With an early wake up at 0500, we rose on our feet to greet the hazy morning. Preparing some instant coffee energized us for the long day ahead.
Packing and drying the last of our clothes we washed in the sink, we finished early with time for journaling and reading.
Catching the breakfast at 0700 at the hotel, we checked out and were ready to go by 0730 and headed out for our bus pickup.
With free wifi at the counter, we dug into some more work while we waited for the bus to pull up.
It's amazing how many people aren't prepared for their travel.
We had our passports ready, money neatly separating the page of our Vietnam visa and bus ticket for the bus worker. Handing it over, we exchanged no words but a friendly smile. Being in the back of the bus, it took longer to walk to us than the exchange itself.
Others scrambled to the back, digging for loose change for ten minutes, or tried to bargain prices that simply caused more hassle for them (there is no haggling here).
How much does a Visa cost from Vietnam to Cambodia?
$30 for the visa, $5 for the worker to handle all the work for you (with no need for a photo). Therefore, a total cost of $35 .
Why be petty and hold on to a measly $5 when you're facing being left by the bus at the border? That would cost you another bus ticket for at least $5 or $10, if you manage to find another to take you.
Hearing countless people wanting to avoid giving up their passports, realize that it is part of the process and not something to fight.
You're paying to walk right through the whole process, not having to deal with every counter or moody clerk.
What's the process to cross from Vietnam to Cambodia?
There are many points of entry into Cambodia, but we will look at our experience from Saigon to Phnom Penh.
Step 1 - Secure a bus ticket from your hostel in Saigon to Phnom Penh (we recommend an early 0600-0800 timeslot).
Step 2 - Gather $35 USD.
Step 3 - Give passport, cash, and bus ticket to bus worker upon departure.
Step 4 - Sit back and enjoy the ride. It took us roughly three hours to reach the border. Once you do, you'll have to exit the bus.
Step 5 - Exit the bus and enter customs check-in. Your passport will be stamped and handed back to you by the bus worker. Sit tight and wait for your passport to be finished.
Step 6 - Hop back on bus for a couple of minutes, then hop off again. Hand your passport to guy at kiosk, walk into Cambodia, and hop back on bus.
Step 7 - There was a lot of confusion at this point. Your passport is being handled, so don't fret that you don't have it. The bus will pull into a rest stop nearby for around a half hour, and your passports will be delivered.
Step 8 - Get back on bus, receive passport.
Step 9 - Enjoy the ride! It's a solid three and a half hours to Phnom Penh. That's it!
Arriving to Phnom Penh
We had booked three nights at the Billabong Hostel on Hostelword a day in advance, so we already had our lodging situation covered. Exiting the bus, we were welcomed with an atrocious temperature and swarmed with tuk-tuk drivers. Pushing them aside, we walked along the trash-infested streets to get to our destination. Sidewalks here aren't really a thing here, either - they are seen as parking lots and dumpsters. So, be aware you'll be weaving in and our of traffic frequently.
Around thirty minutes later we arrived at our hostel, dropping off our bags and getting acquainted with our temporary home. The hostels we've been staying at have been rather small and quiet; this one, however, is quite the opposite. A large pool with many chairs around encourage guests to intermingle and socialize, while their restaurant nearby dishes out meals nearly all day.
We always seem to find ourselves in strange situations when looking for food on our first day in a city. Sometimes, translating foods from a food-cart and haggling for noodles doesn't seem to enticing, so we try to opt indoors. The only thing with that is the prices are bumped up significantly. Considering that Cambodia also accepts the USD, prices are already twice as much than Vietnam. If you're not careful, you can blow your budget quick.
After browsing the food court in the mall, we decided to try the Taste of Asia Kitchen. Noodles and dim-sum were on the menu, leaving us satisfied for the remainder of the evening. Calling it a night early, we headed back to the hostel to rest up for our first full day in Phnom Penh.