Cycle the Backroads to Angkor

This two-wheeled experience takes you from Siem Reap to Angkor on the back roads and jungle paths to experience a selection of the Angkor temples without the crowds. Leave Siem Reap early using a forest path to avoid the traffic and wind our way past the walls of Banteay Kdei to the North Gate of Ta Prohm. The ‘jungle 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 Mouhot 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.

Continue cycling to Ta Nei, a small temple that has been forgotten in the jungle and sees few visitors. You will need to carry your bike across an old French dam to cross the Siem Reap River. You will then enter the immense walled city of Angkor Thom, the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII, through the Victory Gate and continue to East Gate. Ascend the walls of Angkor Thom and ride around the southeast quadrant to stop at atmospheric Prasat Chrung, a seldom-visited temple overlooking the vast moat of Angkor Thom. Cycle from South Gate to the Bayon and explore the main temples of Angkor Thom, including Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Preah Palilay, Terrace of the Leper King and Preah Pithu.

Bayon temple is famous for its enigmatic faces of Lokesvara, the Buddha of Compassion, said to bear an uncanny resemblance to the great King Jayavarman VII himself. Baphuon is nicknamed the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle as the French took it apart stone by stone in the 1960s for restoration, only for all records to be destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. Cycling along the back paths to the lesser known temples of Angkor Thom such as Preah Palilay and Preah Pithu is a rewarding experience. 

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