PHNOM PENH- If a visit to the historical temples of Angkor Wat is a must-do in Cambodia, there's more in the small Kingdom than just Siem Reap and the famed Angkor temples. Specialist of bike tours around Asia, Spice Roads recently set up a new bicycle tour to peaceful beaches, lesser-known temples and jungle trails throughout Cambodia. At the same time, travellers will be initiated to the unpretentious rural Khmer way of life.
The new four-day Cycling Cambodia's Pepper Route tour meets in Phnom Penh but quickly escapes south to a countryside of green rice fields that contrast with a bright blue sky, creating a priceless piece of art by nature. Visiting a lake where locals picnic, a silk weaving village and a pepper plantation are part of the way to interact with Khmers who aren't jaded by tourists. On the way, groups will visit the old colonial coastal town of Kep with its unique French and Asian atmosphere and the laid-back riverside town of Kampot.
Around the small town grow pepper. Smell of the plant might only be surpassed by the flavours emerging from tasty pepper crab, a specialty dish of the area. The ride ends up at Bokor National Park with a panoramic view of the Gulf of Thailand.
This 190-km ride is a mixture of tarmac and dirt roads, mostly flat except for the last day in Bokor National Park. Cycling Cambodia's Pepper Route includes bike rental, accommodation, meals, water and snacks during the ride. The tour departs from Phnom Penh every Saturday with a minimum of 2 adults.
Spice Roads also offers now two shorter excursions from Phnom Penh for mountain bikers to Kirirom National Park. This plateau is about 700m high, enough altitude for pines to grow, giving it a different feel from the country's typical tropical jungle. Being only a two hour drive from Phnom Penh, the area is a favourite spot for local mountain bikers who have developed numerous trails and even a race course for competitions.
Riders can go for the day on the Mountain Bike Kirirom's Jungle Trails tour or spend the night at a community based tourism home-stay on the Kirirom Explorer tour. On the 2-day tour, riders will get a lift on the bamboo train before they cycle through the Cambodian countryside on the first day and hit Kirirom's trails the next day. On both tours the riding will involve a 22 km climb to a lake where there's time to cool down (or the option to transport up) and then an adrenalin-pumping 26 km on single track trails through forests, streams and waterfalls. When bikers do see the van again, it will be time to clean up and head back to Phnom Penh. Both tours have guaranteed departures with a minimum of 2 adults.