The Moc Bai - Bavet border is the land border crossed when traveling from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia (and vice versa). This border crossing is infamous for scamming visitors for money. A US visa for Cambodia should NOT cost more than $30, and there are NO EXTRA FEES to pay. We did our research and discussed how to handle a scam situation if it arose. We decided that no matter what we would be told, we would be adamant about not paying any extra fees.
Before buying our bus tickets we read reviews and blogs about which bus company to choose. Our choices came down to the Mekong Express and Giant Ibis. Both companies didn't have great reviews, but the Mekong Express had reviews that included bus accidents. So, we chose Giant Ibis, plus the buses are newer.
Upon our departure date we checked in at the Giant Ibis office in Ho Chi Minh City. The office was full of people and unpleasantly hot. Before leaving the office the staff made us print our Vietnam e-visas, we would a physical copy at the border.
On the bus there is one staff member who will be your guide through the border crossing and be the passport collector. He informed everyone who needs a visa for Cambodia that they will have to pay a $5 fee to process the visa. When he approached us to collect our passports we told him we can get the visas ourselves at the border. The staff member said it is required and handed us the letter below. We still said no to the extra fee. He finally agreed to let us go on our own, but continued to say...the border would be so busy that the bus would leave if we were not done in time.
It is not only about money, but the principle of the matter. These attendants are taking visitor's money for a made up fee.
Getting stamped out of Vietnam is fairly easy. For holders of the Vietnam e-visa you will need to write your information in a book, and turn in a physical copy of the e-visa. The bus attendant will be with the group the entire time to walk everyone through the check out. The only part that took a bit was waiting in line to get the stamp out, around 30 minutes.
All the passengers get dropped off at Prestige Duty Free for lunch, shopping, and a bathroom break. The attendant jumped off the bus before it turned left to the duty free and he later returned on a moped with the stack of our bus's passports. He informed us to hurry to the border and the bus will meet us there. We walked back down the road and made a left, a few minutes later we were at the border crossing.
At the border fill out a form that you get at the border office, read the signs. Once we were done we returned the forms with our passports to the office. The captain informed us it would be $32 each, $2 fee to expedite it. If we didn't expedite it, he said it could take an hour. We agreed, we figured paying $4 is better than $10, and we didn't want the bus to leave us. A few minutes later the captain was done and told us to enter the immigration office to the left. Upon opening the door, the office was empty! We strolled through, got stamped, approved and the good to go into Cambodia.
Outside our bus was no where to be found. We finished our visa process before the bus arrived. Minutes later, the bus parked and everyone had to get off to get stamped through the border, including the passengers who paid the extra $5 fee. After everyone was through the border our bus was back on it's route to Phnom Pehn.
The border crossing turned out well, it wasn't as bad as some people wrote. We were in Phnom Pehn before it was evening, and had time to explore the town before it got dark.
There are other modes of transportation to get from Vietnam to Cambodia (airplane, cab, etc.),we chose the bus due to the budget friendly price. The cost for two Giant Ibis bus tickets were $38, purchased online. 12goAsia is also very useful for finding and planning routes in southeast Asia.