In a country which provides so much to enjoy, there is little to love about the border town of Poipet. Unfortunately, border towns are a necessary evil when travelling overland through South East Asia. Luckily, the madness which greets most travellers on arrival into the country is usually reserved for here, and to a far lesser degree at the Koh Kong and Pailin crossings. Once clear of Poipet, the unrivalled majesty of Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor are just a short drive away (48kms), as is the charming city of Battambang (153kms).
Poipet is not an attractive destination in Cambodia, because it is predominantly a well-oiled huddle of tourist scams, transport touts, opportunistic thieves, beggars, and oddly unglamorous casinos for Thais on day trips. The reality is that spending more time in Poipet than is essential is not recommended. We’ve tried, and spent dozens of trips trying to find something in the town which will endear it to tourists, but we are still searching.
Poipet guide – border town between Thailand and Cambodia
The most well known feature of Poipet, where you will soon realise that the rhyming references to ‘toil-let’, are entirely accurate, is its ability to frustrate and scam travellers at both the Cambodian immigration booths and in the waiting arms of the local travel mafia, who are among the most sophisticated and cunning anywhere in the region.
Knowing what to expect, and how to handle it, is the key to a smooth passage through Poipet, with our Poipet transport guide essential reading for anyone planning on using this border crossing.
The other notable and perhaps only attractions in town are the eight casinos along the border zone – officially known as ‘no man’s land’ – which sit in stark contrast alongside desperate poverty. These are firmly tailored towards Thai nationals who are prohibited from gambling in their homeland and not comparable to similar establishments overseas.
Sadly, gambling is usually associated with prostitution, and past the border, in the actual town, are countless guesthouses masquerading or openly advertising as brothels. There are a few places of legitimacy to stay at if you need to spend the night which we’ve listed in our hotel guide.