This journey takes us through three countries with divergent histories and subtly different cultures. From the bustling streets of Bangkok, to the serene tranquillity of the shimmering paddy fields, to the magnificence of Angkor’s temples, we see a little piece of everything these amazing countries have to offer. In Vietnam we enter the Mekong Delta, a spectacular patchwork of rice paddies and waterways. Our journey climaxes in Saigon where the frenetic pace and vibrant street life contrasts starkly with the rural areas we have cycled through, and will leave a lasting impression.
Arrival Bangkok. Free time to explore some of the frenetic capital. There will be a group meeting and briefing in the evening followed by an optional group dinner for those that would like to join. Please bring your main luggage excluding your bike clothing, overnight bag & valuables to the meeting as they will be transferred to the cycling start point.
Early morning transfer to Khao Yai N.P, the start point of our cycling. Our route today is over 80 kms, but we suggest you don't attempt to cycle the full distance unless you are well acclimatized to the heat. The support vehicle follows us throughout the day, and you can cycle as much or as little as you like. Our route follows minor roads, byways and the occasional dirt trail as we skirt Khao Yai, which translates as 'the Big Mountain'. We will pass through small villages, past monasteries and paddy fields. Continuing the ride along country back roads we arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon with time to relax before sampling some of the local dishes. Ride approx. 60 km.
Today we follow minor roads through Thai rural landscapes including rubber and eucalyptus plantations as well as tapioca and rice fields, there are a few easy rolling hills, but the route is mostly flat.The ride ends when we join a busier road before driving the final short distance to the town of Sa Keaw by bus. Ride approx. 90km.
Leaving our hotel early in the morning, we ride towards the beautiful Pang Sida National Park, where we can stop by a reservoir for a swim and a view of the untouched jungle on the other side. We will stop for lunch at a wildlife sanctuary before carrying on cycling on quiet, but well-maintained scenic roads on the way to Aranyaprathet, 10km from the Cambodian border. Ride approx. 85km.
After breakfast we drive to the busy border and complete customs formalities as we cross into Cambodia at Poipet. We then drive to Siem Reap. Due to years of civil war the country is poorer and less developed, and this is immediately obvious to us from the state of the roads. Apart from growth in the capital and around Siem Reap, the way of life in the countryside is still very much the same as it has been for centuries. This afternoons ride from Siem Reap cycles past Wat Athvea a modern temple in the grounds of the ruins of an Angkorian temple finishing up at a market and picnic area outside of Siem Reap. Ride approx 20km.
Today we may choose to have an early start to avoid the inevitable crowds drawn to the wonders of Angkor. The various temples are spread over a wide area, and are linked by shady avenues: meandering our way between them by bike gives us a unique perspective. Our cycle tour will include the jungle-covered Ta Prohm, with the amazing roots of the Fromagier trees clinging to the ancient stones; the largest complex of Angkor Thom, which includes the Terrace of the Leper Kings; the famous Bayon temple with its 37 towers (originally there were 49) topped with the four faces of the king; and of course the incredible Angkor Wat, with its huge moat, long causeway and massive towers - it is the largest temple complex in Asia. Ride approx 25-30km.
Today we cycle outside the main Angkor complex to the outlying temple of Banteay Srei, 35km from Siem Reap town. Our route takes us past paddy fields, and through pretty villages. Banteay Srei was built in the 10th century and contains some of the finest examples of Khmer sculpture. Although much smaller than the later temples, here all of the buildings are covered in exquisite carvings. In the afternoon as we cycle back to Siem Reap we can stop and visit a few of the less visited Angkor temples.
Siem Reap town is pleasant to wander around; the market has plenty of interest and excellent shopping, and there is a vibrant nightlife.This afternoon there should also be time to visit the Tonle Sap Lake, which is a branch of the Mekong River. This optional trip includes a boat trip to see the floating fishing villages. Anyone wanting to do this visit may need to miss part or all of the ride back to Siem Reap, depending on timings. Ride approx 70 km, if riding the full distance to and from Banteay Srei.
Today we take a bus journey of approx. 7 hours along National Road 6 to Phnom Penh. We will have a couple of stops, one in the town Skuon, which is known for its local delicacy of fried spiders. The road is currently undergoing some resurfacing so some sections will be a bit of a bumpy ride! We should arrive in Phnom Penh for late afternoon, the perfect time for a sundowner on the Mekong.
The fortunes of Phnom Penh have shifted dramatically during its history and the terrible years of the Khmer Rouge and subsequent civil war through 1970s and 1980s have scarred the country. During our stay we visit two sites, which give us a vivid impression of some of the horrors. There is the Genocide Museum, which is the former Khmer Rouge prison known as S-21 or Tuol Sleng, in the centre of the city. 15 kms of out of town is the area known as the 'Killing Fields' a mass grave and execution site for the former inmates of S-21. While visiting these gruesome spots may not appeal to everyone, we feel they give us an important understanding of what the country and its people had to endure just a few decades ago.
On a more positive note, the city is very much on the rise again and is a fascinating place with fine examples of French colonial architecture. We tour the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda. There is also excellent shopping at the 'Russian' market, and the lively Mekong waterfront area, where our hotel is located.
This morning we transfer south out of Phnom Penh to the town of Takeo. Here the road becomes quieter and we mount our bikes for the 36km ride to the Phnom Den / Tinh Bien border. Once border formalities have been completed we meet our Vietnamese leader and cycle approximately 28km to Chau Doc.
A morning transfer by road to Long Xuyen where we take a public ferry across the river. From here we ride along a lovely quiet backroad, lined with small villages and dwellings, towards Vinh Long. Leaving the bikes on the mainland, we take another boat (20 mins) to reach our homestay on an island in the Mekong delta, known as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam. After settling in we can explore the area on foot. The rivers and canals of the Mekong delta form an amazing network of waterways. The area is famous for its abundant rice production, but in many areas farmers are now moving to more profitable fish-farming, and fruit and vegetable growing. The evening is tranquil as we have dinner at the homestay and enjoy some 'Delta' hospitality. We spend the night sleeping at a simple guesthouse built in the style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided. Ride approx 50km.
We leave by boat, stopping en route for a look at the Cai Be floating market. Here large boats moor up in the Mekong River, weighed down with fruit and veg produce. Local traders and shop owners buy in bulk in this strictly 'wholesale' market. A little further on we make a short stop to see local cottage industries producing such items as popped rice, popcorn and other homemade products. We continue by bus to Cai Lay where we take a scenic ride through fruit orchards and along the Mekong riverbank. Back on the bus in My Tho, we drive on to the heat, hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, still usually known as Saigon. This is an exciting and absorbing city where scooters pack the streets and temples stand defiantly alongside modern developments. Devastated by the Vietnam War, it is now a free market city where anything goes. Our hotel is in the heart of this incredible city. Ride approx 35km.
The whole day is free to explore Saigon, do some shopping and to relax. There are a number of interesting things to see - the Saigon River, Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral are all within easy walking distance. Alternatively a short cyclo ride will take you to the War Remnants Museum with an interesting (if a little gruesome) photographic record of the Vietnam/American War. For those that are interested your leader can arrange an optional visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels, located 2 hours outside the city. Used by the Viet Cong during the war the network covers 3 levels and approximately 240km of tunnels. Originally these were very narrow but some areas have been widened to allow tourists to explore the system. Claustrophobes may prefer to stay outside in the sunshine!
The trip ends after breakfast in Saigon.
-English speaking guides
-Ground transport with air-conditioned vehicle as required
-All entrance fees to tour sites
-2 bottles of water/person/day on tour
-Cold towels during the tour
-Meal as indicated
-Visa and visa fees
-Personal expenses, such as laundry, camera, telephone, etc….
-Tips and gratuities
-Compulsory dinner for Christmas and New Years Eve
-All other expenses not mentioned in the above inclusions
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