Photo: A typical Kompong Chhnang back street.

Do-it-yourself cycling tour

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Kompong Chhnang offers quite a few worthwhile sights to see that you can take in on your way to or from the main riverside market, all easily accessed by pedal power.

If you’re arriving from Garden Guesthouse or Chanthea Borint, or coming down National Route 5, then the very attractive French colonial provincial hall in its shady park setting is a logical starting point. The old building has been recently restored and is looking spic and span, as does the very pleasant and tidy park through which the main access driveway passes. There are plenty of tall, mature trees and benches to sit on, with a troop of resident macaques providing the floor show. This is a popular end of day hang-out spot for locals.

The revamped provincial hall. Photo taken in or around Do-it-yourself cycling tour, Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia by Mark Ord.

The revamped provincial hall. Photo: Mark Ord

A couple of traffic circles you’ll pass on the way hold the Independence Monument and statues of Neang Kong Rei and her departing beau. Heading east into the commercial centre, you’ll come across the town’s municipal market, Phsar Leu, with its labyrinth of narrow passages lined by the usual jewellers, hairdressers, food and snack stalls and household good and clothes vendors. It’s worth a wander and a good spot to pick up some fried noodles or a local-style coffee.

Turning right out of the market leads you onto the start of long, causeway-like Phsar Krom Street, but we’d recommend taking the first left you come across. This will take you down into a series of parallel, unsealed roads where you’ll see numerous very traditional wooden stilt houses. It’s an interesting part of town to explore, with friendly locals in abundance should you need to ask for directions. Otherwise, if you keep going until the tracks run out, taking a right will bring you back onto the sealed road around the start of Phsar Krom. Keep going straight until you reach the waterfront.

Classic Kompong Chhnang riverfront view. Photo taken in or around Do-it-yourself cycling tour, Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia by Mark Ord.

Classic Kompong Chhnang riverfront view. Photo: Mark Ord

To the right of the marine police office, a funky bamboo and wood bridge leads across a channel to a second area of town with more dirt streets and stilt houses. (Check-out the expert petanque players in front of the police station.) This is a highly photogenic spot and residents use the channel for boat building and repairs, throw-net fishing and as a car and motorbike wash so there’s always lots going on. Note that during periods of high water, the bridge is generally dismantled, if it hasn’t already been washed away, and stocked away for when the waters recede. We wouldn’t recommend cycling over the flimsy bridge -- it’s a long drop in dry season -- but you can carefully push a bicycle across. Check out the buildings on the right with their 10 metre stilt piles!

By the bridge, Vietnamese taxi boat women will offer rides in their rowing boats for a few dollars. To the left of the police, as you arrive, is the tour boat jetty if you wish to include an upriver floating village trip, and beyond that is the main section of Phsar Krom. Behind the market is the floating fish market and the ferry jetty. During rainy season terra firma stops here so that’s the end of your tour, while in drier months a dirt track continues north into the Cham part of town, where the river to your right and marshes to the left make for a scenic ride. During dry months you can continue a way up the riverbank, otherwise the total ride, including detours, isn’t much more than five kilometres each way, but it provides varied and picturesque views, plenty of snacking opportunities and heaps of friendly locals.

The bamboo part of Phsar Krom. Photo taken in or around Do-it-yourself cycling tour, Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia by Mark Ord.

The bamboo part of Phsar Krom. Photo: Mark Ord

With an early start, you could include all of this plus a boat ride to the floating villages in the morning, and still have plenty of time to do the pottery village ride in the afternoon. This would be an excellent, and not too strenuous, day’s cycling.

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Popular attractions in Kompong Chhnang

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Kompong Chhnang.

Best places to stay in Kompong Chhnang

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Kompong Chhnang.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kompong Chhnang.
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