Cycling from Bangkok to Phnom Penh

by tkos on December 22, 2012

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It’s not too far and there are a couple of different ways to go, but we opted to go for the  simplest route of the Thai coast via Pattaya and the newly made highway 48 through the Cardamom mountains in Cambodia. Crossing the border to Klong Yai in Thailand to Koh Kong in Cambodia is like crossing into a new dimension. Everything changes and the difference in development between the two countries is like a night and day.

For some reason, Google advises you go through the mountains on the dirt road as opposed to the nicely paved tarmac of the highway 48. We were guided through a couple of bumpy roads getting out of Koh Kong, but once we hit the tarmac, we never looked back. This stretch is probably the most desolate of Cambodia between Koh Kong and Phnom Penh. From Koh Kong, there is a hotel after 20km but it’s super expensive (US$130+), the next guesthouse is at the third bridge in Andoung Tuek at the 100km mark or you can go another 40km to Srae Ambel where you meet the NH4. Have to warn you though, the first 60km after Koh Kong there are a couple of decent hills that will hurt if it’s too hot!

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 What we loved the most:

  • The food. No doubt about it. I’ve heard that some cycle tourers wash their own vegetables from fear of being sick. Then you may as well stay at home! The street food is absolutely delicious! From the vendors throughout Bangkok to the small little stalls on the side of the road, everyone was a winner. And even better than that, the highways were littered with the coolest, quirkiest little coffee shops selling espresso frappes that made Starbucks coffee taste like diluted dish water! Cambodia doesn’t quite have the same developed food but you’ll be pretty safe with fried rice, noodles and vegetables.
  • Shopping in Bangkok. If you are going to build a wardrobe for when you finally get home, this is the place to do it. Get yourself to the weekend market (Chatuchak) and shop till you literally drop amidst the 8,000+ stalls selling every style of fashion. And quite conveniently, there are a couple of shipping couriers there to take your shopping off your hands! We used Innovative Logistics and found them to be competitively priced and delivered in five days as promised.
  • Bike shops that have parts. Bangkok is perfect for it and you can get your bike serviced for 200 baht. We went to BikeZone and found them to be pretty good in regards to parts and labour. I needed a new front wheel and tyres, Kimmi needed some general bike love.

What was like a traffic jam:

  • Cycling around Bangkok is not something you really want to do for fun. It’s much easier to get the skytrain or a taxi from A to B. The city is built around one way systems and you have to carry your bike over an overpass more often than not. It’s not unbearable to cycle into or out of, but once there, we found it better to let the bikes rest for a while.
  • The coast of Thailand towards Pattaya and Ban Chang is a lot of highway. Unfortunately, there is not really a road that shadows the shoreline so the option of taking the coast road may as well be in the middle of the country.
  • Nothing, everything else is fantastic!

Top Tips:

  • We managed to use couch surfing to find a local in the country farms of Trat province in Thailand. Once again, couch surfing gave us many unique and interesting experiences and we loved them all!
  • The road between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh is the ‘child traffickers’ highway. The two places most known for it. Visit Karuna Guesthouse, run by the Sao Sary Foundation, to contribute your bit to these terrible conditions.
  • Don’t get sucked into the ‘medical check’ at the border. You don’t need it and they will try and charge you for it. Also, it’s a great idea to get your visa before you get to the border. Check out this link to get it online.

What’s it worth?

  • Thailand- Accommodation can cost anything from 120 baht to 2500 baht. We splashed out in Bangkok and spent 950 baht per night through Booking.com at H-Residence. It’s a great place off Sathorn in a quiet back street. In Pattaya we spent 600 but I’m sure you could find something for 6000 if you wanted to. Other town along the coast, we found places for from 150 baht up to 330 baht with air conditioning. A meal will cost about 50 baht for fried rice/noodles. Frappee coffees are 45 baht. Exchange rate is AU$1= 30 baht, GBP£1= 48 baht
  • Cambodia- It’s not too much different. The currency is Rial but they usually take US$.  The ATM’s will dispense US currency but you get change back in Rial (US$1 = 4000 Rial). Accommodation is about $5-$6, a meal for 2 is about $3-$4 and water is 25c for 500ml (hard to find bigger bottles).

 

TownKM'sNightsWhere we slept
Bangkok2730Hotel
Chon Buri1001Hotel (galaxy)
Pattaya571Hotel
Ban Chang592Couch Surf
Klaeng751Hotel
Chanthaburi641Hotel
Trat Province752Couch Surf
Trat city402Hotel
Koh Kong1021Hotel
Andoung Teuk1031Hotel
Srae Ambel401Hotel
Kampong Speu1072Karuna Guesthouse
Phnom Penh486Couch Surf

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