Journey Vietnam to Cambodia by Bike & Boat
Travel from Saigon to Angkor the slow way, by Bike & Boat. Spend your mornings cycling quiet paths through villages full of friendly people and activity, then spend your afternoons cruising the iconic Mekong River.
A truly enjoyable way to take your time between Saigon and Siem Reap, by bike and riverboat. Start out in glistening, bustling, vibrant Saigon, and finish with a ride around the world famous Angkor Temples. In between, cycle and sail through the Mekong Delta and up the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia. Biking or hiking through the backroads and paths each morning, you will have the opportunity to meet local people, learn about their lives and traditions, and see first hand the agricultural miracle that is the Mekong Delta. Along the way we will be sure to stop to enjoy some great local cuisine.
We specifically welcome non-cycling partners or friends on this trip and will have special activities planned for them each morning while the riders are cycling.
11 days duration
272-349 km distance
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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Top quality, well maintained Cannondale (Cambodia) and GT (Vietnam) mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour, fitted with hybrid tyres for touring. Handlebar bags for your personal possessions and a comfortable saddle are also provided, with a women's specific version available.
Toum Tiou - Luxury Mekong Riverboat
On this special cycling tour we sail aboard the Toum Tiou, a classic, 10-cabin Mekong Riverboat. Each cabin comes fully-equipped with air conditioning, lights, fans, comfy beds and of course an en-suite bathroom and shower. The ship is large enough for you to find a quite spot to relax, but small enough to navigate the narrower waterways and canals of the Mekong.
On this tour, we are welcoming non cycling partners as there will be plenty of exciting tours for you to do. Visit local village and produce markets, meet with Artisans and stop to explore a few historically important locations. These activities will be available to you each morning while the riders are out on the road. Groups will reunite aboard the Toum Tiou for lunch, and will spend the hot afternoons relaxing and cruising up the river together.
The hotels we use are a great, and sometimes unexpected, part of this tour. In the larger cities and established tourist centres we use stylish and comfortable hotels and resorts, while in the smaller and more out of the way areas we stay in the best available accommodation, which is often simple yet always well run, clean and comes with air-conditioning and a private bathroom.
Experienced English speaking, local leaders will host you on this trip who are well spoken, very well informed, and charming. Our leaders are often cited as being the main highlight of the tour. We use local leaders who have a passion for their countries and are always well informed on topics ranging from history, politics, cuisine and importantly local customs and cultures. Our leaders will take pride in introducing you to every aspect of their country and will help you to connect with the villagers you meet along the way.
For groups of 5+ people a bike mechanic will join the group. Whilst not a master of linguistics, our technical team always make an effort to form a bond with the group and provide not just mechanical support, but additional encouragement to those who may find themselves at the back of the group. Our drivers support the group by ensuring that the freshest fruit and tastiest snacks are picked up along the way.
An air conditioned backup support vehicle is always available for tired riders and to carry your luggage. In the Mekong Delta, we are on narrow bike and pedestrian style paths and trails where the support vehicle cannot follow. It will however, meet us at intervals of 10km or so and can meet us at closer intervals if there is an urgent need.
This is as much a food adventure as it is a bike one. Whilst Cambodian cuisine may not be as famous as Vietnamese, it offers some subtle, understated flavors. There is a strong emphasis on fish and fresh vegetables in the traditional diet, but contemporary Cambodian cuisine offers a wide range of options and surely has something for everyone. Vietnamese food is now known around the world, but what may not be so well known is that there is a great deal of variety within the national menu. In the southern area where we will be, a lot of seafood is available and also freshwater fish. In reality though, the Delta produces such a mind boggling amount of food that the range of choice may endanger any hopes you had of losing weight on this bike tour. Our guides are experts at introducing you to the finest food on both sides of the border. Included meals are listed in the day by day itinerary, and drinking water is always included with meals. Any soft or alcoholic drinks are not included and will be at your own expense.
Energy bars and local snacks are provided to keep your energy levels up for the riding, and clean water and electrolyte drinks are always available to keep you well hydrated.
Take It Home
A beautiful souvenir cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a custom drink bottle as an extra memento.
6 to 14
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 6 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 14 travellers so that you get all the attention you want in an intimate group.
There is no surcharge for single travellers - we will match you with another same sex single traveller. If you want a single room there is a an optional upgrade that you can book.
Travel by any means results in some impact to the countries, communities and environments we travel. On this tour we aim to make a positive impact through our Book Donation Program and we seek to minimise our environmental impact through running our Cambodian support vehicles on 100% Bio-Diesel from Naga Biofuels. This is not a crop based product, the fuel is made entirely from recycled cooking oil.
for Mekong Boat & Bike Adventures
Saigon - Arrival Day
Check in time at our comfortable and well located hotel, is 2pm. If you are arriving on the day of the tour commencement, we'll have a car meet you at the airport. In the late afternoon, we will meet for a briefing, sundowners by the Saigon River and then our first meal together.
We spend the morning taking a walk of Saigon's former French quarter, stopping in for a look at the Opera House, the Cathedral and the former Presidential Palace, complete with pristine 70's decor. After lunch we board the ship and immediately set sail for the Delta. We drop anchor on a Mekong tributary, dining aboard on arrival.
The bikes are waiting for us on the shore, so after an early breakfast, we get fitted up and then take our first pedal. This is on a twisting, turning network of paths and roads that are typical of the Delta. This northern area of the delta has slightly less canals than the more central areas, but still we will cross plenty of water and make use of the ferries. For the non riders in the group, there will be a walk of the small town where the ride starts. There is a nice little coffee shop here and the quiet streets of the town make for a good morning exploration to meet a few locals in a place where not many foreigners visit. The ride concludes around midday. We'll all meet up and have lunch as we cruise down the fascinating water transport corridor that is the Cho Gao Canal. This is one of the most important connections enabling the commercial/agricultural success of the Delta and carries a great variety of barges and boats.
We arrive in the My Tho area in the mid afternoon and take small boats into town for a wander with the guides. Dinner is had aboard the ship and we anchor just a little outside town.
38 or 78km cycling
We are in the Delta proper today. Breakfast aboard the ship before we make a 7:30am start. The riders will start riding on what is essentially a large island on a range of concrete paths along and over canals. There is a wide variety of produce being carted in towards town on the back of motor scooters and kids will be pedaling their way into school in their blue and whites, making for quite a lot of friendly conversations as you will be asked multiple times where you come from. The non riders will visit a few locations today, using small boats, vehicles and some walking. A stop at a home where the owner displays traditional farm tools and a visit to a fruit farm to learn about the wonderful varieties of fruit that grows in the Delta. A stop at a brick workshop shows how bricks and other products are made locally, some used here and some sent to the bigger cities.
For those doing the short ride option, you can rejoin the boat around midday for lunch, then spend the afternoon cruising onto Cai Be. For the long riders, we push on and arrive a little ahead of the boat. We'll kill some time with a stop in at a local coffee shop and pick up some delicious local snacks to stave off the hunger demons.
Dinner aboard the Tom Tiou and we remain moored in that location for the night.
38 or 75km cycling
Another great day of riding starts off with some relatively open road where we can use the cool of the morning to burn off some energy and put some distance behind us. Then it is into the narrow, shaded paths with lots of turns and activity in abundance. People weaving mats, people building boats, people transporting vegetables and fruit. Above all, people eating. We'll make a few good snack stops today where you'll be able to try some savory and sweet local specialties.
For the non riders, small boats will take us on an adventure through the small canals. We'll stop in at a couple of market or hub locations where vendors exchange produce to then distribute it through the village during the day.
We'll stop in a family home for tea mid morning and learn a little about the history of this family who have lived here for three generations.
Again today there is a short and long ride option, with the shorter one concluding at lunch. For the long riders, a great afternoon awaits and again we will likely reach the destination before the ship, so a short wait. Once the last riders have boarded, we have 3 hours of cruising while we dine so as to cover some distance.
This evening the guides will be conducting a quiz to see how much we've all learned so far on our trip along the Mekong.
The ship sets sail early, so we'll be enjoying pastries as we cruise along the busy waterway towards Chau Doc. Just short of town, we will disembark for a loop ride of the area. The non riders have an interesting morning, visiting the Fish Sauce factories for which the area is famous, but also learning a little about this frontier area. During the conflict ridden years of the US/Vietnam conflict and then the Khmer Rouge years, Chau Doc and surrounding areas along the border endured incursions, raids and attacks by the various sides. There is a memorial to those lost during the Khmer Rouge years just outside town and you can see quite a lot of people in the area who are ethnically Cambodian. In fact, the Mekong Delta was at one point part of the Khmer Empire, so the border has been quite fluid over the years.
For the riders, we'll be having a more open ride today with less turns, so we can stretch out a bit and enjoy the distance. We meet the non riders at Sam Mountain in the late morning, then it's back to town where we enjoy a great local lunch by the river. Back on the boat just after lunch we complete border formalities for the ship, then cruise up the main Mekong River towards Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh - Explore the City
Having cruised quite late into the night before, we have just a short distance into Phnom Penh this morning. We moor at the cargo port and then can make our way onto dry land.
The capital of Cambodia is an interesting place. Little more than a collection of shacks along the river when the French arrived, it was quickly designed as a grid style layout and many beautiful colonial buildings were constructed, such as the Central Market which has recently been restored. The city was forcibly evacuated when it fell to the Khmer Rouge and thus ensued a period of decay that continued through the early years of re-population. In the late nineties and early 2000's as the country started to get back on its feet, the city had a shattered charm to it with many still vacant buildings and creaking infrastructure. These days it is a city on the move, with construction everywhere, some of it tasteful, some of it not. In any case, it's a great city to explore and you can do this either with our guides or under your own steam. We even have an audio tour on our app that you can use to explore by cycle rickshaw. The day is completely free, so only breakfast is provided.
We cruise a little way up the river this morning to get to the optimal start point of the ride. The riding today is remarkably different from the Vietnamese side of the border. We are on solid, less irrigated ground and more sparsely populated than before. The roads are mostly hard-packed dirt and still with minimal traffic. The people we encounter are very keen for a chat and will always call out words of encouragement for your efforts.
The non riders will spend the morning exploring the river islands just a little way up the river where they'll visit silk and cotton weaving workshops, operated by families as a side business to their farming. From here, we'll cruise up the Tonle Sap River to meet the riders. Due to timing today, the riders and non riders won't re-join until the mid afternoon.
Our anchor point this evening is in a very remote area, just by a small village community who are no doubt keen to invite you in for a rice wine tasting session, oh and it helps if you can sing.
This morning we leave the ship and transfer by vehicle towards the northern area of Cambodia. We have lunch at a great little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, then start our ride from one of the remote temple sites, Phnom Bok. The ride this afternoon is an unforgettable one as we pedal down small dirt roads past 800 year old temple ruins, interspersed by tiny villages with houses often made out of palm leaves and bamboo.
The non riders will linger at some of these sites, including the Royal Baths area and a lovely shaded temple nearby.
We arrive into Siem Reap in the late afternoon, check into our very comfortable, well located hotel and then head out for an evening on the town. Meals: BLD
Today is less about the riding and more about temples. The riders and non riders will follow a similar program, meaning that you will all get to explore each key temple together. In between the non riders will travel by an open air vehicle called a 'took took', a nice, relaxed way to move. The riders will cycle down hidden forest trails, passing the walls and moat of the ancient city and hopefully sighting some birds and other wildlife that is starting to repopulate the park.
We do make a very early start to see sunrise over Angkor which is a must. This means that we get out on the ride early and are done by lunchtime, leaving the afternoon for you to enjoy the pool.
Our final dinner will be in a special restaurant that is considered one of the best in town, where we get to enjoy some sophisticated, traditional Khmer cuisine.
Conclusion of the Tour
The tour winds up after breakfast. There is plenty to do in Siem Reap if you have the time to stay on. Otherwise, we'll have a driver ready to take you to the airport for your flight.
What's the Riding Like?
Mostly flat terrain
7 days riding
The riding is entirely flat. It is on a great variety of surfaces, ranging from concrete to hard packed dirt and even a few forest trails around Angkor. At pretty much all times, traffic will be a rarity, allowing you to engage with the locals as you go, stopping for a chat or a photo opp as you wish. Riders will be provided the route on their devices so that if you wish to take your time you can. We will also have a support team in tow that you can call on if needed.
Coolest time: Nov-Feb
Wettest time: Jun-Oct
Our favourite: Jul-Aug
The coolest time of year is from November to February with temperatures rising to a peak in April and May. With the arrival of the rains in June temperatures drop, with rain falling mainly in the afternoons in short, heavy showers. September and October are the wettest months with a return to dry conditions in November.
A combination of lower numbers of tourists, sharp light and refreshing showers make July and August a great time to cycle in this part of Indochina. Aboard the Toum Tiou, we avoid the harshest heat of the afternoons in style.
Extend Your Stay
Why not add a couple of nights before and after your trip?
Siem Reap is a great place to spend a few days. We offer an exciting range of day tours here that combine very well with the Angkor to Saigon ride. These depart daily and are best booked in advance to avoid disappointment.
If you are planning to stay longer in Siem Reap, we can book you extra nights at our preferred hotel or you can find a huge range of hotels online through our friends at agoda.com:
This is an exciting and vibrant city that deserves at least a day or two of your time. There are various activities, including food tours and tours of the back alleys by motor-scooter. We also offer a one day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels.
For hotels, Agoda is a great place to start. The range in this city is substantial.
What our guests tell us...
Don't take our word for it, listen to what guests say about our tours!