Crossing the Border – Saigon to Phnom Penh 1

I have decided to go on my first solo cross-border backpacking trip into Phnom Penh from Saigon. This is my first solo backpacking trip and the first time I am going to cross a border when in a foreign country.

Before the trip, I did a lot of research as I do not want to get lost in a foreign country, especially when I am all alone.

After arriving in Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in June 2015, I took a cab to Pham Ngu Lao Street in Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) in Vietnam. This is where all the transport company are located and is a backpackers heaven, similar to Khao San Road in Bangkok.

There is only 2 reputable taxi company in Vietnam that you should take, Vinasun Taxi and Mailinh Taxi. (I have attached some of the photos for these 2 taxi company) There is also a wide range of scam and fake taxi companies that are out to scam you.

reputable taxi


fake taxi Vietnam

When you reach Pham Ngu Lao Street, you can purchase your tickets from the following bus companies.

1. Giant Ibis US$18 + $1 (Credit card processing fee if you purchase online)

Schedule: 8.30am or 12.30pm

Duration: 6 hours & 30 mins

This company has a pretty good reputation, and they do not have a staggered pricing for locals and foreigners. I recently tried the Giant Ibis, the buses are clean and they drive safely. Take note that there isnt any toilets in the bus.

2. Mekong Express

Bus – 7.30am, 8.30am or 1.00pm (US$14)

VIP Van – 6.30am, 3.00pm (US$15)

Duration: 6 hours & 30 mins

This company has a relatively good reputation, and they do not have a staggered pricing for locals and foreigners. The whole journey is by the bus or the VIP van, and there isn’t any ferry ride.

I have tried the VIP van (from Phnom Penh to Saigon), and I would highly recommend as it is similar to a mini-bus, they are able to drive faster, and to manoeuvre faster, which would cut down on the travelling time.

2. 168 Sorya

Bus – 6.45am, 8.00am, 9.00am, 11.30am, 1.45pm or 3.00pm (US$7)

Duration: 6 hours & 30 mins

There is mixed reviews about the company and their services. I took this bus as they have the timing that I wanted, I would suggest this to be the last resort.

168 Sorya

168 bus

One interesting fact is that the bus companies normally takes your passport at the beginning of the bus trip and would assist you to fill in the arrival card for the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Immigration Card

The staff from the bus company would consolidate all the passport, fill in the Cambodia Immigration Card for you, and when they reach the Vietnam Immigration Border, they would pass all the passport to the Immigration Officer.

The Vietnam Immigration Officer, would stamp the passport and pass one by one back to the staff from the bus company. The staff from the bus company would shout out your name and you would clear the checkpoint over to the other side, passing through the Vietnam Immigration Officer.

For my instance, instead of calling my name, the staff from the bus company shouted, “Singapore, Singapore!” As I was the only Singaporean in the whole tour bus, it seems obvious that he is calling out for me.

Visa Exemption for Cambodia

The buses would operate via Moc Bai (Vietnamese border point) and Bavet (Cambodian border point).  Cambodian visas can be bought at the border or you can buy an e-visa in advance at

Holders of normal passports of the following countries do not require a visa for Cambodia for up to 30 days

  • Thailand (14 Days)
  • Philippines (21 Days)
  • Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam (up to 30 days)

As I am from Singapore, I would not need any visa entering the Kingdom of Cambodia.

immigration office

After you clear the Vietnam Immigration Office, you would need to take the same bus that you initially boarded to the Cambodia Immigration Office.

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