🚲 Cycling Siem Reap’s Countryside: How To & Firsthand Tips

Two people riding bikes down a red dirt path surrounded by bushes.

Most tourists visit Siem Reap to see the famous Angkor Wat, one of Southeast Asia’s most significant archaeological wonders.

Angkor Wat is exceptional, but Siem Reap has worthwhile activities beyond the temple complex. A unique and underrated activity there is biking through the countryside.

Cycling past rice fields and traditional villages was one of the most surprisingly enjoyable activities I did in Southeast Asia, and here, I share practical tips on how to do it and my experience. This post covers:

  • 👋 Reasons to cycle in Siem Reap
  • 🚲 How to bike around Siem Reap
  • ⭐️ How to visit Angkor Wat by bike
  • 🌾 What to expect on a countryside bike tour
  • 💧 What to pack for a bike ride

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Can You Cycle Around Angkor Wat?

Before getting into the details of cycling around Siem Reap, a common question is whether it’s possible to visit Angkor Wat by bike, and the answer is yes.

🚲 Exploring Angkor Wat With a Bike

Angkor Wat is a large temple complex within Angkor Archaeological Park. The park has over 72 temples, but Angkor Wat is only 0.6 miles long, so you can explore it on foot.

A woman standing in front of a large ancient temple with three acorn shape domes.
Angkor Wat.

Other temples in the park are too far apart to explore on foot. Biking is a great way to visit the temples of Angkor because you can get away from the crowds and explore at your own pace. It’s the more unique and off-the-beaten-path way to see the temple complex.

You can explore Angkor Wat and the nearby temples on a guided or self-guided biking tour.

🗺️ Option 1: Self-Guided Angkor Wat Biking Tour

To explore Angkor Wat on your own, rent a mountain bike, street bike, or e-bike and map a route that visits the most interesting temples. Many hotels offer bicycle rentals, and Siem Reap has several bike rental shops.

In addition to renting a bike, you’ll need to buy an Angkor Pass to enter Angkor Archaeological Park.

Tourists are not allowed to rent motorbikes to explore Angkor Archaeological Park.

☝🏻 Option 2: Guided Angkor Wat Biking Tour

You can also go on a guided biking tour of the Angkor temples if you prefer to avoid mapping out the route yourself.

A local English-speaking guide knowledgeable about the fascinating history behind each temple can also enhance your biking tour.

You’re also supporting local tourist workers by hiring a guide. Despite Siem Reap getting over 2 million visitors annually, 45% of the population lives under the poverty line. Siem Reap is consistently one of the poorest areas in Cambodia, and the pandemic hit the city particularly hard.

A Cambodian ruin with the face of a smiling Buddha carved into it.
An Angkor Temple.

Why Cycle in Siem Reap?

Outside the Angkor temple complex, you can cycle around Siem Reap’s beautiful countryside.

Here are five reasons Siem Reap and the surrounding area are cycling-friendly and a great experience.

1. Siem Reap is small.

The main area of Siem Reap is one of Cambodia’s smallest provinces. You can cover a lot of ground by pedaling around the city for two to four hours.

The distance between Athvear temple on Siem Reap’s southern border and Angkor Wat on the northern side is less than seven miles apart. In between these two landmarks are over 50 other temples within biking distance.

A map of Siem Reap with a route showing 11.7km in distance between two temples.
A map of Siem Reap. It’s only ~6.5 miles from the city’s south border to Angkor Wat.

Siem Reap and the capital city of Phnom Penh are Cambodia’s two most popular destinations, but the former is significantly smaller. While the capital city has over two million people, Siem Reap has about a quarter million.

2. Siem Reap is very flat.

Cambodia is mostly a flat country, and Siem Reap is no different. The city has no hills, making it a great and relatively easy place to cycle.

I cycled through Siem Reap and an additional five miles past Angkor Wat. I encountered zero hills while biking through the city and the rural areas outside of it.

3. The dirt roads become accessible on a bike.

Many of Siem Reap’s roads are inaccessible to vehicles, like tuk-tuks or buses, because they pass through jungles and temples. But you can access these roads on a bike, allowing you to experience a more off-the-beaten track.

The best time to visit Siem Reap is during its dry season, which runs from November to April. If you visit during the rainy season, watch out for muddy dirt roads.

4. The countryside has culture and friendly locals.

The focus of a Siem Reap countryside bike tour is the backroads, which often pass by rice fields, rural villages, and local markets.

If you go with a local guide, they are typically well-connected to the community. They can translate and introduce you to locals working in rice fields, basketweavers, shopkeepers, and more. My guide, Samnang, was exceptional at this.

Cambodians tend to be warm, hospitable, and earnest. They have strong cultural and familial ties, and Buddhism influences their ways of life.

Three people posing for a selfie with rice fields in the background.
Local bike tour guide, Samnang.

5. Biking is an eco-friendly way to explore Siem Ream.

Siem Reap is a small city, but because of Angkor Wat’s popularity, it receives over two million tourists yearly. Most of these tourists are serviced by tuk-tuks, buses, and taxis.

By biking, you can reduce your carbon footprint and travel in a zero-emissions way around Siem Reap.

A few tuk-tuks going down a two-lane road with ancient temples behind them.
Tuk-tuk drivers in Angkor Archaeological Park.

This Siem Reap travel guide outlines other travel tips for the city.

How To Bike Around Siem Reap

The best and easiest way to bike around Siem Reap is with a local guide.

I took a chance on this Siem Reap countryside cycling tour, which has less than five reviews, and thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

If you’re biking around Siem Reap without a local guide, here are the three things you’ll need to know and do:

1. Rent a mountain or hybrid bike.

You’ll find many bike rental shops in Siem Reap, especially near the bustling areas of Old Market and Pub Street.

Given that Cambodia is one of the cheapest countries in Southeast Asia, you can get regular bikes for as cheap as $1 a day and nicer mountain bikes for about $5 a day.

Here are a few highly-rated bike shops in Siem Reap, but it’s not a comprehensive list:

If you’re biking around the countryside, a mountain or hybrid bike is best for the dirt paths. E-bikes are also available, but you’re unlikely to find a charging station in rural areas.

All prices mentioned here are in USD 💵 .

Two people riding bikes down a red-dirt road flanked by green trees.
Biking on a dirt road.

2. Plan out your cycling route.

Although there are many biking paths to explore in Siem Reap, there are generally three directions to choose from.

🌳 Option 1: Bike Around Angkor Archaeological Park

This cycling path focuses on Angkor Wat and other nearby temples. The main road, Preah Sihanouk Avenue, connects Siem Reap’s city center with Angkor Archaeological Park.

The two most famous temples besides Angkor Wat are Bayon Temple, located inside Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm, featured in Tomb Raider (the locals love Angelina Jolie). Both temples are roughly a mile north of Angkor Wat.

Banteay Srei is also very popular and well-loved by visitors. It’s the furthest away, located ten miles north of Angkor Wat. Alternatively, Banteay Kdei, near Ta Prohm, is known to be one of the more tranquil temples.

The woman posing in front of a big tree growing out of Cambodian ruins.
Part of the famous Ta Prohm.

🍉 Option 2: Bike Northwest Towards Preah Dak

A general direction you can head towards is the village of Preah Dak, located northwest of Siem Reap’s city center.

While Preah Dak is a popular place for souvenirs, the cycling path there is tranquil and mostly on dirt roads.

This is the cycling path I took, and I passed through rice paddies, residential homes, scenic landscapes, and small, empty temples.

Two people holding bikes standing next to a Cambodian rice paddy field.
Rice field along biking route to Preah Dak.

💧 Option 3: Bike South Towards Tonle Sap

A popular cycling path is to head south towards Tonle Sap Lake, where visitors can also take a boat ride.

This is a slightly longer path, as the lake is about eight miles south of Siem Reap’s city center. The cycling path there will also have more city streets compared to the route towards Preah Dak.

Tonle Sap is known for the floating villages, where communities are built on stilts. It’s also extremely touristy, where begging children can be expected.

3. Be familiar with Siem Reap’s driving norms.

Before riding a bike in Siem Reap, an important thing you should be aware of is road safety, as Cambodian driving norms can seem chaotic to a Western visitor.

Even if you have biking experience, riding a bike on the streets of Siem Reap can be dangerous if you are unfamiliar with Cambodian driving norms.

For example, Cambodians generally drive on the right but are also used to driving into oncoming traffic. They also have different driving norms for turning left onto a side road and different preferences for veering around others.

I found Siem Reap’s roads confusing. Hiring a local guide who kept me safe was the right decision for me.

Siem Reap Cycling Tours at a Glance

Here is some general information on a typical countryside bike tour in Siem Reap to help you plan your trip.

⏳ How Long Are Siem Reap Cycling Tours?

Most Siem Reap bike tours will take half a day, about four to five hours. You can find some that will take a full day, which is roughly eight hours. You can treat those like a day trip.

Most biking tours will have an early start time between 7:30 am to 8 am.

My countryside bike tour was marketed as taking five hours. However, since it became a private tour (only my partner and I signed up), the guide was generous and extended it to a full-day tour.

🚵🏻‍♀️ Are Siem Reap Cycling Tours Hard?

Most Siem Reap countryside bike tours are accessible to visitors with biking experience. A typical route is an active ride on bumpy roads, but you do not need to be very fit to participate.

Half-day tours in the countryside will cover eight to ten miles, depending on the guide’s assessment of the group’s ability and fitness level. There are full-day tours that will cover over 20 miles.

During my full-day tour, I biked about 12 miles.

💰 How Much Is a Countryside Cycling Tour?

A typical Siem Reap cycling tour price ranges between $30 to $60. My tour cost $35, and I added a 25% tip because the guide generously extended the hours.

I share all my travel expenses in this Cambodia cost breakdown.

🌾 What Sceneries and Activities Can You Expect on a Countryside Bike Tour?

The scenery and activities you can expect on a Siem Reap countryside bike tour vary by route. During my tour, here’s what I experienced:

  • Biking past traditional villages, which included local homes, schools, and markets. This gave me some perspective and understanding of Siem Reap’s daily life.
  • Cycling on red dirt roads that are often bumpy or sandy which is why having a mountain bike is best.
  • Stopping at a rice field while the local guide explains the rice harvesting process. My guide asked the local workers if I could try harvesting some rice.
Multiple farmers and two tourists leaning down and harvesting rice from a paddy field.
Harvesting rice.
  • Visiting a small, empty temple. Most bike tours will stop at cultural attractions like floating villages or temples.
  • Eating at a local restaurant. My tour stopped in a Preah Dak restaurant for snacks, where I ate local fruit. Your cycling tour might also stop at a local market if there’s one on the way.
A weaved basket holding dragonfruit, mango and watermelon.
A fruit bowl snack near the end of my Siem Reap bike tour.

One bonus about booking a small tour is that the guide invited us into his home to meet his family at the end of the tour. We got drinks, and I had a great time conversing with his French wife.

Three people standing near each other under a tree with pink flowers.
Visiting local guide’s home.

What To Pack for a Siem Reap Countryside Cycling Tour

Here’s a packing list if you plan to cycle around the countryside:

  • Sunscreen. You’ll be in the sun with little to no cover for a couple of hours. I use and recommend this highly-rated sports sunscreen, which applies effortlessly.
  • Mosquito repellent. Siem Reap has disease-carrying mosquitos, and mosquito activity is high. As someone who gets bitten a lot, I find this insect-repellent lotion works better than the spray alternatives I’ve tried.
  • An accessible small bag. You’ll want your phone to be accessible for photos or protected from the rain if it pours. I brought this waterproof, crossbody phone pouch, which was helpful because it did rain on us briefly.
  • Rain jacket (optional). Bring a light rain jacket if you’re traveling during the rainy season in Siem Reap. I didn’t need one for my bike ride, but I traveled with this rain jacket for Southeast Asia.
  • Closed-toe shoes. Your shoes will get dusty, sandy, and potentially muddy. I wore my running shoes to give you an idea of what shoes are appropriate.
  • Shorts. Siem Riep is humid, especially during the wet season. If you want to be more protected from mosquitoes, consider wearing leggings or athletic pants.
  • Athletic top. Same advice as above.
A woman standing next to a bike with rice paddy fields in the background.
My Siem Reap bike tour outfit.
  • Water (optional). The guide will have water for you, and there will be beverage stops along the way. It’s a good idea to bring extra cold water.
  • Cash. Bring some cash for tipping and buying snacks along the way. Many places do not take credit cards.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below.

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