The Sinh Tourist is the most famous tour company for independent travelers in Vietnam. Their branch in Ho Chi Minh City was located right in the middle of Pham Ngu Lao, which is the largest backpacker area in the city. Many travelers use the agency to book everything from local and international bus trips, to tours throughout the entire country.
I visited The Sinh Tourist in search of a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, Cambodia for the following day. It was already 8pm, and I wasn't sure if they would still have tickets remaining for the early bus, but I still decided to give it a try. After walking through the door, I was immediately greeted with a smile, and given a complimentary bottle of water which even featured their name and logo!
After such a nice greeting, I was already feeling quite comfortable so I had a seat in the office while I waited for one of the agents to wave me forward. Their office was quite large, spacious and air conditioned and with free pamphlets for their various tours on display everywhere. Some of the other travelers seemed to be waiting to speak with an agent, while others were sitting on their luggage while awaiting the arrival of a night bus.
After waiting for about ten minutes, it was finally my turn so I approached the desk. I explained to the lady there that I needed a bus to take me to Siem Reap in the morning. She clicked on her computer for a bit, before telling me that they actually had seats left! Giddy with joy, I asked her for the price, and she told me a total of US$12.
The trip was split into two parts. The first bus would take me to the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, where I would wait at their office for a second bus which would take me to Siem Reap, in the northern part of the country. Altogether, the journey was estimated to take a full 12 hours. The bus would leave Ho Chi Minh City at 6am, and arrive at Siem Reap at approximately 6pm.
The agent then proceeded to print my tickets and a copy of my full itinerary. I paid the US$12 in cash and I was given a customized envelope with all my documents inside. The agent then told me that while the bus would leave at 6am, I was required to be outside of The Sinh Tourist by 5am. This ensures that everyone and their luggage are boarded in time, in an effort to avoid delays.
The next morning, I arrived a little after 5am, and there was already quite a crowd outside. The boarding process was efficient, and everyone's ticket had a seat number which they were assigned to. I was happy to find that I was given the window seat which I asked the agent for, and sat down to await our departure. I was traveling with a very small backpack, so while others with giant packs had to store their bags in the luggage compartment underneath of the bus, I was allowed to keep mine between my feet for the journey.
After the driver introduced himself and started the engine, his assistant passed through the aisle, handing out bottles of water and packets of face wipes. After every one received their complimentary items, we started off. On arriving at the border patrol, the bus assistant collected all our passports and the process went through without any issues. Twenty minutes after stopping at the border, everyone was back onboard and we continued towards Phnom Penh.
The second bus arrived on time and we actually arrived in Siem Reap a few minutes early. I found The Sinh Tourist to be reliable and their service was top notch. If there is anyone who needs to use a bus to travel within or out of Vietnam, I recommend The Sinh Tourist. They will get you there on time and in comfort.