There are precious few tourist attractions in Poipet; indeed, the long-held best thing to do is leave as soon as possible. However, thanks to recently improved road networks and the boom in overland traffic means that getting out is in theory easier than ever. The unnamed streets of the town are strewn with rubbish, garages, beggars and brothels and provide no joy for sightseers.
The main attraction, which lures predominantly Thai tourists, is gambling. The area known as ‘no-man’s land’ between the two official immigration points could just as easily be referred to as ‘man’s land’, as it is a Mecca for prostitution and casinos, along with cheap cigarettes and duty-free alcohol and all the usual characters associated with the trade. Prohibited from gambling in their own country, Thais, 80 per cent of them male, flock to the poker and roulette tables.
New, opulent Vegas-style establishments are slated to open in the future, and are a stark contrast to the grave poverty that exists around the town, especially close to the border. The Thai government tried to prohibit its people from venturing here a few years ago but failed, and today Poipet remains a dirty, decrepit town with nothing much to see.
Some of the deals available at these dens of spending and iniquity are hard to pass up for seasoned gamblers or purveyors of the flesh. Regular members can find themselves showered, not literally, with free drinks at any one of the gambling complexes, while buying around 15,000 baht (USD $300) worth of chips will usually entitle you to a free room, or even free transport to Bangkok. If its sounds too good to be true, then it will be, and such deals are non-refundable and reservations cannot be amended.
Inside the various casino complexes you can find massage, spa treatments and there are even a couple of golf courses. However, aside from gambling, drinking till the sun comes up, womanising and lowering your general opinion of humanity, there is little else to do in Poipet.
Poipet golf courses and spas
Holiday Palace Casino: Has a decent standard of golf course that advertises the occasional ‘international tournaments’ for Thai, Taiwanese, Chinese and Japanese big spenders.
Star Vegas Resort Hotel: The other golf course on the border zone, offering one of the few leisurely and clean ways to pass the time. They also run massage and spa-treatments.