- The old colonial towns of Chhlong and Kratie
- Night accommodation with Cambodian inhabitants
- Rubber plantations along the way
- The temples of Angkor
- Cycling along the Mekong
The lifeblood of the ancient Angkor Kingdom was the mighty Mekong River, the richest, most bio-diverse river in the world that flows from the Yunan-Tibet Plateau through China, Burma, Laos and Thailand to Cambodia where, during the monsoon season, it backs up the Tonle Sap River creating a massive floodplain and the largest lake in south East Asia. This lake is rich in fish, providing the protein needed to feed what was then the world’s largest city, Angkor Thom.
Starting from Phnom Penh, the capital, our route follows the Mekong’s riverbank to the colonial-era town of Kratie, discovering along the way river islands, villages, rice fields and fishing communities. You will then proceed to visit the ancient temples of Angkor, including the famous Angkor Wat, the world’s largest Hindu monument located at the extremity of the huge Tonle Sap Lake.
The mountain bike itinerary follows minor roads, dirt tracks and trails through rural farmlands, rice fields and rubber plantations. You will visit local markets for a close encounter with rural Cambodian people and you will stay in a local home on an island located in the middle of the river.
There will also have the chance to encounter the rare and endangered freshwater dolphins that are residents of the Mekong River.
Cycling distances will vary from around 80 to 150 km per day… depending on your speed and fitness and a support vehicle will accompany you throughout the trip to provide refreshments, drinking water, and relief from pedalling when needed.
Cycling distances can be adapted as a vehicle follows all the way.
Day 1 : ARRIVAL IN PHNOM PENH/DEPARTURE BY BIKE TO KAMPONG CHAM (HOTEL/ 95 km)
You meet our guide at the airport. We rent a Hotel room to have a shower and get ready for cycling. Lunch. A few kilometres after crossing the Tonle Sap river by bridge, we leave the heavy traffic of the main road and cycle the riverbank road, much of which is still gravel and sand, passing villages, rice fields and orchards, to the provincial city of Kampong Cham, followed by the safety vehicle and guide. (L)
Day 2 : KAMPONG CHAM – KRATIE (HOTEL / 120km)
After breakfast, we continue west along the riverbank heading north until the river bends to the right where we cross by ferry and cycle east along the south bank. We will pass through the quaint French colonial town of Chhlong which, at one time, was a buzzing centre for the rubber trade. Some of the riverside buildings are fine examples of decaying colonial architecture, although one has recently been rescued and restored to make a fine guest house. It is worth pedaling around the market area to see what you can find. Along the route we will pass several temples, some of which are worth a stop to visit. Arrive Kratie (pronounced “Kro!ché) in the early evening. This is also a charming town with a fair amount of surviving French colonial architecture and some riverside cafes and bars servicing the newly emerging tourism. (B,L,-)
Day 3 : KOH TRONG (HOMESTAY / 40km)
In the morning we set off by bike upriver in search of the rare and endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins that inhabit the Mekong river in the area of Sandan. Here we can board a small river boat and sail out to the middle of the river to watch them close hand. After lunch by the river, cross by boat with your bicycles to the west side of the Mekong River and cycle south along sandy trails before crossing onto a large island in the middle of the river called Koh Trong and settle into your home stay for the night. Dinner with your host family on the island. (B,L,D)
Day 4 : KRATIE – KAMPONG THOM (HOTEL / 190km)
Departing the island early morning, return to the west river bank and continue cycling south passing riverside villages and rice fields until the river bends west. Continue cycling to Khum Trea (where you crossed by ferry on day 2) and stop for lunch. Your support vehicle will rejoin you here. Now you will be cycling away from the river through countryside, characterized by rice fields and rubber plantations. It will not be possible to cycle all the way so, depending on progress, boar the support vehicle and drive to Kompong Thom, arriving early evening. (B,L,-)
Day 5 : KAMPONG THOM – SIEM REAP (HOTEL / 145km)
The highway from Kpg Thom to Siem Reap is a 145km sprint. First we depart Kompong Thom to visit Phnom Santouch, a pagoda up a hill with a panoramic view on Kampong Thom province. Then, after crossing the Stung Sen River, take to village roads and sandy tracks, shortcutting the main highway for a scenic ride across country. After rejoining the main road, follow parallel farm tracks to Sankor. If time is running away, board the support vehicle for a while before remounting your bikes at Stoung for another scenic shortcut through the riverside village of Kamtrach. Rejoin the highway again and cycle/drive to Rokar Kambot. Back on the bikes, visit the 9th century temple, Prasat Bakong, the first “temple mountain” of sandstone constructed by the rulers of the Khmer empire at Angkor and part of what is now known as the Rouluos Group of temples. Depending on time, either cycle or drive to Siem Reap. (B,L,-)
Day 6 : SIEM REAP: ANGKOR (HOTEL / 38km)
Full day cycle tour of the famous temples of Angkor, including Angkor Wat, the ever popular Ta Phrom still subsumed by roots of jungle trees, and the walled city of Angkor Thom, centred around the impressive Bayon Temple with its enigmatic carved stone faces.
Angkor Thom was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. It was established in the late twelfth century by king Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the centre of the city is Jayavarman’s state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north Angkor Wat is the most perfect of the Angkor temples. Built in monumental proportions on three levels, its symmetrical five tower layout symbolises the peaks of Mount Meru and were designed to be a microcosm of the Hindu universe. There is not only the grandeur, for every spot in the temple is ornamented with sculptures and bas-reliefs of wonderful detail. Monks from adjacent pagodas still conduct ceremonies in the site and tend to it, contributing to its excellent preservation, the best of any Angkor temples. Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hotel in Siem Reap (B,L)
Day 7 : Transfer to the airport
The course of the mighty Mekong includes a mix of ancient cultural landscapes, exotic charms and endless smiles that cannot fail to captivate. Discover by bike the fascinating and varied tapestry of river life of the Mekong where exceptional hospitality is guaranteed. This adventurous itinerary combines cycling through timeless villages, with ample opportunities to experience life along the river up close and personal.
Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century.
TO AVOID PLASTIC WASTE (WATER BOTTLES) TAKE YOUR OWN GOURD.