Long time forum stalker, first time poster. Love this site as I have been planning my SE Asia trip for years and finally doing it.
Anyway- I am going to be in HCMC and want to travel overland to Cambodia. My route is something like this:
HCMC to Kep
Kep and do Koh Tonsay
Then from SR onto Bangkok.
Question is reagrding how to get from HCMC to Kep. I can see there is a border crossing via Ha Tien. But how easy is it to organise in HCMC to get to Kep. How long will the process take? Is there any scams? And once in Cambodia, will I need to get a taxi to Kep? Or another bus?
It seems like the post about this particular crossing is a bit outdated and want to know people's experiences and am open to any suggestions.
Thanks for your help.
I am travelling at my own pace so time is no issue and am on a budget.
#1 misstahlia has been a member since 16/11/2012. Posts: 15
The most direct way to get from HCMC to Kep is by coach, first from HCMC to Rach Gia using Phuong Tran busline. They have an agent in De Tham st in Pham Ngu Lao or you can get your hotel/guesthouse to arrange the ticket. From memory it was about $10 for the daytime ride in a very comfortable sleeper coach. From Rach Gia you'll need to catch a local bus up to the border town of Ha Tien .
To get from HCMC to Ha Tien will take most of the day, so park yourself here overnight. In the time you have in Ha Tien check out an agent in the main street of town to arrange the crossing into Cambodia and onward transport. The agent we used last year provided transport all the way to Sihanoukville with drop offs at Kep and Kampot as well as assisting with the border formalities. Sorry cant remember the name of the agent but it was easy to arrange in Ha Tien, a pleasant enough coastal town.
This is the most direct route. The alternative is to poke your way through the mekong delta up to Chau Doc and then catch a bus down to Ha Tien.
Enjoy your trip.
You can either work your way through the delta on to Ha Tien and then take the minivan or motorbike taxi to Kep / Kampot or hurry to Ha Tien. The quickest/easiest way contrary to above is to take bus directly to Ha Tien from Ho Chi Minh City. Bus company for that route is Kumho Samco and I believe they have a night bus doing that route, I took their night bus in the opposite direction and it was good condition and very reasonably priced (I believe around 190k Dong).
Border is the same as them all, they will try and overcharge you a few bucks, can either just pay it or try and create a fuss and save a couple bucks if you are willing to wait etc. I took minivan across border and disliked almost every part of it, I would recommend moto taxi as I saw guys get good deals($8 to Kep) and would be much better then a cramped minivan with annoying tour operator driver(as long as you have reasonable luggage). Moto taxi can take you directly into Kep or even Kampot and drop you off wherever you would like to go.
Time to get through the border will depend on crossing guards attitudes and tour operator or moto drivers ability to get people to stamp your passport. For us took a little while as no one seemed to care but eventually got through.
Both posters are pretty much spot on.Kumho Samco have both a direct day and night bus,the night bus is a fairly modern proper sleeper bus.I haven't taken it myself,but have a friend who works in Saigon,and regularly takes it to come here.Personally,I don't recommend night time travel on the roads anywhere in Asia,for safety reasons,but he says he's had no problems.As well as Phuong Trang,Mai Linh also have a coach service from Saigon to Rach Gia ,they have an office on Pham Ngu Lao St in Saigon,where you can book this,you then transfer to an express minibus from Rach Gia to Ha TIen. Stay overnight in Ha Tien,then next day take a minibus to Kep ,it's 7km to the border,the wait there at this time of year is not much,as it's very quiet now,and it's then 25km to Kep.The only advice I would disagree with-is taking a moto to Kep from Ha Tien.It's only marginally cheaper than the minibus,and it's much more uncomfortable and dangerous.While the road from the border to Kompong Trach is new,and in good condition,the road from there all the way to Kep(and then Kampot) is undergoing major roadworks,and it's either extremely dusty,or extremely muddy,depending on whether it's rained or not,and the road surface is also very bad. Once it's finished-in a few months,then maybe it would be an option,but not yet.There are three companies organising minibuses to Cambodia from here,one of them has a desk in our bar,and the minibus leaves from here,usually at about 13.00
I don't remember it being very dusty from Kep to the border and I ended going by by tuk tuk since the minivan was overbooked(which they found out when it arrived...). The road from Kep to Kampot is horrendous though, hopefully that gets fixed up soon but from what I heard it will likely be a little while.
The reason I suggest moto is because the van drivers and in particular the Vietnamese company that handled our Vietnamese side of things didn't listen or care and were a royal pain to deal with. The few motodops I saw/dealt with in Ha Tien were very nice, limited English but good guys and I would much rather give my business to a guy like that just trying to scratch up a living then to support companies trying to take advantage of tourists.
Either way will work and choice is up to you.
Wow such great detailed replies from everyone. It sounds as though this route will be easy enough to do with some patience and a easy going attitude!
I just looked up Kumho Samco and the price is great and seems easy to organise once I am in Saigon. Then once in Ha Tien, I will find an agent to organise a bus to Kep. As we have suitcases (carry on size) at this stage, i dont think we will get motorbikes. But with all the overland travelling I am doing, still debating if a backpack will be easier! That is a whole other topic :)
Thanks again everyone :)
#6 misstahlia has been a member since 16/11/2012. Posts: 15
Suitcases vs backpack comes down to the way you travel. If you are going to book ahead and take taxis to hotels etc then a suitcase is fine. If you are just going to show up in a town when you feel like it and waltz around town until you find a place to sleep you are very quickly going to hate your suitcase and wish you had a backpack.
Geer1 I think backpack is better for this style of trip I am doing :)
#8 misstahlia has been a member since 16/11/2012. Posts: 15