked with one of the many companies in Saigon that travel to Cambodia. The company is Mekong Express Limousine Bus and the price was $23USD each, kids are priced the same but I was offered the opportunity for Charlie and Abi to share a seat for one price. I declined, it’s a 12hr bus journey and about 700Km so of course the kids need their own seat.
We were met at our hotel and take to the bus stop, our bags were checked in and put in the hold and then we chilled out on the Bus. It’s a coach really and seat pitch is so much that you can pretty much like the seat down flat, very comfortable. When we set off at 7am we were given bottles of water and breakfast which was a few cinnamon donuts.
After about an hour we arrived at the border. On the Vietnamese side it is Moc Bai and on the Cambodian side Bavet. The guy who was running things on the bus had already taken all our passports, and so it was just a case of having our bags scanned and waiting for our names to be called, no more than five minutes and we were cleared from Vietnam, back on the bus for the 100m drive to the immigration for Cambodia. Now when the guy took our passports he said that he could arrange our Cambodian visas for us for $5 each. I refused and so sorted it myself. I didn’t even fill the visa form in fully because I was unsure of a few things. Anyway I handed them over and the guy who was processing them wasn’t even interested, he just took the forms, passports, 1 passport photo each and $20USD and 2 minutes later we had our Cambodian Visas. It was then inside to pass through Immigration which took minutes. Total time was about 30 minutes to get out of Vietnam, arrange Visa and get into Cambodia. Why the Moc Bai/Bavet crossing has some sort of notoriety about it I have no idea. It is certainly one of the simplest crossing we’ve ever used.
Within no time and were making our way through the Cambodian countryside and 3 hours later we pulled into Phnom Penh Capital. We had to change buses and so had an hour wait. No problem, Charlie had sniffed out a KFC and that was lunch. A quick pointer about currency in Cambodia, it is dual, they have the Reil and then US Dollars. Most things are in USD but they only have notes and so if you need change you will get it in Reil. There are about 4300 Reil per dollar despite some guy telling me it was 2000. The look on his face when I showed him the rates on XE was one to behold as suddenly he lost complete grasp of the English language.
As we sat waiting for the bus it rained heavily. By the time we set off the roads of Phnom Penh were flooded, it was about 1- 2 foot deep and I was worried that the bus might stop but it just carried on going. Out of the window we saw kids, naked paddling in the streets and loving it. Glad to actually be dry and somewhat air conditioned in the coach we laid the seats back, relaxed and got on with the 6 hour Journey to Siem Reap.
It took seven hours but we made it. And whilst I was sat watching The Trailer Park boys the kids were playing and singing and generally making the most out of a boring journey. Neither of them complained once, and at 8pm we pulled into Siem Reap bus station, a quick tuk tuk later and we were at our hotel and banging out the z’s.
Getting to Cambodia