Arriving from Bangkok at the dusty border town of POIPET provides the worst possible introduction to Cambodia – mainly thanks to the hassle-ridden border crossing, which has become mildly notorious thanks to the various low-grade scams practised upon new arrivals. The town itself has boomed massively in recent years thanks to the raft of casinos set up for Thai visitors (gambling is illegal in Thailand), and the glitzy duty-free casino zone next to the border is effectively a slice of foreign territory on Cambodian soil, with Thai the predominant language and baht the currency of choice. Away from the casinos the town remains a flyblown and faintly dismal sort of place, and one that most travellers choose to escape as rapidly as possible.

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