Cycle Touring Part 2: Cambodia (26 Dec 23 – 1 Jan 24)

Following Part 1

Lunch was the first priority after the border crossing. We got our first taste of Cambodian food – delicious curry! We did a somewhat meaningless section of cycling along the main road on our new bikes after lunch. At a fairly arbitrary spot we stopped riding and got the bus into Phnom Penh. I was excited that our new bikes were the same Trek hybrid model that I have at home. The only disappointment – mine was blue instead of red.

We had warning about how bad the Phnom Penh traffic was. The bus driver was a superstar – handling the tight corners, in narrow streets, amidst the large amounts of traffic. We were pretty happy to be based out of the same hotel for 3 nights. In retrospect I think the tour could have spent one less day there without suffering for it.

Our first full day we took the ferry to Silk Island and rode around. It was a pretty short day – 20km was the consensus from most people’s devices. That did mean there was time to explore in the afternoon if you wanted to. Tom & I got as far as a money changer to get a dreadful rate on our remaining Vietnamese Dong, otherwise stuck to the air conditioned hotel room. Fortunately some of the others in the group were a bit more motivated and managed to corral most of the group into tuk-tuks to a rooftop bar, which overlooked the river and had great views of the city in general.

Our second full day was sight-seeing via bus. No bikes in sight. The morning was pretty depressing – first up, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school which served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre. Over 20,000 people were once incarcerated and tortured there. Then we went to the Choeung Ek Memorial, where a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls marks the site of the infamous Killing Fields. This was where the prisoners of Tuol Sleng were executed and nearly 9,000 corpses have been exhumed from the area. Heavy stuff, and unsurprisingly no photos.

The afternoon was stifling hot and most of the group were pretty over the sight-seeing. Going around the Royal Palace a tactic of running from shady patch to shady patch, while listening to our guide, was employed.

Tom at the Cambodian Royal Palace

Grounds of Royal Palace

We hit up another rooftop bar that night, and then Tom & I felt very daring by going to a restaurant on the way back to the hotel with no English menus.

The next day we were off the bikes again as we spent 7 hours on the bus to Siem Reap.

Drinks at our rooftop bar at the hotel in Siem Reap

We were all excited to be back on the bikes on our first full day in Siem Reap (where we also had 3 nights). The riding to and around Ankgor Wat was very scenic, quite shady and enjoyable. Up to that point in the trip it was my favourite cycling day.

Angkor Wat fashions

Central tower symbolising Mount Meru

It had got so busy at the top that they closed the right-hand staircase to upward traffic so the congestion could be cleared from the top

Angkor Wat



Very scenic riding!

Bayon Template, Angkor Thom

Some of the group at Ta Prohm

The queue for the Tomb Raider shot at Ta Prohm… I didn’t wait.

Plenty of other (non movie famous) tree roots

Our next day in Siem Reap we rode out to Banteay Srei via Pre Rup, about 35kms.

Tom in front of Pre Rup

Tom started a trend…

Climbing Pre Rup

Banteay Srei

Doors for making the non-royals feel small

Most of the group at Banteay Srei

In the afternoon there was the option to cycle back, or else go on an excursion to see some of the floating villages on TonlĂ© Sap. 6 of us elected to go on the excursion. It was probably the most authentic view we got of Cambodia through the trip – seeing the fishing ‘industry’ of the town, and then heading to TonlĂ© Sap via boat past the floating village.

Visiting the floating village at Kompong Khleang

Our excursion ended up being quite a lot of bus time. As it was New Years Eve, and Siem Reap seemed to be the place to be, the traffic returning to town was pretty busy. We’d been kept awake by practice runs for NYE for the previous 2 nights, but I was so tired that I fell asleep at 10pm and didn’t hear much at all!

The next morning was, unfortunately for those who had stayed up, an early start to get to the border. We left behind our Cambodian bikes and crew after a 3 hour bus ride to Poipet.

Continue to Part 3