Bike tour Cambodia's best highlights
The ultimate Cambodia cycle tour. You might come to see the awe inspiring Angkor Wat temples, but you will leave with a massive appreciation of all that is Cambodia. Friendly faces, delicious food, rich culture and history, and some great riding all make this an unforgettable cycle tour.
This multi-day bike tour runs Siem Reap to Phnom Penh.
A trip with the perfect balance of history, culture, adventure, great bike touring, and an opportunity to make new friends. This adventure starts in Siem Reap where we see first-hand the feat of the ancients at Angkor Wat and its accompanying temples. We then take a journey by the most enjoyable means possible, cycle touring through this charming, captivating country.
We venture into the north of the country, the last holdout of the Maoist Khmer Rouge before peace was achieved. Here the landscapes are similar to what they were throughout the country decades ago, with sparser populations, more forest cover and red laterite roads snaking off into the distance. We pay a visit to the majestic Preah Vihear Temple atop the Dangrek Mountain Range with views over to Thailand. We see traditional farming methods still in practice and meet many friendly, hospitable people throughout the countryside. We pass through towns still sporting the remnants of French colonialism in their architecture and we see that this really is a country that may have been under-appreciated over time.
Flat terrain, back roads with no traffic, great food and warm weather are all great reasons for anyone with a curiosity about Cambodia to enjoy this bike tour. If that isn't motivation enough, then a beach finish surely is.
Peak Season Surcharge
For tours commencing from Dec 18 to Jan 4 there is a peak season surcharge of 15% on the price of this tour due to hotel rate increases at this time of year.
14 days duration
674 km distance
Difficulty: Somewhat challenging
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
What makes Grasshopper so special?
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Cannondale CX 3's are the latest addition to the Grasshopper fleet for multi-day tours based-in (or travelling through) Cambodia. They are well suited to the Grasshopper touring style and terrain typically encountered here. Fast and smooth rolling 700cc wheels, lockout front suspension and a riding position that offers a good balance of upright comfort and forward-riding efficiency make cycles on regular, rough or unpaved roads a pleasant experience for everyone. A true do-it-all bike for touring, with a class-leading lightweight build and powerful hydraulic disc brakes, the Cannondale CX 3's are a great addition to the Cambodian fleet.
Additionally, all bikes are fitted with removable handlebar bags and comfortable saddles for touring.
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 supremely 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.
An experienced English speaking, local leader will host you on this trip who is 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 country 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 in case you want a break from riding, and to carry your luggage.
Whilst Cambodian cuisine may not be as famous as that of some of its neighbours, it offers some subtle, understated flavours. 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. Our guides are experts at introducing you to the finest food. 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.
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a Grasshopper drink bottle as an extra memento.
6 to 14
This tour is guaranteed with a minimum of 6 travellers. And we limit the group size to 14 maximum 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.
This tour is 100% operated by Grasshopper Adventures. The guides are our full time employees, the hotels booked by our local office staff, and the bikes are part of our fleet of over 300 bikes. We are not outsourcing any element of this tour so you can be assured of 100% Grasshopper quality.
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 made entirely from recycled cooking oil.
for Karma Cambodia
Arrival Day in Siem Reap
As you exit the airport our driver will be waiting for you with a beaming smile. After a short drive to the hotel, you will have some time to relax before the group meeting at 5pm. Your tour leader will conduct a briefing at this time, after which you can try out your bike for size and make any necessary adjustments. An authentic culinary journey awaits to introduce you to Cambodia.
Angkor Sunrise Discovery
As first light dawns and the roosters begin to crow, you will be at the most important religious monument in the country, admiring the extraordinary temple of Angkor Wat across a reflecting pool. After the sun rises behind the triple towers, the crowds will thin out as most people return to bed or a hotel breakfast. We will make use of the cool temperatures and soft morning light to explore Angkor Wat in a more peaceful atmosphere. A delicious breakfast spread awaits us just a short pedal away, after which we continue to explore other iconic temples as well as some hidden treasures of the Angkor area. We ride some lovely back trails and even ride atop the wall of Angkor Thom temple, overlooking the moat. Lunch is had by a small lake before we cycle back to town.
Please note: Appropriate dress (knees and shoulders fully covered) is compulsory for entry into certain sections of Angkor Wat, and should also be observed throughout all temple areas for reasons of cultural sensitivity.
Cycle to Kbal Spean & Transfer to Sra Em
We start the ride in earnest today as we leave Siem Reap and cycle north on a mix of trails and backroads through shady villages and past small mountains with names owing to the temples that sit atop them. There are barely any cars on the route today, save for one section just after lunch. We stop off at Banteay Srei, the pink temple for lunch and then continue onto Kbal Spean. Kbal Spean is a waterfall and river where mythological Hindu motifs are carved into the sandstone riverbed. It is surrounded by forest and at the foot of the hill sits the ACCB Wildlife Conservation Centre. Time permitting, we will take a tour of the facility and learn more about their breeding and re-release initiatives. The sanctuary holds an impressive array of rescued birds and wildlife. After taking all this in, we have a two hour drive to reach the small town of Sra Em, where a comfortable hotel awaits.
Cycle to Preah Vihear & return
We head out straight from the hotel and it's not long before the dramatic site of the Dangrek Mountains comes into view. The watershed of this range forms the Cambodia-Thailand border for most of northern Cambodia east of the Mekong. We park the bikes at the foot of the mountains and take the ancient staircase to reach the temple. Ancient it may be, but a sturdy and easily walkable wooden staircase has been added to aid tourism, so this is a nice walk that avoids the busier road route and provides some lovely views. The temple is orientated to what is now Thailand and the remnants of a long simmering dispute are visible in the form of trenches and bunkers dug into the hill and old, rusted firepower pointing in the direction of the neighbours. We spend a couple of hours exploring this World Heritage Site. The majority of visitors to the site are Khmer people who have travelled by road from far away to see the handiwork of their ancestors. This makes for some fun conversation along the way. Lunch is had in a little restaurant nearby and we then descend the hill in the back of a pickup truck to find our bikes. We do ride back by the same route, so the option exists to take the vehicle back for those who have had enough activity for one day. The hotel pool awaits, as does a substantial dinner.
Visit Sambor Prei Kuk & Cycle to Kampong Thom
We make a slow start this morning so you can enjoy a sleep in, a good breakfast and perhaps a swim. We then drive around two hours to reach the shaded ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk. For those who may be concerned about becoming "templed out", we would like to assure you that this also serves as a nice venue for a picnic in the shade and the peaceful surrounds. For those who are interested, we take a short exploratory walk, and then we hit the bikes. It is warm as we start, but the day cools off mid-afternoon and by the time we roll into the provincial capital of Kampong Thom, the sun will be low in the sky and the BBQ restaurants will be emitting tasty aromas. A simpler but still perfectly comfortable hotel awaits.
Transfer & Cycle to Kampong Cham
Again a drive is necessary to set us up for a great ride, but this is a short oneand we will be on the bikes by 8am. We then ride the backroads and trails through plantation country where cassava, rubber and various other cash crops are grown. The crops are punctuated by small villages that have occupied the land for a very long time with wooden stilt houses sitting in the shade of large trees. The surface is mixed today. We start out on dirt roads, but then have some time on a secondary, paved road that takes us all the way to the Mekong River. We then ride a paved road of slightly lesser quality through the riverside villages as we trace the river south into Kampong Cham, a town of greater size to the last one. Our hotel again is somewhat simple, but clean and comfortable, looking out over the Mekong River which is in excess of 700m wide at this point.
Cycle to Phnom Penh
With the majority of our car time behind us, today is a door to door ride. There are few capital cities in Asia where you can ride right up to the door of your hotel after experiencing minimal traffic. We follow the Mekong River again today. The inhabitants of the riverbank villages are mostly Muslim Cham people, descendants of the former Kingdom of Champa that occupied much of what is now south/central Vietnam. The villages are typically made up of small, wooden stilt houses. The families in these communities raise cattle and catch fish from the river. As the water level drops, they make use of the fertile soil on the banks to grow chilli peppers, sesame and peanuts. We have a mixture of terrain today, with mostly well-made, recently-paved roads, but one section of rougher dirt and gravel. We enjoy a picnic lunch in the grounds of a modern-day temple and then push on to the ferry port with Phnom Penh on the far bank of the river. Arriving by this route is such a surprise. One minute you are riding through riverside villages with cows next to you, the next moment you are riding past the Royal Palace with a Range Rover at your side. Such are the contrasts of Cambodia. Our centrally located hotel allows us to walk through the vibrant riverside area to reach one of the best restaurants in the city.
Rest Day in Phnom Penh
When the French first came to Cambodia, it is said that Phnom Penh consisted of the palace and a couple of rows of wooden shacks along the river. When King Sihanouk negotiated independence from the French, the city was considered a beautiful one with a deliberate street plan, an iconic central market and broad boulevards filled with Renaults, Citroens and cycle rickshaws known as Cyclos. That is not to say that Phnom Penh owes its aesthetics to the colonialists. The Golden Era of the 60's saw various landmark buildings constructed, with the father of Cambodian contemporary architecture Van Molwyn shaping them under commission by Prime Minister, later President and King Sihanouk.
Once the Golden era came to an end, the ensuing years have resulted in a city that still exhibits some of the shattered charm that inspired many early expats and returned Khmers to open bars and restaurants in the old French buildings. Today, a rush towards progress has added a layer of modern buildings and brought many cars and motorbikes to fill the streets. There is much to see in a day; with the aid of an enthusiastic tuk tuk driver, you can explore the central market, the palace, and perhaps the sombre exhibits of the Killing Fields and S21 Genocide Museum. Or you may opt for a day of pampering and recovery, something that the spas and cafes of Phnom Penh make an art form of.
Transfer & Cycle to Kirrirom
A drive of about 1.5 hours allows us to miss out on the dense traffic of the city. By the time we hit the bikes, we are back out in the open spaces of rice growing country. We saddle up and ride to the Chombak Commune. Here the villagers have embarked on an eco-tourism initiative, using the nearby waterfall as a drawcard to bring adventurous travellers to their doorstep. The hope is that by hosting some guests and bringing some alternative income into the community, the lure of poaching or logging in the nearby forest is reduced. We visit the waterfall and enjoy lunch, before we pedal onto Kirirom National Park. There is an optional hill climb as we draw near to the hotel, but the vehicle will take those who might be averse to hill climbs to the top. A peaceful and cooler place, the recently constructed accommodation is comfortable and welcoming.
Cycle & Transfer to Sihanoukville
A morning walk of the hilltop is highly recommended. After breakfast we will take a ride around the park to visit the waterfall, the former Royal Residence and to see the pine trees that are a curious but purposeful addition to the landscape. There is a mountain biking trail for those with the skills and in the late morning, we can enjoy the descent back to the flatlands. Once we reach the highway, we load up and drive one and a half hours to reach quieter roads. We then ride into Sihanoukville through the back entrance, passing white, sandy beaches and aqua water on our way. We also pass the port facility and arrive at our comfortable resort with its private beach in the late afternoon. There are various excellent restaurant options in Sihanoukville, so the choice is yours.
Cycle to Kampot
The achievement day. It's time to draw on that conditioning that you have accumulated over the last ten days and put it into use for another great door to door ride. We start out by following the coast to the undeveloped end of Sihanoukville, then ride up into the hinterland with views back over the gulf. After a little inland riding, it's back to the water to ride through a couple of small fishing villages near Ream National Park. We push on and ride inland again on small roads. As our bellies grumble for lunch, an imposing mountain comes into view. Actually it is a range in itself, the Elephant Mountains and the peak that is in sight is Bokor Mountain. We spend the afternoon skirting around the base of the mountain on a well-made road and roll into the sleepy little town of Kampot where a heritage building has been converted into a comfortable hotel.
Cycle to Kep
Kampot is a pleasant little town, situated on a river inlet with some good examples of French period architecture and a Chinese settler heritage. For those with tired legs, massages are available and there are some good cafes. For those with the energy, a visit to the top of Bokor is a possibility. Here an old casino is perched near some truly amazing views down over the sea..
In the afternoon, we ride on backroads past a secret lake to reach the little seaside town of Kep. A completely different vibe pervades here to Sihanoukville. We stay in a tasteful, boutique property and enjoy fresh seafood for dinner.
Cycle & Transfer to Phnom Penh
Our last ride starts from the doorstep of the accommodation. We head back to the inland trails and spend the rest of the morning on these. We pass by limestone karsts and remote villages where locals are farming rice and tending to buffalo. This will have become such a regular scene that you are sure to leave Cambodia with it etched in your memory. We finish up with one last picnic and then drive into Phnom Penh for our final night of the tour where a feast befitting our achievements awaits.
Conclusion of tour in Phnom Penh
The tour concludes after breakfast. If you are going to the airport, we will have a car waiting, or perhaps you are staying on in Cambodia.
What's the Riding Like?
Mostly flat terrain
Some sandy trails
11 days riding
The terrain is a mix of sealed and unsealed roads, tracks and trails. Unsealed roads account for around 60% of the riding and the rest is on paved roads. It is our aim to deliver as much traffic-free track and trail as possible, but at times we do need to resort to secondary roads. We spend no more than 20km over the whole tour on anything resembling a highway. The riding is easily achievable for those who are comfortable controlling a bike. There are only a few short hills at times, but for the most part, this is a very flat ride. You must be comfortable riding in quite hot conditions and it is highly recommended to get some practice on unsealed surfaces with a little loose sand and gravel as this will help you feel more confident at times on this ride. There is always a support vehicle on hand to give you a lift if you need a break from the riding.
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 Cambodia.
What our guests tell us...
Just a selection of our great reviews!
A wonderful experience. Cycling is definitely the way to see a country and Grasshopper Adventures are the ones to take you there. A trip I will remember for a long time.
A fantastic tour that has changed my future holiday and MTB riding plans!
It was - simply put - one of the most rewarding, relaxing and insightful holidays that we have done. The magic of cycling is that it forces you to slow down. Life just starts to drift along as you have time to unpack your mind while taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the village life
What an insight to life in Cambodia, from the flashing lights of Phnom Penh to the humbling life in the many rural villages we rode through. A beautiful land of smiles, greetings of "hello" from 100's of gorgeous children, we have been educated, cared for, well fed, always felt safe, and thoroughly enjoyed the company of our attentive and fun tour crew. We loved Karma Cambodia!
A well planned and executed trip that uncovers the joys of life in Cambodia from the ancient temples to the rustic countryside teeming with wonderful young children whose encouragement and choruses of hellos kept us going on the ride.
Video testimony from other tours...
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