Cambodia and Vietnam travel information Cambodia & Vietnam The Granular Detail Expectations Visas Shopping What to wear Insurance Internet Packing Donations Food Sleeping Money Photography Emergencies Weather Electricity Flights Safety Bathrooms Arriving Cycling Vaccinations Cambodia & Vietnam The Granular Detail Expectations Visas Shopping What to wear Insurance Internet Donations Food Packing Sleeping Money Photography Emergencies Weather Electricity Flights Safety Bathrooms Arriving Cycling Vaccinations Your expectations.. From Brett & Hoem Brett is the founder of Social Cycles and Hoem is the ‘make it happen’ guy for Cambodia. The very first Social Cycles tour started in Cambodia and Hoem has been an integral part of this creation from day one. We chose Cambodia to launch Social Cycles due to the overwhelming amount of NGOs of varying expertise and focus. Hand picking what we believe to be the best in the country in regards to vision, execution, responsibility, sustainability and exit strategy. When people think of Cambodia, they can sometimes conjure up images of extreme poverty, poor living conditions and a two week holiday of discomfort and danger. I’m pleased to say that Cambodia has come a long way since then and has opened up to the world to show off the beauty within. Cambodia boasts not only numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a rich and diverse history, incredible cuisine and stunning natural beauty, it is also home to some of the friendliest people you could ever meet. And getting off the beaten track, away from the now booming tourist bubble and travelling by bicycle is by far the best way to do it!Now, this is not to say that Cambodia is a sterile, immaculate advanced nation leading the world in the 21st century. Far from it. You will see living conditions that you may perceive to be ‘poor’ out in remote villages. You will see children running around dirt tracks and roads with no shoes on, scuffed, torn clothing, playing with a stick. But what you won’t see is a community that is crying out to be ‘saved’. The children playing in the villages are laughing, smiling and having fun with their brothers and sisters, with their friends and school mates. They’ll scream out as you cycle pass, but they’re not asking for money or a hand out. They’re just screaming ‘HELLO!!’ And they’ll really scream it, from toddler to teenager, kids on the street, in houses, classrooms, playing up in trees, you’ll here these ‘HELLO’s!!’ all day throughout your cycling adventure. And when you reply with a wave and a hello back, they’ll giggle, get shy and run into the arms of their mum watching (and also waving) nearby. What the people of Cambodia need is pretty straight forward. They need the right to a free, quality education for children. They need access to clean water. And they need the opportunity to apply for employment. They’re the same basic human rights that every country in the world needs. There’s plenty of NGOs working in this space and doing a wonderful job. When you cycle through these villages, you can’t see these needs on the faces of the people. You can’t look at somebody and know if they have running water in their home or if they have to walk to a well nearby. You can’t look at a child and know the quality of his or her school teacher. However, you will be moved and even inspired by the pure friendliness, joy and lust for life that you can see on the faces of local people in the remote villages. They’re genuinely excited to see you. And they some how have all this happiness without having the latest iPhone, a flat screen TV and new car.As tourism has boomed in Cambodia, it has brought many comforts for travellers. There is every range of hotel, from international five star properties to cheap backpacker hostels. We stay in clean and comfortable 3 star hotels with your own private bathroom, air conditioning and usually a pool to have a dip in after your ride. The food is a melting pot of Thai, Lao and Vietnamese. It’s not too spicy and just like hotels, you can eat from the street with a rat running over your foot, or you can eat in some of the best restaurants you’ll ever dine in. On our tours, we lean more towards the better side (as I’m a passionate foodie), but we stay true to local style and flavour. You don’t go this far to have pizza. Some of the best meals will be on the street (especially in Vietnam) and a common favourite for many is the cooking and dining at Hoem’s house in Siem Reap.My best advice is to come with an open mind. Be open to change in the itinerary as weather can play a part in our route. Be open to the food from the street, as it could be some of the best flavours you ever experience. And be open to the people. They’re friendly, welcoming and genuine. You just might make some life long friends.I know I have. Insurance Travel and medical insurance is mandatory for all Social Cycles clients. It is one of the most important criteria foranyone who travels and in the very unlikely event that an emergency occurs your insurance must deliver. What having an insurance policy actually means in practise if someone does get sick:• You can get 24-hour medical support from the insurance company doctors• If treatment or a hospital visit is required, the insurance company will ensure that this is at the best local facility• We would provide all necessary assistance (for example, sending someone with you to the hospital to help with any language difficulties). • You must be adequately insured for medical and health cover – in case of a sudden illness or injury. Your insurance policy should also cover 24-hour emergency service and assistance, hospital fees, lost, damaged or stolen property (we are not responsible for any loss or damage to personal belongings while on tour). Your insurance policy must cover any necessary extra travel (rejoining tour or repatriation) as well as curtailment and cancellation.• Insurance provided by standard credit cards does not always provide adequate cover and I suggest that you check your policy. If you do travel with insurance provided through a credit card, we will need details of the participating insurer, the insurance policy number and emergency contact telephone number. The Bank’s name and the credit card number will not be enough information.• You must satisfy yourself that your policy covers medical emergencies resulting from any/all of the activities that you propose to undertake during the course of your trip and you should request a full policy document from your insurer if one is not automatically provided.• If you are from the US and do not usually travel with insurance, you may wish to look at either www.travelexinsurance.com or www.travelguard.com• There is a space for your insurance details on your online Social Cycles Booking Form. However, if you have yet to arrange your insurance it is essential that before you begin your SC adventure you email to me the details of your travel insurance documentation.This must include:• The name of your insurance company• The 24-hour emergency assistance number• The policy number Your donations Your money. Your decision. Based on your experience. Countries NGOs Riders $ Donated so far These numbers change lives. Not only the lives of the beneficiaries involved, but the lives of the riders who have witnessed and learned the complexity of community development in foreign countries. This is your chance to speak to local experts as part of your adventure, as you cycle across the country and gain a true understanding of life outside the tourist bubble.We ask for a A$200 minimum commitment from all riders. The money is given directly to the NGOs that are chosen by you. All of it. No bank fees, no commissions. The group from every tour engage in a ‘Donation Debate’ on our last night together. We’ll discuss what impressed us, confused us and inspired us. As a group, we’ll make a decision as to how we’ll divide the total money. It’s your money and your experience. It can, and will, go to whatever NGO touched you the most. Money, budgeting and tipping MoneyThere’s plenty of opportunities to get money out from an ATM in both Cambodia and Vietnam, although you’re likely to be stung with about US$5-6 of fees every time you withdraw cash. It’s pretty much a cash economy in all the places you’re likely to spend money. The only places that take card payments are bigger establishments, such as hotels and bigger restaurants (all of which are paid for as part of the SC tour).BudgetingSo the obvious next question is, how much should you bring with you? It really depends on what your movements are outside of the tour. You’ll need to budget (US) $30 for your Cambodia visa & US$50 for your Vietnam visa (if required), another $150 for the NGO donation (optional), and about $50-$100 for any hotels you might be staying in before or after the tour. Meals are anywhere from $5 to $10 and transport is cheap. For the actual tour itself, you should budget around $400 (plus visa, tip and donation). This will cover meals outside of the itinerary, souvenirs and other personal expenses. And you’ll have money left over to bring home. Changing MoneyYou can bring in all major currencies. this includes Australian & New Zealand dollars, Euros, British Pounds and of course, American dollars. There are money exchanges in all the major cities but the smaller towns might struggle to exchange anything other that US$. CurrencyIn Cambodia, they operate on the USD. This is accepted everywhere and is the only currency you need. There is also a local currency, called Riel (KHR). It is always 4000 KHR to 1 USD. You do not need to (or want to) change money into KHR. You will only receive it as change from the US notes. For example, if you purchase a bottle of water for 75 cents, and pay with a $1, then you will receive 1000 KHR in change. The biggest note in KHR is 20,000 ($5). You could think of KHR as ‘coins’. In Vietnam, they do NOT accept USD. You will need to obtain local currency before we cross the land border. The local currency is Vietnamese Dong (VND). It is approximately 23,000 VND to 1 USD. You can change money from Phnom Penh or Kampot before we cross the border.TippingTipping in hotels and restaurants in Cambodia and Vietnam is not common. Sometimes there would be a small tip box at the front of some restaurants, should you choose to leave something for exceptional service. Hoem and his team work hard to make you’re experience a truly once in a lifetime adventure. If you would like to tip the team, it would be graciously accepted, but certainly not expected. The amount is always hard to suggest as it is always a personal gesture and different amounts mean different things to different people. Previous riders have tipped the team anywhere from US$50 to $150, depending on the length of the tour. We change teams when we cross into Vietnam, saying goodbye to Hoem at the border and hello to the Vietnam team, so we generally tip twice. Emergencies In case there is an emergency in Cambodia or Vietnam – it depends on the severity of the situation but this is a brief guide to our emergency plan that we put into action when an event requires it:• Deal with the on the ground situationIn case of an accident that requires administering of first aid at the scene, our staff are trained in basic emergency response techniques, and all trips carry basic first aid kits checked. We check, replenish and/or replace our kits on a regular basis.For relatively minor injuries including cuts, sprains, dehydration, fractures etc., local hospitals (if needed) will usually be able to provide adequate medical provision. In most instances you will be within 0-2 hours’ drive of a local hospital. • If the incident requires it, we contact the travel insurance company of those affected and also the relevant embassy. Contact the emergency contact listed on the booking form. This is why it is imperative that you have travel insurance. In case of an emergency, it is YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY that puts into action your evacuation plan. We contact your insurance company on your behalf and they take over the situation. Flights As this tour will have different arrival and departure points for different people, it is important that you book the right flights. If in doubt, get in touch. The Siem Reap to Saigon (16 day) option starts in Siem Reap (Airport code- REP) and the 12 day option starts in Phnom Penh (Airport code- PHN). Both of these tours finish in Ho Chi Minh City (Airport code- SGN).Flights are easy to come by for these cities but it’s more than likely that you will travel via a transit city, depending on where you’re coming from. More common long haul flights look like this:AUST/NZ: Flying into Cambodia (REP or PHN), you will most likely either fly via Singapore, Bangkok or Malaysia depending on what carrier you choose. Flight prices can vary from A$700 return (budget airlines) to $1500 depending on the time of year and the airline. Late December and January are the most expensive times to fly but you can get a good deal if you book in advance. We can help with flights from these regions. Get in touch for more details.EUROPE: Coming from Europe and UK, there’s a range of options and prices. You’ll probably fly either Bangkok (BKK, Thai Airways), China (CAN, China Southern) or Hong Kong (HKG, Cathay Pacific). Flight prices range from £350 to £750 return, again depending on the time of year you’r going to travel.USA/CAN: Prices can vary from US$900 to $1500 depending on the time of year. You’re pretty much gooing to be going via China, dependng on your airline. Could be China Eastern or China Southern. Flight times are in excess of 20 hours, so I’d recommend you arrive a day or two early to acclimatize. Arrivals and Departures On Arrival (Cambodia)• In either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, you’ll need to get your visa (if you haven’t already). It’s easy to do. You’ll see some signs directing you where to go (follow the signs for Visa on Arrival). There will be a uniformed official giving out a piece of paper that you will need to complete. It will ask for your address in Cambodia. If you’ve arrived at Siem Reap, then write ‘Tanei Boutique Hotel‘. If you’ve arrived in Phnom Penh, then write ‘Mito Hotel‘. Give this completed form and your passport, together with your passport photo to the official behind the desk. This person will take your items and gesture for you to go away and wait away from the line. Your passport and form will be shuffled along a queue of officials sitting behind the desk. When it gets to the end, some ten meters away, your name will be called and your passport waved in the air. Pay this person (the cashier) US$30 and collect your passport with a fresh, full page Cambodia tourist visa stamp.• Then proceed downstairs to collect your luggage before exiting to the arrivals hall.• After collecting baggage, you may be asked by customs officials to screen your luggage in a machine before exiting and/or check your luggage tags against the corresponding labels that you were given when checking in, to make sure you have taken the correct bags.On Departure (Vietnam)• Check-in 2 hrs prior to flight time is ample for all international flights• There is no departure tax to pay (all taxes are included in ticket prices)• Fill in a departure card and hand in at passport control counters after going through security• There are shops and cafes in the departure area near the gates. Boarding announcements are made in English for all flights. Airport Transfer:On clearing customs and collecting your luggage, please look for a sign with your name on it. Please do not leave the arrivals hall. If it is crowded, it may take you time to locate the sign. You will be transferred to your accommodation. You can exchange money at the airport but it’s better to change a small amount as the exchange rates are better in the city. You can also get a sim card at the airport. This is probably the easiest and most convenient place to get a sim.Arrival airport transfer are included in Social Cycles tours. Somebody will be there to meet you (tuk tuk in Siem Reap, car in Phnom Penh). If your flight has arrived early then the transfer driver may not yet have arrived. Please just take a seat and wait a little while longer. You may be approached by someone offering you a taxi – don’t take it, just wait until you see someone with a sign. You will be provided with a phone number to call once you have booked. Obtaining a Visa The visa process is not too much of a hassle, but most passport holders will need at least a Cambodia visa, if not a Vietnam visa as well.Visa for CambodiaPassport holders from all countries except Singapore. Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines (and a couple of others) will need to get a visa for Cambodia. This is easy to do and can be done on arrival at either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airport. You will need US$30 cash and a passport photo (along with a completed application form) that you can collect at the airport. There are some e-visas available but the process is quite straight forward at the airport. See the arrival section on this page to read more.Visa for VietnamMost passport holders will need a visa for Vietnam also, except for the following nationalities: UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Japan, Korea, Russia and Norway. All of these nationalities can get into Vietnam for a maximum period of 15 days without a visa, provided they have not been in Vietnam in the last 30 days.All other nationalities (Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, American, South African etc) will need to get a visa prior to entry. You can do this via your home embassy, but allow plenty of time for passport to be returned. The border we cross into Vietnam is a land border crossing. You can also get an e-visa though the official government channels. You can find the link to the application form here. Please ensure you fill it out correctly and upload the passport photo and page correctly. The border crossing is “HA TIEN LAND PORT” and your address in Vietnam will be TripWriter Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City. The cost is US$25 and the time is usually three days, but please allow at least a week, if not longer. The date of the land crossing will be on the itinerary. Internet and local sim cards Sim CardsThere’s plenty of options for sim cards in Cambodia and Vietnam and I’d highly recommend getting one in each country when you arrive. In Cambodia, I’d recommend going with CellCard, but any of them are good enough to get you coverage. It’s best to get it at the offical telco retail outlet, either at the airport or in the city. Ask them to set you up with a data package to suit your needs. If you just put credit on your phone, it will allow you to make calls, but not use the internet (or use it at very high rates). You want to buy credit and purchase a data package plan. Make sure that the plan is valid for your length of travel. For example, you could buy the sim card for $3 and purchase $3 of credit, then purchase a data package of 2GB that lasts 15 days. (prices are indicative examples only, check local suppliers for exact packages). InternetWifi is pretty good in most places and is often free. Even some remote, off the beaten track places will have wifi. Saying that though, I’d still recommend a sim card. It really helps if you need to contact anybody in the group, especially in the case of emergencies. We will be communicating via a Whatsapp group (and you can also call home for free). There are no blocked websites in Cambodia or Vietnam (that I’m aware of), and should you want to, you’ll even be able to watch movies from your Netflix account. Food What’s the food like in Cambodia & Vietnam?In a word…delicious! The best part is the street food (in my opinion). It’s what the region is famous for and for good reason! The markets are like a walking degustation of stick food! At our dinners, we’ll order a variety of local specials and eat ‘family style’, ensuring everybody gets to try as much as possible! We often eat at vocational training restaurants that serve as social enterprises of the NGOs we visit. It makes you feel good, but that’s not why we eat there. We eat there because the food is as good, if not better, than most of the packed out restaurants in my home town of Melbourne!Vegetarians and Vegans?That’s no problem. There’s a huge variety of vegetarian local specialties available and there will always be vegetarian dishes on the table at every meal. If the majority of the group are vegetarian, it will be reflected in the food on the table.Dietary requirements?If you have any dietary requirements or allergies, please indicate on the online form you will fill out once you have paid a deposit and booked your place. We’ll cater to all dietary requirements as best as possible. Please get in touch with us if you have life threatening allergies.What’s the deal with alcohol?There’s plenty of beers around Cambodia and Vietnam. And a cold beer after a hard day on the bike is pretty inviting! They’re quite cheap too, with some places selling draft beers from as little as 50c. Wine is a little harder to find (good wine anyway) and is closer to Western prices. Cocktails on the other hand are excellent, well made (the places I’ll take you too) and inexpensive ($5-6). Just be wary that the weather can be a little warm and a couple too many beers or cocktails will knock you about a bit more than usual the next day. Dehydration will have a huge effect and it doesn’t take much to have a hangover. To be honest, most of the time, we’re in bed by 9pm! Packing suggestions Everyone’s packing style is different and we all have our own travel needs so these are only ideas and there will be gaps! These are merely suggestions and not ‘compulsory’ items. See the ‘weather’ section for details about the time of your trip.Clothing and washing opportunities:You will generally live in shorts, t-shirt & flip-flops. We will have a chance to get washing done in Siem Reap (day 2), Phnom Penh (day 6), Kampot (Day 9), Can Tho (day 12) and Saigon (day 15), so you don’t need to bring a pair of everything for every day CYCLEFull sleeve sports top for sun protection (high breathability)Lightweight full length top and pantsComfortable (padded) shorts to cycle inVisor/Caps for under your helmetClosed shoes (bikes do not have clip in pedals)GlovesHelmetSports water bottleLightweight backpack (optional)Removable padded seat for your bike (optional)Light Khmer scarf to protect your neck from the sunSunscreen EXTRASCash (see notes on money)Passport & passport photoInsurance copyCamera, SD cards & chargersSmart phone & chargersTropical strength insect repellantHand sanitizerGels & hydrolytes to stay hydratedAdequate prescription medicationWomens sanitary needsHat for sun protectionUsual toiletries Weather Wet SeasonThe wet season is from June to October. But don’t let that put you off, the wet season brings with it a heap of fun and adventure in it’s own right. We’ve done plenty of tours in this time and more often than not, it doesn’t rain at all. And then we’ve done tours in the ‘dry season’ and it’s poured down. It can be really difficult to predict these days and it shouldn’t be an influential factor in making your decision as to when the best time to visit is. The temperature is still in the mid to high 20’s during the wet season, so if it does rain, and we’re riding, we’ll usually just enjoy the shower. If, on the odd occasion, it pours down to the point of low visibility, we’ll pull over until it passes. This has not happened to date. The wet season is more likely to bring with it some mud along the route (if it’s rained in the last 24 hours) and a few more river crossing than the dry season. Other than that, and the late afternoon showers, it’s pretty much the same.Dry SeasonNovember to February is when most guide books will tell you it’s the best time to go to Cambodia and Vietnam. Although the weather is a couple of degrees cooler (especially at night) and the rain is not as frequent, it can bring with it more tourists, especially in the more popular areas (Angkor Wat etc). As we’ve said before, there is never really a bad time to go! Except maybe for March and April. There’s not a lot of rain, can it can get a little bit warm. Safety & First Aid SafetyWe take your safety extremely seriously and ensure that all the activities we host have been assessed in regards to health and safety aspects, from cycling routes to where we eat. Saying that, we’re not there to hold your hand the entire time and you will have to assume general common sense in Cambodia and Vietnam. We’d recommend exercising a little more caution than if you were back home. For example, we wouldn’t advise getting drunk in any of the cities as you may be vulnerable to assault or theft. We’d recommend you take extra care when crossing the road as a pedestrian (we’ll be there with you when you’re on the bike and direct the traffic around you). The traffic can be a little daunting. If in doubt, cross with a local. Common sense can go a long way here.What should I be cautious of?The biggest risk in the larger cities is ‘snatch and grab’ crime, where a passing motorbike may snatch your phone or bag off your shoulder. This is more common in the lead up to national holidays. To prevent or minimise your chance of becoming a victim, use your headphones whilst making a phone call on the street. If you’re using your phone as a camera, ensure you look around first and hold onto your phone tightly. Take your photos quickly and be vigilant of those around you. When walking with your bag, have the strap over your opposite shoulder. Be wary on crowded trains and in markets.How can I find out more?Due to the amount of positive experiences we have had in Cambodia and Vietnam, we can sometimes see it through rose coloured glasses. To keep us in check, we refer to the safety guide produced by the Australian government. It is based on fact, not hysteria. Cambodia and Vietnam are both currently rated as green. Which means exercise general safety precautions. Other countries with the same level are New Zealand, Samoa, Canada, UK etc. Check out the latest about what Australian Govt thinks about travelling in this region by following this link. First AidMedical facilities in Cambodia and Vietnam are basic, outside of major cities. There are international standard hospitals in all the major cities on route (Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampot, Can Tho, Ben Tre and Saigon).We assume you are in good health and have a sufficient level of fitness to complete your chosen tour. It is very important that any illness, disability or medical condition that you suffer or are recovering from, have been brought to our attention at the time of booking. Please make sure you have informed your insurance company of any existing conditions to provide adequate cover.If you are taking medication, please bring your own adequate supply, as you will probably not be able to obtain suitable medication en-route.Each vehicle has a basic first aid kit but you may also like to bring your own small medical supply for minor wounds etc. We are not permitted to administer medicine or drugs so if you suffer from a bad back, travel sickness, hay fever or headaches etc please bring your own supply of medicine. You may also want to consider including a generic antibiotic such Amoxicillin.Is the cycling dangerous?At first impressions, the volume of traffic in the cities looks like utter chaos! It is in fact, a beautiful mess that really works. All the cities in Asia have a much greater amount of motorbikes than they do cars. As a result, the relationship between bikes and cars is very good, unlike Australia. There is little to no road rage, and as a result, the riding is a lot more peaceful than it may first appear! The vast majority of our cycling though is on remote back roads between rural villages. We don’t take any highways and never share any roads with fast moving traffic. We have a support van on hand at all times to give you a ride if there is a particular section that you don’t feel comfortable with. To date, every rider has felt that the riding in Cambodia and Vietnam is safer than the conditions in Australia. I tend to agree. Cycling details Below are the details of each cycling day, for the 16 day Siem Reap to Saigon adventure. If you are completing the 12 day adventure from Phnom Penh, then your journey will start from Day 7 (Chisaur) fro the maps below.The distances between one hotel to the next can be extensive, so we have cherry picked the best part to cycle in between, but it may only be 40 to 60km of the route. Each Social Cycles tour is fully supported so there is an opportunity for riders to take a rest in the van. Our goal is to exhibit the beauty of travelling Cambodia and Vietnam by bicycle. It is not to rack up thousands of kilometers. Therefore, our style is recreational and casual. We aim to cater for beginner to intermediate recreational cyclists, not professionals or Strava enthusiasts. See our FAQ on Social Cycles tours for more info on whether this is the right tour for you in regards to cycling. Day Two: Angkor Temples An incredible start to an epic adventure. Cycles the temples of Angkor with a licenced guide. You’ll cycle out from the hotel with Sok and explore Angkor Wat for sunrise (weather depending), Bayon Temple and Ta Promh, all by bike. It’s about a 35km day and you should be back to the hotel by around 1pm, after a 5am start. It’s an easy ride that is broken up with many temples stops. Day Three: Out of Siem Reap This ride takes us from Siem Reap center to the boat port. It’s all flat and a good way to make sure the bikes are a comfortable fit. We’ll leave Siem Reap in the morning and get to the boat, to make our way outside of Battambang. There is further cycling in addition to the map below, virtually the same, but on the other side of the boat ride. The total distance today is close to 40km, but it’s broken up into two parts. Longer rides may be an option in late January or February, depending on the water levels of the river and the recent rainfall (or lack thereof). Day Four: Battambang Battambang is a beautiful town to explore by bike. We’ll spend the morning cycling the surrounding villages. The ride is completely flat, until we get to Phnom Sampov. We’ll leave the bikes at the base and walk to the top, for outstanding views and temples. After this, we’ll cycle to Banan Temple. Here we’ll have a local lunch and then make our way to Pursat by van. It’s a 30km leg (with photo stops), a short walk, then a 14 km leg to Banan Temple and lunch. Day Five: Phnom Penh This is the biggest and most challenging day so far. It’s a total of 75km and we cycle all the way into the front door of the hotel in Phnom Penh. We’ll take the van from Pursat to a particular dirt road and start our adventure from there. The day is broken up into 3 x 25km legs to make it more manageable. The first is beside the Tonle Sap river via dirt roads and remote villages. This takes us to lunch. Following this, we cycle some more open terrain and varied ‘river’ crossings to a ‘sugar cane juice’ stop. The final leg takes back streets and quiet roads, a couple of ferries and a pedestrian strip, taking us to the hotel. We’ll arrive by 5pm. Day Seven: Phnom Chisaur We cycle directly out of Phnom Penh in the early morning. Our route ensures light traffic and large shoulders to cycle on. After 20km, we’re in remote rural areas, where we remain for the remainder of the day. The destination is Phnom Chisaur, temple ruins older than Angkor Wat, but without the tourists. Its a 63km day, broken up with multiple coffee stops and photo ops. At Phnom Chisaur, we’ll have a local lunch. The van is always around (depending on road conditions and mud). It can be a tough day if the sun is strong. We should be at our lunch destination by about 1pm. Day Eight: The Great Bokor Challenge This ride is just for all the cyclists who like to challenge themselves. It’s an optional ride as we just cycle back to our starting point and spend another night in Kampot. There are some temples, and of course some great views at the top, assuming it’s a clear day. But the thrill is in the challenge of the ride. It’s 10km of flat, 22km of straight climb and 8km of undulating hills before we get to the top. The climb is slow and steady with an incline of 5%. It’s not steep, but it is relentless. You’ll need all your gears. The climb itself takes about 3 hours. The van is with us, providing water, fruit and the constant temptation to get in! Day Ten: Riding to the Viet border This is a great ride to finish Cambodia. The first 20km takes us to a pepper farm, where we’ll spend an hour on a pepper tour, with tastings (and ice cream). The next 20km takes us to lunch at the crab market in Kep. The final 20km takes us all the way to the Vietnam border via the coast and a little beach. There’s a bit of off road and dirt tracks in this route, but it’s nicely broken up with significant stops in between (pepper farm, lunch etc). It’s a fun day, very photogenic and also the last time we’ll have the Cambodian team with us. Once we cross the border (3pm’ish), we’ll meet the Viet team and drive to Rach Gia (2.5hrs). Day Eleven: Rach Gia to Can Tho Our first ride through the depths of the Mekong Delta. This ride stops about 15km short of Can Tho, where we’ll get the van. If you like, there is an option to continue, based on your ability and confidence as the traffic congestion increases in Can Tho. The 82km we tackle is all completely flat and broken up into 3 major legs (van stops). As the route we take focuses on minor roads and paths, the van cannot follow, therefore, it will only meet us at the water and lunch stops marked on the map below. We will, of course, have breaks within each leg for coffees and photos etc. Day Thirteen: Can Tho to Ben Tre This 92km day can seem a little daunting, but there’s a few options within it to shorten the ride for individuals, should you choose. There’s 3 major legs that this day is broken up into. If the idea of 90km is too much, I’d advise for you to skip the 2nd or the 3rd leg to shorten your day. It’s all flat, although there’s a bridge near the end that can feel like a hill! Some of the riding will take us on single track, via farms and rice paddies. It is incredible, epic scenery and cycling, but some techncal skill (confidence) is required. It’s never fast though and you’re welcome to walk some of these smaller segments should you feel more comforatble. Day Fourteen: Cycling into Saigon The final leg of this ride is not for everybody. The route we take into Saigon follows back roads and quiet streets up until the last 15km, where the traffic slowly builds until you’re in the heart of the city, surrounded by hundreds of slow moving motor bikes. It is a great ride that tops the adventure off in epic fashion, but as I say, it is not for everybody. We’ll discuss the logistics on the trip during briefings and you can make your decision on the day. The morning and lunch rides are again broken into 25km legs with interval van support. It’s all completely flat. What to wear The most important thing here is to be comfortable. Both Cambodia and Vietnam are still relatively conservative countries and you should address accordingly. You won’t see Cambodian people wearing revealing clothing and our clothing should be the same. It is disrespectful to wear short shorts and have exposed shoulders around some temples (parts of Angkor Wat). We’ll guide you beforehand though. Shorts, t-shirts and singlets are all fine to wear for everyday use, but please be aware of sun protection. There is no significant difference between what should be worn for men and women. Many people prefer padded shorts to make the ride more comfortable. I’d recommend a Khmer scarf for sun protection. We’re providing Scoail Cycles jerseys that have ppockets in the back to help you carry your possessions (money, phone etc). Men Women Shopping Cambodia and Vietnam are a haven for shopping enthusiasts. We’ll recommend places for you along the way, depending on what it is you’re looking to purchase. Common gift ideas from the region include coffee (and coffee making items), handicrafts, silks and clothes. All major cities have markets for you to purchase items in. If you’re looking for new clothes for yourself, it’s worth waiting for Saigon as there are some great local markets with very reasobale prices. You can find plenty of shirts, jeans, sports clothes etc. Siem Reap is good for tourist based souvenirs. You can get some more ideas and inspiration on our Siem Reap City Guide. You’ll find great gifts (jewellery, watches, bric-a-brac etc) in Battambang and Kampot.The best places to find souvenirs and gifts for people back home are at either Friends ‘n’ Stuff and Mekong Plus. These are the social enterprise arms of a couple of the NGOs we visit. You can find their shops in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Saigon. Sleeping The hotels.We choose hotels that are clean and comfortable. More often than not, we’ll find a hotel that has a pool for a bit of down time. There’s always a massage not too far away. The rooms are clean and secure. They will usually (but not always) have a fridge and a safe for you to put your belongings. All rooms have private bathrooms and will come with amenities and fresh towels. The tour is based on twin share accommodation, however, a single supplement is available if you would like your own room for the duration of the tour. Ben Tre homestay.We spend one night at a home stay in Vietnam (Ben Tre). It’s a family run business that is set up to accommodate us. This means that you’ll have your own room but it’s a little more basic. It comes with a mosquito net and a fan. The toilets and showers are communal, similar to that of a caravan park. This experience allows us to get a little closer to the Vietnamese lifestyle. The homestay is tucked away in the heartland of Ben Tre, amidst soaring coconut trees. Dinner is provided by the family and you may even get the chance to hang out in the kitchen and pick up some Vietnamese cooking skills! Photography Cambodia and Vietnam are incredible places to photograph. And like anywhere else in the world, it should be carried out with respect to local culture. In essence, if you are going to take a photograph of a person, it is always polite to ask for their permission. They will tell you straight out if they do not want their photograph taken and it is important that you respect their decision. You may well find though that many locals will approach you and ask to have their photograph taken with you. In some places that we go, it feels like we are the attraction!Photographing children without the consent of the parents is against the Social Cycles Child Safety policy. As cute as local kids can be, don’t take photos of children without their parents around. It’s just creepy. Electricity & Charging ElectricityElectricity is 220V, 50Hz. Standard sockets throughout the country accommodate the Type C European-style 2-pin plugs Please bring your own adapter as we do not provide these – there are more details in the What to Pack section further on.Recharging BatteriesIf you can’t live without your devices (like me), it’s a good idea to bring a battery pack that you can re-charge when we’re out on the road. Each vehicle has a connector that plugs into the cigarette lighter, but it’s slow to charge and shouldn’t be relied on. And there’s only one! Bathrooms Toilets in Asia are generally squat toilets. However,all the hotel rooms we stay in have a Western style toilet and a private bathroom. Local restaurants and homes will all have squat toilets.If you’re not used to this style, it can be a little daunting at first. If you’re really not comfortable with this, or your knees just aren’t what they used to be, it’s worth waiting to the next Western style toilet. Just be aware before you leave the comfort of the hotel!Toilets On The RoadIf we’re on the road and you suddenly near to use a toilet, just let our local guide know and we’ll find a family home that can host you for a few moments. The community lifestyle in rural villages makes this incredibly easy, but the local assistance from the SC team is essential. Bring toilet paper or tissues with you, but use a bin instead of flushing down the squat toilet, as the system cannot take it and you may end up blocking their drains.Toilet Paper The Asian style of toilet does not usually have toilet paper with it. The custom is to use water and your left hand to clean yourself. If this is the first time you’ve heard this, I’d imagine you might be squirming in your seat a little. However, it s commonly considered to be a cleaner method than the Western style. Think of it like this…. if you were sitting in a park and as you sat down on the grass, you put your hand in dog shit. Would you A) wash your hands with soap and water or B) wipe your hand clean with dry paper. It’s obvious, but just another way of thinking. If you’re not comfortable washing, then you’re welcome to bring toilet paper with you.LaundryEvery few days we have a day off the bikes. In almost all of these towns and cities, you will find a place to get your laundry washed. It’s usually $1 or $1.50 per kilo and takes 24 hours. We will have a chance to get washing done in Siem Reap (day 2), Phnom Penh (day 6), Kampot (Day 9), Can Tho (day 12) and Saigon (day 15). Vaccinations Please consult your doctor or local travel clinic for any required vaccinations – although there are no compulsory vaccinations, typhoid/tetanus/infectious hepatitis and polio are recommended. However, it is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain proper and detailed medical advice prior to travel. Malaria and other insect borne diseases exists in Cambodia and Vietnam, although our route does not go through highly prevalent mountain areas. Some riders choose to take malaria tablets, some choose not to. We recommend whether you take tablets or not, to exercise preventable measures such as tropical strength repellent and loose clothing.Details of recommended health requirements are available on www.traveldoctor.info and other websites. It is much better to seek the advice of a professional doctor over any website (including this one!) 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