Road from Vietnam to Cambodia
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Road from Vietnam to Cambodia

We almost never write about how we travel, we usually just get on the bus, train or plane and get out on our destination. Going from Vietnam to Cambodia was so traumatic that we need to share this experience with you.

We used our hotel offer and we purchased a bus pass directly to Siem Reap from them. We were very happy, because we were picked up directly from the hotel. We heard that the journey takes seven hours and the route is about 280 miles.

Everything was ok until we were in Vietnam. The road was good, the bus was air-conditioned. Pretty soon we got to the border. We purchased a visa and without any problems we drove into Cambodia.

Dirty road in Cambodia

What we saw there was shocking … Around the poor, simple houses, naked children were running. They were wearing nothing at all. Adults wore some clothes, but a lot of them did not have shoes. The road on which we traveled (main road in the whole country!) was bumpy and cracked, sometimes asphalt was missing. It was replaced by the red earth. So dry that when you hit it slightly clouds of dust rose up.

We were stunned! We spent a fun two weeks in Thailand. We never expected that the country bordering with it could be so poor.

We traveled mostly in silence, because none of us knew how to comment on what we see.

Finally we reached the river. We do not know what city it was. The journey had lasted about 5-6 hours, so we were sure that we soon get to the final destination.

Our bus along with other cars drove on the ferry to get to the other side of the water. Suddenly, between all the vehicles entered the people-young children and elderlies. They were trying very hard to convince us to buy something from them. There would be nothing special about it if it was not their appearance… The girl who stood just under our window, was maybe 5 years old. She was all alone, without any adult care. She stood barefoot, her face was dirty, hair was messy. But those eyes… we were not able to look at her and without crying. This child has so much suffering and so much begging in her eyes. She just wanted to get some money for food. She looked unhappy and starved, and she was so beautiful …

Here in Europe everyone would admire the beauty of this girl, she would be wearing clean clothes, and her mom would comb her hair every morning. Sometimes she would come to visit her grandparents and get some pocket money from them.
Little girl selling drinks in Cambodia

We were horrified how great disproportion between ‘civilized’ countries and Cambodia was. We saw how wealthy we are all and how much we do not appreciate it. Because we have a house, we have something to eat, we can allow our children to have careless fun…

Fortunately, the ferry journey passed quickly. Soon after we arrived to Phnom Penh- Cambodian capital. We have traveled only 2/3 of the way, and it’s already been 7 hours. It turned out that we have to change to another bus here. No one informed us about it before. But we had no choice… After waiting for an hour in the terrible heat, finally our new bus arrived. Happy, we went inside.

And once again we were devastated by what we saw. The vehicle was old and rickety, and worst of all- it had no AC. There was an awful hot in there, about 95 Fahrenheits. Everything looked terrible, but we were happy that the trip will be short –we have had already passed most of the route.

from vietnam to cambodia

Unfortunatelly, the road was so awful that we had to move at an average speed of 20 km/h… And so we drove 90 miles in 8 hours!

In total, we were on the road for 15 hours! More than two times longer than we were promised.

We arrived to Siem Reap before midnight. Tired, we got off the bus. We wanted to find a taxi and get to the hotel asap. It turned out to be impossible- the only vehicles available were tuc-tucs. For $1 per person we were brought to our final destination. Our hard, tiring and long journey came to an end.
Red soil in Cambodia

We don’t have good memories from Cambodia, we liked Vietnam more.


  1. Did this drive back in 2010, can't say it was the most enjoyable bus ride of my life but man, whats better than a miserable bus ride in SE Asia!


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