Poipet

Poipet hosts Cambodia’s main border crossing with Thailand, which links northwest Cambodia to Aranyaprathet, and hence Bangkok. Cross-border activity has made the town grow to be larger than its provincial capital, Sisophon.

All most travellers are willing to see in Poipet: the fully paved road to Siem Reap (Aug 2009)

Poipet is on the fully paved National Hwy 5 which runs to Sisophon and then further on the south side of the Tonle Sap Lake to Battambang and Phnom Penh. At Sisophon, National Hwy 6 branches off to provide a fully paved arterial route along the north of the Tonle Sap to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

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The border zone with tout zones highlighted

In the view of most travellers “a dump”, Poipet hosts a bewildering array of touts, beggars, thieves and dodgy casinos for day tripping Thais, which all contrive to separate money from the unwary. The town has one main street that runs approximately southeast from the roundabout at the immigration offices. North of this street is an average Cambodian town; to the south is a poorer slum area. Both areas have their own markets: clean and airy and dishevelled and stinking, respectively. The latter is likely to be more interesting to an observer. For travellers staying overnight at the border, Poipet represents a cheaper option than the adjacent Thai town, Aranyaprathet, particularly for those heading into Cambodia (see below for avoiding overpriced transport).

While most travellers only pass through, the town can provide the savvy and curious with some fascinating insights into Cambodia’s grisly underside. Ever a transport hub, Poipet hosts the western railhead of Cambodia’s defunct, but regenerating network which once connected to the functioning Thai network.

The nearest Thai town is Aranyaprathet, about 6 km from the border. The border is in central Poipet. The border is open 07:00-20:00. There is no time difference between Cambodia and Thailand.

Immediately next to the Thai immigration facilities is Rongkleu Market, which host banks, cafes, a convenience store, money exchangers, and buses.

Poipet is a large town that is well connected with reasonably priced buses to various points in the country. The three major cities of Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap (USD3.75 to Poipet/USD5 from Poipet) are each directly connected to Poipet. If you’re on a bus to Poipet with a view to leaving Cambodia, the bus will stop at its company’s Poipet offices first. Do not get off unnecessarily as it will likely continue as far as immigration, which will save you a walk or motorbike taxi fare.

Taxis to Poipet should be cheaper than those from Poipet, if you can keep middle men out of it. Your guesthouse may help arrange one but will inflate the price for you. A taxi from Siem Reap should be about USD30 and take about 2.5 hr.

Leaving Cambodia at this border is generally unproblematic. The porters that swarm over your luggage as soon as it’s out off the bus are only trying to get a fare for carrying it to the Thai side. They will generally not steal from it, but it’s best to keep your valuables on you. Their services (USD1) can be appreciated on a hot day if the queues are long.

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