Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Motorcycle Road Trip in Cambodia

Imagine, 1,250 Km (776.7 miles) in ten days by motorcycle around Cambodia. Really an unforgettable experience, another one of the highlights of my life. After six months of Ashtanga Yoga practice in Mysore I thought about using my recently learned motorcycle skills and do a solo road trip around India but my friend Ashka suggested that I travel instead to Cambodia, a country that I had never visited before, and rent together a motorcycle to travel all around the country. How to say no to such a great idea?

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
I arrived in Phnom Penh on the 1st of February and after a couple of days hanging around in the city we went to Angkor Motorcycles and rented a 250 cc Honda Degree for ten days at 14US$ per day. I love upgrades and this was a big one for me, from the 150 cc Pulsar that I was driving in Mysore to a 250 cc Honda. It was intimidating, not only because of the power but also because the gear system was different, actually completely the opposite, and once more I would have to get use to drive on the right side of the road but surprisingly the change was not that difficult and the power was exactly what we needed in order to drive comfortably on the highways of Cambodia.

Except for the road from Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom the other roads in Cambodia that we used on this trip were pretty decent and the best thing is that there were no speed breakers and no traffic police at all, a driver's paradise. The traffic on the highways is not that bad, well I had to drive out of the road a few times when the trucks completely ignored my lights and horn, but in my experience people seem to have a bit more common sense compared to the traffic in India. Driving in Phnom Penh was another story, the traffic is just insane.

We spend about 380 US$ (280 EUR) per person for ten days: 14 US$ on the motorcycle rent, 30 US$ for food, 25US$ for accommodation and 8 US$ for gasoline, per day (the currencies used in Cambodia are US Dollars and Riels). In total 770US$ invested to live for 10 days an unforgettable experience, absolutely worth it. I'm sure it's possible to save more on food and accommodation but after driving so many kilometers per day we didn't have the time or energy to find better deals, and anyway we both love to eat well.

Cambodia Motorcycle Raodtrip Map

From Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom - 168Km (104.39 miles)

Unaware of the roads conditions we were first looking for a standard motorcycle, a Honda Nighthawk which is popular in Cambodia, but for some reason we couldn't find anybody renting this kind of bike so we had no choice but to get a dirt bike, the 250 cc Honda Degree. However as soon as we hit the NH 6A towards Kampong Thom we realized that this was definitely the best bike for this trip. It felt as if we were on a rally and sometimes we had almost zero visibility, hard to imagine that this could be called a "National Highway."

In Kampong Thom we stayed at the Stung Sen Royal Garden Hotel. It's a nice hotel and it has clean and spacious rooms. After bargaining we got the room for 25 US$.

From Kampong Thom to Siem Reap - 151Km (93.82 miles)

After a night in Kampong Thom we drove to Siem Reap, our first main destination. The road was in better conditions than the previous day but it still had some challenges.

The first night we stayed at the Home Sweet Home Guesthouse but the not-so-sweet smell of the rooms forced us to move the next day to the Golden Dynasty Hotel for 35 US$ the night (after long bargaining) with super clean and beautiful rooms, super friendly staff and a swimming pool which we didn't have the time to use.

There are plenty of places where to stay in Siem Reap but I think the easiest way to find accommodation is to go straight to street #20, around the Wat Bo area, where there are lots of guesthouses right next to each other. If you are planning to visit Siem Reap during the high season it's probably a good idea to book in advance. When we got there we had to ask in about six guesthouses before finding a room, they were all fully booked. That's why we had to pay so much.

Our favorite place for lunch and dinner was Peace Cafe. We went there three times during our stay in Siem Reap. They have really nice food, a nice atmosphere, friendly staff and they offer Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga Classes. I didn't feel like going for yoga but Ashka went to Prasad's morning class. She was really happy with the class but she said that it has nothing to do with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

Bayon Temple in Cambodia
Bayon Temple in Cambodia
On our second day in Siem Reap we went to the Angkor Thon Arquelogical site. It was really amazing and the only thing that we regret is that we didn't get there early enough. The place is huge, another good thing about having a bike, but even then you still need a lot of time to walk around and visit the different temples and some of them close around 5pm. So my advice for anybody planning a visit to this site is to get there early in the morning or consider to spend perhaps a couple of days visiting all the temples.

Bayon Temple in Cambodia

Bayon Temple in Cambodia

Bayon Temple in CambodiaBayon Temple in Cambodia

Angkor Temple in Cambodia

Angkor Temple in Cambodia

Banteay Srei Temple in Cambodia

From Siem Reap to Battambang - 166Km (103.15 miles)

The roads to Battambang were really easy but after more than 300 km already on the road we had to make more frequent stops, every 50 km to give some rest to our sore butts and to stretch the legs.

There are many options where to stay in Battambang but by the time that we got there we didn't have much energy to look around so we stayed at the Seng Hout Hotel for 25US$ the night. It's a beautiful hotel with a nice, clean and comfortable rooms, a nice terrace and swimming pool. This time we did manage to get into the swimming pool, for at least 10 min. If it is in your budget then you should definitely stay in this hotel.

From Battambang to Phnom Penh - 295Km (183.31 miles)

Trying to save time to spend more days either in Kampot or at Otres beach we decided to drive from Battambang straight back to Phnom Penh. This was the longest drive on our road trip but with several long breaks it was manageable. The toughest part on this ride was when arriving back to Phnom Penh. By the time that we got there the traffic and the heat were insane.

From Phnom Penh to Kampot - 148Km (91.96 miles)

Eden Eco VillageThe next day we drove to Kampot and for 18US$ per night (breakfast included) we stay at Eden Eco Village for one night, a beautiful eco guesthouse next to the Kampot river. All the cottages have a hammock and a small terrace right above the river. A perfect spot for meditation, yoga or just chillaxing. Surprisingly we didn't notice any insects even during the night but our neighbor found a snake inside his backpack. So a word of advice, make sure you keep all your bags closed at all times.

Eden Eco Village Eden Eco Village
Eden Eco Village Eden Eco Village

Sunset at Eden Eco Village
Sunset view from Eden Eco Village

The breakfast looked pretty good but the options for lunch and dinner were not that appealing to our palates so we decided to have dinner at the Ganesha Riverside Eco Resort another eco-guesthouse near Eden with good food, good music, good ambiance, lots of table games and a pool table. Another good choice were to stay in Kampot, however very hard to beat Eden's rooms with a terrace right over the river.

From Kampot to Otres Beach - 98.9Km (61.45 miles)

It was a difficult choice, to spend two full days in Kampot or two full days in Otres Beach? We decided to go for the beach so after one night in Kampot we had to hit the road again but we took our time to enjoy the morning at the Eden Eco Village leaving around 10 am. 100Km was not such a long ride after all.

On our way out of Kampot we stopped for a second breakfast at Ellie's, a nice cafe owned by two of Ashka's friends. The food was great.

When we started this trip we thought that we would spend max 10US$ per night on accommodation but that never really happened. We like to treat ourselves well so in Otres Beach we found a nice cottage for 25US$ per night. We stayed in Otres for three nights to really enjoy the beach and to give a nice long break to our butts after all that driving.

Otres beach is a beautiful beach. The sea was crystal clear, the weather was perfect and the food was great, what else can we ask for?

Otres Beach

Otres Beach

Otres Beach

From Otres Beach to Phnom Penh - 225Km (139.81 miles)

After two full days in Otres Beach it was time to go back to Phnom Penh. We left Otres at 6am to make sure that we would arrive early enough in Phnom Penh so Ashka could get some rest before her afternoon yoga class.

This was the second longest route but perhaps more tiring considering that it was the last day of our motorcycle road trip in Cambodia. We arrived in Phnom Penh at 11am, tired but feeling happy and alive after such an amazing experience, and grateful that we arrived back to the city safely and without having any problems during this incredible journey.

Related Posts:


  1. Wow, that sounds like a really great trip Marco! I only ever dared renting a scooter, but now that I am looking at your photos and reading about your great experience, I really would like to do a motorcycle trip as well. Eventually I hope… :)

    1. Hey Dennis, thanks! Yes you definitely should. This was one of the reasons to share this experience, to inspire others and show them what's possible. If I was able to learn to ride a motorcycle in India and then to do a trip like this then for sure anybody can have the same kind of adventure or even betters. The world is full of possibilities, we just need to be a bit more daring and take the risks.