Review: Giant Ibis bus, Phnom Penh to HCMC

Let’s face it, long bus journeys in Southeast Asia are unlikely to be the most fun part of traveling in the region. When a land border crossing is added into the mix, it becomes even more unpleasant, but is something of a right of passage. Luckily, Giant Ibis takes the pain out of crossing the Cambodia-Vietnam border, with a six hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to HCMC.

Looking for more options? Read our detailed review of the many ways to get from Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City including plane, bus, mini-bus, taxi and even boat.

giant ibis hcmc

The Giant Ibis bus from PhnomPenh to HCMC (Saigon).

Several bus companies cover the popular Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) route. Of all the Cambodia bus companies, Giant Ibis is the best, unless of course you are looking for the kind of experience that includes blaring Khmer karaoke, lack of air-con and cramped seating. Giant Ibis buses all come with powerpoints, free WiFi and fairly spacious seating even for a larger person. They also offer a snack when you board the bus and the capable staff make you feel as though if something were to go wrong, they might be able to do something about it.

If you are headed from Phnom Penh to Vietnam, remember that you need to get your visa before getting on the bus. The exceptions is that citizens of Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK may enter visa-free for 15 days. Several other Asian countries are also eligible for the visa exemption. If you’re not on the list, here’s how to get a Vietnam visa in Phnom Penh. On the other hand, if you are headed from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, you can get a visa at the border.

Giant Ibis HCMC PP

This is about as luxurious as it gets on this route!

From Phnom Penh it’s 170 km to the border and takes about four hours. It is important to be aware that when you board the bus in Phnom Penh the Giant Ibis rep will take your passport to check whether or not you have the correct visa, and ask you to fill out your Cambodia exit card. The rep will keep the passport and get everyone stamped out of Cambodia at the same time.

There’s a brief stop between the borders at a strange restaurant and giant duty-free complex (with ridiculously cheap booze) where you can have lunch and browse the shops while they process the visas. While you are shopping, the Giant Ibis rep will be busy getting everyone’s visas stamped. You can change money but the rate is extortionate, so get Vietnamese Dong in Phnom Penh before you leave.

Then it’s back on the bus to the Vietnamese border. Once at the border you will get your passport back and cruise through immigration (because you’ve already been stamped in). Then you’ll get your luggage x-rayed and back onto the bus. It’s important to note that they are currently in the process of building new (huge) border crossing offices, so this process may change somewhat in the future.

Giant Ibis PhnomPenh HCMC

Giant Ibis seats have powerpoints to keep your phones charged.

Once you are through here, the Giant Ibis bus will be waiting for you. Once everyone is back on, it’s another two and a half hours to Ho Chi Minh City. When you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City the bus drops you one street over from Pham Ngu Lao, which is the main drag for backpacker restaurants and bars. The traffic is notoriously faster and even more chaotic in Ho Chi Minh than Phnom Penh so be careful crossing the road, and the office can be hard to spot.

On the return journey, you can get a Cambodia visa at the border as long as you’re from one of the approved countries. Tourist visas cost $30. Overall, it’s a surprisingly easy bus journey and border crossing without any of the scams that are usually seen at overland borders. The Giant Ibis staff will give you the option of paying $5 for them to process your visa, or you can do it yourself. Many tourists choose to let the staff do the work for them so as to not have to deal with immigration officials. It’s not a scam, it’s just a way to speed the process along and it is optional.

Tickets cost $18 and for an added fee of less than $1, you can book online and reserve a seat in advance.

Giant Ibis schedule:
Phnom Penh – Ho Chi Minh City: 8:00 a.m.
Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh: 8:30 a.m.

Giant Ibis

3Eo Street 106, next to the night market, Phnom Penh
T: 023 987 808
37, Street 7 Makara, Behind Sokimex Gas Station, Kampot
T: 023 999 333
giantibis.com

Want to check out another company? Find buses headed from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City or in the other direction, from HCMC to Phnom Penh and make a reservation online.

Bus tickets purchased through links in this post generate affiliate sales for us. This does not affect our reviews for specific bus companies or routes! For more about how we deal with advertising, affiliate sales, and stuff like that, you can read more here.

35 Responses to Review: Giant Ibis bus, Phnom Penh to HCMC

  1. Joe says:

    I’m trying to fill out my evisa online and it’s asking my entry check-in point. I’m taking Giant Ibis from PP to HCMC. What check-point does it go thru.

    Does anyone know?

  2. Ian Tait says:

    Just come off the Saigon to Phnom Penh. Long journey for someone who hates bus trips. BUT can’t speak highly enough if the staff in Saigon and on the bus.Kept us informed and we’re so pleasant and efficient. At the terminal in PP arranged a taxi as my wife doesn’t do tub tubs. Was going to fly to Siam Reap. Now going to give the bus a go.

    • Grace says:

      Giant Ibis has several hotels and hostels they recommend on their website. The company will have tuk tuks or mini buses pick you up to board bus from these hotels/hostels. Very convenient. Prices for hotels were very reasonable. These buses are great, very comfortable.

  3. Jenelle says:

    Hello
    I’m travelling to Vitenam NS back next month. Is the e visa accepted at the bus border to get back into Cambodia?

  4. Joe says:

    My partner is in Cambodia on a Tourist visa which has already been extended once and so we need to exit Cambodia and return to get a new visa (will be applying for the Ordinary visa this time to avoid future “border runs”. I’m wondering if there are any services in Phnom Penh that do a border run to Vietnam and back in the same day, for the sole purpose of enabling visitors to renew their Cambodia visa?

  5. QED says:

    The article (dated September 2016) says the bus crossed the Mekong by ferry. Strange they didn’t use the bridge that has been in operation for over a year now.

  6. Re an agent for this company. Charged double the price , told lies Reported it to bus line where they just laughed. Your agent , your representative. What is to be done with your crooked dealers. The buck stops with you The bus 12.30 13 /05 /2016

      • Hi Linz
        We bought our ticket off Phuong Trinh in Pnnom Penh
        13/05/2016. The bus left 12.30 for Ho Chi Minh . I reported it to the people at the bus terminus to the ladies at the desk.

      • Lina
        This is not the first time time this person lied to us. On a prior trip to Seam Reap , he told us we were getting the delux bus ,in fact we got an rattler. When we complained this time while booking he said that it was the only bus they had. No good ones ,this was 6 months prior. Most disappointed. I have advanced cancer & require a certain amount of comfort which he was aware of. I didn’t want to go back after the first experience but he promised again it would be ok then charged me double.

      • (Cambodia ) Tourism co , led Sangkal Veal Vong is the ticket sellers name & part address who over charges by double at least. He is a crook & can’t be trusted
        Pnhom Penh

  7. Tony says:

    Hello Sheen,
    The $35 fee being discussed is for entry into Cambodia from Vietnam. People with a South Korean or Philippines passport do not need a visa for entry into Vietnam for trips of less than 15 days.

    • Bernd says:

      I think people from australian need a visa. From 01.07.2015 – 30.06.2016 people from these countries do not need a visa:

      Deutschland, Frankreich, Italien, Spanien und Großbritannien
      15 days

      Japan, Südkorea, Schweden, Norwegen, Dänemark, Finnland, Russland und Weißrussland
      15 Tage

      Thailand, Malaysia, Singapur, Indonesien, Brunei, Laos und Kambodscha
      30 Tage

      Philippinen
      21 Tage

      Myanmar
      14 Tage

    • MissYDW says:

      I read that aswell Tom. We have fifteen days visa free travel, can’t remember when it is applicable to but sometime next year.

      Do you know how that works? Do we just walk through or do we need to complete any paperwork beforehand?

      Thanks

  8. Eric Johnson says:

    Unfortunately on my trip from HCMC-Phnom Penh I was charged $35 for the Cambodian visa by the Giant Ibis bus attendant. He informed me this was to pay “the police” and threatened to leave me at the border if I tried to do it myself and took longer than 10 minutes. I am currently arguing with Giant Ibis over this blatant bribe, which their customer service called a “batch processing fee,” and am afraid I probably won’t get too far. Unfortunately the other bus riders were all too willing to pay him the extra $5 for the “convenience” and I would have been possibly the only person attempting this. After going through I’m positive that it would have been no problem, but the thought of being stranded at the border was e enough to scare the $ out of me. Disappointing experience from a generally well reviewed company.

    • arto kamera says:

      Giant ibis is bnit a company I would recomend they offer very little space in their seats and they are also overpriced, they have a good marketing strategy and also nices buses (from the outside) so they tend to attract most of the newbies tourist in cambodi and vietnam but there much better and cheaper offers available.

      • Lina says:

        While safe driving might be a marketing strategy, I have yet to try another company in Cambodia that is using this marketing strategy, and as such, I’m very happy with Giant Ibis.

    • Seasoned Traveler says:

      Dear all:

      Dec 17, 2015. As a very long timer in the region, the $5 fee bus companies charge for cambodia visas at the border is bogus and unnecessary. It is a well established and unnecessary service fee.

      However, if you do not pay, on the bus the conductor will often become nasty in a heartbeat and threaten to leave you at the border. It’s very unpleasant and now they have gotten the border involved and they not longer have you go through immigration at the border – you walk right through and they bring your passports to you later after you eat at their restaurant on the other side so if you make your own visa at the border they will leave you and you will have to take a $1 per person motocycle ride 600m to the restaurant where the bus is waiting. Note that PHUONG HENG’S Pham Ngu Lao office will not sell you a ticket without a visa if you do not agree to pay $35 for a $30 visa.

      However, there is a better way:
      Simply apply for your visa at the Cambodian Consulate in HCMC at 41 Phung Khac Khoan St, District 1. They will give you a 3-month tourist visa for the same price as a 1-month at the border, which as of today is US$30. And you can get it the SAME DAY. Drop off in morning pick up at night. A female friend of mine got hers while she waited. Took about 20 minutes. No extra charge.

    • Yes their agent charged us double for a trip from Pnhom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. On enquiringly at the terminal , they just laughed Bus inside ordinary. Bad experience

    • Callum says:

      Not logical. The trip takes around 6 hours and of course there is the usual hassle at border crossing.
      NOT a day return for sure!

  9. Amanda says:

    I made the Phnom Penh – HCMC trip recently on a bus recommended by my travel agent. I was apprehensive about it, because she insisted it was better than Giant Ibis but nearly half the price ($10 vs. $18, if I remember correctly.)

    The Phoung Heng Co. bus offers 3 seats across (vs. 4 on Giant Ibis, and seats recline to nearly horizontal), onboard WiFi, water and snacks, pleasant staff, clean rest stops, etc. My only grumble was the TV screen behind the driver showing martial arts movies, but the volume was low, at least. Border crossing routine the same as you described. I’ve always heard great reviews of Giant Ibis, and I’m not refuting them, but Phoung Heng is a very acceptable alternative.

        • Sheen says:

          Hi lina.
          Good day. we’re goin to HCMN from phnom pen & crossing borders by bus on March 14,2016. I’m a Philippine passport holder and traveling with a Korean passport holder we’re just confused about the 35$ dollar visa payment at the boarder going to HCMN . Aside from Paying the bus Is it necessary for us to pay 35$ bill too? are we included to pay that amount, I knew that we have 21days free visa to travel Vietnam, but on what I saw on the blogs it made us confused . Could u please help me to clarify this. Cuz we don’t wanna end up being deceived.
          Ur advice is a big help.. Please .
          Thank you

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