Despite years of rumors about a new super-duper direct ferry from Kampot to Phu Quoc Island, there is frustratingly still only one way to get to Phu Quoc from Cambodia — starting in Kampot, travel to the Vietnamese border, cross the border, and then catch a ferry from the border town of Ha Tien. In this post, I’ll go over how to get to Phu Quoc from Cambodia via Kampot.
It’s worth noting that there are flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap that connect in Vietnam, but this can take just as long as going overland. You can also get a ferry from the town of Rach Gia, but as it is a couple of hours drive from Ha Tien and takes an extra hour on the ferry, this post focuses on the Ha Tien route.
You generally have two options when making this journey — do the trip yourself or book a through ticket with a tour agent.
Doing the trip yourself
If you don’t want to use an agent, it’s not overly-complicated to do the trip yourself, although it is usually more expensive than buying a through ticket from an agent. If you’re in Phnom Penh, first make your way to Kampot. From there, you can take a moto, tuk tuk, or taxi to the border, cross the border on foot, and then a moto or taxi to the ferry, and finally, the ferry to Phu Quoc.
A taxi from Kampot to the Vietnamese border costs around $25 and takes about an hour. Not my preferred choice, but it is also possible to get a moto or tuk tuk to the border. The price for a moto is $8 to $10 and for a tuk tuk is usually $15 to $20. Once across the border, you will need to get to the ferry terminal in Ha Tien, which is about 7 km away (a 10-15 minute drive).
As soon as you walk through the border crossing (more on that below), there is a tour agent directly on your left hand side called Ha Tien Mekong Travel, so you could book your transport to the ferry terminal with them. Alternatively, you could contact an agent in Ha Tien to arrange for a driver to be waiting for you when you cross the border. Western-owned and managed Oasis Bar in Ha Tien comes recommended to help with this, and they can also secure a ferry ticket for you. The cheapest way to get from the border to the ferry is by moto, but be prepared to negotiate. The usual price is $2 or $3.
When you get to the ferry terminal, you will then need to buy a ferry ticket to Phu Quoc on the Superdong, which costs 230,000 VND ($10.50). You can find more information about ferry times and prices on the Superdong website, but be warned that this schedule is in no way set in stone.
Buying a through ticket
To save on cost, and in my opinion, hassle, we used an agent and bought a through ticket.
There are three known tour agents in Kampot to use for this trip, Kampot Tours and Travel, Rith Travel, and Champa Mekong. The price is $18 to $20 and includes all transport from Kampot to Phu Quoc (mini-bus and ferry). As I have a wonderful guesthouse across the road from my house, I booked the trip with them so we ended up going with Kampot Tours and Travel
You can also, make a booking online with Rith Travel for $20. If you’re coming from Phnom Penh, CTT Transport (who we’ve had good experience with in the past) offers a mini-bus and ferry combo for $29 that can be purchased online.
The journey to the border
The scheduled departure time was 10 a.m. (although, their website currently states 9:30 a.m.) so we were told to be ready at about 9:50 a.m. As I have lived in Cambodia for a few years, I am no longer the optimist I once was, and, as expected, the mini-bus didn’t arrive until 10.30 a.m. Luckily we left Kampot straight from the guest house rather than the usual routine of sitting on the mini-bus at the office with the engine running for half an hour!
The mini-bus wasn’t exactly “luxury” but was good enough for the short journey. There were nine of us in the mini-bus and it felt quite cramped as the the seats were really close together — the fold out seat had an automatic recline facility so when you lean back in your seat your head is pretty much in the lap of the unlucky person sitting behind you! Also, there was no air-con so we had to open the windows.
Other than that, the road was good and we drove at a decent speed. Even though we stopped to pick someone up in Kep, the journey to the border was one hour and we arrived at the border at 11.30 a.m.
The border crossing
When we arrived at the Prek Chek Border Facility, two ladies who work for Kampot Tours and Travel came to the mini-bus and asked for our passports and a $1 “handling fee.” If you are happy to pay the $1 they will sort out the departure for you and you can stay on the mini-bus. If not, you can go inside and do it yourself — the benefit of this is that you keep your passport the whole time. We opted to pay the $1 and didn’t get our passports back straight away — which started to worry us when we had no passports at passport control! We then drove a very short distance to the Ha Tien International Border Gate and were told to leave the mini-bus and take all our luggage so we could cross the border. No one explains the process or tells you what you need to do, they simply tell you to either stay on the mini-bus or get off.
We went into the building to the right of the border gate and the first desk was the Epidemic Control Counter. We had to fill out a yellow health declaration form — some of us were slightly concerned because it asked for our passport number and we still didn’t have our passports back, but the man checking the form didn’t seem to care. He did, however care greatly about the $1 he asked everyone to pay once he’d “checked” the form. Three times I asked what the $1 was for and each time he simply replied “you must pay $1.” A bit wary about arguing further as I still didn’t have sight of my passport, I reluctantly paid.
Then onto the next counter, Border Command Office (passport desk). Still no passports, we all just stood there, mildly panicking, not knowing what to do. Then, the two ladies from earlier appeared and gave our passports to the passport control officer. One by one he processed the passports which were finally returned to us. We left the building and walked passed the border control post, where our passports were checked one last time. The ladies from earlier told us to wait at the Ha Tien Mekong tour place for another mini-bus to come and take us to Ha Tien.
Tip: The ladies were not very forthcoming with information about what happens next, so if you want to know something, ask! Make sure you let them know you are going to Phu Quoc as others in our group were going to Ho Ch Minh City and their mini-bus came before ours — don’t get on the wrong mini-bus.
A word of warning: I’ve been told that in high season the border crossing can take hours as buses and mini-buses all arrive at the same time and they have too many passports to process. It seems we were lucky that the border crossing wasn’t busy — there were a few other people but we were the only group and it took us 45 minutes. I’ve heard numerous stories of people missing their ferry because of border delays, which is why the DIY option may need to be considered in high season!
Most nationalities need to apply for a visa before entering Vietnam, but there are some that get a free visa on arrival. The length of stay with the free visa varies from 14 days to 30 days depending on the nationality. As a British citizen I received a free 15-day visa on arrival. However, if I wanted to stay longer than 15 days, I would then have to apply for a visa. You must check the visa requirements before you go to make sure you sort out a visa if you need one! Some of the agents in Kampot can arrange a visa for you, including Kampot Tours and Travel. More info on getting a Vietnam visa in Cambodia.
Be aware that although it’s possible to enter Phu Quoc without a visa, but this only applies to direct flights and as such, it’s not possible to do it from Cambodia.
A mini-bus came to pick us up at 12:35 p.m. and drove us 10 minutes to the Ha Tien Mekong Travel office (this is the Vietnamese partner office of Kampot Tours and Travel). When we got to the office we were told that we would leave for the ferry at 1:30 p.m. so we had some time to go for a walk or get something to eat. If you want to stay at the office and wait with your luggage, they have a seating area, cold drinks, and a toilet. If you want to change some currency into Vietnamese Dong, you can do this here too, although you’ll get a better rate doing it at a market in Phnom Penh before you go.
If you’re doing the trip on your own, head to Oasis Bar where you can stop for a drink and they can help you organize your onward travel.
At 1:35 p.m. we left for the ferry terminal, which was only five minutes away. The two ladies from the border came with us to sort out and issue our ferry tickets.
We were told that the ferry departs at 2 p.m. which was a bit odd as there is no Superdong VI departing at this time on the Superdong website. I queried this and was told they had to change the time — hence my earlier warning of the schedule not being set in stone! Once we had our tickets we boarded the ferry and it left on time.
As I’ve never been on one of these ferries before and have heard varying stories of what to expect, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. The downstairs section was full so we were told to sit upstairs, which luckily wasn’t too busy and gave us plenty of room. Although there was air-con throughout, this got considerably colder as the journey progressed which left me wanting, for the first time in a quite a while, a pair of socks! There were a number of TVs onboard showing some rather entertaining looking Vietnamese programs — sadly, the sound was drowned out by the very loud noise of the engine the whole way!
The only thing I didn’t particularly like was that the seats are quite a bit lower than the windows so if you want a view you need to really strain your neck (if you are tall) or sit on your knees to see out the window. For those who want a bit of fresh air, there is a door at the back to go and stand on the rear deck, but be warned (or be glad to hear), it’s mainly full of smokers — also, as this is the “fast” ferry, I wouldn’t recommend going out if you’ve just had your hair done!
We arrived at Vong Beach ferry “terminal” in Phu Quoc at 15.15 p.m. There were a multitude of moto, mini-bus, bus and taxi drivers shouting, waving and pushing when we got off the ferry so we walked passed all the commotion towards the end of the pier. Here we got a local metered taxi, of which there are many to choose from, and headed to our hotel for a hot shower and a cold gin and tonic!
Kampot Tours and Travel
One block off the riverside, near Kronat Park, Kampot
T: 092 125 556; 097 982 8756
Street 724, off of riverside, next to Paris Guesthouse, Kampot
T: 016 789 994
KKS Travel & Tours (off of riverside, next to Kampot Real Estate), Kampot
T: 016 868 600
Oasis Bar Ha Tien
30 Tran Hau, Ha Tien
T: (077) 370 1553