Biking to see the Angkor Wat temples is a unique way to experience them. If you have a respectable level of fitness, I highly recommend using bikes to visit the Angkor temples.
Although the road to the Angkor temples is pretty flat and won’t cause you great trouble, the distance is rather long.
It’s 8 kilometers to Angkor Wat, another 8 kilometers for the petit circuit, and then finally 8 kilometers back to town. So it does pay to be a little prepared if you plan to bike there.
There are many road signs on the way to Angkor, so it’s rather easy to figure out the way. If you have a map, you can see how simple it is to get there. There are many more signs within Angkor Archeological Park showing you the way to each temple.
A welcome sign greeting you once you enter the park
Lots of signs to help you visit the area
Tips on biking to Angkor Wat
Having biked to Angkor myself, there are several things that I think could make your biking experience more enjoyable.
1. Make sure you get the right type of bike for you.
This is probably the most important thing. I used one with multiple gears and a basket in the front. To me, these two things helped a lot during those tired moments on the road.
The gears let me go at my own pace and according to my energy level, while the basket in front took the load off my back. I put my backpack in the front and just looped it around the steering bars as a precaution.
2. Have an idea of what you want to see.
Considering the huge size of Angkor Archeological Park, you should pick and choose which temples you’d like to see. Trying to see many temples by tuktuk consumes a lot of energy, and it is doubly so when seeing many temples by bicycle. So know your limitations and be picky. It’s much better to enjoy the temples in leisure than to try and cram in everything with an already tired body.
The road to Angkor Thom
3. Bring extra clothes for changing, because you will no doubt sweat like you never have before.
In addition to the actual physical exercise of biking, you will have the added factor of the famously hot Cambodian sun. Your clothes will most likely become drenched with sweat, and you should bring a change of clothes if that bothers you. There are many toilets scattered around the park that you can use to change.
4. Bring enough water.
The keyword is enough, because there is no need to oversupply yourself with bottles of water when there are many Angkor vendors who sell them. Two small bottles of water run for $1, and if the shopkeepers take pity on you they will sell a big one for the same price. Things are a little bit more expensive in Angkor than in town, but you can bargain down as usual.
5. Plan to have lunch in Angkor.
When people visit the temples by tuktuk, most of them go back to Siem Reap for lunch and siesta. If you are biking, consider spending your lunch time at the park, instead of biking to town and then back again to Angkor.
There are many cool places to have lunch: the temples, the Angkor Wat moat, or even the air conditioned restaurants. There are huge numbers of restaurants available, primarily near Angkor Wat and Bayon, with most offering Cambodian dishes. For a more Western fare, head to the Angkor Café right across Angkor Wat. They have pasta, sandwiches, ice cream, etc.
Lunch at the moat is just priceless!
6. Visit the less popular places.
When going by tuktuk, the drivers already have a set plan and route. Trying to change that will most likely cost you additional dollars and create confusion. Biking is a great time to visit the less visited sites, because you can go wherever you want and stop whenever you want. Some places you might want to visit are the Angkor Thom gates or the Buddhist Wats in the area.
Stop by to take photos of the butterflies!
7. Head to the temple in the morning, head back in the late afternoon.
Biking in the morning when the sun is still mild is so enjoyable, and it doesn’t have to be too early. 7 a.m. is a good time to start. Just know that by 10 a.m. or even 9 a.m., the sun will start to beat down hard.
In the late afternoon, at around 5 p.m., the sun will start to mellow and this would be a great time to head back to town. Everything (the temples, the tree lined roads, etc.) will look so pretty at this time.
Should you bike on your first visit to Angkor Wat?
As a matter of personal choice, I think biking is a great way to see the Angkor temples, but I wouldn’t say it’s a great way for first timers to see the temples. If it’s your first time visiting Angkor, going by tuktuk is, I think, your best choice. That way you will get to see more temples in a more relaxing way.
When your legs are already so tired from biking, you will be less likely to climb up the Phimeanakas temple or roam around the Prasat Suor Prats. This means you’ll miss out on some of the must-do temple activities.
But of course, the final decision whether to bike or not, first time or not, is entirely up to you.
So in short…
The whole point of biking to Angkor Wat is to enjoy it, which is why I think a good level of fitness is a must.
If you’re too tired to pedal and still have 15 kilometers more to go, you’re going to start ignoring the temples and start focusing on how to survive the day. This is fine, because that in itself is an interesting experience, but just know that the focus then will no longer be the temples, which is what you came halfway across the world for.
Goodbye and thank you!
Go to Angkor Wat, Cambodia – A Quick Review
Angkor Wat, Cambodia is located near the town of Siem Reap. It’s been listed under UNESCO’s World Heritage site since 1992. Preservation has been done constantly in order to keep it in great condition.
Go to Siem Reap Tourist Attractions
As the base town of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap tourism is growing rapidly. See for yourself the many activities you can do and the places you can see while staying in Siem Reap.