Tips for a successful bike tour in Cambodia
Every country has differences in the culture which can pose various challenges to bike tourists, but that usually aren’t evident until after some time. Hopefully these tips can help other cyclists so that they are prepared when they roll across the border.
Avoid the main roads in and out of Phnom Penh as they are generally in bad shape.
- Hwy 4 & 41 to Kampot are currently being redone, but have been terrible for a long time.
- Hwy 2 to 31 is much nicer and less busy. See my blog post Cycling the Coast to Kampot
- Hwy 6 towards Kampong Cham is very busy with vehicles going to Siem Reap.
- Cross the Mekong and ride along country roads. See my blog post Along the Mekong: To Kampong Cham
Beware that drivers will turn out of side streets without looking.
- Don’t ride too close to the shoulder when in the city, because people will always be pulling out in front of you.
- People make a noticeable effort to not look, otherwise they would be obligated to stop.
If you see an accident, don’t touch the person.
- I’ve been told that if you stop to help and someone is injured, you can be held responsible for their injury.
- Instead call the police (117) or the ambulance (119)
Street stall coffee in Cambodia is very good and cheap. No need to go to fancy coffee chains.
Black coffee: $1
Iced coffee: $1
Passon Soda: $1
Coffee Chains (Amazon/Browns)
Americano: $1.25 ~ $3.65
Iced coffee: $1.75 ~ $3.75
Cappuccino: $1.60 ~ $3.85
Espresso: $1.25 ~ 1.85
Frappe: $2.00 ~ $4.25
Iced Lemon Tea: $1.75 ~ $3.75
Buy fruits and vegetables at markets all over the country.
Dragonfruit: $1 (large one)
Bananas: $1 (big bunch)
Baby pineapple: $0.25 each
Watermelon: $1 and up
Steamed buns: 2500 rial
Eggs: 400-500 rial per piece
Fresh coconut: 2500 rial
Avoid going to Sihanoukville unless you are going there to take a boat to an island.
- Sihanoukville was once a nice seaside city with lots to offer tourists, such as beaches, bars, etc.
- 3 years ago investment from China led to a construction boom, and the city is now very dirty from the construction and the beaches are not as clean and nice to go to.
When out of the city it is quite easy to wild-camp, but be aware that locals might sit around watching you.
- Outside of the city, you can find little shade huts near many farm fields, where farmers go to rest in the middle of the day. Arrive near the end of the day and leave early.
- Pagodas make great places to sleep. Just arrive late afternoon and ask the head monk if you can put up a tent.
Avoid paying for bottled water throughout the country.
- Fill-up at restaurants from their bottled water supply after eating meals.
- Stop at petrol stations and check to see if they have the big jugs of water out. The water is clean and they will often allow you to fill-up your water bottles if you ask nicely.
- Use a filter to get free water. I use Life Straw. It’s small and portable.
Beware the border guards on both the Cambodian and Laos side if you are cycling through the border.
The usual trick is to tell people they need to pay a stamping fee when crossing a land border, usually trying to charge between $2-$5.
- Think of how much money they get in 1 day if just 200 people go through. ($400-$1000 in black money)
- Most people pay without a second thought. Ask to see an official document which states you need to pay a stamping fee.
- Always be polite and kindly refuse to pay. They will let you through eventually.
Be ready for lots of smiles and kids saying hello.
- Welcome to Cambodia. The people are very friendly and take great pride in what they have. They are a great country and if you take the time to get to know them, you may even make lifelong friends.