Cycling in Angkor Wat
The ancient ruins of Angkor, once capital of the Khmer Empire, form the jewel in Cambodia’s crown. It’s difficult to emphasise how magnificent they really are unless you’ve seen them for yourself. Angkor Wat is the world’s largest temple complex; it’s roughly the size of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and – it goes without saying – an awe-inspiring architectural masterpiece. Located just a few kilometres outside the city of Siem Reap, it’s also easy to reach, and to explore, by bike.
Over 1,000 temples and other ruins draped in jungle are spread out across mostly flat terrain, linked by shaded paths. Traveling by bike offers a time-saving advantage as well as a unique perspective – many of the routes are too narrow for larger vehicles such as tuk tuks, so you won’t encounter as many people.
Our Cambodia cycling Vacations
Need to know
Need to know
Seeing Angkor Wat may well be on your personal bucket list. Unfortunately, it’s also on a lot of other people’s bucket lists too. During Cambodia’s peak travel season from November to May, the most popular sites of Angkor Wat can be jam-packed all day long, even at sunrise. The ruins are unquestionably at their most beautiful during the rainy season when the vegetation is thick and green, and the moats full of water, but even the threat of regular downpours doesn’t put much of a dent in visitor numbers. Luckily, your tour leader is bound to know the quietest times of day, as well as the and spots to get the best photos while avoiding the crowds.
Cambodia cycling itineraries typically feature just a day, or a day and a half at most in Angkor Wat, so you will really only have time to see the main points of interest. Cycling saves you plenty of time getting around, however; and just pedalling gently between locations is immensely enjoyable in itself. Do remember that in Angkor Wat, as at other religious sites, appropriate attire is required – knees and shoulders must be covered.
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Angkor Wat cycling highlights
Eric Beasant from our supplier World Expeditions on the advantages of seeing Angkor Wat by bike:
“The best part of cycling around the Angkor Archaeological Park is there are many trails which bicycles can access but not cars, and especially not the large tour buses. We can also enter and leave some temples from the rear or side entrances, letting you appreciate the quiet corners away from the large crowds. For sunrise, everyone wants the quintessential ‘sun rising behind the towers of Angkor Wat with pond reflection’ shot, which is taken from behind the Northern reflection pond. There will always be crowds, but if you're up early you can get the best spots. This also applies to temple touring in general. If you arrive at Ta Prohm when it first opens, you will have the place pretty much to yourself for the first half an hour.”
More about Cambodia cycling
Cycling vacations in Cambodia operate all year-round. The country has a wet and a dry season, and each has advantages and disadvantages for the cyclist.
Take only photos, leave only tyre tracks is the over-arching ethos of our guide to Cambodia cycling vacations.
Outside the major cities such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, daily life in Cambodia goes on much as it has done for generations.
Whether your idea of cycling heaven is gently pedaling along a riverbank, or charging up a mountain, there is a route for you in Cambodia.
A Cambodia cycling vacation can seamlessly be extended into an Indochina overland cycling tour, letting you easily cross borders into Thailand and Vietnam.
Cambodia is an exotic, illuminating and above all very welcoming destination for a cycling trip, and that goes double when the kids come along for the ride.
We’ve put together some solid-gold Cambodia cycling vacation advice from those that have already been, there, done that and bought the krama.