One Day in Siem Reap, This Happened…
Wondering what it’s like to bike to Angkor Wat from Siem Reap? Read on for my account plus my top tips for biking to the ancient ruins.
Oh. My. Aching. Butt.
I pedal along the side of the road and marvel as the bustling city of Siem Reap transforms in a matter of minutes into a jungle-lined road with foliage so thick I can only see a few feet into it. The light wind on my face as I roll down the poorly paved road provides a much needed respite from the sunny 85 degree weather.
I should be feeling all idyllic except for two problems – this rickety old bike I rented from the hotel is killing my butt, and I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time on this journey before I get run over by a moped…or a tuk-tuk.
“Whose stupid idea was this to rent bikes anyway?” I mutter under my breath and glare into the back of my fiancé, Tom, several feet in front of me on another old, rusty bike. I seem to vaguely remember a time before my butt was in agony that I thought riding our bikes from our hotel in Siem Reap to Angkor Wat was a stupendous idea, however blaming this on Tom right now helps take some of my mind off my poor behind.
Another moped whizzes by me, way too close for comfort, and I grit my teeth together and hold onto the handlebars for dear life. I really wish I had on a helmet right now. I have yet to see another biker with one atop his or her head though, so maybe they don’t exist in Cambodia.
Tom slows down so I can catch up. “How you doing?” he asks.
“My butt’s going to fall off,” I pant out in pain.
He grins in understanding. “Mine too,” he agrees. “Guess these bikes aren’t made for multi-mile treks.”
We both stand up on our pedals then and glide a few feet, giving our backsides a needed break from the narrow seats, which felt like they were made out of stone stolen from the ancient temples we were about to see.
“Don’t worry, we’re almost there,” Tom tells me as he begins pedaling again. He instantly takes off in front of me again.
I sigh and pedal a bit faster to keep up, which means I have to sit back down. Ouch.
Just as Tom promised, ten minutes later we pull into a tourist-crammed parking lot area and turn to see Angkor Wat towering in all its glory against the Cambodian skyline. Despite having seen it the day before (when we took a much more butt-friendly tuk-tuk to the ruins) the sight of the ancient temple still makes me feel a bit awe-struck, unable to believe I’m really here, finally seeing it. And this second glimpse of Angkor Wat makes the pain of biking all worth it.
I’m ignoring the fact that I still have to ride that torture device back to the hotel.
Tips for Biking to Angkor
- Rent a comfortable bike. This may be easier instructed than done. In that case, bring some pads to stuff your underwear with.
- Bring lots of water. There are plenty of places to buy it at the temple, but you’ll want some for the ride there. It’s hot.
- Choose a realistic itinerary. And be prepared to change it. Tom and I cut out two temples we were planning to visit on our bikes because we were convinced our butts really would fall off if we biked that far. We’d already seen the temples that topped our must-see list so were ok with that. If seeing Angkor Thom is a must for you and you’re only going to be at the temples for the one day you’re riding the bike, make sure your body can handle making it that far to avoid disappointment.
- Be wary of the basket. Most bikes in Siem Reap have a basket attached to the handlebar. Don’t put valuables or anything you can’t lose into the basket. Moped snatchers are prevalent and before you even know what’s happening they’ll whiz by, grab your items out of the basket, and speed off.
- Trust the locals. To avoid having a heart attack remind yourself as mopeds and tuk-tuks are zipping by, cars are honking, and a cluster of bicycles surround you, that they know what they’re doing. They’re not going to hit you. If it’s a tourist on that moped veering dangerously close to you…well, try to find the lone bike helmet available in Siem Reap.
Interested in learning more about getting around Angkor Wat? Read my article for Lost Girls World: Tour Angkor Wat.