Cycling around Angkor Wat

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
10
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
10
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
82 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Asia
country
Cambodia
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 200
Time of year visited
August
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
22nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 10% SUMMARY RATING: Unmissable

Summary

Angkor Wat is one of the most recognisable ancient sites in the world and the surrounding area is said to be the greatest concentration of architectural riches anywhere – as one would expect, its a fantastic place to visit.  The problem is though, as with all such world-famous sites, how to enjoy it without having the commercialised tourist machine spoil the experience.   You’re looking for that feeling of wonder and adventure as you explore from one ancient temple being torn apart by the roots of giant jungle trees to the next, not trying to jump in between mega-phone wielding Chinese tour groups and trying to be original in your latest reason for why you don’t want a local Cambodian man to sell you a plastic statue

 

Whilst for the main temples, such as Angkor Wat itself, the crowds are largely unavoidable, the best way to avoid the crowds is to hire some bikes and cycle around the cycling circuit(s).  The roads are great, the distance is flat and easily manageable at 17km – 26km and you find yourself very quickly getting away from the crowds.  You can also largely make up your own route for large parts of it depending on how you’re feeling.  In fact, our favourite part of the trip was heading in the “wrong” direction and finding many of the less well-known temples largely to ourselves

 

Angkor Wat is awesome, it’s even better cycling it

highlights

#1 Cycling around the various cycling circuits to get away from the crowds and find some temples largely to yourself

#2 Taking some of the back routes into the bigger temples, getting a different perspective and having that great feeling of slowly seeing the temples emerge from the jungle

#3 Finding practically deserted temples to explore all to yourself

#4 Seeing the world famous, 8th wonder of the world, Angkor Wat itself

#5 Sitting atop some of the super steep temples and checking out the view across this vast temple site

#6 The 54 iconic faces all along the walls of the Temple of Bayon

#7 Those wonderful Tomb Raider style spots, with the giant jungle tree roots slowly breaking apart the temples of Ta Prohm

Travel Tips

  • You’ll broadly want to give yourself 2 days.  First day for seeing the famous spots like Angkor Wat and Angkor Tom; second day for cycling around the Little (and bits of Big) Circuit.  A third day would be nice for chilling out around Siem Reap and seeing any remaining bits, especially as you get a 3 days tickets pass
  • There are a series of places renting bikes in Siem Reap, or most likely your hotel will have them to rent
  • For cycling you’ve got the Little Circuit and Large Circuit.  As you can see on the map, the main difference is the Little Circuit goes from Ta Prohm directly to the Victory gate and is 17km; whereas the Big Circuit goes round to Ta Som in the North East and is 26km.  We did a combo of both, and my suggestion is to just see how you’re feeling energy wise.  For more details on the cycling route, these guys on Folding Trails do a good summary – link here
  • You’ll be staying in Siem Reap which has some surprisingly nice bits to it.  We splurged a bit and stayed at the Privilege Floor by Borei Angkok.  Whilst expensive, at USD150 per night, they arranged everything for us, including transport (with bikes) for wherever we wanted to go in the Angkor site
  • For any trip to Cambodia, it’s important to learn about the modern history, and in particular the appalling time of the Khmer Rouge.  I’d really recommend either reading First they Killed my Father, which you can find basically everywhere in Siem Reap, or watching the movie The Killing Fields if not familiar with these times

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone