If you're flying into Ho Chi Minh City today you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure to start exploring, with a group meeting being held in the hotel foyer at a time indicated in your final documents. You will have time to relax at your hotel and adjust to the pace of Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city of Vietnam. It is the bustling and dynamic economic capital and the cultural trendsetter of the country, yet within the teeming metropolis you will find the timeless traditions and beauty of an ancient culture. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant, allowing us to sample Southern Vietnamese specialties and meet our fellow travelers.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
This morning we set off on a day of sightseeing, taking a short bus trip to Hoc Mon town where we'll hop on our bikes and cycle through scenic rice paddies and rubber plantations making our way to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, a twisting network of narrow underground tunnels and rooms that the Viet Cong used as its military base and living quarters during the Vietnam War. We'll learn about the Viet Cong's life underground as well as being able to explore the network of tunnels by foot. After lunch at a local restaurant we'll then drive back to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) for the afternoon, taking in some of the city's most important sights. We begin with the Reunification Palace, an outstanding example of 1960s architecture that is steeped in modern history. It was here that the Vietnam War ended in 1975, when the city of Saigon fell after a North Vietnamese army tank crashed through the palace gates, from which point the city was to be known as Ho Chi Minh City. From here we visit some of the city's major landmarks: the Notre Dame Cathedral, an imposing neo-Romanesque Catholic cathedral built in the late 19th century; and the Saigon Post Office, a classic French colonial building bearing a giant portrait of 'Uncle Ho' and many grand architectural details. To finish the day, you might like to visit the famous Ben Thanh Market, an enormous sprawling covered marketplace that is packed to the gills with everything from fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and sweets, to suitcases, clothing and white goods, traditional lacquer ware, handicrafts and kitschy tourist trinkets. Bargaining is key here, but even if you're not shopping, it's a dazzling spectacle to photograph.
Cycling distance: 26 km
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Today we depart Ho Chi Minh City and cycle towards the lush waterways and farmland of the Mekong River Delta. One of the world's great rivers, the mighty Mekong Southeast Asia's longest river rises in China's Tibetan Plateau and ribbons all the way down through Southeast Asia, emptying into the South China Sea south of Ho Chi Minh City. The vast alluvial plains of the Mekong Delta are the fertile food bowl of Southeast Asia, providing critical water for fishing, agriculture and transportation. We leave the busy streets of Saigon and drive to My Tho town, where we'll hop on our bikes and cycle for around 40 km to our lunch stop in Vinh Long. From here we continue our cycle through small villages and farmland to Can Tho, the Mekong Delta's largest city, where we arrive in the late afternoon.
Cycling distance: 65 km
Overnight in Can Tho.
This morning we set off early for a pleasant ride along the riverside and through villages to the Cai Rang floating market, where we'll visit a well known rice paper making village and explore the exciting floating market in a motorised sampan. After stopping for lunch at a local restaurant we'll continue cycling towards Long Xuyen and transfer to Rach Gia, our home for the night.
Cycling distance: 65 km
Overnight in Rach Gia
After breakfast we travel to Ha Tien and cross the border at Prek Chak into Cambodia, where our Cambodian guide will meet us. From here we'll cycle to the charming beach town of Kep on the Gulf of Thailand coast. Once a popular French colonial resort town, Kep is known for its fresh seafood, crumbling French colonial villas and relaxing lazy pace.
Cycling distance: approx. 55-60km (20km in Vietnam & 35-40km in Cambodia)
Overnight in Kep.
The morning is free at your leisure to enjoy the beach in Kep. In the afternoon we take a gentle ride towards the relaxed riverside town of Kampot, where we'll cycle around and visit some of the town's sights. Like Kep, charming Kampot is also home to handsome French colonial villas and a relaxing pace that makes it a favourite hang out with travelers. The quiet town is most famous for many features, one of which is the reputable produce of the best pepper in the country.
Cycling distance: 50 km approx. (30km from Kep to Kampot and 15-20km around Kampot
Overnight in Kampot.
Today we set off on our bikes towards nearby Bokor National Park, where we'll ride to foot of the hill and then drive in our support vehicle to the top of the mountain, for great views over Kampot and the Gulf of Thailand. We'll ride back to Kampot for lunch and then continue on our bikes to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. We'll ride most of the way before taking the support vehicle for the last 70 km or so, arriving at our hotel in the afternoon. With its handsome architecture and location at the convergence of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers, Phnom Penh is regarded by many as the most beautiful of all the French-built cities in Indochina. The city has a growing fine dining and hip caf culture, excellent museums and a booming arts scene, and Khmer and French influences are evident throughout the city's ornate temples and grand colonial buildings but its busy streets overflow with markets, motorbikes and fragrant food stalls as per most Southeast Asian cities.
Cycling distance: 60 km
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
This morning, we have a transfer to the riverbanks to catch a ferry to Koh Dach, known as Silk Island. Here we pedal through rustic scenic villages, silk weaving workshops, pagodas and meet friendly local people along the way. After this we drive back to the city and scale the steps up this small hill to see Wat Phnom Temple, the birthplace of Phnom Penh. Next we visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, housed in a former high school which was used as the Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the communist Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979.
From here we embark on a cyclo ride through the bustling streets passing by the Central Market, Independence Monument and along the riverside. Among the city's prime attractions, you will explore the famous Royal Palace. The Royal Palace faces the Mekong River, and its adjoining Silver Pagoda was built in 1962, famous for its lavish decorations of silver paved floor and several Buddha statues made from precious metals and stones. Next we wander the National Museum; the museum the Cambodians gathered and kept the statues since the Angkorian period. The National Museum is also called Musee des Beaux-Arts. We will spend the rest of day shopping at the Toul Tompong Market (Russian Market) where you will feel a bustling daily life of local people with Cambodia's special character through local specialties, their houses, their faces, palaces and buildings of Khmer & colonial style architecture.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Cycling distance: approx. 15km (in Koh Dach Island only)
Note: To see the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, visitors are required to wear appropriated clothes. Short pans (above knees) and sleeveless tops are not permitted.
Today is a rest day from cycling as we take a private bus to Siem Reap. We drive through picturesque countryside, stopping along the way to walk through local villages. We stop by the town of Skuon, also known as Spiderville, which boasts one of Cambodian's more exotic culinary delights the deep-fried spider. We set out again along the road to Kampong Thom, winding through farmer's fields, rubber plantations and typical Khmer villages, on the way to this picturesque town on the banks of the Stung Sen River. After stopping for lunch in Kompong Thom we'll visit Sambor Prei Kuk, an impressive collection of 7th century temple ruins that served as the capital of the pre-Angkorian Chenla Kingdom. We continue on to our hotel in Siem Reap. In the evening enjoy dinner with an Apsara dance show.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Drive time: 6-7hours
If you're happy to rise early today, we'll have the option of driving to Angkor Wat for an unforgettable sunrise. After breakfast back at our hotel we'll hop on our bikes and spend a full day exploring the spectacular Angkor temples. The UNESCO World Heritage Listed site of Angkor Wat, one of the great wonders of the world, encompasses not just the one temple but an expansive religious city covering several square miles near Siem Reap the largest religious complex in the world including scores of temples, shrines, canals and other structures. This is one of the world's most significant archaeological sites, and is at once an arresting and unforgettable experience to see the temples in person. With the majority of construction taking place between the 6th and 13th centuries, the temples of Angkor together form an incredible testimony to the spiritual vision and artistic genius of the Angkor civilisation that flourished and prospered from about 800 to 1400 AD. Many of the temples are still in excellent condition especially the iconic Angkor Wat but many structures are in states of ruin as the surrounding forests have taken over during the centuries since their abandonment. The iconic temples are intricately carved and adorned with sculpture and bas-relief depicting sacred scenes of Cambodian life and mythology. Today we'll visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom Temple, the Bayon, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of Leper Kings, the Ta Prohm Temple and the iconic Angkor Wat. Please prepare yourself to be exposed to the sun for long intervals today.
This evening enjoy a special treat with a performance from PHARE. The Cambodian Circus has long been famous for their performances, and this NGO teaching streetkids to become circus artists is a regular at international circus conventions worldwide. Enjoy their interpretations of modern life and issues in Cambodian society.
Cycling distance: 40 km
Overnight in Siem Reap.
For sunrise clients need to be ready to leave hotel around 4:45-05:00am otherwise they may miss it.
Appropriate attire when visiting temples in Angkor Wat is long pants (covering the knee) and shirts that cover shoulders. Skirts, small shorts, tank tops, and other items of revealing clothing are not allowed within temple grounds. Visitors can and are frequently turned away from temples when wearing revealing clothing.
After breakfast, you head out to Roluos group, located just outside Siem Reap. The temples date back to the late ninth century and are believed to denote the beginning of the 'classic period' in Khmer architecture. You will cycle to Kompong Kleang floating village, a settlement of over 20,000 people, mostly fisherman and traders. Floating over the canals, houses tower up to ten meters above the water, and you will constantly see waving hands of the friendly locals. Take your time and make the best of this opportunity to glimpse Cambodia's countryside culture and family lifestyle, a contrast to the constant bartering you'll find in the cities. From Kompong Khleang, you head out to the hidden jungle temple of Beng Mealea. A short walk through dense jungle brings you to the wonders of this overgrown temple which lay undiscovered for centuries.
Cycling distance: 60 km
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Note: From February to August/September the water level of the Tonle Sap Lake is very low. It's muddy and the boat can get stuck. If clients are still keen on having a boat trip on the lake we'll change to Chong Kneas floating village instead of Kompong Kleang where the condition is a little bit better for the boat trip. So clients will be transferred to Chong Kneas to have boat trip then transferred to Roluos Group to cycle to Beng Mealea.
The morning is free at leisure. We will transfer you to the airport for your flight back home.