Renewing your Visa in Cambodia from Saigon
Not everybody is lucky and will have a working visa while working in Vietnam. Company’s policies, budget constrains, social works and doing freelancers normally became a reason why you are not eligible to own a working permit. For some nationalities, once you have entered Vietnam, you will be provided with a 3 months tourist visa and you can extend it at a local immigration office with assistance from travel agents. You also may apply for a business visa if you meet with the applications requirements. For most expatriates in Ho Chi Minh City, going to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to renew visa is one of the cheapest options. Normally the whole trip will cost around USD 50 inclusive transportation, foods and accommodations.
Where to start?
All you need to do is get your bus ticket. Go to the backpacker areas and many travel agencies can help you to get your bus ticket. Good reputation bus operators such as The Sinh Tourist, Sorya Transportation, Sapaco Tourist and Kumho E&C are always the top choice. One way bus ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh will cost around USD10 and the same price for the return ticket as well.
The journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh will average 6 hours by bus. It is recommended to take a morning bus as you will have chance to see the beautiful sceneries along the way to Cambodia. You don’t have to worry about everything during the journey because your tour guide will assist with all your crossing border’s needs. They will collect your passport, assisting you to fill out Entrance Form from Vietnam and Entry Form to Cambodia and also ensuring you are safe from “under table” problems with officers at the border of both countries. Remember don’t take any photo in immigration check point area, or you will really be in trouble.
You need to remember to exchange Vietnamese Dong to US Dollar before going to Cambodia. US Dollar is widely being used in Cambodia. In the meantime, local currency Riel is useful if you want to have street foods and taking “Tuk Tuk”, a local tricycle. The bus will stop for 30 minutes after crossing the Cambodian border, the bus will stop at a rest and relax area for resting, going to toilet and having some food. In this rest stop, the food price is relatively cheap around VND25,000 to VND35,000 and you still can pay by using Vietnamese Dong.
Along the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, you will slowly see the difference between Vietnam and Cambodia. You will cross a huge paddy field on your left and right side and there will be less traffic once you are in Cambodia. The houses in Cambodia also relatively have a wider open size around 6 meters with Khmer architectural to replace French’s Vietnamese housing style.
Arriving in Phnom Penh
Your bus normally will final stop at their agency in Phnom Penh. There are a lot of Tuk Tuk drivers on standby for customers. First of all, don’t get paranoid with this scene. They are nicer and not as pushy as “xe om”, motorbike taxi driver in Ho Chi Minh City. If you had booked your hotel in Phnom Penh, you can ask them to send you to the hotel. One way journey by Tuk tuk normally will cost around USD1.50 to USD2.00, depends on your destination.
If you clueless about where do you want to stay, ask your Tuk Tuk driver to bring you to Street 258, nearby Tonle Sap river. There are many budget hotels along this street with price about USD8 for one night for fan room and USD12 for air-conditioned room. The hotel operators at this area are very friendly and helpful. They also can assist you to get your bus ticket to come back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Getting Around Phnom Penh
If you are staying at Street 258, you are a distance from everything. During the day, you may visit the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, National Museum, Tuol Sleng Museum and also Central Market or locally called as “Tsar Thmei”.
In the evening, you may walk along Tonle Sap River at Sisowath Quay to see how Khmer people are spending their evening with family and friends. Along the street, you will see many vendors selling junk and exotic foods such as insects, cockroaches, spiders and worms.
After having dinner, make another turn to Sothearos Boulevard and here is a very big park and you can many Khmer people doing exercise, relaxing and sometimes, there is a musical play at centre area.
Back to Ho Chi Minh City
The way back to Ho Chi Minh City will take another 6 hours. Morning bus is just perfect as you can see how Cambodians are doing their agricultural activities. Once you are finished at Vietnam Immigration checkpoint, it means you are ready to “Rock N Roll” again.
In this article:
1st photo (Phnom Penh Independence Monument) by DerFussi(derfussi) on Flickr-CC BY-SA 2.0
2nd photo (Phnom Penh, Silver Pagoda) by Arian Zwegers(azwegers) on Flickr-CC BY 2.0
This article was published in The Vietnam Guide on August 26, 2012