If you are already inside Southeast Asia and want to travel to Vietnam, sometimes flying is not always the most economical decision. Though countries like Laos and Cambodia are right next-door, short flights into Vietnam can be quite costly. One of the most common pre-Vietnam stops in Southeast Asia is Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city. How do you get to Vietnam from Phnom Penh? There are actually a number of options.
Flying may be the quickest route, but with one-way tickets costing 150-250$ US Dollars (for a flight that lasts less than one hour!), sometimes it’s not the best option.
For only 10-15 USD, you can instead take a bus from Phnom Penh and six hours later arrive in Ho Chi Minh City. Though it takes 5 hours longer than flying, you can save a lot of money and also see parts of Cambodia that you may never have the chance to witness otherwise. The ride has one border stop between Cambodia and Vietnam (you must already have a Vietnam visa, unlike the visa on arrival option at the Cambodian border) and passengers get off the bus, walk through customs and meet their bus back on the other side. It is a painless process and there are seldom, if ever, any border problems.
Another option for reaching Vietnam via Cambodia is by boat. For around 25-35$ US Dollars, you can opt to ride the beautiful Mekong River down into Vietnam’s border of Chau Doc. Taking around 5 hours (on a fast boat), this border crossing method is entertaining, picturesque and still costs considerably less than flying. There is also a slow boat option, which for around 15 dollars brings you to the same destination, but adding about 4-5 more hours. If you prefer to take things slow and don’t mind a day on the water, this option may be for you. But if you are tight on time during your vacation, this may not be the smartest (or most comfortable) option.
Once in Chau Doc it is quite easy to reach the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho (the fourth largest city in Vietnam). From there visitors can either spend a few days exploring the Mekong region (visit the iconic floating markets!) or continue onwards towards Ho Chi Minh City.
As mentioned before, travelers need to have a visa prior to arriving in Vietnam. Phnom Penh is actually one of the best, cheapest and easiest cities in the world to obtain a Vietnamese Visa. Once in the capital city, there are plenty of travel companies who can arrange the visa for visitors; in fact, most hotels and guesthouses in Phnom Penh offer the service as well. So tourists can obtain their Vietnam Visas without even having to leave the hotel room! The options available are one and three month visas, with single or multiple entry options. For those planning to visit Vietnam for an extended period of time, there are also some companies who can arrange (for a higher price), six month multiple entry visas.
So before you cross into Vietnam, make sure you have your visas ahead of time and weigh your multitude of arrival options!