Touring Thailand

 

Bike Touring Cambodia

Cambodian Road, Good

Cambodia or Kampuchea as it's known locally, was a troubled country in recent times. Now though it's shaken off most of the danger-element and is considered fairly well travelled on the touring biker scene. Hun Sen, the Prime Minister rules the country with an iron fist and seems to be keeping the place together.
Keep clear of any trouble where possible, unless you like the risk of robbery and murder as a daily companion.

Compared to Thailand this place is cheaper, but availability of spare parts for all foreign and big cc bikes is near-impossible. Plenty of small and simple shack-garages can help with routine maintenance and fixes, just don't expect any sophistication or bike-bike specialists. In Phnom Phen you might strike it lucky. The 'always-on' bike headlights that newer bikes have are a sore point while traveling by day in Cambodia. It seems that since it's only government vehicles that are given this 'privilege' and us mere mortals are forbidden to have lights on during day-riding. To this end though you'll be asked to fit a manual on-off switch. This is no headache though, the local grease monkeys can get this done for you for a few dollars.

Where to go in Cambodia

You have four key locations for traveling to:

Siam Reap - A small city famous for it's proximity to the major temple complex of Ankhor Wat. The Tonle Sap lake is also just south of here.

Phnom Pen - The Capital of Cambodia. A medium sized city with the some decent roads that have tarmac.

Sihanoukville - Cambodia's only major fishing port. Some expats have settled here and operate bars out of this city. This has recently been upgraded with half-decent tarmac roads.

Battambang - No information on this place. Small city and that's about it AFAWK. The roads here are probably in poor condition.

Road Directions in Cambodia

Getting around Cambodia is as straightforward and simple as it is challenging. The roads, even since our first scouting around 8 years ago haven't improved much.

Cambodia West

From the border town of Poipet leave on 'Highway' 6 until you reach Siam Reap. This highway runs all the way to the capital Phnom Phen. It bends around to the south-east to Khompong Tom. After this place go south on the same road to Skon. Then west to Oudong. South from here will take you into Phnom Phen. It is a telling fact that, in a medieval sense, many consider the lake/river travel from Siam Reap to Phnom Phen a safer and faster prospect than to go by road.

Cambodia South

To reach Sihanoukville head west out of Phnom Phen (the road leads past the Airport and firing range/barracks). This will take you on Highway 4 west. Keep on heading west-south until you reach the Highway 12 intersection. Turn south on this highway. It will lead you into Sihanoukville. At this point you may consider packing your battered machine on a boat and leaving Cambodia than face the return trek!

Cambodia South

Cambodian Road Conditions

Cambodian Road, Poor

This 'Highways' of Cambodia are little more than a clay track in many places. Bumps, potholes and wheel-braking ditch's are a common sights along with every rickety and ramshackle machine with wheels known to asia. Don't rush the journey, take your time. Sports bikers - you'll really need to re-consider this on a race or track bike.
Even Sports tourers may struggle. If you're still up for it then it's best to strip off your bikes fairing unless you don't mind putting it to the test (they'll be shaken and battered to pieces no doubt). A trails bike or Tourer will excel on a Cambodia Road Trip.

Note: If it rains the orange-brown-dirt clay will become treacherous and you'll become one with the terrain, literally, the clay will stick to you like sht to a blanket. 

Hazards and Dangers

Outside these areas you're on your own and need to be extra-wary. If you ride off the beaten track be wary of land-mines, robbers and the poor roads; Cambodia has plenty of each. There are temples galore and areas you could get to that few, if any tourists or western travellers have been to. Temper going off the beaten track with your own mortality, if you crash and break a leg the infra-structure and 3rd world nature means it could be along time before help arrives. Given the nature of landmines ever-present you could be maimed beyond healing...

Expat Scene in Cambodia

There is a pejorative saying in SE Asia 'Failed in Thailand? Try Cambodia' That is to say that those farang who've 'failed' in Thailand end up in Cambodia, with it being the last chance saloon for them.
While this isn't entirely fair to tar all expats in Cambodia with the same brush, you will notice the expats are cut from a different, rougher and less civilised cloth. Others say they are just prefer being in a more edgy and gritty environment. They do seem gloomy and bitter to us though (which is saying something!).

Visa Regulations in Cambodia

Compared to many countries in South-East Asia Cambodia boasts laissez-fair, generous visa regulations. Visa runs are nonexistent. You get 30 days on arrival, then it's simply a case of extending it via visa agencies in-country. Kind of like how Thailand used to be back in the good old days...
So show them the colour of your money ($25) and another month in Cambodia is yours, no questions asked.

Cambodia Facts

Founded: circa 1000s A.D

Population: 30,000,000 (Approx)

Size (Metropolitan): Sq. Miles

Distance from Bangkok by Air (to Poipet): 140 miles

Distance from Bangkok by Road (to Poipet): 160 miles

Legal Tender: Rial (US $ also accepted)

 

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