We took a bus (tickets purchased directly from our hotel, Duc Vuong in HCMC) from HCMC to Phnom Penh ($14 USD), and got our Cambodia visas on arrival. We were a little skeptical at first, when the bus assistant asked us to give him our passports and $25 usd to get our visas. We asked him if we could get our visas by ourselves and he said we could but it would be faster if he did it. So we took the chance, since everyone else didn’t seem to have a problem with it. It turned out to be a very smooth process and entry into Cambodia. It should be noted that there are many scams running around the border to get visas and if you are paying more than $25 usd, you are probably paying too much!
When the bus pulled into the station at Phnom Penh, it was surrounded by a swarm of tuk tuk drivers. We got a ride with Bora, who was nice guy who charged a reasonable rate. When he dropped us off at Cara Hotel we agreed to hire him for a full day the following day. Later that day as we tried to find a restaurant close to our hotel, while melting in the heat, we ran into Bora again and he gave us a ride to the river front area where most of the restaurants are, for free! It’s nice to be back among friendly people.
Our stay at the Cara Hotel was very pleasant. It was one of the most upscale places we’ve stayed on this trip, costing $37/night, but it sure was nice to have good service and a clean room and good breakfast! There was WiFi in the room and computers on the first floor, but it was so slow it wasn’t worth using. The hotel is nice, but it is a bit away from the center of town, and a tuk tuk ride to the center will cost about $2-3. (They use USD here in Cambodia, which seems to make the prices higher.)
We had alloted two full days for touring Phnom Penh, but since we hired a tuk tuk driver to drive us around the first day we decided just to fit all the main tourist sites into one day, and that seemed to plenty of time. The weather was very hot, humid and the roads were dusty, so we’d recommend taking a tuk tuk rather than trying to walk and a mask to filter out the junk in the air is also a good idea.
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