Cycling is one of the best means of transportation in Siem Reap. It’s a great way of exploring the city while keeping your budget under control, not to mention it allows you to stay fit at the same time!
Reasons for using a bicycle
The city centre of Siem Reap is pretty small, where majority of the sights, offices, restaurants, and hotels are within short distances of one another. The terrain is flat, which makes cycling feasible for everyone regardless of age and athleticism.
Because of the tropical climate of Cambodia, cycling is a year-round possibility. In addition, cycling is a budget-friendly option. A bicycle is usually provided for free by most hotels. Alternatively, bicycles can be rented for $2 (USD) per day from the various rental shops spread throughout the city. If you plan to stay in Siem Reap long-term, you can purchase a new bicycle for around $50, then either resell it or donate it to a charity at the end of your stay.
Cycling with caution
Wherever you cycle, remember that traffic is often very heavy with numerous motorbikes, cars, jeeps, tourist buses, and pedestrians that you must navigate around and avoid. Hence, exercising caution is a must.
Although Cambodia has adopted the French system where drivers drive on the right, in reality, Cambodians’ driving style is “flexible”, so to speak. Although you won’t find it in any official driving code, the right of way is determined by the heft and value of your vehicle. Anything bigger and more valuable than you always has the right of way.
When cycling, remember:
- Always wear a bicycle helmet.
- Front baskets can be a target for thieves. Use the bicycle basket only for groceries, not valuable items. Keep your computer, wallet, or similar valuables in a backpack.
- Stay hydrated; drink a lot of water.
- Do not ride the bicycle at night. Hire a tuk-tuk instead.
Safeguarding your bike
Unfortunately, bicycles are quite often stolen, particularly if they’re left unattended or unlocked. If your rental bike is stolen, you will have to repay the cost of the bicycle, or the deposit you paid for the bicycle will be kept by the rental shop.
To avoid such an unpleasant event, remember to
- always lock your bicycle with a good bike lock. You can find bicycle locks in any market at the cost of a couple of dollars.
- park your bike in a public place where other bicycles are kept. If you park it in an inappropriate spot, a security guard or a tuk tuk driver might just move it elsewhere… and you may never know where it has gone!
- be a responsible user. Never leave the bicycle parked in a public space over night. If you won’t be using your bicycle for a long period of time, park it at your guest house, your host organisation or have it returned to the rental shop.
Hire a tuk tuk in case of emergency
A Cambodian tuk tuk can transport two bicycles and two passengers with ease. If you happen to find yourself stranded while biking (whether it’s caused by a flat tire, a sudden downpour or being caught out in the dark), the ideal thing to do is to get your bike on a tuk tuk and return home.
Remember to download the PassApp or Grab app on your mobile phone. These applications allow you to book a tuk tuk wherever you are.
And of course, have travel and health insurance!
A travel and health insurance policy could be a lifesaver if you’re considering cycling in Cambodia. The quality of the local emergency medical care available in Siem Reap is not that high, so a policy that includes medical evacuation is strongly recommended.