I started my journey via bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh in Cambodia and planned to return to Vietnam after a few days of exploring this city.
I booked my bus ticket on a site called camboticket which sells tickets for bus companies such as SAPACO who I ended up traveling with. After reading a few reviews, I thought this company sounded like one of the more reliable options. The office from which the bus picks you up was also close to the hostel I was staying in: Lee Hostel. To cross from Vietnam to Cambodia you will need to bring a passport picture and 30USD to give to the boarder crossing guards at the land border. This will give you an entry visa to Cambodia but make sure that you have another visa to re-enter Vietnam if you are planning on returning afterwards. Of course, this will depend on your own visa requirements but as a British citizen, my 15 days of visa free travel in Vietnam didn’t include multiple re-entry.
You can ask the bus driver to drop you in the centre or closer to your accommodation if its on the way. I got dropped a 20-minute walk away from my next hostel in Cambodia: Lovely Jubbly Villa Hostel. This is one of the nicest hostels I have stayed at, as well as being very cheap. A bed in a dorm room can be as little as £4 per night. The hostel is full of friendly, smiley staff who always say hello and are eager to help you with anything. There’s also a great bar with cheap breakfasts and cocktails for as little as £2.
During my time in Phnom Penh, I managed to visit the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields just outside of the city which is a harrowing experience. To get here, you will need to ask for a tuk tuk driver which your accommodation will usually be happy to organise. The Lovely Jubbly Hostel organise tours of different places in the city as well as helping you with transport if you just want to go somewhere specific. Once you arrive at the fields you will be offered an audio tour which provides all the information about the site as well as beautifully told stories from victims and people affected by the tragic history that permeates the country.
During my time in Phnom Penh, I managed to visit the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields just outside of the city which is a harrowing experience. Once you arrive at the fields you will be offered an audio tour which provides all the information about the site as well as beautifully told stories from victims and people affected by the tragic history that permeates the country.
If you want to know more about the history of mass genocide which plagues this city, you can also visit the Genocide Museum within Phnom Penh. Again, you will be given an audio tour with information and personal stories which will stay with you long after your visit. I found this museum just as interesting as the killing fields and it was much easier to reach as it was within walking distance of my accommodation.
Aside from its intense history, Cambodia is a country which exudes positivity and happiness amongst the most difficult circumstances. Although you have to be aware of the poverty and the danger of walking alone in these streets, the friendliness of the locals is a stark contrast to the warnings that I was given by hostel staff and moto drivers to be wary. Walking back to my hostel I stopped to grab some street food and the street vendors were nothing but welcoming and eager to explain all about their local delicacies. As well as street food, there are many trendy restaurants around the city where you can have a dine out experience for cheap.
Similar to Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh is dotted with different temples or Wats with unique styles. I visited Wat Phnom which is surrounded by a beautiful garden where I met another local who was ecstatic when I paid 1USD for some tiger balm she sold from her art and crafts shop. The Wat itself is often surrounded by monkeys waiting to be fed by visitors.
Overall, the atmosphere and the positivity that emanates from a country with a past like Cambodia’s makes it well worth a visit.