Gateway to Cambodia

Aranyaprathet is the Thai town leading to the most popular border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia. Decent accommodation and food are available if you get stuck here for a night, and those with time to kill will find a few attractions outside of town. But for most, the main draw is the border crossing and its proximity to Angkor.

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“Aran” has grown in recent years as increasing amounts of cash from tourism and commerce cross the border and enter the local economy. Khmers pop over to shop while busloads of Thais get funnelled to casinos in Poi Pet on the Cambodian side, usually spending a night in Aran along the way. Lodgings now include cushy modern digs along with a standby cast of older hotels and guesthouses.

Traffic ahead. : David Luekens.
Traffic ahead. Photo: David Luekens

The border area remains hectic—really hectic—so do keep your guard up when crossing (more on that below). On the Thai side you’ll find a huge, loosely organised sprawl of stalls selling knock-off handbags, cheap clothing and kitchenware, to name a few. Known as Talad Rong Khlua, we reckon this is one of the largest markets in Thailand.

Six kilometres west of the border, Aran town is a more laid-back affair with a large community of Vietnamese-Thais dwelling in attractive old houses on Mit Samphan Road. Lots of Khmer-Thais also live in the area, which was a stronghold of both the Dvaravati and Angkor civilisations centuries before it become part of Thailand.

Grab a bite to eat at Talad Rong Khlua. : David Luekens.
Grab a bite to eat at Talad Rong Khlua. Photo: David Luekens

You can explore this history at a couple of ancient sites found outside of town. Located 35 kilometres to the north, Prasat Sadok Kok Thom is an 11th-century Khmer sanctuary from the 10th century that began drawing Thai tourists after a major restoration was finished in 2018. Set on a hill 12 kilometres south of town, the smaller Prasat Khao Noi Si Chomphu displays its original sandstone tower built by the Dvaravati in the ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,000 words.)

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