Updated April 19th, 2018.
From the craziness of the Phnom Penh to the peace and quiet of the countryside, Cambodia is an easy country to fall in love with. The days are long, the country is hot and the people are super friendly. From the constant and random “HELLO!” (Susaday) from children as you pass by them on the road to the Community Development programs set up by the truly selfless and unsung heroes of this world. Travelling Cambodia by bike is an incredible adventure!
Social Cycles will take you on a journey to interact and connect with local grassroots Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and the beneficiaries of a funded project of your choosing. Find out what really happens at ground level in the villages with Social Cycles in a holiday that carefully balances ethical research and local impact with cycling and site seeing.
Cambodia Cycling Tour Itinerary – 11-Days: Siem Reap to Kampot
Day 1: Siem Reap
Arrival day and welcome dinner
We arrive and stay in the heart of the cosmopolitan lifestyle that has been thrust on Siem Reap since the country has opened up to the outside world. You will quickly realise that tourism is opening new markets, opportunities, revenue streams and challenges for the local area. After we pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel, take some time to relax or explore the city before we meet for a welcome dinner with the group you’ll be spending the next 10 days with. Dinner is at one of Siem Reap’s best restaurants, Marum. It’s part of the Friends International social enterprise projects, providing vocational training for marginalized youth. The food is delicious!
Day 2: Siem Reap
Sunrise cycling around the temples of Angkor
Sunrise is from 4.30am as we hit the bikes for the first time. It’s an early start – but it’s so worth it! Sunrise over Angkor Wat Temple is a bucket list achievement for good reason! From here we’ll venture on to other, and arguably more impressive, temples in the area for the remainder of the morning. In the early afternoon, we’ll have the chance to visit our first NGO of the trip. We will spend time with these incredibly inspirational people that have dedicated their lives to helping others. Hear their stories and understand what the real issues of the country are.
Day 3: Siem Reap to Battambang
River riding, local villages and coffee stops
Travelling across the wetlands and navigating our way around Tonle Sap river is an experience you will never forget. The road soon turns to single track as we get more and more remote. We farewell our support van and venture on into the rural and barren lands of Cambodia. Few villages exist out here, supporting themselves through sustainable fishing methods via the river. The track can only go so far, as we arrange a long tail boat ride for you and the bikes a further 16km into the wetlands. When we come out the other side, we cross another 18km of dirt road before eventually coming into Battambang.
Battambang is a common favourite on the trip. Packed with cafes proudly displaying local art, the town is considered an emergence of young talent in a field that was virtually wiped out by the Khmer Rouge. Battambang is also great for shopping, with colonial style streets and hidden secrets where bric-a-brac abounds. Dinner is in another social enterprise based restaurant that produces food on par with anything in any Australian city.
Day 4: Battambang to Pursat
Adventure cycling, red dirt & Sustainable Cambodia
After an early breakfast, we’ll make our way along the dusty red back roads. We’ll get to the town of Pursat by early afternoon and into our hotel to enjoy the swimming pool and on-site massage spa. Then, we’ll meet the amazing NGO, Sustainable Cambodia. We are invited to a full presentation by the executives in their office and a tour of their facilities. Shortly after we will be guided to see their projects in action first hand.
Day 5: Pursat to Phnom Penh
Cycling into Phnom Penh, riverside villages and Tonle Sap
We start our 75km cycle towards Phnom Penh along some intriguing back roads… The back roads bring in some of the most spectacular scenery as we pass through villages living on Tonle Sap lake. The ride takes in great coffee stops, endless photo opportunities and a couple of ferries. It’s almost entirely on back streets with minimal traffic. The final 2km within the heart of the city can be transferred via van as an option. For dinner, it’s a feast of tarantula’s and silk works at the famous Romdeng restaurant, a social enterprise restaurant from the Friends International team.
Day 6: Phnom Penh
Friends International, S-21 genocide museum and Khmer BBQ
We’ll start the day by meeting the incredible people at Friends International and learning about all the wonderful work they do within the community and how they’re spreading their strategies across the world. This is a great insight into REAL local everyday issues, from real local everyday heroes. From the office, we venture towards the Russian market and then move to Tuol Sleng, also known as S-21 Genocide Museum. This devastating chapter of the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian history is emotionally challenging but strongly recommended. There is some free time in the afternoon to process your day, whilst we’ll meet again for a local Khmer BBQ dinner.
Day 7: Phnom Penh to Kampot
Chisaur Temple: Our first cycle day (86km)
Our first major cycling day takes us south of Phnom Penh to Chisaur Mountain Temple in rural Cambodia. It’s not really much of a mountain at 130m and the route is perfectly flat. We casually cycle through remote villages and waterways, via narrow dirt tracks. Chisaur Temple is where we’ll be for lunch as we have plenty of time to explore these ancient ruins which are 200 years older than Angkor Wat. After that, we’ll take the van down to the Cambodian coastal town of Kampot to enjoy the culinary seafood delights!
Day 8: Kampot
The Bokor Mountain Cycle Challenge (optional 80km)
Start the day with an (optional) mammoth Bokor Mountain cycle challenge! It’s 40km to get to the top. The first 10km is flat, then it just keeps on going up, and up, and up! If cycling uphill doesn’t rock your world, we can bring your bike in the van and you can cycle down! Whilst at the top, we can take some time to explore the French ghost town of Bokor Hill Station in Preah Monivong National Park. For dinner, we’ll head to the Rusty Keyhole for the best BBQ ribs in the world (that is not an oversell!).
Day 9: Kampot:
Salt Fields community, ethical fashion and slow coffee
In the morning, we’ll visit Chumkriel Language School (no children will be in attendance at the time of visiting). A fantastic NGO and inspirational human being, Mr Suthy has set up a grassroots local school to give access to education for children of the salt field community. In the afternoon, just sit and relax by the pool, take a wander through the market or just take some time for yourself. If you like, you can take a cruise down the river at sunset and watch the fireflies come to life (if we’re lucky!)
Day 10: Cycling into Vietnam
Salt, pepper, crab and white sandy beaches
Today we cycle to the border into Vietnam, but not before we discover the wonderful province of Kep. Located just before the border, this town is famous for its fresh seafood, particularly crab. We’ll spend a couple of hours exploring the famous pepper plantations and salt lakes on the way. Navigating through the back roads, we’ll make our way around the National Park and to the border crossing into Vietnam. From the Cambo-Viet border, you’ll jump into the van and transit back to Phnom Penh with the Cambodian team. Expect to be back at your hotel for dinner!
Day 11: Phnom Penh
Time to say goodbye
All good things must come to an end! We’ll help you get your way to the airport, or assist in your travel plans any way we can. Enjoy your breakfast, squeeze in one more massage or just find a great cafe to watch the world go by before your onward destination.