Wednesday, 26 November 2014

From Ho Chi Minh to Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The "Sihanoukville" tour was not originally included in my itinerary when I booked a flight ticket to Vietnam. A few days before my trip, I researched some YouTube videos about Cambodia and viola, I found this really great video called  "Winter of my Dreams" which was taken in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.


Then I bought a Lonely Planet Guide Book for Southeast Asia only to realize that this little town called Sihanoukville is located 12-13 hrs from Ho Chi Minh. I was like, "no way". But then again, being a travel go-getter freak, I decided to spend 2 nights there. Besides, it's a beach and I can't say no to that.

After arriving in Than Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh, I went straight to Pham Ngu Lao, which is a "tourist haven" for travelers like me. I spent a couple of hours in Eco Hostel, paid $15 for a single room and waited until 7 AM to board the Mekong Express bus to Cambodia.

My $15 a/c room in Eco Hostel w/ free wifi and w/ private bath. 

At around 6:30 AM, I boarded Mekong Express bus (I booked one-way ticket in advance via for $26) to Sihanoukville. I felt a little uncomfortable because it's my first time to cross the border and I have never been to an International Border Crossing before. 3 hours later, we reached Moc Bai Border and got off the bus to have our passports stamped. 

Finally! At the International Border Crossing of Moc Bai! 

Times like this, I felt really strong and tough. What if something went wrong? I must have a plan. I have always been the "it's okay, whatever" type of girl and at that time, I realized, this is a big thing for me -- traveling across two countries, it is a BIG thing. I must be tough. I'm not a travel expert and this is my first time. There will be a lot more experiences like this. I must be strong enough to protect myself from whatever dangers the border-crossing might have.

Somewhere between Cambodia and Vietnam

I felt a big relief after I got my passport stamped. I told myself, "I can do this again and again." It wasn't that difficult. No scams, no hassle, nothing. Or maybe I'm just lucky. I boarded the bus again and traveled for 3 hours to Phnom Penh. At that time, I just felt so exhausted and tired. In addition to that, I only have a couple of dollars and Vietnamese Dong left. I didn't know exactly where I can have my money changed. From Phnom Penh, I was transferred to a VIP van together with a French woman who works at the Embassy of France in Vietnam and had some short talks with her.

She's so strong, I thought. She was traveling alone and she had done it before. Wow. 5 hours have passed and I still haven't arrived in Sihanoukville. It was gruesome and crazy. I have been sitting for 11 long hours. I kept on telling myself, "be patient, you'll get there." An hour later, I arrived in Sihanouk City and had my money changed. I was surprised to know that the exchange rate was 1,000 PHP= 19 USD. Total rip-off! I had no choice but to agree with that rate. 

Mushroom Point has two locations - 
the one on the beach front and the one on the side of the road. 

Mushroom Point's beach front resort

At 9 PM, I arrived in Mushroom Point, Otres Beach. I booked my hostel in advance and just had to pay the balance before I check out. I stayed in a bungalow dorm on  my first night and then transferred to a private room on my second night.

My lovely bed. A couple can sleep here.

I paid around $50 for 2 nights (one in dorm room and the second in private room) and booked via The next day, I transferred to a private hut and the room I had was just simply amazing. I was completely satisfied. 

My own little comfy room at Mushroom Point

Moreover, I had some relaxing time at the lobby area which is completely cool and amazing. I could stay here all day just smoking and drinking, I thought. 

Totally cozy

The breakfast I had was superb. Honestly speaking, it was my first time to eat a chunk of mozzarella cheese. My $4 breakfast was all worth it. One of the best breakfasts I had in my entire life. I completely embraced my life. I'm lucky, I thought. Never in a million years have I thought that I'd be able to travel this long, become friends with the locals and tourists, and just love the moment.

There's a lot in it. Just look.

What made me even happier is the beach. I'm a beach-lover so I really appreciate the fact that Sihanoukville has a beautiful and clean beach. It is peaceful and it's just a nice place to spend the afternoon lying on the sand, doing nothing.

Simple and amazing

Close look of the sand

Otres beach is the quiet seaside part of Sihanouk City. If you want to party and do a lot of activities, you can go to Serendipidity and/or Occheuteaul Beach. When I was there, I just ate and lounge on the beach -- because that's what I wanted to do for a long time. 

Long stretch of Otres Beach 

I just didn't care about how fat or ugly I look.

They thought I was Cambodian!

Otres beach is just basically one of the best places to eat, relax and reflect on yourself. You just have to make sure you got enough dollars as the people here only accept US dollars and Cambodian Currency. They don't normally accept credit cards (some shops accept visa) and Vietnamese Dong. I must say that this is a rural-kind-of place. A bottled water is expensive (around $1) and I don't encourage you to drink tap water. I experienced some stomach problems so it's best to be extra careful with what you eat and drink.

Mixed veggies with pork for around $4

For dinner, I ate local Khmer food which is similar to our food in the Philippines -- the mixed vegetables. I also ate mushroom omelette with cheese and fries ($3). Didn't taste really well, probably because I have never eaten a mushroom omelette with cheese but it was a great experience for me.

Everybody wants to rule the world.

To sum it all up, I spent around $80 for 3 days and 2 nights in Sihanoukville (excluding the bus ticket to and from Ho Chi Minh). Foods were a little expensive and the tuk-tuk as well. You can rent a motorcycle for $5 an hour, I guess. Bus ticket to and from Ho chi Minh is around $25-$26 per one way. There's a lot of creatively-built hostels in Otres beach and it's best to book in advance as hostels are fully booked most of the time.

Done Right hostel, just a couple of blocks from Mushroom Point 
- also recommended by Lonely Planet

European and Australian tourists that we have met there have been staying in Sihanoukville for a couple of weeks and it is suggested to stay longer to fully enjoy the beach and the town itself. You might as well buy some bottled water in Vietnam as it is cheaper than in Cambodia. If you got questions on how to get to this small town, just let me know. ;-)

Happy Travel!


  • Bus from Ho Chi Minh to Sihanoukville - $26 (booked online via
  • Lunch in Svay Rieng, Cambodia (just couple of hours away from the border) - $4
  • Sihanoukville to Otres Beach - $5 (van or tuktuk will do - just 15-20 minutes away)
  • Mushroom Point (2 nights) - $10 per person for dorm room and $15 per person for private room ($50 for 2 nights for 2 - booked via
  • Budget for food - $25 
  • Bus from Sihanoukville to Ho Chi Minh - $25 (Sorya Bus Transport - booked in Sihanoukville)

Total: $110


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