On the road: planning a cycling holiday in Cambodia

29th August 2019 | by Steve

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Cycling in Cambodia offers something to suit everyone, from irresistible trails for keen riders to gentler paths for beginners. Here’s our pick of cycling routes in Cambodia, and a few tips on getting the most out of your trip, so that you can visualise your ideal Cambodia cycling holiday and leave the organisational nitty gritty to us...

Much of Cambodia’s terrain is very level, making for ideal cycling across a variety of ability levels, but don’t come expecting many hill-climb rides! The best cycling season in Cambodia is from October to February, when it’s driest. Avoid the rainier months if you can, as roads are likely to be much muddier and liable to flooding.

All necessary kit is usually included in any cycling holiday you book, but if you’re a keen cyclist and planning to cover a lot of ground, it might be wise to bring your own saddle and/ or helmet. There’s normally a backup minivan with you during each cycling trip, with enough space inside to carry you and the bikes too, should the need arise.

You'll take a break at least every 10-12 km to refill your water and rest. You’ll often find kiosks along the roadside selling drinks, snacks, and even hats. They can be really handy if you need refreshment, and shopping there is also a great, simple way to support the local economy.

Weave between Angkor’s temples…

Weave between Angkor’s temples…

Begin the day early by cycling out to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise over the temples’ magnificent silhouettes, then head away from the crowds to get up close to more ruins deep in the surrounding jungle. Cycling is a great way to see the Angkor era temples and palaces, as it allows you to nip between sites quickly and with ease. Head for Angkor Thom to see the beautifully preserved tiers of Bayon, and complete the loop after lunch with a ride to Ta Prohm, to see roots winding through the walls where nature attempts to reclaim the temple.

Rural villages & reservoirs around Siem Reap…

Rural villages & reservoirs around Siem Reap…

Away from Siem Reap, the busy main roads give way to quiet rural tracks as you make your way through the outskirts of Cambodia’s second city. Spend a morning riding between villages like Krabei Riel, meeting local residents, exploring the markets, and learning about the different pace of life away from the tourist trail. In the afternoon, ride to the man-made Angkor-era lake at West Baray to relax on its serene shores, and take a boat trip to the ruins of the West Mebon temple on an island in the lake’s centre.

Pedal past Prasat Prei to a flooded forest…

Pedal past Prasat Prei to a flooded forest…

Cycling along dusty roads to the south of Siem Reap, past tiny villages and wide rice fields, brings you to the stunning Bakong Temple, and the otherworldly triptych of towers at lesser-known Prasat Prei Monti. Taking the journey at pedal pace immerses you in the contrast between the chic city streets and the sleeping beauty of the temple ruins. Pause in the shade of the forest for lunch, before hitting the road again to cycle around 16km to the village of Kampong Phluk, suspended on stilts on the edge of Tonle Sap lake. During the wet season, the land beneath the houses floods, creating mangrove forests which you can explore by boat.

Cycle from Phnom Oudong to Phnom Penh…

Cycle from Phnom Oudong to Phnom Penh…

On a hilltop to the north-west of Phnom Penh, the gleaming stupas of Phnom Oudong cast spectacular shadows over the land below. Hike to the top of the hill to get a close-up look at the beautiful temple, and enjoy spectacular views over the landscape, then head back down and saddle up for a very gentle ride back to the modern bustle of Phnom Penh. This is a great cycle for groups with varying fitness levels, as members of your party who don’t wish to tackle the climb to the temple can tour the stupas and sights at ground level, and everyone can do the final ride together.

Ride along the Mekong to Silk Island…

Ride along the Mekong to Silk Island…

Take a ferry across the river to the eastern side of Phnom Penh, for a leisurely cycle along the Mekong, and fantastic views of the city across the water. This area is a green cornucopia, with mangos, bananas and papayas grown in the fertile soil, and it’s a joy to ride along the quiet streets, through rural villages, and past small temples, meeting local people and learning about the traditional life. Head across the Mekong to Koh Dach, known as Silk Island, where silk weaving has been an industry for hundreds of years. Cycle around the island meeting local weavers and learning the intricate process of creating one of the world’s most beautiful fabrics, before riding to the northern tip for a picnic lunch and swim.

Cave temples and coastal paths at Kep…

Cave temples and coastal paths at Kep…

The quiet coastline around Kep boasts some great cycling routes for those who want to get off the beach for a bit! Pedal inland, through farmland and over winding tracks, to explore the beautifully preserved Phnom Chhngok cave temple. It’s not a busy spot, so you may well have the place to yourself, allowing you to fully soak up the peaceful atmosphere. Continue along the road to Kampot, where the famous Kampot Pepper originates, to explore the riverside cafe culture and French-colonial architecture of this charming town.

Don't forget to pack...

Don't forget to pack...
  • Sunglasses
  • Chamois cream
  • Saddle bag
  • Comfortable shoes for biking and walking
  • Waterproof pouch for your phone
  • Your preferred saddle
  • Riding gloves