The border town of POIPET is a poor advertisement for Cambodia, lacking both charm and friendliness. The pushy transport touts who ply the border do it no favours, while the clouds of dust kicked up by trucks and garbage strewn along the roadside add little to its attractions. Unless you need refreshments, have missed the border opening times (daily 7am–8pm) or have a yen to gamble at the casinos, there’s no reason to pause. Buses and shared taxis for Sisophon, Siem Reap, Battambang and Phnom Penh depart until early afternoon, with taxis to Sisophon and Siem Reap being available until around 5pm.
Onward transport from Sisophon is run by the “Poipet transport association” – for “association” read “mafia” – who have organized it so that tourists have to pay as much as possible to move on. It is all a bit iffy, but the best way of travelling on from Poipet is by free-market shared taxi ($5–10 for a place to Siem Reap, or take the whole taxi for $30–35). Some free-market taxis hang around at the traffic circle outside the immigration office or further down the main road towards the market – despite anything you may be told, it is perfectly legal to take a place in one of these, you do not have to go to the transport stop. But do not pay in advance and note that you may have to change taxis at Sisophon – you do not have to pay here, leave it to the taxi drivers to sort out; but to reiterate, do not pay in advance.
If there’s nothing at the traffic circle and you’re not too burdened down by luggage, hop on a moto and get them to take you to a taxi for your chosen destination. If you take the free shuttle bus from the immigration office, it will ferry you to the “association” transport stop near the market where buses and “association” taxis wait. One of these taxis to Siem Reap is a fixed $45, but if you can get a few travellers together it’s not too bad a price to pay to get away promptly for the three-hour journey to Siem Reap – again do not pay in advance. Alternatively, you can take a bus from here ($10 to Siem Reap, $5 to Battambang, $7.50 to Phnom Penh), but be aware that the last departure is at around 12.30pm. If you’re on pre-paid transport from Bangkok your tour guide will shepherd you along, often just to the bus office, where you’ll have to hang around (sometimes for several hours) to wait for transport to fill up. Don’t expect any of this to be a civilized experience. Try to arrive in Poipet early in the morning, or before noon at the latest, which will give you time to sort out the inevitable problems. Crossing after 5pm may find you stuck in town until the first bus of the morning (6.30am).
Saigon, Cat Tien National Park, Dalat – Lak Lake, Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku, Kon Tum, Hoi An via My Son Sanctuary, Hue – Da Nang – Hoi An, DMZ & Khe Sanh, Phong Nha Caves, Tan Ky, Cuc Phuong National Park, Mai Chau, Hanoi