River Route to Vietnam Gaining Travelers

leuk dek district, Kandal prov­ince – Three years after the Ka’am Samnor border crossing opened to tourists, hotel and tour operators have begun to capitalize on travelers’ desires for an alternative to bus or air travel between Cam­bodia and Vietnam.

In 2000, only about 10 tourists would pass through the outpost each day. But by 2001 that number had doubled, said Sarim Sakda Phal, the acting immigration chief at Ka’am Samnor. Now as many as 100 tourists pass through daily, with 60 percent entering Cambodia.

“The road [to and from Viet­nam] is not good, so the travelers like to go by the river,” Sarim Sakda Phal said.

Several Phnom Penh guest houses offer tours to Vietnam via the Mekong River, and there are speed­boats leaving daily from the boat landing in the capital.

“Flying is too expensive, it doesn’t make sense economically,” said Renee Olliver, an Aus­tralian tourist.

“The bus is cheaper, but the road is horrendous,” said Simon McHugh, Olliver’s traveling companion. “And on the boat we can see a lot more.”

However, travelers going to Viet­nam must get a Vietnamese visa in advance in Phnom Penh, and there are no guest houses in the tiny border town on the Cam­bodian side.

In August, a team of seven immigration police officials began offering Cambodian visas at Ka’am Samnor.

At first, border immigration police chief Yim Channa said few people knew about the visas, but interest has grown since tour operators in Ho Chi Minh City have began publicizing their availability. Between August and November, 300 tourist and 100 service or diplomatic visas have been issued.

“The Ministry of Interior sent the visa officers here in order to per­suade more tourists to come visit the country,” Yim Channa said.

 

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