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I'm looking for a relatively painless but interesting way to get from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Kampot in Cambodia.

The most commonly suggested route seems to be the bus from HCMC to Phnom Pehn, and then Phnom Pehn to Kampot. My main concern with this is that the early buses seem to arrive in Phnom Pehn around 13:30, and the last ones to Kampot seem to leave about 14:30, which doesn't leave much of a window for delays on the first leg. Also, we intend to go back to Pnomh Pehn so don't really want to do the same route twice.

I have heard there are buses from HCMC to Ha Tien, but can't find much in the way of times and where they leave from.

Can anyone advise on these?

Getting from Ha Tien to Kampot seems straightforward.

How can we arrange a shared minibus to Ha Tien?

If all else fails, what would be a ball park figure for a taxi/driver cost from HCMC to Ha Tien?

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From wikitravel regarding Saigon - Ha Tien:

There are buses to Ha Tien from Ho Chi Minh City's Mien Tay terminal (about 8h).

To get to Mien Tay Bus Station (Western bus station): Take bus No. 139 from Tran Hung Dao Street.

I found this on Tripadvisor, a nightbus to Ha Tien

the bus leaves from the Western Bus Station in Saigon,at 21.00 and gets in to Ha Tien at around 05.30. It costs 185,000 VND.

Additionally I found the company that runs the buses to Ha Tien. That's what's on their website:

Departure: 09h30, 11h00, 15h30, 21h00, 22h00; box office #14 on the western bus station; 175,000 VND a seat

From wikitravel regarding Ha Tien - Kampot:

It takes around 2 hours via motorbike. You can take a minivan - you can buy the ticket at the Tourist Agency at "Oasis Bar" for USD $12 per person. The minivan departs at 12pm every day.

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I think to get from Saigon to Kampot, you have to go through Phnom Penh. The main roads and bus lines go that way. Even if there are more direct roads, I doubt they can be used by buses because of the condition of many bridges in the area.

Usually you can always get a private taxi to take you anywhere, but I doubt you'll find someone in Saigon driving you all the way to Kampot. They will drive you to the border, you can walk over and find another car on the other side. But even a taxi would go through Phnom Penh. Most roads in Cambodia are not in a very good condition, so taking small roads might take much longer than taking a bigger road even if that means a longer distance.

I don't know the current times or prices, but I would recommend to just take a bus from Saigon to Phnom Penh, stay overnight have a nice dinner and then continue to Kampot the next day on another bus.

Nobody in South Vietnam except some officials use the name 'Ho Chi Minh City'

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The easiest path is through Phnom Penh and Chau Doc. This is an established traveler path.

Going through Ha Tien is possible, though more adventurous. You will be very much on local transportation, unreliable and overcrowded. I'm not confident it will end up being quicker or cheaper than going through Phnom Penh, but you may get lucky.

If you are at a good guest house, they should be able to arrange some of the details for you.

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I lived in Phnom Penh for a few years and the route I would recommend based on my preference of comfort and price is.

If starting from HCMC:

Get the Giant Ibis bus which out of the 4 bus companies that i travelled with between PP and HCMC is far superior in my opinion.

Pros with Giant ibis:

  • Catered towards foreigners and expats
  • Good seats
  • English speaking
  • Stops at the most convenient and cleanest rest stops
  • No blasting of Cambodian karaoke or mandatory movie torture at 120DdB for 8 hours (biggest pro)

Con:

  • Cost is about 18 usd which is maybe 8 bucks more expensive then the budget option

Google Giant ibis, their web page is great. the bus departs 237 Phạm Ngũ Lão its 300 meters from Subway

When you arrive to Phnom Penh just stay the night if you have the time. Find a suitable accom based on budget. if on backpacker budget i recommend 11 Happy. Jasper the owner is a great and friendly dutch guy who has lived there since his teens.

The day after arrange for a private driver to take you to kep and make sure to hang out in kampot as well for a day. The kampot pepper is amazing and goes very well with the kep crap. Truly divine!! Most hotels and hostels can arrange for a driver and the cost is about 35-50 usd depending on how you negotiate. I usually gave the guy 50 put a smile on his face and had a smooth and easy 2.5h ride all the way to one of the many very well priced cozy little resorts run by normal people and not conglomerats. Kep is still to explode and loose its charm get there before its to late!!

You can also through Giant Ibis get a bus that takes you to kampot (they dont go to kep as of yet) and then take a taxi for 25 min to kep. Bus fair 9 usd
Taxi from kampot to kep about 5-10 usd.

I strongly advise the taxi option all the way from PP to Kep. but your dime your choice.

Enjoy!

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