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Bangkok - Khao Yai National Park
Day ride on jungle roads and trails near Khao Yai
Today's route is over 80 kms, but we suggest you don't attempt to cycle the full distance unless you are well acclimatised to the heat. The support vehicle will follow you throughout the day, and you can cycle as much or as little as you like. The route follows minor roads, byways and the occasional dirt trail as you skirt Khao Yai, which translates as 'the Big Mountain'. Ride through small villages, past monasteries and paddy fields. Continue the ride along country roads and arrive back to the hotel in the late afternoon with time to relax before sampling some of the local dishes. Ride approx. 60 km.
Cycle to Sa Keaw
Today, 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 you join a busier road, before driving the final short distance to the town of Sa Keaw by bus. Ride approx. 67km.
Ride to Aranyaprathet
It's an early start this morning as you ride towards the beautiful Pang Sida National Park, where you'll stop by a reservoir for a swim and a view of the untouched jungle on the other side. Lunch is served at a wildlife sanctuary, before you continue cycling on quiet, well-maintained scenic roads on the way to Aranyaprathet, 10km from the Cambodian border.
Into Cambodia and on to Siem Reap
After breakfast, drive to the border of Cambodia at Poipet. On arrival to Cambodia, continue the drive to the pretty river town of Siem Reap - the gateway to Siem Reap.
Due to years of civil war the country is poorer and less developed, and this is immediately obvious 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 afternoon's ride from Siem Reap takes you 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 40-50km.
Today is the first of two full days you'll have to explore the temple complex of Angkor by bus and bike, including Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, the Bayon and Banteay Srei.
The various temples are spread over a wide area, and are linked by shady avenues: meandering your way between them by bike gives you a unique perspective. Your 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 30-35km.
Today, cycle outside the main Angkor complex to the outlying temple of Banteay Srei, 35km from Siem Reap town. Your route takes you 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 you cycle back to Siem Reap, you 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 interesting stalls 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. The full distance to and from Banteay Srei is 70 km.
Drive to Phnom Penh, stopping at Skuon
Today, travel by bus along National Road 6 to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. Along the way you'll stop in the town Skuon, which is known for its local delicacy of fried spiders. You 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 your stay, you'll visit two sites, which give 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. The 'Killing Fields', 15 kms of out of town, is 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 and while in the city you'll tour the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda. You can also visit the 'Russian' market and the lively Mekong waterfront area.
Takeo then cycle to Vietnam border and Chau Doc
This morning you'll head south from Phnom Penh to the town of Takeo. Here the road becomes quieter and you'll mount your bikes for the 36km ride to the Phnom Den / Tinh Bien border. Once border formalities have been completed you'll meet your Vietnamese leader and cycle approximately 28km to Chau Doc.
Drive and cycle through the Mekong Delta to Vinh Long
Travel by road to Long Xuyen where you'll take a public ferry across the river. From here, ride along a lovely quiet backroad, lined with small villages and dwellings, towards Vinh Long.
Leaving the bikes on the mainland, you'll take another boat (20 mins) to reach your homestay on an island in the Mekong delta, known as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam. After settling in, 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 you have dinner at the homestay and enjoy some 'Delta' hospitality. 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.
Cai Be, cycle along Mekong riverbank, transfer to Saigon
Next day, depart 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, make a short stop to see local cottage industries producing such items as popped rice, popcorn and other homemade products.
Continue by bus to Cai Lay where you'll 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. 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.
Ho Chi Minh
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