solo cycling in cambodia

Cycling From Siem Reap to North Cambodia

An eight-day solo cycle adventure in the north of Cambodia

Images Of My Solo Cycling Trip To Northern Cambodia

Let’s Get This Ride On The Road

solo cycling from siem reap to north cambodia

It was a cool Monday morning in March when I pushed my bicycle out the gates of my house in Siem Reap. The moon still hung in the sky, with a glimmer of light nudging through the darkness. I was about to embark on a real adventure, an eight-day solo cycle trip that would take me north of Siem Reap close to the Thai border skirting around the Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the largest protected areas in Cambodia. Along the way, I planned to visit some of Cambodia’s most remote ancient temples, hidden away in less trodden paths.

Although COVID-19 had scuppered my previous plans of cycling through Laos and Vietnam, it had provided the perfect opportunity for real exploration in Cambodia without the hustle and bustle of tourists. I had spent the last three years living and working in Siem Reap, Cambodia and was enjoying a break between jobs. It seemed like the perfect time to hop on my bike and see more of this wonderful country I currently call home.

Day 1: Siem Reap to Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean: 70 km

Exiting Siem Reap through the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, I stopped at Srah Srang, a reservoir dug in the mid-10th century, named the Royal bath. Sitting on the stone steps to eat my breakfast as the sun rose, I saw a friendly face waving to me from the side of the reservoir. It was the bicycle mechanic who had serviced my bike before leaving. I took this to be a good omen.

Banteay Srei

After a steady 39 km ride, I reached my guesthouse for the night Villa Banteay Srei, named after the local temple. My friendly Khmer hosts surprised me with their perfectly spoken French accents, having spent forty years living in France after fleeing as refugees during the Khmer Rouge over 45 years ago.

Hindu god Shiva

Arriving just before noon, I circled back several kilometres to my first temple stop, Banteay Srei, meaning citadel of women or beauty. This 10th-century temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, is built largely of red sandstone, with intricate figures of Hindu deities carved into the walls. The temple is set amongst the rice fields, with a multitude of little wooden platforms,

I walk out to watch one of the locals farming and we exchange waves and smiles.

bal Spean

Riding back past the guesthouse, I continued another 10 km in the rising heat to Kbal Spean, quickly realising I had set myself a fairly ambitious first day. With the echo of barking dogs on my heels from the car park where I had left my bike, I began the ascent through the jungle to Kbal Spean. A series of signposts starting at 1500 metres marked the distance, counting down every 100 metres. As the heat continued to build, I could feel myself slipping into dehydration, but the thought of jumping into the cool pool that would mark the summit of Kbal Spean was enough to keep me going.

Reaching the top and greeting the local staff swinging in their hammocks, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at but there is definitely no water to sink into. I spy a roped off area, which seems to be a dry river bed. It’s the dry season. A closer inspection reveals that the river bed is in fact marked with intricate carvings. Commonly referred to as the ‘River of a Thousand Lingas’, because thousands of phallic symbols (lingas) have been elaborately carved into the riverbed, alongside carvings of Hindu deities Vishnu and Shiva.

I shuffle back down the hillside littered with boulders to my next stop, Angkor Conservation Centre (ACCB), conveniently placed at the foot of the hill. ACCB focuses on rescuing native Cambodian wildlife and raising awareness on the importance of preserving, not poaching wildlife. The friendly and enthusiastic guide takes me on a comprehensive educational tour of their rescued wildlife. I am particularly excited to see that the centre has a dedicated pangolin facility, one of only two facilities rescuing the critically endangered Sunda Pangolin. Sadly I learned that the Sunda Pangolin is under threat of over exploitation caused by hunting and poaching for both meat consumption and the scales are used for traditional medicine. It’s clear that this dedicated and knowledgeable team are very passionate about saving Cambodian wildlife.

Then it’s time to peddle back 10 km to the guest house to rest and retreat from the sun. All in all quite a long day, with around 70 km covered, I am fast asleep by 7:30 pm.

Favourite snack: half a kilo of steamed sweet potatoes

Day 2: Banteay Srey to Anglong Veng: 90 km

I’ve set myself a daily departure time of 6:00 am because the hours between 6:00-8:00 am are the most magical time of day, with Cambodian nature and people slowly coming to life. Plus it is about ten degrees cooler than midday. It’s also dog wars time. Between these hours dogs love to chase people, especially foreigners, on bikes. But luckily, having lived in Asia a while, I’ve anticipated this very issue and have what I like to call a dog buzzer hanging safely around my neck, tucked into the back of my bum bag. Once activated, this yellow plastic device emits a specific frequency that only dogs can hear, whilst flashing two laser lights. A quick press in the direction of an angry barking dog, usually immediately stops its pursuit.

bai site dtroue

Scoffing down half an omelette with french bread and tucking the other half into my pannier bag with a bunch of bananas gifted from my hosts. I set off eagerly the next morning, heading further out of familiar territory to the town of Anglong Veng in Oddar Meanchey province, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold. After a couple of hours, I stop at a roadside cafe for my daily dose of ‘bai site dtroue’, a rice and barbequed pork dish which comes with a side bowl of broth, pickles and chilli sauce. This traditional Cambodian breakfast dish, which sometimes comes with a boiled or fried egg, is the perfect breakfast for cyclists. It costs around $1.25 and is, without doubt, my favourite Cambodian dish.

The 90 km cycle ride is marked with neat triangular stacks of cassava along the roadside which have been recently harvested. Cassava is an important cash crop for farmers in Cambodia, with over 12 million tonnes exported annually to the neighbouring countries of Vietnam and Thailand, as well as to European countries.

Anglong Veng town

A side wind about four hours into the ride combined with an intensive heat brings a challenging end to the six-hour ride. I arrive at my hotel, hot, sweaty and about ready to drop. A group of young men, who look like they are in the national army, give me a friendly greeting as they tuck into their shared lunch inside the lobby hotel. Anglong Veng town is set around a small picturesque lake, which presents a relaxed vibe to this small rural town. I manage to find a good meal of tom yum soup and rice, in one of the local hotels then hurry back to lie down for as long as I can. In the afternoon the sky turns dark and after rescuing my damp hand washed cycling clothes from outside, it rains heavily for one of the first times this year cooling the air and dampening the dust.

Anglong Veng town is set around a small picturesque lake
Favourite snack: Werther’s originals.

Day 3: Anglong Veng to Sra’aem: 80 km

Sra’aem in Preah Vihear Province

The next morning, after a 5:00 am birthday call back to the UK, I headed east towards the town of Sra’aem in Preah Vihear Province, about 30 km from one of the anticipated highlights of the trip, Prasat (Temple) Preah Vihear. It’s still dark and I zap several dogs who try to chase after me as I head past the market to the roundabout which sends me east. After the rains everything feels completely different, it’s like a tiny sidestep into the English countryside, with a cool breeze, puddles on the road and a gleaming countryside cleaned from the red dust which usually glazes the scenery. Life on the road is starting to feel really good.

I stop at the small town of Trapeang Prasat, for a rice pork breakfast, which comes with an egg, then go searching for the temple. I can’t find it, but I do catch a glimpse of a western looking coffee shop on the side of a roundabout, a mobile coffee unit sitting on a square rectangle of fake grass.

Trapeang Prasat

There is no way I can pass by the opportunity to have a latte and I pull up to sit outside and watch the passersby. Gazing at the roundabout, I realise that it is a work of art in itself and it turns out to be a replica of Trapeang Prasat, which I never did manage to find.

Fuelled by the delights of my coffee I head off continuing east with still another 56 km to go. About one hour in and another headwind hits and I find myself spiralling into heat exhaustion, I’m pretty sure it’s not far to go, but I must stop to cool down. An ice cream sign draws my attention and I pull into the gas station to eat ice cream and drink ice cold water. Chatting in broken Khmer to the friendly station attendant who lives there with his wife and child, my temperature drops and my spirits soar. I check the map and it’s only another seven kilometres to go.

Favourite snack: grilled banana and sticky rice parcels.

Day 4: Sra’aem to Prasat Preah Vihear and back to Sra’aem: 50km

The next day I am happy to be travelling light with just snacks, water and a spare inner tube and toolkit. I set off excitedly to the temple ticket office. It’s a quiet road with lush green scenery and a comforting feel to it. Turning off the main road towards the ticket office, which is a further 7 km, I am greeted with diggers working on the dirt road that has just been freshly sprayed with water. It’s the worst. Mud flicks up my legs and all over the bike, landing on water bottles, gears and brakes. Not good. I’m worried about the welfare of my bike and after reaching a dry part of the road, I quickly grab sticks and leaves to undo some of this sticky mud.

temple ticket office at prasat preah vihear

Finally, I reach the ticket office where I purchase temple and taxi tickets to take me to the top. I wash off my legs in a bucket outside the bathroom as there seems to be no running water inside. After several minutes of waiting, a motorbike pulls up and after grabbing my cycle helmet, I hop onto the back. It’s a steep and exhilarating ride to the top.

Leaving the taxi driver behind and my helmet tucked into the guard’s hut, I head uphill towards the temple. I’m pleased to have reached this part by 8:30 am. There is a huge crew of workers around the place who are picking up litter, maintaining the gardens and keeping things secure.

Finding solitude on the west side of the temples preah vihear

Finding solitude on the west side of the temples, I dangle my legs off the hillside and drink in what lies before me. It’s a pinnacle moment of the trip, as I take in what I’ve achieved so far, the amazing view of the surrounding area and ancient temples. I try to imagine what has occurred here over the centuries since the temples were built in the first half of the 11th century. With Preah Vihear Temple and the surrounding area meeting the Thai border, ownership of the Temple has been the subject of much debate since the 19th century. Official ownership was only awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962. The Temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva and consists of a causeway and a series of staircases rising upwards to the sanctuary. The path is punctuated by five ornate monumental entrance towers, or gopuras, which increase in size and grandeur as the journey upwards continues.

There is an incredible sense of peace, stillness and being that can only be found in an incredible setting like this.

I buy a coconut from a tiny shop at the top. The shop owner informs me that she has lived at the back of the shop in this wooden shack for ten years, which I find fascinating.

Wandering back down the steps to the causeway I am greeted by a rotund fella, he hands me something that looks like a small slither of wood and some tobacco and instructs me to chew and not spit, which I do. It’s quite revolting. But I carry on chewing, it reminds me of the betel leaf I tried in Nepal that turned saliva to red. The motorbike taxi ride down to the bottom is exhilarating and I deeply regret, to this day, having not cycled up there purely to enjoy the thrill of freewheeling down the steep hill in the wondrous setting. Another time

Day 5: Sra’aem to T’beng Mountain: 75 km

The next morning I set off feeling refreshed and almost with itchy feet having stayed in the same guest house for two nights. I am heading directly south, heading back towards home, it’s a really good feeling. The ride is incredibly peaceful, with the road cutting close to the Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary, it feels like there is no one here. As I carry on cycling I see that the fields are lined with identical small white houses on stilts, about 25 metres apart. Hundreds and hundreds of them emerge along the roadside, sometimes in double lines. Occasionally, I see some that are occupied and have been personalised with a fence and garden around or a modification of some type. I find out later on that these are designated houses for retired army officials.

Koh Ker Siem Reap

Arriving at road 64, I see the signpost Koh Ker Siem Reap to the right and turn left towards the foothills of the Tbeng MeanChey Mountains.

It feels comforting to cycle so close to the shadows of the mountains and there is a special feeling along this road. Cycling cheerily the last 10km, I spy the only foreigner I’ve seen all trip driving towards me in a tuk-tuk, with his dog in the back seat. We greet each other with smiles and waves of appreciation and carry on our separate journeys. I stay at Phnom Tbeng Resort, which is set at the bottom of the side of the mountain. To my delight, there is a coffee shop and a restaurant. I can see that a lot of love, creativity and imagination has gone into this place. It is decorated with stylish vintage vehicles, graffiti on the rocks and random playthings made out of recycled tires. I’m impressed.

Tbeng MeanChey Mountains
Phnom Tbeng Resort
Favourite snack: grilled corn of the cob

Day 6: Tbeng Mountain to Koh Ker: 47 km

My journey is nearing the end with just one final stop, Koh Ker Temples complex. Today is a short journey of just 47km but I leave at the usual early time nonetheless. I feel so fortunate to be able to watch the sunrise once more whilst riding through the beautiful Cambodian landscape, with people on occasion waving and cheering me on as I go.

Koh Ker Temples complex

Cycling past the entrance to Koh Ker Temples I head on towards Koh Ker Garden Hotel where I will stay for the final two nights. It’s only 9:30 am, but when I glimpse a pizza sign out of the corner of my eye, I think well why not and order a ham and tomato pizza.

Favourite snack: red seedless grapes

Day 7: Day Trip to the Koh Ker Temples: 34 km

I’m excited to visit the Koh Ker Temple complex, partly because it’s only a 34 km ride, but more importantly because I’ve heard great reviews of this place. Within this temple complex are 169 archaeological remains which include 76 temples nestled within forest grounds, dating back to the 10th century. Koh Ker was in fact for a brief time the capital of the whole empire between 928 – 944, under the reign of the kings Jayavarman IV and Harshavarman II.

My first stop is Pram Temple. I am fortunate to have it all to myself as there are no guards or tourists around yet. It’s like something out of a fairytale, the ruins which consist of five small buildings, are slowly being consumed by nature, with the roots of the trees falling around the entrance like strands of hair. It’s a truly magical experience.

Hopping back on my bike and heading anti-clockwise around the temple complex, which is centred around a reservoir, I stop to inspect each ancient temple ruin. I can see that some of the temples are undergoing restoration work, as abandoned scaffolding and even parts of temple ruins hang hoisted in the air.

Eventually, I stop at the grandest temple, which I had previously thought of as Koh Ker Temple, however, it is called Prasat Thom. Leaving my bike unlocked, I wander through the stone pathway until I can finally see the magnificent pyramid stone temple. The prang, or temple tower, is the highest ever constructed by the Khmer, rising 36 metres from the forest floor. Not surprisingly I am joined by other domestic tourists who have also travelled to visit Prasat Thom and slowly we climb the steep wooden stairs to the top of the pyramid. On the way up I meet a fellow cyclist also from Siem Reap, who reassures me that tomorrow’s journey home is not that far. The feeling at the top is one of peace and tranquillity, and the last peak I will reach on this trip.

Cycling back feeling a sense of achievement and in a way sadness that the journey is nearly over, I stop to buy water and feel lucky to find large bottles available instead of all the small ones I’ve had to purchase that are such a waste of plastic. One more stop before heading back to the guest house, it’s time for another pizza.

Favourite snack: bananas

Day 8: Koh Ker to Siem Reap: 104 km

I’ve timed my last ride of 104 km, to coincide with International Women’s Day. I think it’s important to show women solo cycling and for me, this is the longest ride I’ve ever done. I set off at 5:15 am, in anticipation of a six-hour journey ahead. Its pitch black and even with my cycle lights on I can’t see very well, but the echoing of dogs barking around the land resonates very well. It’s a wonderful first hour of cycling as I whiz freewheeling downhill through the countryside trusting the roads to guide me through the darkness and with the song of the dawn chorus reassuring that I’m on the right path.

Koh Ker to Siem Reap

I plan to smash it back to Siem Reap by noon, with just a few breaks and no sightseeing. I glide past Svay Leu pagoda and see someone selling waffles for the first time on this journey. I circle back to purchase two giant waffles which are shaped into pentagons, with each side cut into hearts. These coconut tasting delights are scoffed at regular intervals with the motto, ‘waffles go in, pedals come out’.

Heading further south past Boeng Mealea temple, which I’ve visited before, I turn off Road 64 and head across the country on dusty back roads, a welcome change from the main roads. Crossing over Road 66 I’m back in familiar territory and very soon I find myself sitting back in Preah Dak drinking ice coffee and eating steamed pork buns with a boiled egg in the middle. The refreshing break gives me the final push home through Angkor Wat complex, back past Srah Srang where I had my first breakfast eight days before at sunrise and then homeward bound through Siem Reap, back to my front gate. Sliding open the gate, I cannot believe I’ve just cycled 550km.

Until my next adventure.

Favourite snack: waffles = peddle power. Waffles go in, pedals come out.

cycling in cambodia during corona virus

5 Cycling Facts | An Introduction from Cyclebodia

5 Cycling Facts | An Introduction from Cyclebodia

cycling in cambodia

We are dedicated to maximising the benefits of cycling. In this document we give general information.

Cycling, also referred to as bicycling or biking. We can use cycling for so many purposes such as for transport, for exercises and as a sport. Cycling was first introduced in the 19th century and it is used as a primary means of transportation in most part of the countries or in developed countries. Cycling also prevent us from any health issues and keep us healthy. According to some research and some doctors, cycling is preferred way better than running exercise. As we can use cycling in so many different ways, it provides us so many advantages. Some of these advantages are as follows.

Cycling Is Transportation

Cycling is used as transportation in so many countries as it has so many advantages. It can save a lot of money, instead of buying a car, at the same price we can buy a first-class bicycle which can last up to so many years. It does not use any kind of petrol or gasoline, so it does not create air pollution and it is eco-friendly and good for the environment as well. Cycling is the best option for those who cannot afford cars and it is good for them to use a bicycle as it also reduced health issues. So many studies prove that bicycle commuters are way more productive and way more active than an average person and require less time off at work.

Health issues | Cycling Health Benefits

Cycling is greatly beneficial for those who have health issues and health problems. If we want to be fit and healthy then we must do a few exercises daily and cycling is one of the easiest exercises to do it does not require too much stamina or physical activity people of all ages can enjoy cycling. Here are most of the points about how cycling helps us to prevent us from various diseases and how it advantages us. It is better to do cycling every day rather than visiting a doctor for health issues

Cycling As An Exercise To Be Fit

Cycling is one of the easiest exercises to do it can be done by everyone it only consumes your 3 to 4 hours or sometimes only an hour to make you healthy and fit. Here how  cycling helps you, as it is the easiest exercise to do there is also less chance of any injury or harm in cycling all of our muscles workout so it does not require that much physical skill like other exercises do and benefit our whole body cycling also increases our body stamina and strength to do work it is also a fun way to do the exercise you can go to the hills and enjoy the environment and beautiful sceneries

Health Benefits Of Cycling

Cycling is also beneficial for those who have health issues or health-related problems it reduces health problems ,it is also beneficial for those who have  recently gone through the bone injury by doing cycling one can recover from bone injury as it is the best to exercise for them and also recommended by the doctors those who have cardiovascular issues cycling increases the cardiovascular strength and  decreases the chances of heart attack.

Cycling is also helpful for those who have a mental illness like depression stress and anxiety by doing cycling it decreases stress levels and keeps you calm it also increase the strength of bone also helps to prevent body fat those who have obesity and want to lose weight this is the best way to get rid of obesity

Cycling As A Sport

Cycling was first introduced as a sport on May 31, 1868, with a 1200 metre race between the fountains and the entrance of Saint cloud park near Paris there are so many races organised across the country but the most popular one is touring de France it started in 1903 this is the most popular one cycling sport which held every year and it is played on an international level too as a world championship the tour de France can be worth of 2.3 million and the person who won this race gets the whole price there are many types of cycling which are used as a sport such as a road cycling track cycling and mountain cycling are the most common one others are unicycle cycle ball artistic cycling bicycle polo snow cycling and much more.

Used for work

Cycling is also used for so many working purposes. Most of the people consider cycling on cars because they are way cheaper than cars and can be afforded by everyone and sometimes it can be tax-free and consume less tax than d cars so many people use cycles for their work purposes. It is used by mail carriers for mail delivering it is also used by most of the police officers mainly in parks. It is widely used for general delivering services such as for food delivery, newspapers delivering and much more. Many other works like delivering something with short distance some people considered cycling instead of using a car. Cycling is also used mostly by the students to go to schools as they are not allowed to use cars

Conclusion

As there are so many advantages of cycling, we can use cycling for so many things and take advantage of it. In this modern technology world, it is hard to resist our comfort but using things apart from our comfort can prove to be beneficial for us. Most of the people considered cycling is just for kids and deny the advantages of cycling. Cycling is not just a  sport or transportation or doing exercise, it also refreshes our mind, by doing cycling we explore the calmness of the environment and for some time we forget all of our worries and things that irritate us. So, dust off your bicycle in your garage and use it for your benefits and make your life healthy and beautiful. Cycling has so many advantages we should use them and try to keep them on a daily basis.

Cycling in Cambodia

We at cyclebodia look forward to seeing you all in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Although Cambodia is not seen as a cycling destination you will be surprised. In addition, we have some great attractions, spas, and a few temples! We can meet you and organise your complete adventure.

cycling in cambodia

Awesome How To Adventure Guide To Cycling In Cambodia

Cycling in Cambodia

Cycling in Cambodia is on the rise and it is a great way to learn about Cambodia and the Khmer people. If you cycle around Phnom Penh in the early morning, you will see many groups of cyclists hitting the road and enjoying the early day with friends. Cycling has advanced from a simple and cheap form of transport into a popular sport and there are plenty of cycling destinations you can try.

If you want to get the feel of cycling in Cambodia, you can have an online experience with our live stream tours.

phnom pehn to battambang

Road Trip to Kampong Cham

One such ride is along the Mekong to Kampong Cham. When cycling in Cambodia, it is best to head out early. You want to finish the ride before midday as the weather will start to get unpleasant for cycling. I hit the road about 5am and plan to finish where I want to go between 11am and midday.

The way to Kampong Cham

The ride to Kampong Cham is straight forward. You head up Monivong to the Chroy Changvar bridge, also known as the Japanese bridge, but the Chinese have built a bridge next to it which causes confusion at times. Once you cross over and cut across the Prohm Bayan Circle head to the Mekong. You need to cross the Mekong at some stage. There are a couple of ways to do this. There are two convenient ways to cross the river. At the circle, turn right down Keo Chenda St. This will take you to a ferry terminal. Another way is to cycle up highway 6 until you get to the Prek Tamak Bridge, cross over and on the other side, turn left and head north.

One thing you will notice about cycling in Cambodia is you draw attention. The road to Kampong Cham is dotted with villages. The road is a mixture of asphalt, concrete, crushed rock and sand, and lots of curious onlookers. And take plenty of water, as you start to perspire a lot and can get dehydrated, especially as the sun comes up.

Easy Cycling

The road is flat and easy to cycle. For drinking water, just drop into a local shop. One place I stopped at was a family affair. When I pulled up there were a lot of stares. I asked for some water and drank about two litres and stuffed my bag with bottles of water. A young man in the shop, a son I believe, looked at me and asked, “Phnom Penh.” I nodded then he asked, “Kampong Cham.” I nodded again, and he broke into laughter, as did some of his relatives. They thought I was mad to want to ride a bicycle in the heat all that way. Cycling in Cambodia can be hot

The road continues until a T-intersection. Turn left and here there is a ferry crossing in the neighbourhood. It takes a bit of searching to find. I tried to ask a bewildered farmer who was with his son. Waving and gesticulating what I thought would clearly mean ferry: he just smiled at me and made some comment to his son. Then I saw the ferry on the river. The ferry pulled into is a simple concrete ramp leading into the water. Again, locals stared.

Mixing it with the locals

The ferry does not leave until it is full. While I waited, a group of Cambodians started a cock fight. Some Cambodian men tried to find out how much my bike cost, which made me slightly apprehensive, and a young Cambodian girl leaned on my leg and stared at me with a stern look on her face. Some children were swimming in the Mekong when the ferry captain sound the departure horn. Everyone piled on board.

The ferry goes to Kang Meas on the other side of the river, and it is some twenty kilometres from Kampong Cham. However, the afternoon had crept in while I waited for the ferry, so it was a hot ride into town.

Back to Phnom Penh

Getting back to Phnom Penh, you can go back the way you came. There is also the inland route, which is like riding across a hot iron plate. The first stage is the 50kms or so to Skun. Cycling that section is in the early morning. Further up the road, you hit highway 6. Down this road is a Y-intersection: one road, highway 6, leads back to the Mekong and eventually past the Prek Tamak Bridge and onto Phnom Penh. The other road is highway 61 and takes you to the bridge near Oudong, the ancient capital, and over the Ton Le Sap. However, you can also throw you bike on a bus and return that way.

I tried the Oudong direction and was exhausted by the time I had crossed the bridge. There was still more than 30kms to go. I rode into a service station, much to the surprise of the family who owned it. I needed water and sat down on a Cambodian deckchair. A man, the owner, brought over a fan and let it cool me down. His daughter, who spoken quite good English, started the questions: “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?”, Where are you going?”, and of course, “It’s too hot to ride.”

Exhausted I fell asleep.

I woke up and the afternoon had moved on. I jumped on the bike and humped it to Phnom Penh, arriving just before dark.

What a ride and a lot of fun and interesting encounters with the locals. Try it and you will not regret it.

When you cycle in Cambodia, two bike shops for all your bike needs are

Giant Bicycle shop
169 Czech Republic Blvd
(Across the road from Bak Touk High School)
Phnom Penh
+855 67 770 446
Huge range of Giant bicycles. You will find friendly English-speaking staff. They have a extensive range of parts and accessories.

Flying Bikes 2
No.131 BEO Street 51
Sangkat Psar Thmey 3
Phnom Penh
+855 12 727 717
Lots of Cannondale bikes. Extensive range of parts and accessories. English-speaking staff. Great location.

There is a huge selection of new and second-hand bicycles and repair shops near the Oreussey market.

Phnom Penh to Kampong Som

Where is that you say? Well, Kampong Som is better known as Sihanoukville, or the new Macao. Any way you look at it, the town is worth a look. Although the Chinese are busily turning it into the casino capital of Southeast Asia, it still has places to escape to. And as a cycling destination, it is a great and challenging trip.

A cyclist can either go the shorter route along highway 4, or the longer route along highway 3. The former is about 230 kilometres, and the latter is about 250 kilometres; not a great difference. However, the longer route takes you by Kampot, and a stopover there is a fantastic break in one of Cambodia’s most delightful places.

Mad, the Bad and Crazy Drivers

Cycling along both these routes can be perilous at the best of times. Both routes are heavily used by all types of vehicles, especially crazy drivers of private taxis and mini buses. Surprisingly, truck drivers tend to be quite courteous and generally honk horns when bearing down on a cyclist. However, keep an eye out for all drivers on a death mission.

As with all long-distance cycling in Cambodia, it is best to head off early. If for no other reason, you avoid a lot of traffic in Phnom Penh – if that is you’re starting point – and the trucks full of workers delivering their human cargo to factories on the outskirts of the capital.

To start your journey, head out from Central Market and find Charles de Gaulle Boulevard. If you head to Monivong Road, you will see it. The road takes you by the Olympic Stadium. Actually, the road changes names before you leave town. It is Street 217 until the turn off for Veng Sreng Boulevard. Its other name is Monireth Boulevard. Eventually you get to Chaom Chau Circle, which is near the airport. Here, highways 3 and 4 split off. From here, turn left and go south to Kampot along highway 3. If you make good time, you will be way out of town before the traffic kicks in.

Cycling Perils in Cambodia

One of the perils of cycling on roads in Cambodia is overtaking … on the other side of the road. It is common to see a slow-moving rice tractor being overtaken by a faster mini-bus which is being overtaken by a speeding private taxi. This leaves little room on your side of road. The best decision for the cyclist is to hit the dirt on the side of the road and let this tangle of vehicles pass you by.

Early in the morning, there is a fleet of trucks hauling workers to factories. They usually come in the opposite direction to you. One rule about the traffic pecking order in Cambodia is that cyclists are way down the list, in fact, they are one above pedestrians. Expect to be cut off, run off the road and invisible to most other vehicles. These worker trucks will happily turn in front of you if the factory gate is in front of you. So long as you understand the rules, you will be fine. And the golden rule, start early to avoid the traffic snarl.

Kampot and Detours

The road is quite flat, and you can make good time. Some cyclists like to detour to Takeo, if for no other reason but to enjoy the freshwater shrimp available there. Along the road to Kampot there are lots of roadside restaurants and café joints. About halfway to Kampot there is a large service station that is a pitstop for mini buses coming up from Kampot and Sihanoukville. It is a great place for a break and watch the tourists taking the less enjoyable mode of travel.

Destination Kampot and Beyond

If you make good bike time, you can get into Kampot before midday. Cycle down to the river where there are plenty of places to stay. Near the Big Durian roundabout, there are a couple of good guesthouses to stay.

A lot a people like to stay in the town for a couple of days or more, and I do not blame them; it is a relaxing place. It is nice to get off the bike for a while. But for this journey, it is an over-nighter and forging ahead to Sihanoukville.

To cross the river, you have to take the new bridge. The old French colonial-era bridge needs much repair and has been closed off. However, pedestrians still use it and use it if you dare.

The Road to Kampong Som

The road from Kampot to Sihanoukville is a delight. It runs parallel to the sea, and in the morning, it is a fantastic to cycle along. As you head out of Kampot you pass Bokor Mountain, which you can visit on your next trip to Kampot. There is little traffic on the road, and its proximity to the sea makes it cooler than riding inland. However, this comes to an abrupt end at the Prey Nob intersection. The heavily trafficked highway 4 joins the tour.

Nonetheless, this road is good to ride on as it is generally well-made, and the traffic tend to leave you alone. About 20 kilometres outside of Sihanoukville is the airport. After the airport are the hills leading into town.

The Road to Sihanoukville

Renamed after the late King Sihanouk, the town is a bustling seaport and becoming exceedingly popular with Chinese tourists.

The road into town is a hill. The road is a gut-busting three-stage haul after the pleasant flat-terrain cycling of the last two days. Once you get to the top it is all downhill. Actually, there are two ways into Sihanoukville. If you go straight, you arrive into the busy downtown area. However, just after the top of the hill, you can turn left and take the back way into town.

The back road takes you to Otres beach. A great place to stop and jump into the sea to cool off. You can also visit the retired colonel who owns a restaurant on the corner of the road to the beach and the main beach road. Spends hours listening to him, his tales of army life and enjoy a few beers.

From here and the colonel, it is a short ride into Kampong Som: more on that town later.

Phnom Penh to Battambang

Cyclebodia takes you on a journey from Phnom Penh to Battambang via Kampong Chhnang.

When you start early Phnom Penh is quiet: not much traffic, the city is waking up, and an army of street sweepers come into play. Lots of Phnom Penhers like to exercise in the cool of early morning: joggers, walkers, and other cyclists.

By the time the sun rises you are out of town and on the open road, ready to take on whatever is thrown your way. The ride to Battambang will take you along the south-western side of the Ton Le Sap.

The Road to Kampong Chhnang

Getting out of Phnom Penh to Kampong Chhnang is best achieved with a 5am start. Eventually, you hit National Highway 5, and this is the road you use to get to Battambang. The road is reasonably good for the most part (by Cambodian standards). However, on the outskirts of the capital there are some rough patches prone to flooding. If you are on a mountain bike, then you glide through these obstacles. We suggest you do not cycle or drive through flooded potholes for obvious reasons – they might be deeper than you think.

To begin with, riding up Monivong road takes you past the Chrouy Changva Bridge and along the Ton Le Sap River. This part of town has a Muslim flavour. You cycle past Mosques and Masjids with bearded men wearing kufis and thobes while many of the women wear hijabs and abayas. Another fascinating side of Cambodia.

After a while you pass the second Ton Le Sap bridge.

Oudong

About 40kms out of town you see Oudong on your left. It is easy to spot as the remnants of the former centre of power are perched on one of the few mountains in the area. Oudong was the royal residence and Cambodia’s capital for more than 250 years until 1866. It is also known as the “City of Past Kings”. You could stop here and look around, but it is better to visit Oudong on a day trip from Phnom Penh.

After Oudong the ride takes you through some twists and turns before you arrive in Kampong Chhnang. The journey from Phnom Penh to Kampong Chhnang is light on traffic and the hazards it presents. There are plenty of places to take a break and top up on water. As usual the inquisitive locals will want to know what you are up to and smile with disbelief.

Kampong Chhnang

By now you are in one of the central provinces of Cambodia, and its capital is, what else, Kampong Chhnang. It is amazing how tidy the town is. Most Cambodian towns are dusty and littered but not this one. As you ride in there are several guesthouses to choose from but continue to the centre of town which is nearer the Ton Le Sap.

Kampong Chhnang is about 100 kilometres from Phnom Penh. It is next to the Ton Le Sap. The town’s name literally means Clay Pot Port.

Take a ride to the bustling dock on the Tonlé Sap River. This is the jumping-off point for boat rides to floating villages. Ferries leave here and ply the lake to the other side or further afield. Near the port are many Chinese shops. There is also a large Vietnamese community.

Outside of town you can visit the areas where the area’s distinctive pottery is crafted underneath stilted homes.

Kampong Chhnang Province

 Kampong Chhnang Province centuries ago was a main trading route between China and India. The Kampong Chhnang museum has the archaeological record of its history.

There is a Khmer Rouge-era airbase in the area. This base was built, but not completed, to handle Chinese aircraft. During its construction there were many Chinese advisors overseeing the works.

The military airport was the product of forced labour under the Khmer Rouge. Construction on this military airbase began in 1977, but it was abandoned in 1979 when Vietnamese forces invaded and occupied Cambodia.

Though never used for any actual aviation, the land holds several abandoned roadways leading to old buildings, water tanks, and the huge airstrips themselves.

There is also a guard posted at the runway. Typically, visitors have to pay a “fee” to look around.

Kampong Chhnang to Pursat

The next stage is another 100 or so kilometres from Kampong Chhnang to Pursat. This town is also the gateway to the Cardoman Mountains and beyond.

Pursat is located between the Tonle Sap and the northern end of the Cardamom Mountains. The Pursat River bisects the province, running from the Cardamoms in the west to the Tonle Sap in the east.

First impressions of Pursat is another dusty Khmer town. However, it is home to Wat Bakan, considered to be among the oldest active pagodas in Cambodia and revered as one of the most holy sites of Cambodian Buddhism. The province also hosts the annual River Run Race, an event for men and women, including those in wheelchairs, has five- and ten-kilometre races that follow the path of the Pursat River. Since its inaugural race in 2007, the event has grown to the second largest of its kind in Cambodia.

Cycling Pursat to Battambang

The Pursat to Battambang road is unusually quiet in the early morning. There is an odd line of streetlights lining the road as you leave town. They seem to go on forever. Once past them, there are rice fields on either side of you for the next 100 kilometres or so.

The ride to Battambang, or city of the lost stick, is quite uneventful. However, when you enter city you first encounter the Battambang statue. A short ride from this and you are in the city centre.

Battambang is the leading rice-producing province of the country. It was also part of Thailand for some time before the French ceded it in 1907, and French Colonial architecture is a notable aspect of the city and an excellent opportunity for picture taking.

The city is situated on the Sangkae River. This is a small river that winds its way through Battambang Province to the Ton Le Sap. Battambang has several Angkorian temples in the area, and it is definitely worth staying in the town for several days.

Cycling in Cambodia Destinations

If you have enjoyed this Cambodian cycling adventure, there are plenty of other Cambodian destinations to keep you busy and fit.  Try Anlong Veng or Kampong Cham or Ratanakiri and never missing out on Angkor Wat in Krong Siem Reap.

If you have experience of cycling in Cambodia, we would love to share your story. Give other bike enthusiasts a taste of adventure.

#cyclebodia #travel #travelphotography #wanderlust #adventure #travelblogger #explore #traveling

cycling in cambodia during corona virus

Your Remarkable RoadTrip From Pailin to Battambang

cycling in cambodia during corona virus

The Road From Pailin To Battambang

If you want to attempt some adventure cycling, then take a look at Pailin. It is not far from Battambang and only about 15 kilometres from the Thai-Cambodia border. So, you can enter from Thailand or make a side trip from Battambang, or vice versa. Either way, the ride from Pailin to Battambang is an adventure you won’t forget.

I decided that I wanted to spend most of my time cycling around the province, so to get to Pailin I bundled the bike into a taxi in Battambang – no easy task, as it’s a 29er – with the aim of cycling from Pailin to Battambang.

pailin to battambang

Pailin is a small town and has some decent places to stay, such as the Ruby Guesthouse. It comes across as quite safe, odd when you consider it is a former Khmer Rouge stronghold and racketeering centre. However, I erred on the side of caution and found a guesthouse that let me park my bike inside at night time. Having said that, most places were accommodating with this request.

Another convenience the locals offer is that they will accept Baht, Riels and US dollars; the preference is dollars. And always remember that in Cambodia, the wise bring small denominations.

The first day I was there I decided to check out the sites in town. Very easy to cycle to all these places. The real hump would be the trips to the tourist attractions out of town.

Wats and More Wats

 In town there are a couple temples to visit. You can cycle to all of them, in fact you can take your bike to the top of the hills and right into the temple grounds.

There is the famous Wat Gohng-Kahng where the official Pailin reintegration ceremony occurred in 1996, after the Ieng Sary faction of the Khmer Rouge worked out surrender and semi-autonomy deals with the Cambodian government. It is also the gate that faces you as you enter the town from Battambang. These days it is the centre of holiday festivities.

Wat Phnom Yat

Another place to visit is Wat Phnom Yat, which was built by Shan migrants from Burma. This Wat is a cultural and historical site and is not a holy place This hilltop temple is in the heart of Pailin and next to Wat Gohng-kahng. It includes an old pagoda, similar to the Kola pagoda.

There is a beautiful new decorative stairway leading to the hilltop temple area, where a new temple is under construction and the monks openly teach the faith. Before you climb, don’t forget to visit the statue of Phnom Yat or “Mountain of Grandma Yat”.

There are many ancient structures on Phnom Yat, including the big and small stupas and Asroms – hermitages for meditating. Many small cottages are available for visitors to relax in on the mountaintop and enjoy the fantastic views of the Pailin area and the beautiful sunsets over the mountains.

Another Pagoda, about 50 meters from the foot of Wat Yat, is Wat Rattanak Sopoan. On the walls surrounding the pagoda is a bas-relief depicting the Hindu story of Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Wat Rattanak Sophoan is a Burmese style pagoda more than 570 years old.

Cambodian Food

All that cycling around town would have built an enormous hunger. The local dishes are distinct to the area. You can try Mee Kola, a vegetarian noodle dish made from thin rice stick noodles, steamed and cooked with soy sauce and garlic chive, sometimes mixed with some meats and small lobster. Another dish is Mon banana. Of course, there is Thai food such as Tom yum.

Out of Pailin Town

Cycling around this part of world during the rainy season would be tough going. It would be wet, muddy, slipping here and there, maybe a tumble, and the ups and downs of the roads would be a challenge. My advice, if cycling then visit during the late wet season or dry season.

Another word of warning is mines. A gift from decades of fighting is the enormous number of landmines that were planted in the province. So, if you’re planning a visit to the countryside around Pailin City ask a local about the current de-mining efforts. Also, point out where you are planning to go, and they will let you know about the current situation. That, and staying on marked roads, will keep you out of trouble.

Most of the rides from the city are easy day trips. Here a some you can attempt.

There’re a couple of short trips that a cyclist can attempt to get a taste of the conditions. The first is to Kbal O’Chra, which is located O’Chra village, and is about a 5-kilometre ride. There you’ll find a nature & wildlife reserve. Another 5-kilometre ride is to a small wooden bridge going over the Oh-chah-rah River. The water coming down from the mountains is cool and clean, so just right for a swim after a hot ride. You also pass by a tank’s bombed-out shell. Tanks have just remained where they were destroyed in Cambodia and have simply become another part of the landscape. One final short ride you could try is to O’Tavao, which is about 5 kilometres from town. It is a place rich in beautiful scenery and clean water, which flows from Phnom Khieu.

Probably one of the most interesting places to visit is Bah Hoi Village. There you will pass through an internal refugee camp with people from different parts of the country that were formerly under Khmer Rouge control and are now in the hands of the government. The people are quite friendly and don’t mind a chat.

Pailin Provence

There are many waterfalls in Pailin Provence and the best time to visit is during the rainy season. However, there are still pools to cool off in during the dry season and the heavily forested hills provide pleasant scenery. Locals from Battambang visit them on weekends. They are a great destination for cycling. One waterfall you can visit is O’Eb and is about 10 kilometres northwest of town along the road to Bo Yakha and Bo Tang Sour.

A few other places to consider cycling to are Phnom Koy, which is about 20 kilometres north of town. Phnom Koy is an area rich in forest and big lianas. A natural stream flows down the mountain.

Another is Goh-Ay Mountain that has a river which is great for swimming. Stay on the worn paths by the river area as there are landmines around.

You can also cycle to the border that is a vibrant place. It is only 15 kilometres. At the border there is a flash casino called the Flamingo which has a rather good bar attached to it. Maybe that is reason enough. The border crossing and casino area is called Pbrohm by the locals.  So, if you want to throw a few dollars, there a several choices to achieve that end.

As for using Pailin as a border crossing to and from Thailand, the Thais have no problem with it and will issue you a Thai visa or stamp. However, the problem is on the Cambodian side as the immigration police say that it’s not an official crossing: maybe.

A Memory of Pailin

Before you leave Pailin, a souvenir to remember the place could be a gemstone. Unfortunately, all you can find these days is hand-faceted, low-quality and cheap gemstones at the market in downtown Pailin. Nonetheless, even a cheap gemstone can hold good memories.

Pailin To Battambang

A five-in-the-morning start will get you on the road for a pleasantly cool ride through the foothills of the Cardamom Mountains: it is also pitch black. Once you go beyond the city limits, street lights are far and few between. Another hassle are farm dogs. At that time of the morning, dogs seem to like chasing invisible cyclists. As you pass farms, snarling, barking dogs set off in hot pursuit. Luckily, they are easily out-paced and a loud snarl from the rider finishes the dog’s pursuit. Apart from that, the road is in good condition and a good bike light will set you straight until it starts to get light.

And what a sight the sunrise is: the sky lightens, and a ribbon of dark blue appears on the horizon; the air fills with the smell of hay. You cycle through rice farms, piggeries and quite an assortment of farming activity. Remember this part of Cambodia is the bread basket of the country. The sun is up, the humidity rises, and it is daytime. You are halfway to your destination.

The ride from Pailin to Battambang is only 90 kilometres. If you leave at 5am, you can be in Battambang before 10am. See you in Pailin.

Prek Toal Sanctuary

The Best Eco Tourism At Prek Toal Sanctuary Cambodia

Prek Toal Sanctuary

Prek Toal Sanctuary

Cambodia has some extraordinary wildlife reserves; Prek Toal Sanctuary is one such place. Located in Battambang province in Cambodia’s Northwest, it is a wildlife sanctuary located within the Tonlé Sap Biosphere Reserve. The biosphere, one of three areas around the Tonlé Sap lake, is dedicated to the preservation of fauna and flora of Cambodia’s rich and diverse environment in this stunning sanctuary.

The Prek Toal Sanctuary consists of seasonally inundated freshwater swamp forest with high botanical diversity. Short tree shrub makes up most of the landscape. Forming a dense under story with scattered large trees, which form the vital nesting ground for large water birds.

It is unmatched throughout Southeast Asia for the diversity of populations of endangered water birds it supports through the dry season. Access to the sanctuary is by boat.

The numbers of birds and fish have risen due to authorities clamping down on poaching such as stopping the theft of eggs and illegal fishing. These initiatives as well as other moves by authorities and locals are benefitting other fauna and flora as well. The locals are also beginning to reap the benefits of protecting their environment.

Director of Battambang’s Department of Environment Kort Boran said that this is due to tightening of laws on wildlife protection and a change in people’s behaviour. For example; nest monitoring revealed that 20 percent more foul have been hatched and 10 percent more birds are nesting in the wildlife sanctuary.

This is an area where not so long ago local communities didn’t particularly pay much attention to the environment, now it is a different story. Another indicator of the success of preservation programs has seen a 30 percent increase in its bird population alone in recent times.

You can virtually visit the sanctuary if you want to experience a guided tour.

Conservation Areas

This and other conservation areas are drawing an increasing number of visitors who want to experience Cambodia’s natural environment. In particular, the enormous variety of birds, mammals, and other wildlife and plants.

Kort also said that the authorities often tell the people to help protect Cambodia’s endangered birds by not killing them.  By no longer poaching they will make the area more attractive for visitors and locals can earn money from tourism.  They seem to embrace the conservation of birds now that they know of its importance.

The area has rare birds like Spot-billed Pelican, Black-headed Ibis, Heron and Masked Finfoot. And, that’s not all. Visit the Chong Khneas crocodile farm, cruise across Tonle Sap and spot ibis, storks, and pelicans including the huge lesser and greater adjutant storks, the milky stork and the spot-billed pelican. Even the uninitiated will be impressed, as these birds have huge wingspans and build enormous nests. There are also Cormorants and Egrets nesting, socialising and feeding. In all, more than 150 species of birds have been sighted here.

Flood Water

The flooded freshwater forest environment of the sanctuary is a precious natural habitat for a number of endangered birds and is considered the most significant breeding ground for threatened waterbird species in all of Southeast Asia.

Large flocks of cormorants, storks and pelicans are almost guaranteed from January to May, along with herons, egrets and terns. The world-famous sanctuary harbours seven species of water birds of global significance: Spot billed Pelican, Milky Stork, Painted Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Greater Adjutant, Black headed Ibis, and Oriental Darter. There is a globally significant population of Grey-headed Fish Eagles and the secretive Masked Finfoot. Other highlights include three different types of Kingfisher, Bitterns and at least four fish eagles. Some of these birds are also endangered.

A visit to the sanctuary can include a Cambodian-style lunch at a floating restaurant. Trips to the sanctuary also bring you up close and personal with the fascinating floating village of Prek Toal, a much more rewarding destination. While exploring the sanctuary and surrounds, the unique opportunity to see authentic floating fishing villages and watch the friendly fishing families go about their day.

Cambodian Wildlife

There are also crocodiles, snakes, and catfish at the Chong Khneas Crocodile and Fish farm. Travel by boat and pass stilted houses, flooded forests, and floating markets.

The best time to visit is during the peak season between December to early February when the concentration of birds is highest. As water starts to dry up elsewhere, the birds congregate here. The birds remain beyond February, but the sanctuary becomes virtually inaccessible due to low water levels. It is also possible to visit from September, but the bird numbers may be lower. The best time to see birds is early morning or late afternoon and this means an early start or an overnighter at Prek Toal’s environment office, where there is very basic accommodation.

Getting to the sanctuary under your own steam requires a 20-minute motorcycle or taxi ride to the floating village of Chong Kneas then a boat to the environment office. From here, a small boat will take you into the sanctuary, which takes about one hour. A boat trip to Prek Toal takes about two hours from Chong Kneas boat dock.

An overnight stay can also be arranged in a floating house in the village allowing the visitor to be in the core reserve for dawn.

You can also be part of this exciting experience by becoming an eco-volunteer.

Eco-volunteering

Try your hand at some environmentally friendly projects.

Asian Elephant Projects

Sustainable Cambodia

http://www.sustainablecambodia.org/page.asp?p=28

Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary

http://www.cambodiawildlifesanctuary.org/volunteer.html

Sea Turtle Conservancy

https://conserveturtles.org/jaguar-eco-volunteer-program/

Osoam Cardamom Community Centre

https://osoamccc.weebly.com/