Poipet Through the Ages

When the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia in the ’70s they destroyed much infrastructure, including the railroad. And as Cambodia has been rebuilding, the railroad is coming back.

Poipet is the main crossing point between Cambodia and Thailand. Here is Lonely Planet’s description of Poipet…

Long the armpit of Cambodia, notorious for its squalor, scams and sleaze, Poipet (ប៉ោយប៉ែត, pronounced ‘poi-peh’ in Khmer) has recently splurged on a facelift and no longer looks like the post-apocalyptic place it once was. Thanks mainly to the patronage of neighbouring Thais, whose own country bans gambling, its casino resorts – with names like Tropicana and Grand Diamond City – are turning the town into Cambodia’s little Las Vegas. However, beyond the border zone it’s still a chaotic, trash-strewn strip mall sprinkled with dodgy massage parlours. The Khmers’ gentle side is little in evidence, but don’t worry, the rest of the country does not carry on like this.

As the railroad is being rebuilt, it will eventually link Bangkok to Phnom Penh. That railroad will run right through Poipet.

map 001

Just as you enter into Poipet from Thailand, there is a roundabout (Kbal Spean Circle in above picture) which then leads on to the main road through the city. The train will come straight through that roundabout (the busiest road in town) and then run south of the main road through the current slum area.

I don’t even want to think of how busy that border crossing area is going to be when the rail is finished and the train is running.

Here are some photos of that border crossing over the years….

1) I don’t know how old this photo is, but it’s quite old I think. If you took this photo, your back would be towards Thailand, and you would be looking into the beginnings of Poipet and Cambodia. That’s a big idol standing in the middle of the Kbal Spean roundabout. All dirt roads.
2) This photo is well over ten years old. Now we are looking towards Thailand while standing on the road of the round-about. That big idol is standing just off camera to the right. The first photo was taken from straight ahead of the view of this photo. That arch-way being constructed is the start of an entrance to a new casino.
3) This photo is taken from inside Poipet looking out towards Thailand (probably taken around 2006/2007 or so). The idol can be seen, but now we are seeing the reverse side from what we see in the first photo. The red brick pillar seen on the far right of this photo (centered from top to bottom) is the archway under construction in the last photo. Now we see the casinos are dominating the scene.
4) Now we are looking into Poipet again with Thailand at our back. Now we see there are lots of buildings, and the roads are paved. This is pretty much what Poipet looks like today, except that big idol is gone. The new railway is going to run straight through the roundabout.
5) Here is the track being constructed. This photo was taken just a few days ago (May, 2016). The track is running right through where the roundabout used to be. Notice that the red brick archway from photos #2 and #3 has been torn down to make room for the train. Also notice the crane on the left is still there (from photo #3). I think that crane has become a permanent fixture.
6) A closer look. The casino builders knew the train would eventually come which is why they built the walkways up above the road to connect their buildings.


Photo #1 is from Cambodia.com

Photo #2 is from this website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s