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Biking in Cambodia

Some Reasons Why You Should Visit And Go Biking In Siem Reap In Rainy Season

The temples of Angkor are what brought Siem Reap on to the world tourism map, but what has kept the interest alive in the place, is its ability to keep the adventurer happy along with the sightseer. Siem Reap is a popular resort town and the capital city of Siem Reap Province in north-west Cambodia. You come to Siem Reap for your attraction towards theAngkor, but once here, you do much more than just visit the temples. Siem Reap now epitomizes what today’s Cambodia is to the world and that is a world class place offering you the best, from excellent dining experiences to chic hotels, and an amazing shopping experience. The presence of the Angkorbrings the bulk of tourists visiting Cambodia to Siem Reap.

A typical tourist would avoid planning his vacations to most destinations in and around the rainy season. Finding a person who does not like the rains is difficult though not impossible, but, for most of us, rains spell disaster for any trip. But not for Siem Reap, which is meant to be explored when the Rain Gods are smiling down the place. Many a tourist these days plan their trips to popular places during rainy season so as to not encounter the crowd of tourists that usually throng the place during peak season. You can negotiate for better restaurant and bar deals, and if you are lucky you might have the bar all to yourself! The rainy season in Siem reap begins in June and runs through November, which is a fairly long period. Why wait six months, only to realize that you missed visiting the place at the best time of the year.

Let’s pedal away and do a little ‘splish-splosh’

You can get explore the town on a Vespa or take the more traditional but definitely more thrilling and fun way of riding a bike through the town, especially during the rainy season. Siem Reap is a small town with every tourist attraction within easy distance. Moreover, the terrain of the place stays quite flat all around the year, so cycling is not weary and troublesome at all. Once you check in your hotel, enquire at the reception about getting a cycle for your travel. Most hotels provide one without charging you anything extra for it, with the room tariff inclusive of the bike rental. If one isn’t available at the hotel, you can book one for yourself and your companions through a charitable rental outfit called The White Bicycles that provides bikes for hire at just $2 a day at various hotels it has partnered with. Apart from this, there are bike rental shops on every corner and you are sure to find one, once you step out of the hotel. You can get a good old-fashioned ‘town bike’ for $1 for a day and a decent mountain bike for just $3. If you are more of a cyclist than a tourist, you can also go in for a good quality mountain bike for $12 daily. Sounds steep, but the comfort and thrill of a good bike can only be appreciated by a true biker.

‘Templing’ travails

All rental bikes come with a helmet, a safety gear and even a raincoat in the rainy season, but some shops go a little further in enriching your biking experience by offering you an organized group tour. You stand to benefit by going for one such tour as the tour guides who are mostly locals, can take you on off-beat and lesser explored tracks through the town, ones that the tourists cannot figure out on their own. The first stop on your list for your bike ‘travelathon’ around the town, should be the three temple ruins of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm, all three of which can be easily reached following the cycle track. Locals call this experience of exploring the temples as ‘templing’ and ‘templing’ on a bike gives you the comfort of stopping whenever you want. You can stop to see the beauty of a wildflower blooming in the rain, or to see a grasshopper play around on the track. And if you are on the trip with your partner, there can be nothing more romantic than cycling away together in the rains.

The three Angkorare not the only temples that make up ‘templing’. There are smaller and not so popular ruins too around these three main Angkor. And when you start pedaling you might as well complete the whole ‘templing’ experience. When traveling, every dollar counts and biking saves you the dollars that you would otherwise shell on the tuk-tukrides that would take you from temple to temple.

Time to use those legs a little more

The day you rent a bike to explore Siem Reap in the rainy season, would be the day you would realize the worth of all the squats and the burpees that you have been doing. And if you haven’t hit the gym in a while, well, the trip is sure to show you the mirror about how fit you are. Towards the south of the town on its outer periphery, is Tonle Sap Lake which is about 12 km each way from the center of the town. Venture on this trail only if you feel you will be able to make it without having the need to call for a medic midway. There are two ways of approaching the lake. One is Road 63, easy to manage flat track albeit a tad boring. The other, more interesting route is the ‘road less traveled’ and is a dirt track running parallel to the main road and on the opposite side of the Siem Reap River. Enroute, you can enjoy the view of the Cambodian villages spaced by lotus fields, ruins of Wat Atweaand Phnom Krom hill.

Cycle but with caution

Apart from the regular safety precautions of wearing a helmet, you might have to fight for a space on the roads which are chock-a-blok with other vehicles like touring buses and four wheelers. Carrying a raincoat is a must for the rainy season but make sure you tuck it well under yourself so that it does not get entangled in wheels, landing you in a mud puddle. Splotch a lot of sunscreens even if the sky is clouded. Make sure to carry your own water and a few snacks in the small basket attached to the front of most rental bikes. Lastly, enjoy the rains and enjoy the ride that is sure to transport you back to your childhood!

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