Ha Tien is the first town that you come to when entering Vietnam from Cambodia at the Prek Chak/Xa Xia crossing. Only 7km from the border, Ha Tien is a quiet, but attractive small town, with a surprising number of sights for visitors. Ha Tien was part of Cambodia until 1708, it was then governed by a Chinese immigrant named Mac Cuu as an independent fiefdom, becoming part of Vietnam in the late 1700’s.
The Mac Cuu family tombs are an important tourist attraction, as well as the many temples and pagodas in and around the town. Mui Nai beach is 4km from Ha Tien, on the way to the border. It can be busy at weekends and on Vietnamese or Cambodian public holidays, but during the week it’s usually quiet. There are several hotels here, also coffee bars, bars and restaurants. In addition there is a mountain “railway” with fantastic views of the sea where you can hurtle down and around the hill in a go kart on rails.
There are many guest houses (Phong Tro) and hotels (Khach San) in Ha Tien town, because of its popularity with Vietnamese holidaymakers. Prices range from 100.000VND (5USD) to 400,000vnd (20USD), which will get you an A/C room in a large hotel. Most hotels now have free wifi and there are also many internet cafes. Larger hotels have cable TV, with CNN news, Star movies, HBO, Cinemax and several sports channels. There are 5 banks and 8 ATM’s Currently only 2 banks have Foreign Exchange facilities (Sacombank and Agribank). There is a large covered market for foodstuffs situated on the riverbank close to the Dong Ho Bridge, which in the evenings changes into a night market selling both food and clothing.
Transport:- The bus station is now situated 1km to the south, on the other side of the Dong Ho river from the town by the new hospital. There are usually meter taxi’s and moto taxi’s here – meter taxi to town centre 30-40,000 VND, moto taxi 20-30,000 VND. There are no bus services to Cambodia from here (these operate from the travel agents in the town), but there are many scheduled buses daily to most destinations in the Mekong Delta (Chau Doc, Long Xuyen, Can Tho, Rach Gia, Ca Mau etc) as well as large modern A/C buses to Saigon. Daily minibuses to Cambodia (Kep, Kampot, Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh) can be booked at Oasis Bar, which is situated at 30 Tran Hau, the road running alongside the riverfront promenade, about 30m from the large white ‘mermaid’ fountain. There are currently at least 4 fast ferries daily to Phu Quoc island from the ferry port on the south side of the Dong Ho river. Departure times vary according to demand, tide and weather conditions, but normally 2 boats leave in the morning at 08.00-08.30 and 2 more in the afternoon between 13.00 -13.30. Crossings take 70-90 minutes and cost 250,000VND o/w. There are also at least 4 slow car ferries daily, which take longer and go to the N/E of the island. If you are traveling with a motorbike, this is the better and cheaper option.
2016 update. It has been announced recently that Ha Tien will shortly be granted the status of a city-it’s currently only a town. As a result of this, there have been many changes to the infrastructure of the town, with new roads, pavements and drains, as well as the re-routing of the electricity supply to underground conduits, new street lighting and the planting of many trees and flower beds. This is partly due to the increased popularity of Phu Quoc island, which is now an SEZ (Special Economic Zone) with a 30 day visa free entry system, as Ha Tien is now the main port serving the island. In addition, due to the upgrading of transport links both in Vietnam and Cambodia to the Prek Chak/Xa Xia border, there are many more people traveling on this route along the Thai/Cambodian/Vietnamese coast.