Cycling in Cambodia

General: Ah, Cambodia! The roads are rough, the dust is out of control and pretty much everything outside of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is falling apart.
It's the Wild West of Southeast Asia, but, hey! fellow cyclist, there's a little bit of Lee van Cleef in all of us! If you're looking for some good, solid riding off the backpacker track, Cambodia may be the place to go.

A warning: Even along the main highways, Cambodia can get rough and difficult on a bike. Newbies take note.
Traffic: Chaotic, but thankfully, not that much of it. It's only when you approach Phnom Penh that it gets busy, but even this is nothing to compare with Thailand or Vietnam. Besides trucks, cars and pickups, there's a weird assortment of homemade vehicles cobbled together out of spare parts. It's a little like Mad Max (The Road Warrior). Quite a show.

Dust: "There's a lot of dust in Cambodia!" said Mrs Rattha, at the Chaktomuk Guest House in Kra Lanh. Dust is probably the main problem for the cyclist in Cambodia. Mercifully there isn't a lot of traffic, but when trucks and cars do go by they kick up immense clouds of fine powder that gets in your eyes and mouth. At it's worst it's a total brownout, but most of the time it's just gritty and annoying. After a day on the road, you'll be looking forward to a shower. It follows that in the wet season, Mrs Rattha would be saying: "There's a lot of mud in Cambodia!" and she'd be right again! Cambodia would be impossible in the wet.

Dogs: Not many, and nothing to worry about. The dogs in Cambodia are extremely laid back and pleasant. Mr Pumpy has never been chased by a dog in Cambodia. "These are my kinda dogs!" he says, whenever we pass one, which can get annoying. The main point being is that whilst the dogs may be scungey and full of germs the visiting cyclist isn't going get bitten and end up with rabies.

The bike: Because of the state of the roads, a mountain bike or tourer is best. A racer is definitely out. Also, because of the dust, you will need to clean your bike every other day to keep it ship shape.

Bike shops: There's a few bike shops in Phnom Penh, but they only stock the basics. It follows that if you're riding the latest Stealth Bike you may be in trouble, but for most of us the bike shops are adequate. Out in the regional towns there's always something approximating a bike shop, and basic spare parts and repairs are available. There's also a bunch of roadside repair guys in most towns who can tighten a nut and blow up your tyres if need be. Always cheap and friendly. I love these guys.

Distance cycled each day: When the road is good you can do your usual 100 to 150 km per day, but this may drop down to about 50 or 60 km when the going gets tough, which is often enough.
Best time to go: Avoid the monsoon (May to October), as Cambodia turns to mud. Best time to go is December through February when there's no rain. December is the cool season and probably the best time to cycle. Day temperatures sit around 25 Celsius and the nights are pleasantly balmy. By February the day temperature will be hitting 30+ Celsius and beginning to hot up.

Food and water: Cambodian food is spicy and varied and although it may not be up to Vietnamese standards, it's pretty good. In the main tourist centres the food is first class, but out in the small towns the main problem is hygiene. Out on the road, food, snacks, bottled water, sugar cane juice, Coke, ice and fruit are available in the towns and road side stalls. Every 5 to 10 km. Not a problem! 
The only exception to this is the north leg up along the Mekong to Laos. Past Steung Treng things get a little remote, and you will need to carry some supplies. See North to Laos, above, for details.source 

and check out our Cycling Tour page
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