Pedal along the road less travelled to experience the rhythm of Southeast Asia. Follow the Mekong River through Southern Laos and Cambodia’s north, where time moves on at a slower pace. Complete the epic ride in Siem Reap, where a visit of Angkor Wat is the icing on the cake.
Explore the highlights – Wat Phou, the 4000 Islands and Xe Pian Wetlands- at a slower pace.
Pedal through the sparsely populated countryside of Cambodia, stopping to meet with local people and observe ways of life.
Step back in time with visits to 6th-14th century temples, learning about their historic roots and cultural significance.
Cycling, Southern Laos Islands to Siem Reap - 12 Days / 11 Nights
Upon arrival to Pakse, our guide and driver will be waiting. After leaving the luggage behind, begin the first cycling experience (along flat, easy terrain) around Pakse town, heading towards the UNESCO Heritage site of Wat Phou.
Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Wat Phou is a spectacular pre-Angkorian temple that sits amidst the rice fields and waterways of southern Laos. The temple was constructed in three levels: the bottom level is focused on the baray (water reservoir) and promenade, the second level features pavilions and galleries of carvings and the top level is the sanctuary. The temple served as the most important economic and political center of the region and still is one of the Lao people’s most revered temples.
Cycle back towards Champassak, along the mighty Mekong, and check into the hotel.
Welcome Dinner and Overnight at the River Resort.
Today’s cycle will start with a transfer by boat to the other side of the Mekong. Ride down the famous route 13, the only road in Laos that runs through the whole country. Upon arrival to Pathoumphone town, get closer to the life along the river and discover a charming, lesser-visited pre- Angkorian temple called Um Tomo.
Continue towards the protected area of Xe Pian Wetlands, a unique bio-diversity site in Laos and one of the most famous for bird-watching. Afterwards, check into the charming bungalow at the Kingfisher Eco Lodge and indulge in the scenery before lunch.
After lunch, walk to an ancient monastery overlooking the Xe Pian Wetlands to experience firsthand the tranquility of this beautiful, but threatened environment. Once known as the “Land of a Million Elephants”, Laos is still home to more animals than people—some 1,200 wildlife species.
Spend the evening at the atmospheric eco-lodge.
Overnight Kingfisher Eco-lodge.
Wake up early and meet the guide for a unique bird watching safari through the Wetlands. The activity will start at 06:00 and will finish around 09:30.
After breakfast at the Eco lodge, join the guide for the longest day of cycling during the trip in Laos. The ride will be on mainly flat terrain along the Mekong, heading towards the area known as Siphandon, or the 4,000 Islands. In this beautiful area the Mekong River reaches 14 kilometers wide and is dotted with thousands of islands and cascades.
Lunch will be at a local restaurant on the way.
Cross over to the biggest island in the area, Don Khong, before riding through charming rice fields and authentic Laos countryside. The lifestyle here is much more laid back and many locals make a living off agriculture and fishing.
If time allows, enjoy the hotel pool while admiring the sunset.
Dinner tonight will be taken independently. There are several restaurants nearby the hotel.
Overnight at Pon Arena.
After yesterday’s long cycling strip from the Xe Pian Wetlands, today’s cycling will be based on continuous island hopping, by both boat and bridge crossing.
In the morning, cycle around Don Khong before heading off to visit Don Det and Don Khone, two peaceful islands illustrated by plantations and simple villages.
For lunch today, enjoy a simple local lunch or take away a picnic box from the previous hotel.
The 4,000 Islands played an important role during the French Colonial rule, as they linked Laos to Cambodia and Southern Vietnam. To overpass the waterfalls, a railway and bridge were built, which today prove to be the perfect lookout point.
The next stop will be the impressive Lippi falls, which are wedged between Done Khone Island and the Cambodian border. Their original name, Tad Somphamit, means “trap spirit” as the locals believe these falls act as a trap for bad spirits.
In the late afternoon, return to Don Det to check into the resort. Enjoy a meal and a farewell dinner with the guide.
Overnight at Little Eden.
This morning, depart the 4,000 Islands area and take a boat out to Ban Nakasang. Before crossing the border, stop for a visit to the famous Khone Pha Pheng waterfalls; the largest in southeast Asia.
Upon arrival at the Laos-Cambodia border, our Laos guide will assist with immigration procedures before meeting with the Cambodian guide on the other side of the border. Estimated arrival time at border is around 10:00.
After meeting the guide and having lunch, begin the ride south toward the day’s destination of Stung Treng. During the cycle, the Mekong will slowly disappear, making way for Cambodia's verdant countryside. Despite the recent harrowing events here, this is one of the most peaceful countryside areas in all of Asia.
The landmark to look for today is a bridge spanning the Sekong River. During the river crossing, take note of the confluence of the Sekong and Mekong Rivers. Idle boats bob down the current and a few fishermen cast their nets as the sun begins to set.
Overnight at Stung Treng.
Rise early this morning for a local breakfast and begin the cycle south. The ride runs along the Mekong River for about 20 kilometres before linking up with National Road 7. There will be an hour and a half transfer before setting out on the old highway.
Before arriving at Kratie, make a short stop and hop aboard a local boat for the chance to spot the elusive Irrawaddy dolphins. Afterwards, continue the cycle for another 14km; alternatively complete the remainder of the distance by bus.
Overnight at Kratie.
Today’s ride comprises of a series of river crossings and temple visits. Start from Kratie and ride a few kilometers down to the first ferry. Upon disembarkation, head for Chhlong on a road dotted with simple, rural villages. Cross at Chhlong and take note of the somewhat unexpected mosques. The villages on this side of the river are primarily Muslim minority peoples, which are quite rare in Cambodia (a staunchly Buddhist country.)
For lunch, climb a small hill with a good view of the surrounding countryside to enjoy the packed picnic. For those who would prefer to conclude the ride here, there is an option to transfer directly to Kampong Cham.
Overnight at Kampong Cham.
Today’s goal is the route to Sambor Prey Kuk via Kampong Thmor. Recent archaeological studies have shown that these ruins, about 160 km from Angkor Wat, are part of an ancient capital city of the Chenla Empire built in the 6th and 7th century. Not much remains now but a ruined series of temples that were nearly swallowed whole by the jungle.
On the way to the ruins, pass by some more recent history. The 6th January Dam is a site built by the Khmer Rouge in 1978, which must be traversed on foot (a walk with the bikes of about 500m.)
Riding on, take note of the local Cambodians going about their daily lives. In this area, most people make their living on farms, with many villagers still using water buffalo to tend to their fields.
Overnight at Kampong Thom.
Today we avoid some of the poorer roads in Siem Reap province by transferring to Kampong Kdei. Not far from the national road is an ancient Khmer bridge that spans and even more ancient river. Despite being 800 years old, this structure still stands and, until recently, was part of the main highway.
Continue to transfer another 31km to Domdek village where the team and bikes are waiting for the 66km challenge. Cruise along back roads and historic highway connecting the province of Kampong Thom and Angkor Wat. During the ride, stop for lunch in a local restaurant.
After lunch, continue the challenge all the way to the ‘finish line’: the Western Gate of Angkor Wat. Enjoy the sights of sugar palms in open fields as the sun sets over the breathtaking scenery- the perfect end to the day.
Note: This program cycles through the temple areas, however a stop to the temples is not included in the itinerary.
A celebratory dinner will be held this evening at Viroth’s, a stylish and comfortable restaurant set in a quiet garden.
Overnight at Siem Reap.
Begin the day’s ride at the entrance of Angkor Wat, heading to Ta Prohm. One of the most picturesque temples in the complex, Ta Prohm is famous for being overgrown by trees and jungle. Continue the ride to Angkor Thom, Bayon temple and the Terrace of the Elephants.
Enjoy lunch today at the Angkor Café before exploring the biggest religious Hindu edifice in the world - Angkor Wat. Considered the masterpiece of Khmer architecture, this Vaishnavite temple is the King’s funerary temple, which is why the temple is facing west. Inside the temple, the walls are covered by carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology.
After visiting these magnificent temples, begin the cycle back to Siem Reap.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Start the day by heading to the outskirts of Siem Reap. Begin the cycle along rice fields and quiet dirt paths before coming to a tarmac road. From here, cycle to the village of Pradak, which sits in the middle of the ancient (and dry) East Baray, and old Angkorian reservoir. Continue on down quieter roads until reaching Banteay Samre. From here, continue onward around Phnom Bok and into the deep countryside.
The day’s main destination is Kbal Spean, one of the earliest Hindu pilgrimage sites in Cambodia. A moderate 3 km trek uphill through dense jungle will be rewarded with excellent views over the plains and Kulen hills. At the top, be surprised by the “River of 1,000 Lingas” with its amazing Hindu stone carvings.
Continue to Banteay Srei, the so-called “Citadel of the Women,” which remains the best preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art and is particularly known for its fine bas-reliefs. Banteay Srei is also unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor.
After the visit, cycle back to Siem Reap or return by vehicle. Freshen up at the room before enjoying one final farewell dinner.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Enjoy the day at leisure until transport is provided to the airport for the onward flight.
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