A luxury bus service between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh has started in HCM City as a private-public co-operation effort to have more Vietnamese tourists visit Cambodia .

The service was launched on May 18 by the Cambodian Tourism Ministry and NagaWorld Group.

"This is one more effort to strengthen the good relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia in tourism sector," said Thong Khon, Cambodia 's Tourism Minister.

By opening a representative office in HCM City and a fleet of 20 28-seat luxury buses (video, massage seats, toilets) at a cost of 3 million USD, NagaWorld will provides six trips a day from HCM City to Phnom Penh and back.

In the future, the company will expand the bus service to two other Cambodian destinations, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

NagaWorld also launched a three day-two night Free&Easy Tour for just 125 USD a person, which includes luxury bus transportation from HCM City and back, accommodation at the five-star NagaWorld Hotel in Phnom Penh, six meals and a half-day city tour.

In 2011, Vietnam ranked first in terms of the number of tourists visiting Cambodia at 600,000, or 21 percent of all international visitors.

In the first quarter of this year, 179,000 Vietnamese visited Cambodia a year-on-year increase of 18 percent.

"The service will also contribute to increasing the number of Cambodians visiting Vietnam for tourism, education and healthcare," said Nguyen Thi Hong, vice-chairwoman of the HCM City People's Committee.

It is estimated that the number of Cambodians visiting Vietnam has increased by 30 percent annually over the last several years.

Vietnam and Cambodia now have eight border checkpoints on land and two on water. The two nations have reached a cross-border transportation agreement under which 19 companies are operating 39 trips with 300 buses that travel to and from HCM City to Phnom Penh every day.-VNA