South (Vietnam) : Kien Giang : Ha Tien
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. A Coop Mart (Supermarket) has now opened (Dec 2017) which has a Jollibee Fast Food outlet attached.
The bus terminal is west of the city center over the bridge, which is for cars / bikes only. NO ATMS at the bus station (Nov 16). Nearest ATMS in the centre only. Bus station will take dollars at rate of $1 to 20,000VD. Moto from centre 20,000VD or will take 1$ bills or 15 minute walk with risky bridge walk. Not much food at the bus station either. Bus station was moved there from To Chau on the other side of the bay around January 2008). Since December 2015,it has now moved back over the bridge,next to the new hospital,about 1.5 km from the To Chau bridge.The old bus station is now a (very poorly run) supermarket.
Buses toHo Chi Minh City's Mien Tay terminal, some companies offer free shuttle to tourist centre, district 1 or take bus n.14 45 minutes to D1. (about 8h) Sleeper bus (160,000VD) (Nov 16). Companies will charge $12 inc transfer to bus station from Ha Tien centre. Also 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 5hs. There are now direct buses from Ha Tien to Can Tho as a by-pass has been built around Rach Gia. If you (stupidly) opt for a bus via Rach Gia then not only do you have to change bus but also bus station.
The border near Ha Tien (7km to the north) was opened for tourists in 2007. As of 2015, it is easy for tourists of some nationalities (UK, Germany is ok, but currently not USA) to enter Vietnam via this border crossing without a visa for visits of up to 15 days.
To get to the border from Cambodia you can hire a motorbike 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 asphalted 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.
Unfortunately,as ha Tien gets busier,some scams have recently surfaced. Coming by bus from Can Tho(especially,but not confined to "local" buses)the bus stops at a petrol station about 500m before the bus station. where foreigners are told this is the end of the line,and get off to be met by "helpful" moto drivers who charge an inflated price to get to Ha Tien town. There are also a few moto drivers who hang around the bus station,or cruise around town,approaching tourists and quoting inflated prices to get to the border or into Cambodia.Several instances have been reported of the driver,having got you to the border,gets a phone call,has to go back to town,and tells you his friend,waiting further on,will take you to Cambodia.Surprisingly-this person doesn't exist.The correctt price for a moto to Kep is 220,000VND (10USD) to Kampot 260000VND (12USD)
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 Trang Ngoc Phat (white taxi's)who also run small coaches from Ha Tien to Rach Gia.
It is possible to rent motorbikes by the day (approx 6USD) or pedal cycles (approx 2USD) in several locations in the town.
Warning do not use the motos - motorbike taxis in the area. There are reports of them doubling the fare at the end of the journey. Be especially wary of the motos who take you from Prek Chak to Ha Tien and a driver with the numberplate 1F 01 20. In addition,be wary of a moto driver who speaks good English (Mr Cuong),and who will tell you his mother/sister/brother/uncle,owns/manages(fill in the blanks as necessary) the hotel or restaurant you are in .He has a long thin face and currentlty a black moto 65 F1.he has scammed many tourists here over a period of several years.
Try to get one of the tourist maps where the locations of the cave temples are indicated.
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 3 casinos - only one sizeable one, the others smaller gambling dens featuring mainly Chinese games.
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.
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.
Bao Tam near to the central market has ac/hot water rooms/tv for 170,000 Dong. Very clean
Crossing the boarder with a Vietnamese motorcycle is easily possible. Try to park your motorbike 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.
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.
Please note that I have no idea how reliable the (so called) online booking is.
There is also the Slow Ferry (car ferry) that have 8 crossing a day starting at 05:00. There is now 3 Companies that do the crossing.
Do note that none of the tour guides or hotels will tell you about the car ferry (Slow Ferry). This is because they do not get commission. If you arrive after the last Superdong (Fast Ferry) or it is fully booked then make your own way to the car ferry port.
Be aware of a bus company called [email protected] 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.