Now Cambodia should be on your must visit list for South East Asia. Jak and myself visited before kids and were pretty keen to take our kids back to experience Angkor Wat especially.
Why Ankor Wat by bike?
Regarded as the crowning jewel of Cambodia, the ancient temple complex of Angkor is the largest religious site in the world. It was once the capital city of the Khmer Empire, which ruled over most of Southeast Asia from the 9th to the 15th centuries. It’s now an iconic symbol for Cambodia and the biggest attraction in the country.
But, that being said, we know (from experience) that there is such a thing as being ‘templed out’. Sure, the temples are amazing, with a fascinating history and background but there is a limit to how many temples you can see, especially if you are taking the kids to Angkor Wat.
We found the solution. Cycling Angkor Wat!
With over 1000 temples to see in this epic area, a cycling tour of Angkor Wat is a great way to explore at your own pace and is guaranteed to keep the kids entertained.
Why Should You Explore Angkor Wat By Bike?
What is Angkor Wat?
Angkor was a fully functional city spread out over a huge 400 square kilometres, and there are about 1,000 temples still scattered across Angkor today. As you can imagine, it would be impossible to explore on foot — it’s simply too big. Most visitors join tuk-tuk tour groups or hire a private driver, which is a good way to go but I think cycling is a great alternative.
The Angkor Archaeological Park is very bike-friendly. Most roads around the park have dedicated bike lanes and drivers are used to sharing the road with cyclists. The forest trails around the temples themselves are shady and lined with trees, making for nice riding in the Cambodian heat. The terrain in the park is also very flat, which is exactly what you want to hear when riding in high humidity and with kids.
Angkor Wat Cycling Routes
The paths and routes
Angkor Archaeological Park has always been well set up for cyclists and improvements are being made all the time. Most of the route is flat making it ideal for cycling with kids.
The best Ankor Wat cycling route with kids
Before setting off, be realistic in your expectations. Consider your kids’ fitness, your patience for whinging, and the demanding nature of Angkor Wat. For a more relaxed visit, opt for a tuktuk (remorque). They can fit bikes in and save your legs for the park itself. For younger children; consider a tandem bike or chariot instead.
There are two routes in the park we recommend for young children, each of which can be broken down into shorter treks.
23-kilometer cycle path
This trail kicked off in early 2021, starting from the old ticket booth on Charles De Gaulle. It winds around the west side of Angkor Wat temple, passing Kravan temple. Then it splits into two paths: one swings by Ta Prohm and wraps up at Ta Keo temple, and the other goes east before turning north around Jayataka Baray, cruising past Preah Khan, and finishing at the northern gate of Angkor Thom.
These paths mostly cut through the forest, staying about 5-25 meters from the main road. They’re roughly 2 meters wide, well-kept, and built with the environment in mind. Great for a bike ride with the kids, they’re meant for pedestrians and cyclists only.
Another kid-friendly option is a lesser-known path along the historic walls of the Angkor Thom complex. Contrary to rumours, this route isn’t closed, challenging, or hard to reach—it’s quite the opposite. In reality, it’s one of the most unforgettable trails within Angkor Park. Its flat terrain, and lack of traffic make it an ideal choice for cycling with children.
About the 23-kilometer cycle path
From the ticket check point on Charles De Gaulle, Angkor Wat is the closest temple.
It also the biggest temple in the entire complex (not to mention the largest religious structure in the world). This means, you and your kids are in for a lot of walking. The walking distance from the bike parking area to the temple is 700 meters (0.5 miles). And during your visit you’ll likely clock in another 2-3 km (1.2-2 miles) exploring the temple before you need to ride back.
Get yourself to the ticket check point on Charles De Gaulle. You’ll be stopped and have your passes checked by the friendly Apsara staff. You can’t buy tickets here, see below on where and how to get your tickets.
The bike trail starts just behind where the security team is standing/sitting. It’s not marked very clearly, but go to the right side, into the forest and you’ll see the metal railings that mark the start of the path.
Follow this path along for 2 kilometers. You will see the main road on your left side at all times, even when the path winds. The path is paved and mostly flat with a handful of small inclines and hills. These will be easy for most adults but may require your kids to get off their bikes and push them up a few of the bigger hills.
The bike path goes through a shady area with a thick forest and a new concrete bridge. It’s really cool, both in temperature and experience. You’ll have to stop twice and walk your bikes through metal barriers across roads. Keep an eye on traffic when you cross.
After about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) the path will veer to the right. The bike path then continues towards Prasat Kravan and away from Angkor Wat. Here you’ll need to turn off the path and head towards the main road that runs along the south side of Angkor Wat.
Cross over the main road that circles Angkor and then once you are on the road, turn left and follow along on the shoulder until it curves to the right after about 850 meters. Keep going straight ahead, following this road as it will take you to the front of the Angkor Wat temple.
You are able to leave your bikes here, although make sure you lock them up as there is no security.
There are lots of different routes you can take around the Angkor Archaeological Park, but the Small Circuit and the Grand Circuit are the most popular.
Small Circuit (17 Km)
The Small Circuit is the perfect introduction to the temples, as it takes you to many of the most impressive ones. The circuit begins at Angkor Wat itself, before continuing on to Angkor Thom, an ancient walled city housing the famous Bayon Temple.
Don’t forget to explore the smaller temples and ruins scattered throughout the circuit: more hidden sites, such as Ta Keo and Ta Prohm, offer a quieter experience away from the crowds.
Finish your day with a sunset view from Phnom Bakheng, a hilltop temple that provides stunning views of the surrounding area. With the sun casting its golden rays over the ancient temples, it’s a great way to end your day cycling Angkor’s Small Circuit.
Grand Circuit (26 Km)
As the name would suggest, the Grand Circuit is a lot longer at 26km. This route takes you through some of the lesser-known temples, providing a more crowd-free glimpse into Cambodia’s history.
Begin your journey at Preah Khan, a sprawling monastic complex adorned with intricate carvings, before continuing onto Neak Pean, a unique ruin that was originally used as a healing sanctuary.
Other must-see stops along the Small Circuit include Baphuon, a mountain temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, and the serene Preah Khan, a temple complex that once served as a Buddhist university.
The next stop on your Grand Circuit itinerary should be Ta Som Temple, which is slowly being reclaimed by nature. Here, you’ll see tree roots weaving through the crumbling stone.
As you continue your journey, you’ll come across the impressive East Mebon. Standing tall on a raised platform, this temple was once surrounded by water, symbolising the mythical Mount Meru. The temple is adorned with striking elephant sculptures guarding each corner.
Finally, complete your cycle tour of Angkor Wat with an unforgettable sunset at the ancient temples.
The Small Circuit: A One-Day Angkor Wat Cycling Itinerary
If you are visiting Siem Reap for longer than a few days (we spent a month in Siem Reap), you could easily spend a week or more exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park. The 7 day pass can be used over a 30 day period. But if you only have one day, the small circuit is a good route to take. Take the route anti-clockwise from Angkor Wat to help avoid the tourist groups.
Begin At Angkor Wat
Sunrise over Angkor Wat is probably going to be on your bucket list. You need to arrive early at Wat’s South Gate by 4:50 AM to secure a good spot. The temple doors open at 5:00 AM. Lock up your bike, and then once inside the complex, head to the centre of the lake as this will give you the best view.
If you are cycling with kids, I honestly wouldn’t recommend a sunrise view and a bike ride. Why do that to yourself? Everyone is tired before you even start.
If it’s a must do, take a tuk tuk to get yourself there early.
Banteay Kdei Temple
20-minute bike ride from Angkor Wat.
Much quieter, and I great temple to explore as the jungle has become well and truly entwined with the stone work. The kids enjoyed this temple and it was great for a game of hide and seek.
10-minute ride away from Banteay Kdei Temple
Once you’ve explored Banteay Kdei, hop back on your bike and make your way to Ta Prohm Temple, which is a.
Known as the ‘Tomb Raider Temple,’ Ta Prohm is another very popular temple in Angkor, so brace yourself for the crowds! Again, another temple taken over by the jungle and made famous by the film.
Lots of inscriptions her about life in and around the temple. It’s a great place to explore but the crowds made it less popular with the kids.
10-15 minutes from Ta Prohm
This enormous, unfinished monument is usually ignored by most tourists so is a good stop to let the kids run around.
A few minutes cycle to Victory Gate
Angkor Thom was the capital of the ancient Khmer Empire. Built in the late 12th century, you will find the temples of Bayon and the Terrace of the Elephants.
Once through Victory Gate, you’ll see the Terrace of the Elephants. This 350-metre-long platform was used by the king for public ceremonies and as a grand audience hall.
In the centre of Angkor Thom, you’ll find Bayon Temple. This was my favourite temple, with its 54 towers and 216 giant smiling faces.
5-10 minute ride from Angkor Thom
Phnom Bakheng is just outside of the Small Circuit, and if you have the energy, it’s worth the detour. After a short hike it has great views across Angkor from its top.
This is a great day tour but again, consider how practical this would be for your family.
If you are not feeling confident about taking your own bike tour, try one of the guided tours. They can be a great way to explore the temples, knowing that you have some local knowledge on your side.
Siem Reap Essentials
Where is Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat and the Angkor Archaeological Park are located just 7km outside the city of Siem Reap. It’s worth spending some time exploring Siem Reap itself as well, as there is plenty to do here.
When to go
The best time to visit Angkor Wat, and all of Cambodia in general, is during the dry season between November and April.
How to get to Siem Reap
You can fly into the Siem Reap International Airport, or if you’re already travelling in Southeast Asia, you can take a bus from any major transport hub, such as Phnom Penh or Bangkok.
We used 12go.com for nearly all our overlanding in South East Asia and used the Giant Ibis bus company from Vietnam into Cambodia and from Phenom Penh to Siem Reap and have no complaints at all. They even returned one of the kids toys that they we on the bus after our journey, BONUS POINTS.
Top tips for Cycling around Angkor Archaeological Park with children
- There are some restaurants and roadside snack stops but stock up before you go.
- Take plenty of water, sunscreen and hats/sunglasses
- Download a map for use offline. There is a limited amount of signage on the cycle paths.
- Phone signal can be patchy in areas
- If you decide to take a tuk tuk or remorque, use the Grab or PassApp apps to book. We took two remorques for 2 adults and 2 kids plus bikes.
- Make sure you take the driver’s contact number in case you want to finish early or arrange pick up points
- Take a small first aid kit for cuts and scrapes
- Think about a rain jacket
- Check for local festivals- Angkor Wat is very popular on these days and you may want to avoid the crowds.
- Start early, when its cooler.
Know your child and be realistic
Make your cycling plans based on the smallest, weakest or whingiest kid to make your life as easy as possible. Start small and have options to extend the route if it’s going well.
The trails and paths are generally flat and easy, but its also hot and humid, so bear this in mind when planning.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks
Do not underestimate the power of, and need for, snacks, no matter how short a trip you are planning. Haribo is own favourite emergency energy food. Avoid chocolate unless you want a melted mess. There are places to stop for drinks and snacks along the way, so make sure you have some cash with you.
It’s ok to cheat
If a shortcut is going to make it easier, then take it. Whether that means skipping a temple or taking a tuk tuk. All of our suggested routes begin from the trailhead behind the ticket checkpoint on Charles De Gaulle. Do it for the sanity of everyone. Cycling the temples is a great activity for the family, but only if its fun.
Other options for kids
You can hire a bike with a child seat on the back or a tandem bike for smaller kids from many of the bike shops in town.
Depending on season, you might find the routes relatively quiet (or busy), most of the suggested routes have minimum traffic but don’t assume this is always to case.
You may experience motobikes, or parked bikes or even people sat around so take blind corners slowly.
When crossing roads, get off your bike and take your time.
There are monkeys around the park. We are well acoustomed to monkeys after living in Brunei for 5 years, our kids know to keep their distance. No matter how cute or entertaining they may be, be very cautious around them. They are used to humans and to being fed, but it is best to keep your distance.
How much does it cost
You need to have an Angkor pass to use the bicycle paths, whether you intend to enter any temples or not.
You can buy tickets online at https://www.angkorenterprise.gov.kh/
The Angkor Ticket office on the corner of Apsara Road and Street 60.
- 1-day pass: US$37
- 3-day pass: US$62
- 7-day pass: US$72
Children under the age of 12 can enter Angkor Wat for free (you will be asked to prove the age).
The 7 and 30 day pass is for consecutive days.
It’s also much cheaper to explore Angkor Wat by bicycle, as you can hire a bike for just a few dollars a day, $2-$7 a day.
Where to rent a bicycle in Siem Reap
There are dozens of bicycle rental shops in Siem Reap and helmets are readily available. Check the quality of the bike you are getting the day before. There are usually two main types of bikes simple city bikes or mountain bikes with gears. Either can be used on the terrain around the temples.
The Smiling Frog, has a huge selection of bikes including small ones for the under 5s and bicycles with bike seats.
Meet the author
Lisa is the founder of Boston Tribe Travels. She has lived and travelled abroad for the last 15 years, visited more than 30 countries and has done most of that with her husband and two children. As a full time travel family, they like to travel slow, worldschool and seek new adventures. From living in Borneo for 5 years to backpacking South America, Lisa shares a wealth of travel experience to empower more families to travel and learn together.