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Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Siem Reap

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Siem Reap at a glance

High Season

Dec - Feb
Current Weather
Places you can't miss
Angkor Wat
Local currency
Good to know
Siem Reap sees one million tourists a year, all travelling to witness the majesty of Angkor Wat, which is a Buddhist temple complex made up of five towers. Cambodia is the child of the ancient Khmer nation which built the temples in the 12th century. Cambodia’s recent history has been turbulent until recent years; visit the War Museum to commemorate the lives lost during Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime. Beyond Angkor Wat, Siem Reap houses hundreds of residents on the Siem Reap river on floating villages. Siem Reap is a relaxing and eye opening city in which you can embrace your inner Buddha through explorations of spirituality and humanity.

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Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap:

If you’re in Vietnam, you may have noticed how strong the influence of the surrounding countries. This may be very intriguing for many a journey from one land to another, where you can learn about the two countries and all of their intersections. This ends up being a rich experience for any globe trotter. Scroll further to find all the info you’ll need for your adventures from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Ho Chi Minh has, so to speak, a stronghold on Vietnam. It serves as a great cultural and historical center. Interestingly enough,this city has the largest population of Vietnamese dwellers (in all of Vietnam), with an additional tens of millions of tourists visiting per year.

This city wasn’t always like it is today. Firstly, before 1975, Ho Chi Minh was actually called “Saigon”. This name change occurred as a result of the Vietnam War of the 70s, and serves as a lasting trace of the tumultuous period.

Rebirth is a valuable quality which Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh have possessed throughout the years, acting just like a lotus flower. You can find this well-loved piece of symbolism throughout Ho Chi Minh, and especially so floating in ponds at the grand City Hall.

Throughout your wanderings in Ho Chi Minh it’ll be evident how persistent colonial influence is on the architecture of the buildings. This is a wonderful city to visit if you love all things urbanism, as you can learn about it’s growth by observing the diversity between modern and French Colonial sites.

Ho Chi Minh sits on the southern-end of Vietnam, making it an easy point for entrance into Cambodia. It might be overwhelming to decide which city to visit in Cambodia, so we recommend specifically the wondrous place of Siem Reap.

Siem Reap sees one million tourists a year, all travelling to witness the majesty of Angkor Wat, which is a Buddhist temple complex made up of five towers. Cambodia is the child of the ancient Khmer nation which built the temples in the 12th century.

Cambodia’s recent history has been turbulent until recent years; visit the War Museum to commemorate the lives lost during Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime. Beyond Angkor Wat, Siem Reap houses hundreds of residents on the Siem Reap river on floating villages. Siem Reap is a relaxing and eye opening city in which you can embrace your inner Buddha through explorations of spirituality and humanity.

You may ask: what are some similarities between the two cities & bordering countries? Ho Chi Minh and Siem Reap lived through and survived equally volatile and chaotic events in the past mid-century. What unites the cities is that they are able to commemorate tragedy by very respectful [and necessary] means. The cities are now epicenters of tourism and industry in their respective countries, and should not be missed.

The countries continually influence each other when it comes to culture and cuisine. Actually, not only will you be able to find rice with pork in Ho Chi Minh, but in Siem Reap as well. Beyond this simple dish, try tasting the differences between Cambodian (num pang) and Vietnamese (banh mi) sandwiches.

Vis-a vis

Between Ho Chi Minh and Siem Reap is a distance of hundreds of kilometres. The distance though, is completely worth diving into. When travelling between Ho Chi Minh and Siem Reap, it’s understandable that a border needs to be crossed. This process for this ordeal is actually quite simple and can save a lot of time for the big day, especially if you prepare in advance.

The border crossing most buses pass through is the Bavet crossing. Getting through easily can be done by simply having all documents on hand. When on the bus, there will be staff members who can guide you through the process on the day of. All you need is a valid passport, $35, and a passport photo on hand. When at the border, you’ll have to pay the $35 fee to the immigration officials. The single-entry visa is valid for 30 days.

If you plan on overstaying your Cambodian visa, be aware that each day you overstay costs a $10 fee. While regulations are quite lax when it comes to overstaying a short period of time (less than a week), if you overstay your visa for a long time you will have to face hefty fines and my face legal action on behalf of the Cambodian government. In order to avoid all of these issues in case you’re planning on staying longer in Cambodia, just renew your Cambodian visa by visiting the Department of Immigration in Phnom Penh and pay a renewal fee (in $).

The wheels on the bus go round and round...

Getting from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap is done mainly through bus travel. Buses depart throughout the day. The ride is long, taking an average of 15.5 hours from point A to point B. You can book a journey for the early morning and arrive late in the evening, or get on at night in order to replace overnight accommodations with a bus ride.

Buses are all affordably priced - costing between $26 and $28. Despite the length of the journey, ample amenities and comfortable accommodations are provided to everyone. The cabins are usually ones with regular seats that recline, but sleeper buses are also an option. Sleeper buses are recommended for this journey as they allow for a more comfortable way to recline and doze off.

Before departing there’s some wisdom to impart on all wary bus-travellers. First of all, bringing extra layers with you in your bags is necessary. Drivers often crank the air conditioning up to the highest level. Although to many it may seem strange to pack such clothes to such a warm countries, buses may have the coldest temperatures in Vietnam. Vietnamese buses are a great place to pull out the fuzzy socks and fleece hoodies.

When travelling, make sure to also bring your own toilet paper with you, and hand sanitizer. Bathrooms are seldom found on board making it necessary for the driver to pull over every couple of hours for rest stops. There, you’ll be able to take bathroom breaks and get a bite to eat.

When at those cafes, which are usually situated “in the middle of nowhere”, food options may be pricey. If you’re on a budget, bringing snacks and drinks with you is a smart option (in order to save some extra cash). More than anything, a neck pillow will be your best friend during the ride.

After your all your adventures in Vietnam, Cambodia, and between the two, are over there will surely be tons and tons of memories to reflect over. Comfortable transportation between destinations always makes or breaks how you feel about a trip, and hopefully with our tips and tricks you’ll be able to plan wisely for a wonderful journey.

Cebu to Iloilo:

The Philippines is an enchanting country filled with diverse experiences. You can venture out from busy metropolitan areas to secluded and peaceful islands in little time. Everything you could ever need for a wondrous vacation can be found when travelling between Cebu and Iloilo.

Paradise on Earth

Imagine an island that is almost 200 kilometers long, full of turquoise water beaches and white sand. That, folks, is Cebu. A top destination that will make you want to come back again and again. You definitely want to divide your time in the city and around the Island.

Cebu is famous for its diving sites, and that’s all thanks to the fact that Cebu is decorated with pristine sources of water. There are waterfalls, lagoons, springs and beaches galore. The waters are always of striking hues, and you won’t get bored of plunging yourself into the warm aqua.

There are multiple waterfalls to visit like the Dao Kabutongan, and Inambakan falls on the island. Pick one and you won’t be able to say no to exploring the next ones.

A Breath of Fresh Air

The tropical nature thrives for various reasons, but mostly due to the weather, as it’s hot all year in Cebu. Seasons change only relating to rainfall, as it gets heavier in the summer months of June through August.

In Cebu, Spring hits at the months of March to May, with very hot temperatures and low rainfall. During this season, you’ll find low amounts of tourists exploring the hidden pastures of Cebu.

If you plan to visit during your winter vacation, you may find yourself enjoying the most beautiful weather of the island, mild and sunny. Although, this time comes with a price. The months of December through February are oftentimes the busiest with tourists. In general, expect weather to be at a consistent 30 degrees celsius

Throughout the year there’s high levels of humidity. Make sure to drink lots of water, even if you planning on wading through the waters all day. If you’ll be in a swimsuit all day, surely picking out humidity-friendly outfits won’t be problematic. Most of all, remember to take ample breaks during activities and lather on the sunscreen at all hours.

Iloilo, on the other hand, averages in temperatures of 26 to 28 celsius year round, with the rainiest days being in August.

Road to Eldorado (also known as Iloilo)

Speaking of Iloilo … this city a perfect choice to pair with an island adventure in Cebu. Iloilo is a rapidly growing city on the Visayan islands. There may be a common perception of the Philippine islands that most of them are filled with tiny villages and untouched nature. This simply isn’t true for Iloilo.

Iloilo has a grandiose history of native Filipino culture, mixed into a beautiful cocktail with the ideas that the Spanish settlers brought with them in the 16th century. The Iloilo people actually were very accepting of the Spanish and much of what can be found in the city today is thanks to them. After the Spanish came the Americans, and now Iloilo is thriving with its own spirit.

Religion in Iloilo is definitely an imprint of it’s colonialist history; there’s a Catholic majority as a remnant of the Spanish rule, and Protestantism remains as a remnant of American rule.

What else remains, and is highly advised to explore, are the structures that were built during those time frames. Iloilo is filled with very decorative mansions in Spanish and French styles. One such mansion is called the Nelly Garden. For many moments, you may feel confused about where you’re located, in Spain or in the Philippines? There are also many parishes and cathedrals (like the Jaro Cathedral) that are necessary to see.

When in Iloilo, make sure to prepare yourself for a jaw-dropping cultural experience. Cultural events and gatherings are highly loved in this city, and the museums are well taken care of and visited. Be sure to plan a day through the contemporary art museum, the ILOMOCA, and find yourself stunned by local, modern artists.

There’s more culture to taste beyond just the art museums. A nucleus of art and local pride are the loud and colorful festivals. One such festival is the Dinagyang fest, which takes place in late January. This event presents hundreds of locals dancing through the street in ancient garb, chanting out immemorial songs. It’s a very important spectacle of the preservation of their native culture.

A Sea-nic route

Life is booming in Iloilo, and by many accounts this is considered to be the happiest city in the Philippines. This can be attributed not only to the wonderful climate, but to the growing economy, clean streets, and friendly people. They’re also so close to other parts of Filipino paradise, which are easily accessed by ferry.

Ferry is the main mode of transport for all those seeking travel between the Filipino islands. This is exactly how you can get from Cebu to Iloilo.

The prices are quite accessible for all the amenities and wonders you’ll get on board. The average price of a shared option is about $27. A shared ferry means you’ll get a bed in a room, with a couple other strangers sharing quarters with you. There’s also outside seating on the viewing deck. The view at sunset is spectacular, you might even be able to watch Cebu island get smaller with the glow of dusk surrounding it.

It’s a 12 hour ride from Cebu to Iloilo, but that shouldn’t be problematic considering that the ferry has a hotel-feel. The ferry departs once a day in the evening and arrives in the early morning. The boat departs from the central Cebu pier and arrives to drop passengers off at the New Iloilo Ferry terminal.

Of course, if you’re willing to spend a little extra, you’ll be getting extra privacy. This is a great choice for those travelling with family members. For a bit higher of a price tag, you and your squad (four people total) will get a separate room with beds.

Before departing, make sure to pack extra food and drinks with you to take on this journey. Luckily enough, there’s an ample luggage allowance, so you can stuff as many Filipino snacks as possible, like Cheese Rings, into your bags. If you’re okay with shelling out the cash to buy snacks, food is also purchasable on board.

Going from island life in Cebu to an up and coming city like Iloilo may feel like a lot to take in, but it’s such a worthwhile adventure to partake in. Especially, if you’re looking to find out about every layer of Filipino society. You learn about native culture mixing with settler influence as the foreground the remarkable nature all by visiting the Visayan islands, and travelling between them by ferry.