We love a Southeast Asia cycle adventure. And it seems our fundraisers do too, raising nearly $4 million to date with their pedal power. So how does cycling Cambodia compare to cycling Vietnam? The truth is, you really can’t go wrong with either but there are certainly differences. Read on for our take on how they stack up.
Socialist Republic of Vietnam Cộng hòa Xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam
Land area: 332,698 km2
Currency: đồng (VND)
Religion: Atheist officially, many Buddhism followers
Per capita GDP: $2,305
Kingdom of Cambodia Preăh Réachéanachâk Kâmpŭchéa
Land area: 181,032 km2
Currency: Riel (KHR) and USD used
Religion: Theravada Buddhism, majority and official
Per capita GDP: $1,308
How do the routes compare?
Our Cambodian adventure are typically 5-6 of cycling in the area around Siem Reap and Battambang. Siem Reap is home to the Angkor Wat complex, and our cycles cover the countryside around and in between some of the most famous temples including Ta Prohm, Bayon, and Angor Wat. We also venture further out to Banteay Srei and then to Battambang (assisted by bus transfer).
In Vietnam, many of the NGOs we parter with have local offices or programs in country and therefore the itineraries are varied to accomodate visits to those sites. For example, we may spend an extra day in Ha Noi for a visit to the UN complex there, or a local village around Hoi An. In all cases, you’ll spend between 4-6 days in the saddle covering a mixture of terrain (including the infamous Hai Van Pass) in the regions between Hue and Hanoi.
Ok, which one's easier?
Cycling 350+ KMs is never going to be ‘easy’ but Cambodia has a distinct advantage with its lack of hills. In central Vietnam, just north of Da Nang, the Annamite mountains make for beautiful views and challenging cycling as you make your way over Hai Van Pass. A 10% grade, the hill will burn your legs OUT. But the sense of achievement at the top? Oh, yes. 💪
What about the food...
Vietnamese food is legendary. Fresh, herb-y, flavoursome (not to mention the pho!) you’ll find the blueprint for the dishes that have been imported and copied all over the world here. You may be less familiar with Cambodian (Khmer) food but it is no less delicious. Curries of fish or seafood are common, and not too spicy.
What do people say about each?
Jennifer, on Vietman:
“Cycling through Vietnam offers another level of cultural appreciation. We rode through farmlands, highways, bridges, mountains and hectic city streets. There was always the opportunity to hop off the bike and take in the surroundings. Along the way, we picked up different phrases, scents, and local snacks. We had a glance at the everyday life that is so often overlooked by travel brochures. Cycling allows you to cover so much ground without the feeling of missing out. It was the perfect way to visit 5 cities in 13 days.”
Kelsey, on Cambodia:
“There’s nothing like waking up early, with the heat of the day not quite set in, and cycling out of Siem Reap, past roadside stalls, locals waving hello, and into the Angkor complex. There are so many temples here which are perfectly explored on bicycle. My favourite though, might be cycling even further out of Siem Reap, through smaller villages off the tourist track. It’s such a great opportunity to glimpse everyday life, seeing families and neighbours getting on with their day’s actives but making time for a smile or hello as you zoom past. Cambodia gets under your skin; I can’t wait to go back for my third visit. Just be prepared for hot weather, and that the red dust will forever be part of your cycling shoes!”
Check out our calendar for 2017!