Everybody who has ever traveled with me knows that I love to stay active during my holidays. So I am always looking for nice ways to combine sightseeing with any Kind of sport, whether it is running through the streets of Phnom Phenn or as in this Case renting some old rusty bikes and bicycling along the beautiful Angkor temples. Before I arrived I had already done my research looking up all different companies that offered mountain bike tours to explore the temples. However with price tags of 40-50 US Dollar they were all really pricey and hence kinda out of my budget. But as soon as I arrived and wandered through the streets of Siem Reap I saw bike rentals everywhere and with 1 US Dollar per day definitely backpacker budget friendly in my budget . I also got more than lucky during the day meeting two other funny and lovely girls the same day that were more than happy to join me on my adventure the following day.
So we decided to meet up at 9 am the next day in order to rent some bikes and make our way to the temples of Angkor. I would recommend to leave aound this time as the majority of minibuses and tuk-tuks leave the city at around 8.30 am, so the traffic during the 8 km bike ride to the temples is not too crazy, cuz let me tell you the traffic on Cambodian streets is pure chaos. At the Angkor temples there are two main routes you can take, the small circuit which includes the biggest and most well-known temples such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (home to Bayon- best known as the temple with an more than 200 smiling stone faces and Baphuon a three-tiered temple mountain with an stretching walkway), Ta Phrom (also known as the temple featured in Tomb Raider) as well as several other sights which are all approximately 15 minutes away from each other. The big circuit includes a lot more smaller and less frequented places, however please note that distances between the different sights is also greater as it can take up to 30 minutes before you will reach the next temple. We covered the small circuit on our first day and hence thought it would be a great idea to ride the big tour on the second day and it absolutely was the right decision. We drove past the big temple complexes of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom and found a beautiful little temple that we had completely to ourselves so used the chance to hike up the temple, enjoy the view and silence without any other tourists around, which is pretty rare considering more than 6,000 thousand people visit the temples on a daily basis.
The rest of the day we just drove around the ruins like crazy people, got lost a couple of times, visited the same temple three times only to find out why everything looked so familiar after we actually left the temple and saw the name of it and of course escaping from the obligatory 50 man and women strong tourist groups from China several times that simply invade the temples like no others.
As the sun started to set we made our way to our final destination a temple called Pre Rup, the perfect spot to watch the sun set into the jungles and rice paddies of the Cambodian countryside. Not being exhausted at all after this 8 hour bike tour, we obviously decided to take the largest detour back into the city (taking the ordinary way back just would not have been adventurous enough for us and would not have given Molly the opportunity to almost get run over by a bus). But in the end we made it back to hour hostel safe and sound with the biggest smiles on our faces and the best memories in our pocket.
All in all it was definitely one of the funniest and best tours I ever so if you are ever in Siem Reap do yourself a favor and find a nice bunch of people, rent some shitty bikes and spent the most amazing day just biking around the ruins of Angkor.
Stuff that might be good to know if you plan to go:
The park offers three different entrance passes:
Option 1: USD 20 for one day,
Option 2: USD 40 for three days and
Option 3: USD 60 for seven days
All tickets can be bought at the entrance between 5:00AM and 5:30PM every day, while entry to the park is open from 5:30 AM to 5:00PM. My advice would be to opt for the three day pass, as this way you can actually take your time at the different temples and admire the great amount of details without stressing out about getting to the next temple. If you didn’t see it on the first day you can simply come back on the second or third.