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Enjoy the incredible adventure of traveling around Cambodia by bike! Cambodia is an amazing country to cycle across. From the chaos of the Phnom Penh to the calm of the countryside, Cambodia is easy to fall in love with. The days are long, the country is hot, and the people are super friendly, from the constant and random “hello” from the children on the side of the road to the community development programs set up by the truly selfless and unsung heroes of this world. The pace of the tour is relaxed and casual. There’s always time to stop for a photo and you'll rarely cycle more than two days in a row. When the journey is just as good as the destination, there’s no need to rush!
Social Cycles understands how important it is to take rest in a place that’s clean and comfortable, especially after a hard slog on the bikes. That’s why Social Cycles always make an effort to get you settled in somewhere in town suited to that description. Where they can, they will organize boutique style hotel accommodation for everyone (with a pool) because quite frankly, you deserve it. You’ll always be in an air-conditioned room (where possible). Social Cycles will also make sure that a massage is not far away.
You will arrive and stay in the heart of the cosmopolitan lifestyle that has been thrust on Siem Reap since the country has opened up to the outside world. Tourism is opening new markets, opportunities, revenue streams, and challenges for the local area. After Social Cycles pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel, you will take some time to relax or explore the city before you meet for a welcome dinner. Dinner is at one of Siem Reaps best restaurants, Marum. It's part of the Friends International social enterprise projects, providing vocational training for marginalized youth.
During the sunrise from 04:30, you hit the bikes for the first time, but it is so worth it. Sunrise over Angkor Wat is a bucket list achievement for good reason. From here, you'll venture on to other and arguably more impressive temples in the area for the remaining of the morning. In the early afternoon, you'll have the chance to visit Social Cycles' first NGO of the trip. You will spend time with these incredibly inspirational people that have dedicated their lives to helping others, hear their stories and understand what the real issues of the country are.
Traveling across the wetlands and navigating your way around Tonle Sap river is an experience you will never forget. The road soon turns to single track as it gets more and more remote. You will farewell the support van and venture on into the rural and barren lands of Cambodia. Few villages exist out here, supporting themselves through sustainable fishing methods via the river. The track can only go so far, as you arrange a long tail boat ride for you and the bikes for a further 16 kilometers into the wetlands. When you come out the other side, you cross another 18 kilometers of dirt road before eventually coming into Battambang.
Battambang is a common favorite on the trip. Packed with cafes that are proudly displaying local art, the town is considered an emergence of young talent in a field that was virtually wiped out by the Khmer Rouge. Battambang is also great for shopping, with colonial style streets and hidden secrets where bric-a-brac abounds. Dinner is in another social enterprise based restaurant that produces food on par with anything in any Australian city.
After an early breakfast, you'll make your way along the dusty red back roads via Banan Temple. You'll get to the town of Pursat by early afternoon and check in to your hotel to enjoy the swimming pool and on-site massage spa. You'll get a great experience from an amazing NGO, Sustainable Cambodia, to have a full presentation by the executives in their office and a tour of their facilities. Shortly after, you will be guided to see their projects working for first hand. See the difference the NGO makes first hand and be inspired by the real difference made by real people.
You will start cycling 75 kilometers out from Phnom Penh and ride all the way up to the front door of the hotel. The back roads bring in some of the most spectacular scenery as you pass through villages living on Tonle Sap lake. The ride takes in great coffee stops, endless photo opportunities, and a couple of ferries. It's almost entirely on back streets with minimal traffic. The final two kilometers within the heart of the city can be transferred via van as an option. For dinner, it's a feast of tarantulas and silk works at the famous Romdeng restaurant, a social enterprise restaurant from the Friends International team.
You'll start the day by meeting the incredible people at Friends International and learning about all the wonderful work they do within the community and how they're spreading their strategies across the world. This is a great insight into the real local everyday issues from real local everyday heroes. From the office, you venture towards the Russian market and then move to Tuol Sleng, also known as S-21 Genocide Museum. This devastating chapter of the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian history is emotionally challenging but strongly recommended. There is some free time in the afternoon to process your day, whilst you'll meet again for a local Khmer BBQ dinner.
It's time to say goodbye. All good things must come to an end! Social Cycles will help you get your way to the airport or assist in your travel plans any way they can. Enjoy your breakfast, squeeze in one more massage, or just find a great cafe to watch the world go by before your onward destination.
Itinerary changes are going to happen. It’s just in the nature of adventure. Things happen that just cannot be controlled or accounted for, especially when you get off the beaten track. However, Social Cycles will do their best to give you as much notice as possible, upgrade you where they can or just give you an all-round amazing time. Social Cycles asks for your patience and understanding when they need to alter the cycling route due to weather or terrain changes and some of which you won’t know until you get there. All changes will be made in your best interest, with health and safety taking priority.
Bike hire is included in the package price. You can bring your own or book it with Social Cycles should you choose, but there is no difference in the price. In Cambodia, Social Cycles uses Reid X-Trail 26 (and some X-Trail 29’s) mountain bikes to get you through some of the tough terrain that awaits. As most of the riding is off the beaten track, the front suspension makes for a much more supportive ride. Flick the mechanical lock-out and the Suntour XCT 100 millimeters travel fork becomes rigid, ideal for fast climbs and hard sprinting.
When the trail points down, there is powerful mechanical disc brakes, 24-speed Shimano gearing, and 2.10-inch tires for your power and control. Reid X-Trails feature tough alloy Alex DH-17 double-walled rims with stainless steel spokes and KT quick release hubs. This makes up a light, robust, and reliable wheelset. All bikes come equipped with a water cage, but for hygienic reasons, you’ll need your own water bottle.
When you embark on an 85-kilometer day, the distance can seem quite daunting. However, an early start for 07:00 and an estimation of 16:00 arrival gives you hours to get there. And two hours of extra daylight up your sleeve if you need it. Traveling by bicycle is not about the destination, but the journey. You’ll stop for Khmer and Vietnamese coffees, local treats, lunch, and of course, to take plenty of pictures.
When you are moving, the average pace is about 20 kilometers per hour but that is flexible depending on the confidence of the group. The small group policy means it’s easier for all of you to stay together. You don’t need to be super fit for this ride, you just need to be positive.
Social Cycles takes a minimum of four riders and a maximum of 12. Social Cycles strongly believes that when you travel with a group beyond 12, there is a risk that voices and opinions may be drowned out when you have the rare opportunities to visit NGOs and ask questions to local leaders. If you’d like to book a private tour with you and your friends, please contact Social Cycles.
Social Cycles will conduct in-depth cycling briefings on all tours, before all rides. Different countries have different road rules (written and unwritten), so it’s imperative that all riders are focused and pay attention during these times. You’ll go through the terrain, traffic conditions, and distance for every ride, but you’ll also cover road rules, hand signals, group cycling etiquette and best practice, and cycling pace and timing.
All Social Cycles routes are undertaken on quiet back roads. They do not cycle on highways. Unless specified, Social Cycles takes the support van out of and into major cities. All bikes are serviced in between tours. A mechanic is present at all times during all tours and on all rides should there be any issues with the bikes.
You must wear your helmet any time you are on your bicycle and wear complete shoes whilst cycling. Gloves and padded shorts are recommended. The bikes do not come with any lights. Therefore, cycling at night is not permitted. You are responsible for your own safety at all times during the tour.
Friends International is leading the charge in the ‘Child Safe’ movement and the ‘Think Families, not orphanages’ campaign. Friends International have an office in Phnom Penh which makes for a great introduction to Cambodia. Chumkriel Language School is an incredible organization that goes so far beyond teaching a language. In Vietnam, you may have the chance to visit some of the bigger organizations and see how their system helps the community. Social Cycles often visits a variety of different organizations. If there is one in particular you would like to learn more about, please let Social Cycles know and they’ll make it happen.
For every Social Cycles tour, all riders are requested to contribute a nominal sum for the purpose of a donation, usually a 200 USD per rider. During the course of the tour, you are given the chance to engage with and learn from the local NGOs. You'll visit no less than three NGOs during the Cambodia tour and spend some time learning about their projects, strategies, and challenges.
At the end of the tour, the riders are then empowered with new found knowledge and have the opportunity to combine the allotted donation money and make an impact on a project of their choosing. In addition to building a profile for the impact partners, Social Cycles also pays each NGO for their time and resources. You spend one to two hours with each NGO.
Hoem is an all-around Khmer superstar! With a passion for people and his country, nothing is too much trouble for this guy! He is a crowd favorite and a good friend. He is also a translator / guide / driver. Hoem has been with Social Cycles from their very first tour and gives testament to the value of local knowledge. He will make sure that you see the real Cambodia.
This tour will take you to Siem Reap, Pursat town, and Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
The best part about cycling from one country to another is to cycle through the various regions of food along the way. This is slow travel at its best as Cambodia offers salt lakes and pepper farms, fresh crab markets in Kep, and tarantulas in Phnom Penh (optional). The markets are like a walking degustation of stick food. At the dinners, Social Cycles will always order 'family style', ensuring everybody gets to try as much as possible. There is also an opportunity to have a home-cooked family dinner with Hoem, your local guide.
Dehydration is potentially one of the biggest risks in cycling adventures as it is often the least considered. The countries you ride through are often humid and dehydration can creep up on you. All bikes are fitted with at least one water cage. You are advised to bring your own water bottle. You should be drinking somewhere between two and four liters of water each day of riding. It’s advisable to carry hydraulic to assist in hydration, but if you drink enough water, early enough, you should not need it. The van carries a drum of water at all times, available for refilling your water bottle.
Food poisoning is the most common cause of illness during travel. Sometimes it is due to the local hygiene of the food, but can also be from cross-contamination (from your hand) or simply due to a change in diet. Social Cycles recommends bringing hand sanitizer for use before meals to reduce risk. You should only eat in restaurants that are busy and have a high turnover of customers, and therefore food. If possible, try and inspect the kitchen. Foods that are cooked to order generally carry less risk (fried rice is better than rice from a ‘buffet’). Ice is generally safe to consume in all countries Social Cycles visits, although do not drink water from the tap.
There's always a massage nearby for a well-earned reward after cycling.
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