11 days Cycling southern Laos Cambodia pakse siem reap expedition
Laos, a peaceful country, houses immense natural beauty for you to explore. Culturally diverse, geographically mountainous, historically fascinating and spiritually rich, this destination will certainly take your breath away and making you frequent this destination. After years of isolation and war, Laos, with its almost intact culture and the most relaxed people on earth, is earning cult status among the travelers. Though it is developing fast, it still has much of its traditions intact.
Laos Tours, therefore, present a swarm of surprises that are sure to mesmerize the tourists. Luang Prabang is the prime location offering an option for cultural adventure. Visiting the homes of the friendly-natured locals gives you the opportunity to experience Baci welcoming ceremony. It is the Lao tradition prevailing for centuries and strolling the traffic-free, pleasant alleys and streets of this old city. Visit the gilded temple with the novice Buddhist monks. Spend some private time with some rare species of Asian elephant in the sanctuary outside the town. It will be a fascinating experience feeding these gentle giants.
Further afield, you can take your kids for a Laos Holiday to Vang Vieng. Rent one inner tube and enjoy floating down the river and stopping once in a while at the riverside stalls for buying fruit juices for your kids or perhaps a bottle of beer or two for yourself.
A tour in Laos is not complete without a visit to the Four Thousand Islands. The islands here have such small dimensions that you can cover the entire area in a cycle in just a day. You can stop by the stunning waterfall or take a refreshing dip in the river or visit the colorful and ornate Buddhist temples located in the midst of rice fields. The electricity does not stay for a long time at night. So, it is the right place to show your kids the actual picture of how the stars look like in a night sky. No obstruction of the city lights.
Angkor (ប្រាសាទអង្គរ) is the earthly representation of Mt Meru, the Mt Olympus of the Hindu faith and the abode of ancient gods. The temples are the perfect fusion of creative ambition and spiritual devotion. The Cambodian ‘god-kings’ of old each strove to better their ancestors in size, scale and symmetry, culminating in the world’s largest religious building, Angkor Wat.
The temples of Angkor are a source of inspiration and national pride to all Khmers as they struggle to rebuild their lives after the years of terror and trauma. Today, the temples are a point of pilgrimage for all Cambodians, and no traveller to the region will want to miss their extravagant beauty. Angkor is one of the world’s foremost ancient sites, with the epic proportions of the Great Wall of China the detail and intricacy of the Taj Mahal, and the symbolism and symmetry of the pyramids, all rolled into one
Day 1: Arrival Pakse
Arrival at Pakse airport, after immigration formalities meet with Lao guide and transfer to hotel, after check in hotel free to relax or explore town yourself before dinner.
Accommodation: Sengaloun hotel
Option: fly from Bangkok to Ubonrachathany province (Thailand) then transfer from the airport to the border and cycle to Pakse (distance: border – Pakse = 46 km)
Day 2: Pakse – Bolaven Plateau (Tad Fan waterfall)
An easy start to the day, after breakfast we ride from the hotel after 8 km on flat road in town the road is slightly up hill to begin our journey into coffee growing area of Laos, the Bolaven plateau. After town we start to climb up into the temperate coffee growing area renowned for its Arabica and Robusta beans. These beans fetch some of the highest coffee prices in the world. The road undulates but has a definite upward feeling. As we climb, we see coffee everywhere as the plantations converge on the side of the road. We finish at the wonderful Tad Fane resort, which provides a stunning backdrop and the very impressive Tad Fane fall, if you are feeling energetic you can cycle to the other waterfall for swimming. Alternatively, you can relax in the restaurant and take the wonderful view. Dinner is at the resort
Elevation:Pakse = 170 m above sea level.
Tadfan resort = 959 m above sea level.
Distance: 38 km (on good quality asphalt road but ascend)
Meal: B / L / D
Accommodation: Tad Fane resort.
Day 3: Tad Fane – Tad lo (Tad means waterfall)
(Resort is at an altitude of 960 m above sea level) Today is the best riding in this trip, after 12 km of climb we reach the top of Bolavene plateau (at an altitude of 1280 m above sea level). However, riding in the early morning makes you warm through the cold morning on the plateau, and you still have more energy in the morning, after a short break in a small town on top of plateau we continue our riding for another 38 km to a small town of Tha Teng (at an altitude of 860 m above sea level), this 38- kilometer decent is one of the best ride in this trip, we have noodle soup for lunch at the local restaurant, 30 km from our destination, Tad Lor Resort (at an altitude of 750 m above sea level) Riding after lunch takes us very easy downhill but on dirt road for 21 km to the junction, the rest of the road just 9 km on asphalt road and it is mainly flat. We check in the hotel in the afternoon and it is your time for swimming at the waterfall, relaxing, enjoying the view or riding around. Dinner is at the hotel.
Elevation: Departure point 959 m above sea level.
Highest point: 1280 m above sea level.
Arrival point: 346 m above sea level.
Ride: 80 km (12 km ascend, 68 km descend and flat, including 21 km on dirt road)
Meal: B / L / D
Accommodation: Sayse resort
Day 4: Tad Lor – Pakse – Champasak
After breakfast, we head towards Pakse. This road undulates and has a couple of lengthy climb in it one of 5 km one of 49 km, but they are quite gradual, before we turn right and head downhill all the way into Pakse. The last 20 km in to Pakse is downhill and can be covered quickly, be careful as we head into town as the traffic increases significantly.
After lunch in town we cycle cross over the bridge to the right side or Thai side (but it is Lao territory ) we keep riding on flat road to the former southern kingdom of the land of million elephants, the present town of Champasak consist of a small settlement on the Thai side of the Mekong River, whose main interest of the visitors is its proximity to the famous Khmer site of Wat Phou, a name which indicates a connection with the ancient Cham kingdom, contemporaneous with the early Khmer empire.
Elevation: Tad Lor = 346 m above sea level.
Highest point: 606 m above sea level.
Champasak = 124 m above sea level.
Ride: 110 km on good quality asphalt road
Meal: B / L / D
Accommodation: Siamphone hotel
Day 5: Champasack – Khong Island (4000 islands)
Si Phan Done in Lao means 4000 islands; it is the widest and most charismatic part of the Mekong River and is our destination today. We leave as early as we can after breakfast, after 2 km of riding from the hotel, we cross the Mekong River on a very unusual mode of transport to the other side and after short ride to the main road and then start heading south again towards Cambodia. Today is mainly flat with quiet road and some interesting scenery, we pass many villages with children standing in groups waving their hands and say hello, it would be strange for them to see the tourists travel by bicycles (it feels hard for them).so we stop every 20 or 25 km for refreshments and we have lunch under the tree by the road when we feel like it. We then cross back over to the MekongRiver to one of the biggest island in the MekongRiver, KongIsland (it is the hometown of former Lao president). We cycle a short way to our hotel. Dinner is in the hotel.
Elevation: Champasak =124 m above sea level
Khong island = 120 m above sea level.
Distance: 113 km (on good quality asphalt road, and mainly flat)
Meal: B / L /D
Accommodation: Villa Muangkhong.
Day 6: Khong island – Khone island
Today is a day to explore, we once again cross the river to the main land and head south where we ride as far as on the main road, we turn to the village where we get on long tail boat with all bikes, luggage and our stuff so we leave our support van at the village, we take a short boat trip to the small island of Don Det where we will have lunch. After lunch we ride along the old French Railway down to the beach where we get on small boats to Cambodian waters in search of fresh water Dolphins, After an hour we ride back to hotel at Don Khone island.
Distance: 30 km (Haft riding is on good quality asphalt road and the rest is on the path but it is fantastic ride and flat)
Meal: B / L / D
Accommodation: Khounparn bungalows
Day 7: Donkhone Island (Laos) –Dom Kalor border – Kratie (Cambodia)
We depart Don Khon and ride to the Lao and Cambodia border, after crossing border you will meet tour guide and driver who transfer you to Kratie which spend about 3hrs. Arrive at Kratie, take a local boat to Sala Koh Trong opposite Kratie town for your overnight at Rajabori Villas.
In afternoon, you will spend your time to explore the island and village by bicycle with your guide.
Meals: B, L
Overnight at Rajabori Villas – Bungalow room for 1night
Day 8: Kratie – Siem Reap
After breakfast in Kratie, we travel south to the bustling provincial city of Kompong Cham, nestled on the banks for the Mekong. We pass through Cambodia’s rubber country on the way, vast plantations that were originally established by the French and are once again being redeveloped. There may be the opportunity to stop along the way and learn about how the rubber is tapped.
We journey west to the provincial capital of Kompong Thom. After lunch, we continue northwest on National Highway 6. This was an old Angkor road and we stop in Kompong Kdei to see one of the ancient Angkor bridges that were built to span the rivers. Spean Praptos or the Praptos Bridge has more than 20 arches and is a spectacular sight, reinforcing the impression that the Khmers were like the Romans of Southeast Asia. We continue to Siem Reap where we check into our hotel and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Overnight at Hanumanalaya Boutique Residence
Day 9: Siem Reap – Temple tour (B)
Rising at the crack of dawn, we journey out to the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed to be the world’s largest religious building, this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. We stay at Angkor Wat to enjoy a picnic breakfast. As the crowds return to their hotels, we venture into Angkor Wat to enjoy its magnificence in peace and quiet. We begin by unraveling the mysteries of the bas-reliefs that tell of tales from Hindu mythology and of the glories of the Khmer empire.Stretching for almost one kilometre, these intricate carvings are a candidate for the world’s longest unbroken piece of art.
Following in the footsteps of the devout and the destructive before us, we then continue to the upper levels of the inner sanctuary. The final steps to the upper terrace of Angkor are the steepest of all, as pilgrims of old were to stoop on their pilgrimage to encounter the Gods. Finally the pinnacle, the sacred heart of Angkor Wat, a blend of spirituality and symmetry so perfect that few moments will measure up.
We continue to the ‘Indiana Jones’ temple of Ta Prohm. This temple has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous
power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhout in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy.
Angkor Thom is an immense walled city that was the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII. Following the occupation of Angkor by the Chams from 1177 to 1181, the new king decided to build an impregnable fortress at the heart of his empire. The scale is simply staggering and we are immediately overwhelmed by the audacity of Jayavarman on arrival at the city’s gates. The causeway is lined by an intricate bridge depicting the Churning of the Ocean of Milk from Hindu mythology in which the devas (gods) and asuras (devils) play tug of war with a naga (seven-headed serpent) to obtain the elixir of immortality.
We begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King. This intricately carved platform was the royal crematorium and the statue that was originally thought to be the leper king is now believed to be Yama, the god of death. We continue along the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. At the southern end lies the Baphuon, once of the most beautiful temples at Angkor, dating from the reign of Uditayavarman 1 in the 11th century. It has undergone a massive renovation by the French and is now once again open for viewing.
Our climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon. At the exact centre of Angkor Thom, this is an eccentric expression of the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s most celebrated king. Its 54 towers are each topped off with the four faces of Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion), which bear more than a passing resemblance to the king himself. These colossal heads stare down from every side, exuding power and control with a hint of compassion, just the mix required to keep a hold on such a vast empire. Before clambering upwards, we unravel the mysteries of the bas-reliefs, with their intricate scenes of ancient battles against the Chams and their snapshot of daily life during the Angkor period.
Day 10: Siem Reap, cycling at Rolous group temple, floating village of Tonle Sap
After breakfast, we depart by tuk tuk to the drop off point near the bus station. From there, we ride past small rural villages towards Bakong temple. O In the wet season, this ride provides magnificent views of endless paddy fields. The morning is the most beautiful time of the day to cycle here.
Upon arrival at Bakong, the temple can be explored. The next temple, Prasat Preah Ko, is situated only a mere 300m away. After crossing Highway 6, Lolei can also be visited. These temples are called the Rolous Group and were built in the 9th century when the first capital, Hariharalaya, was located here. From the main entrance of Bakong the road continues to Psar Bakong in Meanchey commune and it is possible to stop at the Roluos Tea Garden along the way for a spot of refreshment. A right turn onto a paved road will lead towards the most beautiful floating village of the Tonle Sap Lake, Kampong Pluk.
At the harbor, a local boat is prepared and provides a wonderful tour through the floating village. Kampong Pluk is still quite unexplored and has an atmospheric submerged forest to explore. Lunch can be enjoyed in one of the floating houses in the form of a picnic.
After this visit, the tuk tuk transfers back towards Siem Reap passing by a local orphanage called Khmer Association Cultural Development. The orphanage can be visited and people can enjoy watching the children perform classical dance and music.
Day 11: Siem Reap – Departure (B)
Day free at leisure until your guide pick up from hotel to airport.
End of services
– English speaking guide
– A / C support minibus throughout
– Meal as mentioned, B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
– Drinking water and seasonal fruits during tour
– Entrance fee to the tourist sites as mentioned on the itinerary
– Accommodation as mentioned, bases on share DBL / TWN room
– Mountain bike
Cost not includes:
– All flights ( to/from Laos and Cambodia)
– Visa cost
– Alcoholic beverages
– Personal expenses and other activity not mentioned in the itinerary.