Cycling the Mekong, Laos to Angkor

The mighty Mekong River, 12th longest  in the world, and 7th longest in Asia, starts from the Tibetan Plateau, flows through China’s Yunnan Province,  Myanmar, parts of Thailand before meandering into the South China Sea through Vietnams’ Mekong Delta.  Nowhere are the effects of the Mekong felt more than in Laos and Cambodia as it flows through both of these countries, offering life, beauty and strength. Sunset over Mekong

This amazing bicycling trip starts from the southern islands of Laos into the temple-rich countryside of Cambodia, following and crisscrossing the Mekong many times. Get up close and personal with the locals, their culture, and the beautiful scenery as you cycle along quiet country roads and through small villages. Learn about sustainable tourism projects happening in the region and stay at several eco-lodges on this remarkable journey.

Day 1, Arrival Pakse

On arrival in Pakse, a local guide will meet and transfer you to your hotel in Don Deang. With its 8 villages along the coast, bordered by rice fields, Don Deang is a big island in the middle of the Mekong. After a bike fitting, you may want to start getting used to your bike by exploring Don Deang.

Day 2, Don Daeng - Wat Phou - Don Deang

You will be crisscrossing the Mekong River today. You and your guide will ride your bikes to Wat Phou on level roads through the quiet Lao countryside of Don Deang Island. Wat Phou located across the Mekong River is a pre-Angkorian temple complex listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and  a major example of both early and classical Khmer architecture dating from the 7th to the 12th century. After lunch at a local restaurant ride on and explore the old town of Champassak with its mixture of Lao and colonial French architecture before returning to your hotel.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner. 
Overnight at La Folie Lodge, Don Daeng.  
Cycling distance: 40km

Day 3, Don Daeng - Xe Pian Protected Area

After breakfast, a boat ride takes you and your guide to Route 13 at Ban Muang. Route 13 is the most important road in Laos as it runs the length of the country, linking Cambodia in the South and China in the North.  You will pass through the Xe Pian NPA (National Protected Area), one of the most biologically diverse in Indochina, with several species of mammals including wild elephants and birds such as Giant Ibis and the Sarus Crane. In addition to the extensive wetlands, this park is also home to several tribes who are starting to benefit from the NPA status.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Overnight at La Folie Lodge, Don Daeng 
Cycling distance: 60km

Day 4, Don Daeng - Don Khone

You and your guide will be heading towards the most southerly part of Laos and one of the jewels of the Mekong. This area is known as 4,000 Islands or “Siphandon” in Lao language. You are riding through bucolic scenes of rice fields and small villages. The pace of life is slow. You will be sharing the road with tuk-tuk (local motorbike taxis), and motorbikes loaded many kinds of produce. In remote areas small Korean or Chinese4000 Islands lorries, or  “songthiew” are the main means of public transportation. They play an important role in linking the villages along various set routes. 
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Overnight at Sala Don Khone/Sala Phae, Don Khone
Cycling Distance 90km

Day 5, Don Khone - Lao / Cambodian Border

Travel by boat and car from Don Khone to the Laos-Cambodian border. Your Lao guide will leave you at the border, and your Cambodian guide will be waiting for you on the other side.  It is a 57 km ride over quiet roads through green fields and forests to Stung Treng, a pretty town located on the banks of the Sekong river. There are many ethnic minority tribes who depend on the Sekong River for daily livelihood. During dinner you may have an opportunity to meet young interns in the hospitality industry sponsored by Non Governmental Organizations. 
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Overnight at Tonle Meas Hotel in Stung Treng
Cycling distance: 77km 

Day 6, Stung Treng - Kratie

After an early breakfast you and your guide will ride towards Kratie, the capital of Kratie Province, located right on the Mekong River. The first 40 km’s ride offers amazing views along the Mekong River. The roads may not have heavy traffic but you do need to watch out for children, chickens, ducks, cows, and other livestock!  About 14 km prior to arrival to Kratie is a very special part of the Mekong River where the Irrawady Dolphins may be found. These very special Mekong River Irrawady dolphins inhabit a 118 mile stretch of the river between Cambodia and Laos and only an estimated 78 to 91 of them exists. If it is before 5.00pm, you can take a one hour quiet boat ride to try spot these dolphins which are regarded as scared animals by both the Khmer and Lao people. 
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Overnight at Oudom Sambath Hotel in Kratie
Cycling distance: 80km with transfer, 143km without transfer 

Day 7, Kratie - Kampong Cham

Your ride today from Kratie towards Kampong Cham takes you through many small villages and towns of Chhlong and Stung Trang. The many small mosques in some villages are a pleasant contrast to the many pagodas and monasteries you have encountered so far. You will be crossing the Mekong River a couple of times. Prior to your arrival at Kampong Cham you will be making a climb up Phnom Han Chay for a picnic and a panoramic view of the Mekong. There are also some 8th century pre-Angkorian structures on site. Continue to your hotel at Kampong Cham. The support van is always available in case the bike ride is too long.

Cambodian Villade, D.Alpine

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner 
Overnight at VIP Mnorum hotel in Kampong Cham
Cycling distance: 72km with transfer, 143km without transfer 

Day 8, Kampong Cham - Kampong Thom

You and your guide will leave for Kampong Thom, riding over a mixture of sandy and tarmac roads along the Mekong. The road is long and leads through rubber plantations, paddy fields and typical Khmer Villages. The scenery is never boring but you may want to decide to ride the final 40km by car once you arrive at the Kampong Thmore, where Highway 6 starts. Overnight at  Kampong Thom, a quiet town situated between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, which hosts the magnificent temple site Sambor Prei Kuk, built in the 6th and 7th century.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Overnight at Kampong Thom. 
Cycling distance: 120km 

Day 9, Kampong Thom - Sambor Prei Kuk - Siem Reap

Depart in the early morning on your bike to Sambor Prei Kuk, 28km away. The ride will lead you out of town onto quiet inland roads with beautiful views of paddy fields and many local villages with traditional life styles. Sambor Prei Kuk was built in the Chenla period between the 6th and 7th century and hosts a number of well preserved temples scattered around the jungle. Small and sandy tracks link the 3 main temples sites in a loop of around 8km. The morning is still cool and the towering fig trees provide a pleasant shade. Sambor Prei Kuk is very much off the beaten track. After lunch transfer by car for about 1.5 hours towards Siem Reap. You and your guide will be dropped off at Banteay Kdei at a beautiful bridge during the ancient Angkorian times. From here you and your guide will bike to Siem Reap over busy Highway 6. This 60 km ride has deserted stretches as well as very busy sections.  Late afternoon you will arrive in Siem Reap and will doubtless celebrate this evening.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Overnight at Royal Crown hotel in Siem Reap
Cycling distance: 96km 

Day 10, Siem Reap - Angkor - Siem Reap

The ride today will cover Siem Reap’s most amazing temples. Start after breakfast with a ride to Ta Prohm. This temple was built in the memory of King Jayavarman VII’s mother. It was left in the same condition as it was discovered; overgrown by strangler fig and silk-cotton trees, giving the temple a mystical and romantic appeal. Continue to Angkor Thom, which was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. The city is surrounded by an 8m high wall; each side of the city is 4km long. It draws a perfect square on the map and you can access the town through 5 gates; 4 of gates were used for the dead leaving the city on their final journeys.  

After passing through the south gate, you will go down along a shady road to the Bayon temple. This temple lies exactly in the center of the city. There are 54 towers representing the 54 provinces of the ancient Great Khmer Empire. Each tower has 4 Bayon faces. This is the only temple in Cambodia depicting scenes of everyday life at the time of the empire. Afterwards continue to the Terrace of the Elephants. This Terrace was the place where the parade was done for the King. Next to it is the Terrace of the Leper King, depicting the water world. Bas Relief, Angkor Wat

After lunch you will visit the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple. Built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century Angkor Wat was constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing Mount Merou, home of the gods. Considered the masterpiece of the Khmer architecture, this Vishnuite temple is the King’s funerary temple, which is why the temple is orientated to the West. Inside the temple the walls are covered by carvings and bas-reliefs depicting the Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Bike back to your hotel and tonight celebrate with a well deserved dinner with traditional Khmer Ballet.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch
Overnight at Royal Crown hotel in Siem Reap
Cycle distance: 25km 

Day 11, Siem Reap - Departure

At leisure till transfer you to the airport. You will leave with wonderful memories of this adventure that takes you off the beaten track, experiencing the beautiful country and people at your own bike pace.
 Meals: Breakfast