Curious about a Vietnam to Cambodia border crossing? Looking to get from the Mekong Delta to Phnom Pehn? Well after our month in Vietnam was complete, we took the bus from Can Tho to Phnom Penh and we’re here to tell you all about it. Getting from Vietnam to Phnom Phen is a pretty straightforward process. We’ll give you all the details you’ll need so you are prepared to cross the Mekong Delta border crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia.
Vietnam to Cambodia Border Crossing: Can Tho to Phnom Penh
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Vietnam & Cambodia Border Crossing Check Point
So, let’s get a few things straight, the first being the name of the border crossing you need to cross in order to get from the Mekong Delta to Phnom Pehn. Coming from the Mekong Delta, you’ll be in a city called Can Tho City and will be needing to find transportation to the southern Vietnam and Cambodia border crossing – Tinh Bien / Phnom Den border crossing.
For reference, Tinh Bien is on the Vietnam side and Phnom Den is on the Cambodia side.
How To Get From The Mekong Delta To Phnom Penh
1. Bus From Can Tho to Phnom Penh
First up, you can travel overland from the Mekong Delta to Phnom Penh by bus. You can expect the bus ride from the Mekong Delta to Phnom Penh to take a full day of travel, about 10 to 12 hours in total.
The start of your journey is a 4-hour bus ride from Can Tho, Vietnam (Mekong Delta) to the Vietnam border crossing town of Tinh Bien. After you’re stamped out of Vietnam at the Tinh Bien border crossing, you’ll get stamped into Cambodia at Phnom Den. Once officially in Cambodia, you have a 6 – 7 hour bus ride to Phnom Penh waiting for you.
If that seems unbearable, heading to Kampot instead of Phnom Penh is a much shorter ride, about 2-3 hours.
2. Boat From Chau Dac To Phnom Pehn
From Can Tho, the only direct way to Phnom Pehn is by Bus. However, you are able to cross the border from Vietnam into Cambodia by speedboat.
Hang Chau Speed Boat is a company that shuttles folks via the waterways of Vietnam and Cambodia. Departing from Chau Dac at 7:30 am and arriving in Phnom Pehn around 12:30 pm, the 4-hour boat ride costs $27 USD. Now, the ride from the Mekong Delta (Can Tho) to Chau Dac will require you to book a bus prior to getting on the speedboat. Why? There is no one-day direct route from Can Tho to Phnom Pehn by boat.
3. Flight From Can Tho to Phnom Penh
Can Tho, Vietnam has an airport that offers flights to Phnom Penh. However, there are no direct flights. The Can Tho airport (airport code VCA) will fly you back through Ho Chi Minh City, or another major Asian city, and then onto Phnom Penh.
Fair warning flights from Can Tho to Phnom Penh can be long and are definitely more expensive than taking the bus from Can Tho to Phnom Penh.
4. Train From Cambodia to Vietnam
If you are wanting to travel overland from Cambodia to Vietnam via train, we’re sorry to disappoint you, but there are no passenger trains that commute tourists, or locals for that matter, from Vietnam to Cambodia. The only form of overland travel is by bus.
Arriving In Cambodia – Cambodia’s Visa On Arrival
An important bit for anyone looking to go to a new country is understanding that countries visa requirements. For countries that are eligible (the U.S, is one of them), you are able to get a 30-day visa on arrival when you arrive in Cambodia. At the border of Tinh Bien and Phnom Den, you are eligible for a visa on arrival at this particular border crossing.
Once you are stamped out of Vietnam, you’ll be escorted to the Cambodian border. At this time, hand over the below items to the Cambodian border guards.
Cambodia Visa on Arrival Requirements:
- $30 USD (cash)
- Visa form (You’ll get this on arrival. Fill it out and hand to Border Guard)
- Valid passport (at least 6 months from the expiration date)
- One recent passport-sized photo
After you give the above documentation and pay the entry fee, Border Patrol will stamp your passport and allow you entrance into the Kingdom of Cambodia (yee-yee!!).
What To Expect: Mekong Delta to Phnom Pehn By Bus
Getting To The Vietnam to Cambodia Border Crossing
Your travel day from Vietnam to Cambodia starts early. You’ll catch the early morning bus (5 am-ish) to begin your long day’s journey from the Can Tho to Phnom Penh.
After about 4 hours, you’ll arrive at the Vietnam / Cambodia border crossing of Tinh Bien, Vietnam. The bus will come to halt and the bus driver will ask you, the foreigner, to get off the bus. Please, do not be alarmed!
For us, we were cautious of overland border crossings into Cambodia. Why? We heard plenty of horror stories of other travelers getting scammed, taken advantage of, and getting their belongings stolen. However, we are happy to report that at the border crossing of Tinh Bien and Phnom Den, we had no problems whatsoever!
One of the reasons, we believe, we encountered no issues at this particular Vietnam to Cambodia border crossing is that this particular border crossing is not often used by tourists.
Side Note: Tourists tend to take cross the border from Vietnam into Cambodia at the more popular border crossing of Moc Bai – Bavet which is the border crossing you take if you were leaving Vietnam from Saigon (Ho Chi Mihn City) and heading to Phnom Penh. We digress…
On the bus ride from the Mekong Delta to Phnom Penh, we were two of the five western tourists on the bus. The rest of the riders were Vietnamese and Khmer (Cambodians).
Vietnam & Cambodia Border Crossing Checkpoint
After the bus driver escorts you off the bus, you’re at the Vietnamese checkpoint of Tinh Bien. It is at this checkpoint where you’ll be stamped out of Vietnam. After getting stamped out of Vietnam, you’ll get back on the bus and be driven across the border into Cambodia.
Once on the Cambodian side of the border (WELCOME TO CAMBODIA by the way!), you’ll head to the Cambodian checkpoint of Phnom Den. Once here, you’ll get a fresh new stamp in that passport of yours!!
To get a stamp in your passport, you’ll walk into the checkpoint office and hand the documents we mentioned above to the checkpoint officer. Say you want a 30-day visa and he’ll hand you the appropriate documents. Fill out the documents and hand them back to the checkpoint officer. Badda-bing-badda-boom, you’re stamped into Cambodia!
Funny Side Note: All tourist records at the Phnom Den border crossing are hand-written (in pencil) in a notebook. Ha, definitely not so official but hey, the man was kind and will stamp you in no problem!
Arriving in Phnom Penh from The Mekong Delta
Once stamped into the country of Cambodia, you’ll get back on the bus and drive the 6-7 hours to Phnom Penh. As you arrive in Phnom Penh, you’ll get dropped off at the bus station where you can catch a tuk-tuk or cab to your accommodation.
For The Budget Conscious: Looking to meet people and stay in a clean place that is centrally located, well then Panorama Mekong Hostel is for you! Continental breakfast is served daily, plus the terrace has amazing views of the city and river.
For The Luxury Inclined: The Plantation Urban Resort and Spa is a little oasis in the heart of Phnom Penh. With it’s two outdoor swimming pools and colorful vibe, you’ll without a doubt enjoy your stay at Plantation.
For Something In Between: A beautiful, Asian-modern accommodation in Phnom Penh, Teahouse Asian Urban Hotel is a gem. The pool, the staff, and location, pretty much everything about this hotel is amazing.
For more accommodation choices and places to stay in Phnom Penh, you can check the latest prices here.
Vietnam to Cambodia Border Crossing Saftey Tips
While crossing any border in Southeast Asia, it’s always important to have your wits about you. This is a prime location for scammers and pickpocketers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. Below are a few safety tips when crossing overland borders.
- Do not give your passport to anyone. Only border officials at the desinated check points
- If anyone approaches you to sell you something or tries to get your attnetion, respectiviely but assertivly decline and keep walking
- Under no circumstance should you let anyone take your bag or luggage. You’ll be expected to pay that person in order to get your bag or luggage back
- Keep your belongs zipped and stowed away like wallets, passports and cell phones. Do not keep either of these items in the back pockets of your pants.
All in all, border crossings can be a little chaotic. Loads of people coming and going and you’re trying to read the signs to ensure you are heading in the right direction. Our biggest tip is to have everything ready to go prior to you getting to the border. You definitely don’t want to be rummaging around and taking things out of your bag or pack to find the correct documents you are needing.
Have everything organized, zipped up, and ready to go and you should have no problems. We sure didn’t!
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)