In April 1998, the border post between the Thai town of Aranya Parthat to the Cambodian town of Poipet opened to international travelers. This crossing now gives tourists visiting Thailand an unprecedented opportunity to see one of the world's most fantastic collections of ruins. The temple complex of Angkor Wat and the surrounding points of interest are something everyone should see. Now that the road is open, the opportunity to travel is open to many people who could not afford the outrageously expensive cost of airline travel into the nearby city of Siem Reap.
Travel by land across Cambodia is not for everyone. The road is in terrible condition, and the 200 kilometers from Poipet to Siem Reap takes over seven hours of jarring, uncomfortable travel by pickup truck There is some risk to your personal safety, especially on the most lawless stretch halfway from Sisophon to Siem Reap. The risk of traffic accidents is certainly higher than elsewhere; but the relatively low speeds make the immediate consequences somewhat less dire. Getting medical help, or even transportation from the accident scene would be another matter. Nevertheless, road travel to Angkor Wat can be made acceptably safe by traveling only during daylight hours and not taking valuables.
If you are considering the trip by land, be sure to let someone else know when you are entering and the country and planning to exit. This person should have a copy of your passport, and have an understanding to call your embassy if you are not out at the specified time. If you wish to extend your trip, international calls can be placed (at premium prices) from the better hotels in Siem Reap.
To find transportation in Poipet, go to the traffic circle just past the immigration office and wander around the parked pickup trucks looking for anyone who speaks English. Chances are, the drivers will find you long before you get there. Let the driver know you want to go to Siem Reap, although you will have to change to a different truck in Sisophon, if you pay up front, the driver will arrange another vehicle for you.
While the effort required to reach Siem Reap is exhausting, it is well worth it. Visiting the ruins offers a unique chance to see one of the world's most fantastic archeological sites before it is completely overrun by tourism. The memories of the incredible temple sights will stay with you forever, and you will find the interesting journey, however difficult, to be equally memorable.
Keep in mind the following tips: