A good reason to visit Kampot: Writers and Readers Festival 2016

If you’re an aspiring writer or a book lover, you should go to Kampot and meet with other like-minded people at Kampot Writers and Readers Festival (KWRF) 2016. This is a rare event that celebrates ideas. The first celebration started in 2015.

This year in Kampot, the festival will take place from 3-6 November. KWRF will also happen in Phnom Penh on 1/2/7 of November. The event will focus on ‘Peace, Freedom, and Prosperity’ (Santiphap, Seripheap, Pheap Roungrueng) to mark the 25th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords. As a participant, you’ll have much to enjoy askwrf_2016the event will bring together a community of literary lovers for discussions, conversations, poetry readings, music concerts, cooking classes, gourmet lunches, children’s events, architecture, salt & pepper tours, art exhibitions, book launches, book swaps, guided tours, workshops, literature. KWRF is proud to be an official sister festival of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, a regional event of words and ideas.

Interested? You can reserve your place for this annual literary event with this link!

To book your bus ticket from Phnom Penh to Kampot, check this page! If you’re taking a bus from Siem Reap to Kampot, use this link. From Sihanoukville to Kampot?

BookMeBus is very delighted to extend our offering of 10% DISCOUNT on bus tickets to travellers.

Also, if you’ve got more time to spend before and after the event in Kampot, you might want to:

BookMeBus Buses: Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh

If you are planning a trip from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh, BookMeBus has a selection of bus operators for you to choose from.

BookMeBus Operators

The bus operators that BookMeBus works with are trusted operators both in Cambodia and its operating countries. They are reputable, and are known to have top of the line services. Although the BookMeBus partner list sometimes displays less than what we offer, it is merely during the heavier seasons when we have smaller resources. We are a startup after all, and coordinating thousands of tickets a day can sometimes take up all our resources.

sapaco bus phnom penh to ho chi minh

Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh buses

Khai Nam buses

  • Khai Nam – Khai Nam is one of the main bus operators for trips to and from Ho Chi Minh. The staff is known for being friendly and can speak excellent English. Their buses are also known for being spacious, and easily recognizable in their standout shade of blue.
  • Mekong Express – Also known as the Mekong Limousine Bus, is a known Cambodian-owned bus operator. Not only does Mekong Express cover Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh routes, but it also has several bus routes throughout Cambodia. In addition, Mekong Express also covers trips from Phnom Penh to Bangkok as well as Ho Chi Minh to Sihanoukville.
  • Kumho Samco – Kumho Samco is one of the top bus operators in Vietnam. They boast of having offices in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and in Ho Chi Minh. Through its partnership with BookMeBus, bus tickets for trips from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh can be purchased online.
  • Phnom Penh Sorya – With approximately 200 buses operating daily, Phnom Penh Sorya has one of the most extensive routes within Cambodia. While it does cover trips to Ho Chi Minh, majority of its focus is within the country itself. One of the key points that Phnom Penh Sorya has is that it boasts of having the cheapest ticket fare among the bus operators.
  • Sapaco Tourist – Boasting of having comfortable seating for guests throughout the trip, Sapaco Tourist is one of the pioneers when it comes to travelling to and from Ho Chi Minh. They are known for easy boarding crossing, and is one of the leading providers for trips between Cambodia and Vietnam.

As is often the case, each of the bus operators have their own policies which are out of BookMeBus’ responsibilities. Before booking, take time to learn more about the bus operator and decide if it is to your liking.

Visit the BookMeBus page! From there, you can search Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh trips easily. The results often list all schedules for the day.

Official Partners (Real-Time Seat)

Meanchey VIP Express is leading transportation company which operate with Toyota Hiace, Year 2015. The operator covers some popular routes such as Battambang, Banteaymeachey, and Siem Reap .

Meanchey VIP Express operates Van 15 seats (Toyota Hiace)  and offer amenities such as a bottle of water and wifi. The vans are brand new and run as schedule bus. It currently operate from Phnom Penh – Siem Reap, 3 trips daily, and  Phnom Penh – Battambang – Banteaymeachey, 6 trips daily. The ticket fare has the same price for both Khmer and Foreign passengers. For a $1 service fee (it’s just $1 total no matter how many tickets you buy) and you can see real-time seating charts and pick which seat you want. You can both print the ticket out or just show it from your smartphone and presented it at the office for boarding the bus. Ticket can be purchased online at BookMeBus.


The journey of Cambodian tech startups and the road ahead

Jesse Orndorff is an author of Startup Cambodia. In a recent email interview, he told me that “Over the last five years we’ve seen a major shift in how Cambodians use technology. In the urban areas, the smartphone penetration rate is very high with the under 35 age group, and we’re seeing a major shift into how this new generation consumes content, makes purchases, and engages with businesses.” He added that “the startup scene has grown tremendously.” Jesse wants to use his book to promote the inspiring stories of Cambodians that have taken the startup journey.

Last month, I moderated a startup talk (Smart Travel & Living with Mobile Apps) at Emerald Hub, one of Phnom Penh’s co-working spaces. Five startup founders/co-founders admitted that one of the biggest challenges is changing customers’ mindset. Digital payment is relatively new to the majority of the Cambodian population. As Jesse pointed out “The most exciting thing that I would like to see is an easy and accessible way to accept mobile payments. Right now accepting digital payments is very challenging and that’s stifling a lot of the market in Cambodia.”

Five Cambodian startup founders talked about their startup journeys to a group of audience at Emerald Hub.

At the startup talk session, the Cambodian tech entrepreneurs (Chea Landa, BookMeBus CEO; Uch Sarath, pengpos Co-Founder; Soliya Kong, Joonak Delivery Founder & CEO; Malypoeur Plong, Stops Near Me Founder; Bong Chhlat, Co-Founder) told the audience about how they started out their startups. All the speakers have one thing in common. Frustrated by the lack of a convenient way to book a bus ticket to visit his home town Battambang, Chea Langda launched a website that list bus operators, departure schedules, and prices. Currently, it’s becoming a rising startup star as well as an excellent example of building a successful startup in a country like Cambodia.

The audience at the event ‘Smart Travel & Living with Mobile Apps’

While most of the startups focus mainly on the Cambodian market,  there are also new, untapped opportunities as well as critical challenge. “In the next five years, I think we’ll see growth in the sector, larger investment deals, and startups from Cambodia moving into other markets in ASEAN,” said Jesse who has been in Cambodia since 2010.

At Comm.On co-working space, BookMeBus’s Chea Langda talked to Red Herring’s correspondent.

Lately, global media outlet Red Herring featured BookMeBus in its story: Cambodia’s Tech Scene Needs Private Money, But It’s On The Up. “Southeast Asia has been racing towards tech in recent years, and several formidable ecosystems have appeared across the region. For Cambodia, one of its smaller nations with a population of just 15 million, progress has been slower: infrastructure is underdeveloped, and funding still comes primarily from NGOs.”

Companies are beginning to thrive. BookMeBus, founded by puckish programmer Langda Chea, began to solve the problem of convoluted transport booking in Cambodia. “I thought it was very simple: get a website of all the companies’ information so everyone can see all the timetables,” he says. “Then, when I started, I saw something bigger.”

Now BookMeBus processes 2-3,000 tickets per month and $38,000 in revenue. It is one of very few privately-backed tech firms in Phnom Penh.

5 Things to do in Ho Chi Minh

On rainy days such as these, sometimes visiting Sihanoukville or Kep might not be in your plans. So how about a trip to Ho Chi Minh? There are many things to do in Ho Chi Minh that may be suitable if you plan to travel. If you read our previous post on a road trip to Ho Chi Minh, it shouldn’t be a challenge now for you to explore this city.

Here are some things you might want to do during your visit to Ho Chi Minh.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh

things to do in ho chi minh

  1. Visit the War Remnants Museum – The War Remnants Museum is easily one of the top visited sites in Ho Chi Minh. The museum features exhibits that are related to the Vietnam War, as well as some exhibits that relate to the first Indochina War. A quick look at the outside area, guests can easily see tanks and airplanes on display.
  2. Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels – These tunnels are well known as a key attraction in Vietnam. The Cu Chi tunnels were once used by the Viet Cong soldiers as their hiding spots during the times of combat. It also served as supply and communication routes for North Vietnamese fighters. Definitely something to note down when listing things to do in Ho Chi Minh.
  3. Check out the Jade Emperor Pagoda – Also known as the Jade Emperor Temple, the pagoda is located in Ho Chi Minh and was built by the Chinese community sometime in 1909. It is known for being one of the spectacular and atmospheric temples that Ho Chi Minh boasts of.
  4. Haggle with sellers at Ben Thanh Market – One of the better known markets in Ho Chi Minh, Ben Thanh Market offers an array of goods to sell. It is one of the historic structures that have survived in Saigon. Plus, it is one of the best areas to find souvenirs, local handicrafts, textiles, and even some local cuisine.
  5. Go around Dong Khoi – If you fancy some less local shops, you can easily find high end brands along Dong Khoi. Dong Khoi is also known for having many French colonial buildings, and was once the centre of glamour at the time when the French was in Vietnam.
Along Dong Khoi

These attractions are mostly located within or nearby District 1. It is relatively easy to access these attractions on foot, or on taxi. And if travelers arrive on bus, the buses stop at Pham Ngu Lao, which is where several major hotels are located. You can easily check bus schedules for bus routes leaving from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh, or Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh.

You can also check out the BookMeBus website if you plan to venture out and find trips from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh or anywhere else.