Ho Chi Minh City to Bavet on a Shoestring

It’s been almost one month since I got back from Manila. Fast eh? As my visa expires this coming Friday, I decided to get my visa renewed today at the Moc Bai-Bavet border. This time I decided to try the Vietnamese public bus system instead of tourist buses as I did previously.

So here’s the rundown:

  • Bus 703
    Bus scheduled every 40-50 minutes, 25.000đ one way.
  • 13:15: Got to Ben Thanh bus interchange
  • 13:38: Boarded bus
  • 15:45: Arrived at Moc Bai bus interchange
  • The walk from the bus interchange to the border is about 10-15 minutes. Upon getting down from the bus, xe oms were offering to bring me to the border for US$1 but I declined. As this is the first time that I actually walked across the border, it gave me time to stop at the border crossing and let the significance of the marker soak in to me. Just didn’t occur to me to take photos today so no pictures :(
  • Took a little while at the Bavet quarantine as the quarantine officer tried to get 20.000đ off me for “playing with the system” and just entering Cambodia to renew my Vietnam visa. However he had no official document to state that and this time I was absolutely on a shoestring and giving him that would have left me with insufficient to return to HCMC. But as a matter of principle, I refused to do that and the friendly immigration officer just opened the door and brought me to the other side heading back to Vietnam. Language does help to foster relationships!
  • 16:18: Left Bavet
  • 16:35: Got back to Moc Bai bus interchange and sat in 703 waiting for departure
  • 16:45: Depart Moc Bai
  • 17:55: Arrived back in Ben Thanh bus interchange

Overall the trip was quite pleasant. Trip back was a lot more crowded, but both trips people were generally friendly. Definitely recommend this route even if you’re not travelling on a shoestring. Just take note not to drink too much water as there is no toilet (e.g. Sapaco and some other tourist bus companies) and no toilet break (e.g. Mai Linh).

8 thoughts on “Ho Chi Minh City to Bavet on a Shoestring”

  1. Thank you for your informative description of the Vietnam visa renewal border run (via Moc Bai-Bavet). You would not believe the amount of time I spent googling for a clear description of the procedure in preparation for my own trip in the next day or so. To be able to contrast this experience to your previous run via Mailinh tour bus is also very helpful.

    I gather from the steps you laid out, it was not necessary to pay for a Cambodia tourist visa. That is quadruply good as until my missing ATM card (U.S. bank) is replaced I will be very short on cash. Thank you again!

  2. Your website is the only one so far in the whole internet that describes how to renew the Vietnam visa at the border. Thanks for the info, but I only couldn’t understand exactly how to do it. My multiple entrance 3 months visa will expire in few days and I heard from many people that I can get another 3 months visa at the border but how can I do it? So I get to Boc Bai and get to the immigration building. Leave Vietnam but do not enter Cambodia (I have no visa). Then I just turn around and enter again asking the guy at the border to give me a new visa. Is it how i should do it? How about the cost? Tourist agencies want around 100$ to extend 3 months multiple entrance visa. I will be very grateful for any info. I have only few more days before my visa expires.

  3. i have been in vietnam for 4 years but decided to stay after my temporary residence card expired. The info u have provided has been a tremenduous help so I would like to return the favour by updating it as i took the same route on 23rd Jan 2013.

    Bus 703 now costs 40,000 to Moc Bai. Trip took me 2.5 hours. Comfortable aircond bus.took the Xe Om which costs me 10,000 vnd (50cents usd) as being a Malaysian Chinese i look like them and speak vietnamese. You were damn right about the Cambodian Immigration. I refused too and I asked why and i got away with it. After u clear the customs walk to the extreme left and walk towards
    Vietnam Immigration. Took the xe om again back to the bus station as the heat was just too much for me to endure.

    Oh…..when in Bemh Thanh. There were 3 places with No 703 on the signs so make sure you ask where to take the bus from. It was a puzzle to me as i xould not read bietnameae hahaha. But i recognise the word “di” on one of them which means GO hahaha.

    Hope this info will help more foreighners. !

  4. I would like to add the info below to remove the anxiety from us foreigners.
    The Vietnamese immigration is unlike those in other countries….only in Moc Bai
    I guess. YOU will have to place your passport on his counter as he sits high and mighty. You will see a lot of passports placed there by the bus conductors of tour buses. And YOU will have to guess whether it is YOUR passport he throws on the counter as he finished processing one by one. The wait is further aggravated by the large crowd which may block your view of your passport. The officer does not even bother to call out your name. I, for one, was worried that someone may accidentally take my passporrt away. The bus conductor will call the names of his passengers.

    So if you can afford to spend a day in PP….take the tour bus which will cost you usd 10 to 13. Many companies operate from Pha Ngu Lao.

    Like FLOWER above, I am also wondering if i have to cross to Cambodia and back like I did. Logic tells me i have to or else I could have saved the walk on “no man’s land “

  5. I just want to ask how to see bus 703? Do we need reservations for that? Is there a schedule?
    My friends and I will be staying at District 1, around the backpackers’ area.
    I’m trying to find information on the internet, but it’s hard.

  6. Well, bus 703 is NO LONGER at Ben Thanh bus station. You have to take the bus further up Pham Ngu Lao street. There is a small bus station along the street. Enter the station, walk along the right side, you will see a large map detailing all the buses and where they are located. Simply walk to the bus 703 location and board it. 40.000VND.

  7. Hi everyone,
    This visa run information is very helpful; however, I’d like to make sure only one issue which I still don’t quite get it. My concern is: do you need a proof of leaving Vietnam? If you do, I guess, you have to pay for a cambodia visa. If not, (I guess) you just leave Vietnam, entering the no man’s land and then turn back towards Vietnam again (of course, before reaching the Cambodia side).
    Please help me and thank you in advance for your reply.

  8. Paul, based on what I remember, it was necessary to enter Cambodia. However it has been four years and I’m not sure if the situation has changed.

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