Appearing out of nowhere, the layered turrets of Angkor Wat cut an impressive figure on an otherwise empty skyline; it’s hard to believe that such a large and ornate structure came to be in the early 12th century. The ancient temple is one of Siem Reap’s most recognisable landmarks and the highlight of a 9-day ‘see Cambodia by bike’ itinerary with one of Australia’s leading charities.
From October 2nd to 10th, UNICEF Australia’s Cambodia Cycle is a unique opportunity to explore the country’s rich culture and fascinating history by bike. Pedal from one ancient temple to the next via jungle trails, rice paddies, and charming communities, all while raising funds to support vulnerable children in Cambodia.
While no extensive cycling experience is required to join the trip, the adventure is specifically designed for people who are relatively fit and willing to train as it’s physical and involves riding on uneven and unsealed roads. Although challenging, it’s a unique way to get off the beaten track and experience life in Cambodia up close and personal.
How UNICEF makes a difference
There’s no denying that the charity positively impacts the lives of children in Cambodia. It’s already delivered nutrition programs across 97 different communities, educated more than 22,700 parents, and provided treatment for 5700 severely malnourished children.
Just $47.00 will provide 9000 water purification tablets, each able to turn up to five litres of dirty water into safe drinking water. $91.00 funds health and nutrition screens for 15 preschool-aged children, while $133.00 can deliver nutrition services to 100 children in rural and remote communities.
Cambodia by bike daily itinerary
Day 1 – Monday, October 2nd
Arrive in Siem Reap and check into the hotel, where you’ll meet with the other team members and guide. Get briefed on the upcoming days and enjoy the introductory group dinner together.
Day 2 – Tuesday, October 3rd
The expedition’s first leg begins with a 35 to 45-kilometre ride through the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and the Cambodian countryside. See the temples, traditional villages, forests, and wildlife as you’re led through jungle trails and archaeological parks.
Day 3 – Wednesday, October 4th
Continue through small villages and vivid green rice paddies to Banteay Srei Temple. Often referred to as the ‘Citadel of Women’, the temple is home to some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art, which combines indigenous animistic beliefs with Hinduism and Buddhism. Take a tour of the Cambodia Landmine Museum and have lunch at a local restaurant before heading to the Banteay Samré Temple. Then, it’s back to Siem Reap.
Day 4 – Thursday, October 5th
After breakfast, hop onto your bicycle and travel through villages and rice paddies to Roluos Temple, where you’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Once finished, get transferred to the edge of Tonle Sap Lake and board a boat to Kampong Phluk – an isolated community built on stilts in the centre of the lake.
Have dinner in Siem Reap before spending a night under the big top with an evening show at Phare, the Cambodian Circus.
Day 5 – Friday, October 6th
Today marks one of two challenging days as you cycle up to 75 kilometres off-road through the Banteay Ampil Temple and surrounding villages. Upon arrival, explore Beng Mealea, a jungle temple, and wander through the vine-clad sandstone towers and courtyards. Rest your tired legs as you get transferred to Siem Reap for dinner.
Day 6 – Saturday, October 7th
This is the last day of biking, with another 75 kilometres to get through. Head to the Trei Nhor Community and ride around the paddy fields and traditional Khmer houses. Eat a lunch cooked by the local villagers, then continue to a nearby village where you can learn how to make carpets and clothes in traditional style.
End the day by cycling back to Siem Reap to rest and have dinner.
Day 7 – Sunday, October 8th
Head to an organic farm for a half-day cooking class, starting with a visit to a local fresh market and some time on the farm to pick ingredients direct from the ground.
A team of local chefs will lead you through cooking traditional Khmer dishes while sharing their knowledge about Cambodian culture and cuisine.
The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Day 8 – Monday, October 9th
Use the final day of the tour to visit one of UNICEF Australia’s projects in Siem Reap, where you’ll gain a greater understanding of the charity’s work and how your support is helping the children. You’ll meet young people who are developing life skills and working towards solving problems in the communities through the project.
Spend the afternoon in Siem Reap before the final team dinner together.
Day 9 – Tuesday, October 10th
After breakfast, bid farewell to the team and guide before making your own way to the airport or continuing your adventure elsewhere.
The countryside tour is $3110.00 per person. It covers transfers and entrance fees per the itinerary, twin-share accommodation, meals, water, a local English-speaking guide, bike rental, a support bus, and a mechanic. All airfares, airport transfers, travel insurance, personal expenses, visas, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages will be at the guest’s expense.
Registering in January can save you $150, paying just $325 upfront instead of $475. The remainder of the balance can be paid upfront or can be arranged to be paid in instalments.
To participate in the tour, you’ll need to raise $3500 for UNICEF Australia independently. There’s plenty of information and support online to assist in this, though some of the most common fundraisers are bake sales, trivia nights, or online fundraisers.
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Lead image: Shane WP Wongperk