- 12 days
About the challenge
Cycle through beautiful rural landscapes dotted with ruins of ancient civilisations and small towns where Buddhist temples nestle amongst graceful French colonial buildings and ramshackle houses.
Our challenge takes us from Vietnamese Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, through the rice-paddies and waterways of the beautiful Mekong Delta into Cambodia. We pedal on through this friendly country towards one of the most impressive sights in Southeast Asia, the Royal Temples of Angkor Wat. We encounter some rolling hills, but the main challenge lies in the long, hot dusty days in the saddle as we cycle through these remote areas. Fascinating insights into the region’s cultures, ancient and modern, are a real highlight of this challenge.
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|04 Oct 2014||12||Open challenge||Full||£399||+||£3200||Or||£1400||Fully booked|
|07 Feb 2015||12||Open challenge||Spaces||£399||+||£3300||£1450||Book now|
|18 Feb 2015||12||Alzheimer's Society||Spaces||—||—||—||Contact charity|
|03 Oct 2015||12||Open challenge||Spaces||£399||+||£3300||£1450||Book now|
|17 Oct 2015||12||Macmillan Cancer Support||Spaces||—||—||—||Contact charity|
|06 Feb 2016||12||Open challenge||Spaces||£399||+||£3450||£1500||Book now|
|01 Oct 2016||12||Open challenge||Spaces||£399||+||£3450||£1500||Book now|
Day 1: Depart London
Day 2: Arrive Ho Chi Minh City
On arrival we transfer to our hotel and have a trip briefing before getting a good night’s sleep, ready for the start of our challenge! Night hotel.
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City – Tra Vinh
Drive approx. 1.5 & 2.5 hours; cycle approx. 48km
After an early breakfast we drive (approx. 1.5 hours) out of the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. A sanctuary for the Vietcong at the height of the Vietnam War, they give us a good insight into the country’s relatively recent history. We then drive south towards the Mekong Delta (approx. 2.5 hours). We stop near Ben Tre, the gateway to the Mekong Delta, and after lunch and ensuring our bikes are comfortable, we set off! It’s a wonderful place to start our ride. We cycle on narrow lanes and tracks through the heart of this rural area, passing banana plantations, sugar cane fields and the lush rural landscape of the Delta. We have a short ferry crossing before reaching Tra Vinh. Night hotel.
Day 4: Tra Vinh – Cau Ke – Can Tho
Cycle approx. 90km
Our first full day’s cycle takes us along quiet backroads to Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta, known for its picturesque canals full of scenes of everyday life. En route we pass numerous Khmer temples and pagodas, and cross several waterways – some by footbridges, some on ferry crossings. We will start to get a great feel for the friendly Vietnamese culture, and the traditional rural scenes we see are fascinating. We ride today on a mix of roads and tracks; most of it is very quiet, but the last section gets busier as we approach Can Tho. Night hotel.
Day 5: Can Tho – Long Xuyen
Cycle approx. 75km
After an early breakfast we set off by boat through the Can Tho floating market, seeing a multitude of boats trading livestock, fruits, rice and fish. We then get back on our bikes and cycle along the banks of the busy river continuing towards Sa Dec. After lunch we cycle upstream alongside the river towards Long Xuyen. This is a beautiful day, with some wonderful photo opportunities. We end our ride at a bird sanctuary, home to thousands of storks – we can have a quick visit to see them before loading up into the vehicles for a short transfer (approx. 45 mins) into Long Xuyen. Night hotel.
Day 6: Long Xuyen – Tri Tron – Chau Doc
Cycle approx. 95km
This is our last day of cycling in Vietnam! We have a short transfer (30 mins) out of town to avoid the traffic, and then set off. Our route starts to undulate a little as we near the hills near Chau Doc; although these climbs are fairly gentle, our leg muscles have become used to flat terrain so they often feel harder than they really are! The heat, moreover, makes them feel tougher. We cycle via the Killing Fields at Ba Chuc, where Pol Pot’s regime massacred over 3000 Vietnamese people in 1978; harrowing history. We continue our ride to the busy town of Chau Doc. Night hotel (near border).
Day 7: Chau Doc – Takeo – Phnom Penh
Cycle approx. 70km
Today we set off early, heading north towards Phnom Penh. After around 20km we reach the border with Cambodia and meet our new guides who will be waiting for us. We then head off through the lovely rural landscapes of Cambodia. At the small town of Takeo we load up into the buses, which take us the remaining distance to Phnom Penh, stopping en route to visit the infamous Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleung Museum, a former school which was turned into the notorious Khmer Rouge interrogation camp during the Pol Pot regime. Although it tells a tragic story, it is a fascinating place to visit and essential to understanding present-day Cambodia. We then arrive at our hotel in Phnom Penh; once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient and which, despite its turbulent recent history, retains a colonial charm. Night hotel.
Day 8: Phnom Penh – Kampong Chhnang
Cycle approx. 90km
We leave Phnom Penh by bus (approx. 45 mins) to avoid the city traffic before we start our ride. As we head to Udong we see the rice paddies stretching out for miles, busy with workers in the fields. The roads in the region tend to be a rich red which is very striking against the dazzling green paddy-fields – be prepared to take lots of photos! We ride through Udong, once the ancient capital, and pass by a hill temple with stunning views of the fertile region and many of the old Royal Palaces. Continuing on, we cycle towards Kampong Chhang and the enormous Tonlé Sap Lake. Night hotel.
Day 9: Kampong Chhnang – Siem Reap
Boat ride approx. 5 hours; cycle approx. 30-40km
A beautiful boat ride awaits us this morning, as we cross the immense Tonlé Sap. The largest freshwater lake in South-East Asia, it features an incredible biodiversity and has UNESCO biosphere status. We enjoy a rest from our bikes as we soak up the views of fishing communities and calm waters. Leaving the boat at Kampong Khlaeng, we ride on small roads through beautiful landscapes and villages, heading towards Siem Reap. This area is unspoilt and very traditional, and it’s a lovely quiet ride to savour before reaching the main tourist draw of Angkor. Meeting our vehicles, we load up before reaching the busy streets and drive (approx 30 mins) into Siem Reap, the closest town to the temples. Night hotel.
Day 10: Angkor Wat Cycle
Cycle approx. 30km
Today we ride to the famous World Heritage site of Angkor Wat. The area is dotted with many ancient buildings and temples amidst dense forest; the sheer scale of the complex will astound you. We ride a circuit around some of the temples, including Ta Prohm, the best-known of the temples overgrown by trees and reminiscent of scenes from Tomb Raider. Our ride also takes in the Bayon in Angkor Thom, the old city central to the area. It is a fascinating ruin, featuring many mysterious giant carved faces and some incredible wall carvings, and is one of the most remarkable sights in the area. Our ride ends at Angkor Wat itself, one of the most impressive and best-preserved temples of the complex. If there’s time, it is worth climbing the remarkably steep and narrow steps of the central spire for the view over the whole temple surrounded by jungle. It’s a wonderful place to finish our challenge after 500 hot kilometres across two countries! After the obligatory group photos we transfer back to our hotel (approx. 30 mins) and should have some free time this afternoon to spend as you wish – relax at the hotel, or explore Siem Reap’s markets for last-minute shopping opportunities, or visit more of the temples. We meet again in the evening to celebrate our achievements. Night hotel. (Dinner not included)
Day 11: Free time; flight departs
We will have some time free for further exploration of the incredible temples and ruins that make up the Angkor complex; or simply relax or haggle in the markets if you prefer. How much time we have free depends on our flight schedules. We meet again at the hotel, say a fond farewell to Cambodia and transfer to the airport for our flight. (Lunch not included)
Day 12: Arrive UK
Our flight connects en-route and we return to the UK.
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes flights, all accommodation, transport and food other than 2 meals as detailed in itinerary; entry to the temples of Angkor is also included. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders and medic; local guides, bikes, drivers and cooks.
It does not include your personal travel insurance, fuel supplement if charged by the airline (capped at £200 by Discover Adventure), entry visas, tips for local support crew, any extra meals and entry to any other tourist sites you may wish to visit. Transport to the temples during free time is also at your own cost. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Singapore or Malaysian Airlines, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
When cycling we stay in small friendly hotels or guest-houses. Some are more basic than others! In towns and cities our hotels are generally more Western-style and 2-3* standard. Please do not expect the same standards as you would in the UK!
All meals are included other than 2 meals as detailed in the itinerary. The food is good and there is plenty of it; most meals are local-style not western. Lunches are mainly cooked, though occasionally we may have packed lunches.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic, who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers and cooks do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your ride. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! Your leader will give you an idea of appropriate guidelines. All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Support vehicles will be with the group at all times. All luggage and spares will be carried in the vehicles. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already.
Bikes can be transported on flights in bike bags or – a much cheaper option – cardboard bike boxes: ask your local bike shop if they have any. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Distances vary from 30 - 95km per day. Our route is mainly on tarmac roads of varying quality with some that are more like dirt tracks; terrain is generally flat with a few gentle hills. There are several waterways we cross by small boat. Traffic is usually light and we will cycle at our own pace, but when we pass through a large town we go through as a group, or load up for a short transfer. We will always take safety into consideration and reserve the right to change the itinerary on that basis. We will be using 21-speed mountain bikes fitted with semi slick tyres.
We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through remote areas where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for everything! Weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.
It can be very hot and humid, and only cools slightly at night. There may be cooler breezes in the hills or by water. However, cooler weather can come in without warning so be prepared.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential for travel in Vietnam and Cambodia and must be valid for at least 6 months after entry. A Vietnamese visa is essential for British passport-holders, costing approx £54 in person (at time of writing). Visas are also required for Cambodia and can be obtained in advance (currently £15) or on entering the country with a passport-sized photograph and US$20 (at time of writing). Most other nationalities require an entry visa for both countries and are responsible for checking their requirements with the respective embassies.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. We strongly recommend taking malarial prophylaxis. A yellow fever certificate is required only if coming from an infected area. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow cyclists and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.
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