Vietnam Cambodia Border Crossings
Vietnam shares three international border crossings with Vietnam at the following points:
(1) Moc Bai (Vietnam) to Bavet (Cambodia) is the longest established border crossing which is used on the main bus route between HCMC and Phnom Penh.
(2) Vinh Xuong (Vietnam) to Kaam Samnor (Cambodia) is a popular crossing amongst independent travellers. Many take a fast ferry boat from Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta as far as Phnom Penh.
(3) Tinh Bien (Vietnam) to Phnom Den (Cambodia) near Chau Doc gives access to southern Cambodia. It is a land crossing mainly used by locals and there's little in the way of tansport at either side of the border (see our story below).
Ha Tien (Vietnam) is just 8km from the Cambodian border but it is strictly for locals. Foreigners are not allowed to cross here.
There is a river border crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam on the banks of the Mekong. Regular fast boats ply the route between Phnom Penh in Cambodia and Chau Doc in Vietnam, with a change at the Vinh Xuong–Kaam Samnor border. There are also two river boats running all the way to the temples of Angkor at Siem Reap in Cambodia.
It is essential to have a Vietnam visa before rocking up to the border, as they are not issued at land crossings. There are currently twelve international land borders: three each with Cambodia and China and six with Laos. We list the Vietnam side of the border first in the following country coverage. More are set to open during the lifetime of this book, so ask around in Hanoi or HCMC for the latest information.
There are few legal money-changing facilities on the Vietnamese side of these crossings, so be sure to have some small-denomination US dollars handy. The black market is also an option for local currencies – Vietnamese dong, Chinese renminbi, Lao kip and Cambodian riel. Remember that black marketeers have a well-deserved reputation for short-changing and outright theft.
Vietnamese police at the land-border crossings, especially the Lao borders, have a bad reputation for petty extortion. Most travellers find that it’s much easier to exit Vietnam overland than it is to enter. Travellers at the border crossings are occasionally asked for an ‘immigration fee’ of some kind, although this is less common than it used to be.
The Moc Bai–Bavet border is the traditional favourite for a cheap and quick way between HCMC and Phnom Penh. For those willing to take their time, it is much nicer to meander through the Mekong Delta and travel by river between Chau Doc and Phnom Penh. One-month Cambodian visas are issued on arrival at Bavet and Kaam Samnor for US$20, but they are not currently available at Phnom Den. Overcharging is common at Kaam Samnor.
The most popular border crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam is Moc Bai, which connects Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province with Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province. There are several buses daily between Phnom Penh and HCMC (via Moc Bai), usually departing around 8am, taking about six hours and costing as little as US$8.
Vinh Xuong–Kaam Samnor
A more pleasurable alternative to the Moc Bai crossing is the Vinh Xuong–Kaam Samnor border near Chau Doc. This offers the advantage of a leisurely look at the Mekong Delta without the bother of backtracking to HCMC.
There are two companies that offer luxury boat cruises between HCMC and Siem Reap via this border: the international player Pandaw Cruises (www.pandaw.com) and Cambodian company Toum Teav Cruises (www.cfmekong.com). Pandaw is an expensive option favoured by high-end tour companies, while Toum Teav is smaller and is well regarded for the personal service and excellent food.
Tinh Bien–Phnom Den
This border crossing point sees little traffic, as most visitors in Chau Doc tend to use the river crossing direct to Phnom Penh. It’s relatively remote but the roads are in better shape than they used to be, so this crossing may start to see a trickle of travellers or cyclists.