Ha Tien is a large seaside town in Kien Giang Province in Southern Vietnam. It is at the western end of the Mekong Delta close to the Cambodian border. Less visited by tourists due to its remoteness from HCMC, it's a nice Vietnamese town where it's easy to cheaply overnight if coming or going to/from Cambodia by land. Don't expect to find any KFC or McDonalds here.
The bus terminal is west of the city center (it was moved there from To Chau on the other side of the bay around January 2008).
There are buses from Ho Chi Minh City's Mien Tay terminal (about 8h) as well as from Can Tho (6 hours) and Chau Doc. The connection from Can Tho often requires a change in Rach Soi or Rach Gia from where it is about 1h.
The border near Ha Tien (7km to the north) was opened for tourists in 2007. As of late 2010, it WAS possible for tourists of most nationalities to enter Vietnam via this border crossing without the need for a visa. However it applied only for stays of up to 15 days, and you could only visit the so called "Special Economic Zone", which was essentially the town of Ha Tien, and the area between the town and the border.In early 2013,this scheme was cancelled,and as at all other borders in Vietnam, a visa is needed prior to arrival at the border.The ONLY exception to this is for certain nationalities who have a 15 day visa free allowed entry.
To get to the border from Cambodia you can hire a motobike taxi from Kampot ($10), Kep ($7), or Kampong Trach ($5), from Kep by Tuk-Tuks ($10). The road can vary in condition from paved and bumpy to packed dirt and bumpy, be prepared for a slightly white knuckled ride depending on the daring nature of your driver and the road can also be very dusty in the dry season.UPDATE-as of late 2013,the road (RN33) is now widened,raised and ashphalted all the way from Kompong Trach to Kep and Kampot. Also, be aware that there seem to be Vietnamese drivers now waiting well inside the Cambodian side waiting to pickup (poach) prospective travelers to take them across the border into town. Your driver may stop here to talk with them and seem to suggest you go with them. A ride to town should be $3-4 or less (it is only 7 km and the road is well paved on the Vietnamese side.) If you can't agree on a price there you can simply have your Cambodian driver take you to the border where you can cross over and have the drivers on the other side fight over you.
Regrettably,a new scam has surfaced here.Several instances have been reported of travelers coming from Can Tho on the bus,being told to get off at a petrol station,about 200m after the bus comes over the bridge in to Ha Tien.There,some "helpful " moto drivers are waiting to take you to a hotel etc,for a vastly inflated fee-obviously in cahoots with the bus driver.DO NOT get off the bus here,insist on going to the bus station,which is 300m further on
The centre of town is easily walkable with Tran Hau the main commercial street running along the seaside between the big bridge for road traffic (Cau To Chau) and the former pontoon bridge for pedestrians (Cau Phao, removed in early 2007).
Many moto drivers situated at various strategic points all over town. Any journey in town, no more than 20,000 dong, e.g.to the ferry port, or bus station. To the border 40-50,000 dong.
There are also two main metered taxi companies, the omnipresent Mai Linh, and Ha Tien Development Corp.
It is possible to rent motorbikes by the day (approx 6USD) or pedal cycles (approx 2USD) in several locations in the town.
Try to get one of the tourist maps where the locations of the cave temples are indicated.
- Chua Tam Bao is probably the best of the temples.
- Thach Dong is a large limestone rock,containing a few tombs and a small temple(and about a million bats), 10 minutes from Ha Tien bus terminal on the way to Cambodia.Entry fee 5000 VND,but well worth seeing.If approaching the rock from the border,look for the gigantic face that appears to be carved on the side of the rock.As you get closer,it's apparent that it is an optical illusion,it's not man made at all.
- Cho Ca is Fishery market on riverside.
- Dao Tre (or Dao Doc) was called pirate island around 100 years ago. 22 km off from Ha Tien. boat from Ha Tien 9:30 am, returm 3 pm, boat fee 36,000 dong per person.
Plenty of small hidden Chinese temples, scattered all over town, often down small back streets. The Mac Cuu Family tombs, set on a sprawling hillside at the end of Mac Cuu street.
At the border with Cambodia (actually in Cambodia) are 6 casinos - only one sizeable one, the others smaller gambling dens featuring mainly Chinese games.
- A nice and easy bicycle ride can be done by first going to Mui Nai then continuing along the Cambodian border until finally ending up in Ha Tien again. On the way there's a barrel-shaped hill with a temple inside (entrance: 2000 dong).
- Ha Tien Vegas, Hà Tiên, Vietnam International Border Prek Chak, Cambodia Internation Border (directly across the border from Hà Tiên in Cambodia), ☎ +84 (0) 1688 977 977, . 24/7. Hop over to the Cambodian side to visit, this casino/hotel. The entertainment resort has more than 100 slots, over 40 table games, internet gaming and a Sports Book. For non gamblers, Ha Tien Vegas Hotel provides a 5 star luxury hotel complemented by 24/7 room service, Chinese and International dining venues/cafes. Offers 24-hour shuttle service from the Hotel & Casino into downtown Hà Tiên. editUPDATE-as of early 2013 the Ha Tien Vegas Casino is closed until further notice-although there are several much smaller casinos in the border area.
- motorcycle tour to Moso Cave, Ba Hon, and Hon Chong (Mr. The Trinh Ngoc), ☎ 0918574780. The road south of Ha Tien (to Ba Hon fishing village and Hon Chong Harbor) makes for a beautiful day-trip (about 37km each way). The road passes by green mountains, rice paddies with water buffalo, Moso & Crocodile Caves, lovely beaches, Pagoda Cave, and Hon Chong Bay (similar to a miniature version of Halong Bay). Mr. The lives in Ha Tien and is a kind, honest, and knowledgeable tourguide. He is associated with the excellent Oasis Bar and can often be seen hanging out there talking to his guests for the following day. $10-$15. edit
There are several large markets in Ha Tien, on the riverfront near to the road bridge over the Dong Ho inlet is the fish, meat and fruit market and also a large new covered market for clothes and household goods. In the evening there is a night market in the same area as the daytime food markets.
- Kayak. Off the 28 near the coast you can easily rent Kayaks for 80,000 dong ($4). It's the best way to gain access to breath taking views of the area. edit
- There's a cheap and delicious eatery (around 20,000 dong/dish) on 47 Mach Thien Tich half way between Chi Lang and Mach Cuu. Look for the two woks on the sidewalk. An English menu is available. Try the stir fried squid with cucumber. Dinner only.
- Along the waterway on Tran Hau there are numerous open air eateries serving various fresh seafood every night. Squid, snails, and other seafood/shellfish available here.
- Pho 66 is a recommended Pho place on the east side of town on To Chau just south of Chi Lang.
- Ha Tien Fresh Seafood. Right on the beach is a great local seafood restaurant with a very private upstairs area overlooking the best parts coast. edit
- Oasis Bar, 42 Tuan Phu Dat (side of the old market hall,off the river promenade), . 09.00-21.00. "Western style" bar/bistro with range of food from breakfasts to all day bar meals and snacks.Cooked Full English breakfast,fresh fruit and muesli,fresh fruit shakes/smoothies,home made soups,salads,curries and snacks edit
- Oasis Bar, 42 Tuan Phu Dat Dong Ho, ☎ 077-3701553, . 9 am to 9 pm or later. A great place to go in Ha Tien to meet others and exchange information. The owners are English speakers and are very friendly and have a wealth of knowledge of the region. Expat running the bar serving a good selection of cold beers in cold glasses for less than 20,000 dong each. Also the only place where you can get cocktails, spirits and gin+tonic. Full English Breakfast at 80,000 dong, (English back bacon and sausages,imported from UK, tomato, beans etc.), or bacon and egg with baguette; top that off with a pot of P G Tips and you almost forget where you are. They also serve coffee. 4000 dong - 40000 dong. edit
- Metro 88. Opens the end 2011 as the most exciting venue with pool side entertainment, engaging locals and a place for youth to relax and spend the day. edit
There is no shortage of options for accommodation in this town. It seems that every other building is either a Khach San (hotel) or a Phong Tro (a place that has rooms to rent). The epicentre of sleeping options can be considered the area delimited by Tran Hau, Mach Thien Tich and Chi Lang streets. In some hotels they speak absolutely no English, don't let this put you off, as the rooms are decent and great value for the money, with an ensuite, aircon, fridge, wifi, flat screen tv room for about 10 USD.
- Viet Toan, 74 Chi Lang, is one of the best budget places. The staff is very friendly and one of them even speaks some English. The rooms are decent and come with TV (lucky if you get anything in English though), fridge, private bathroom and fan or aircon. From 150,000 dong for a fan room, 200,000 dong for A/C room.
- Hai Yen, 15 To Chau, has probably the best rooms in town for the price. The superior rooms (300,000 dong) are huge, have balcony and a good view onto Dam Dong Ho (the bay).
- River Hotel, Newly opend 4 star hotel. Tran Hau Buisness Center, Need to check promotion rate (from 1,050,000 dong), included free wifi, buffet breakfast, swimming pool.
Bao Tam near to the central market has ac/hot water rooms/tv for 170,000 Dong. Very clean
- Crossing the border into Cambodia is very easy as you can get a 30 day tourist visa on the spot for USD $30 (January 2016). However, the visa official will ask you for USD $35. Once you insist on paying the true fee, you might get delayed for no reason at the border crossing even for a few hours. If you can stand the wait, you might try and get the lower rate. The health official next door will also ask you for a USD $1 fee, but if you just keep saying that you know there is no fee, he will back down. If you carry your personal vaccination document, you can show it there and avoid any additional pay.
- Crossing the border into Cambodia with a Vietnamese motorbike
Crossing the boarder with a Vietnamese motobicycle is easily possible. Try to park your motobike in such a way that the Vietnamese check-out officer doesn't see it (leave your helmet outside!). After you got your stamp you can just go. The Cambodian officers don't care about it.
- Kampot, Cambodia: it takes around 2 hours via motorbike. You can take the minivan; same service as Kep (see below))
- Kep, Cambodia is the first town over the border in Cambodia. The quickest and easiest way to get there is by motorbike - it costs around $10 to Kep and $12 to Kampot (January 2016). You hire a motorbike that will take you to the border crossing, wait for you to get the paperwork and stamps, and then deliver you to the guesthouse of your choice in Kep - this will take 1-1.5 hours in total. Note that the motorbike guy may try to take you to certain guesthouses where they get a commission. It is easy to safely arrange the travel in Oasis Bar, using the help of owner Andy.
The other way to get to Kep is via minivan - you can buy the ticket at Trân Hâu 7, 150m north-west of the floating boat-restaurant and the big Green Island hotel. The van departs at 12 and 16 or at 14 o' clock, depending the demand and season. It costs US$ 12 (feb/13). In Kep they stop at the pier, but pass further along the "bus station" at Kep beach, and follow the main road along several guesthouses.
Buses to Phnom Penh require one change of vehicle in Cambodia.
- Mui Nai is a seaside resort that has a tiny but sandy beach on offer (2000 dong entrance fee)
Ha Tien is one of the two ports that serve Phu Quoc Island. There are currently(Jan 2011) two boats daily leaving Ha Tien at 08.00 (cost 230,000 dong) and 13.30 (cost 190,000 dong) Boats take about 2 hours to make the crossing,and arrive at the eastern side of the island. Two boats daily from Phu Quoc to Ha Tien, leave at 08.00 and 14.00. In Feb 2011 these two ferries were joined by a large car ferry. This takes slightly longer than the small fast ferries, and berths in Phu Quoc in the N/E corner. Costs 165,000 dong and 100,000 dong for a motorcycle. Stories on the web about these boats being un-seaworthy are outdated,the boats are now reasonably modern purpose built fast ferries.
- At No.236 Mac Thien Tich ticketed bus from Ha Tien to Kampot, Kep, PnomPenh... and sell high-speed boat tickets to Phu Quoc. You can refer to the website http://hatienphuquoc.net/
Be aware of a bus company called M@ttos. The fare to Can Tho is 180,000 dong/US$9, distance 210 km. Bus was in very bad condition, reckless driver who honked the entire time on board, very rude ticket seller who threw tourists off the bus in the middle of nowhere and made them pay and take another bus in even worse condition to the destination. Apparently some individuals do this in Vietnam for their dislike of tourists. Avoid this at all cost and try to travel with a trust-worthing bus company.