Cycling in Southeast Asia Uncovered

Like a full on sensory overload, Southeast Asia offers more sights, sounds and saddle-friendly experiences than any other region on earth. Prepare to meet your new favourite destination. Your guide, Exodus southeast Asia expert Megan Devenish

Megan Megan

 

The mighty landmass of Asia meets the Indian Ocean in a series of verdant peninsulas and beach-fringed promontories. Off shore, island nations harbour vivid and captivating cultures, unique ecosystems and a welcome as warm as the thermal breezes that rise above the jungle canopy.

Bayon, Siem Reap, Cambodia Bayon, Siem Reap, Cambodia

 

Hardly surprising, then, that the region’s laid-back fishing villages and bustling cities are firmly on the tourist trail. But Southeast Asia deserves, and rewards, a deeper exploration. The best way to explore more? By bike, of course. “Southeast Asia really is the land of the bicycle.” says Exodus’ resident expert, Megan Devenish. “Over here, they’re used for everything from carting goods to market to ferrying children to school.”

Market seller Market seller

 

“The joy of a Southeast Asia cycling holiday is all about the sense of place – getting a waft of herbs being prepared for lunch in a village, hearing chanting from the nearby monastery, or waving at groups of children on their way to school. Cycling gets you closer, offering experiences you couldn’t find any other way.” Megan says. “Locals are sympathetic to cyclists and usually give a wide berth so the roads outside the main cities are great places to cycle too.”

Selfies from the Saddle

“As tourism is now fairly well established in the region, groups of cyclists aren’t as surprising as they perhaps once were. But on a recent trip to Myanmar, our group was regularly stopped throughout the day so that the locals could take a selfie with us!”

Cycling in Bagan, Myanmar/Burma Cycling in Bagan, Myanmar/Burma

 

What most definitely is different though, is the weather. “Yes, Southeast Asia can be hot and humid,” Megan acknowledges. “However if you pick the right time of year to travel, cycling can be the perfect antidote to the heat due to the breeze you generate while riding along. The days are also paced so that we avoid cycling in the hottest part of the day and the refreshments are pitched just right so that you remain hydrated all the way – homemade fresh lemonade in Vietnam anyone?”

Local living

What about the benefit of cycling over other forms of touring, we wonder? How does it enhance your experience? “Sitting on a saddle and pedalling alongside the locals can reward you with truly indelible experiences,” Megan says. “There is no better way to get under the skin of the country you’ve chosen to visit.” “I think lots of people are surprised about how achievable a cycling holiday can be – most of the Southeast Asia trips are designed to be a cultural exploration on a bike so that many highlights are seen but joined together by cycling rather than sitting on a bus.”

Cycling in Laos Cycling in Laos

 

If you’ve a reasonable level of fitness, want to bite off more Asian culture per mile than any other form of transport offers, cycling in the kaleidoscopic corner of the globe offers so much that, for many Exodus travellers, one trip is just the beginning. “They are very much holidays, not boot camps, so it’s all about the leisurely pace of the day. Come ready to ride a bike but with an open mind, and set for an adventure!”

You’ve got a friend…

A real highlight of our Cycle Indochina & Angkor and Cycling Vietnam trips is a visit to the Friends restaurant in Vietnam. This inspiring social enterprise not only serves up delicious Vietnamese food for you to enjoy, but it cares for over 1,800 of Phnom Penh’s homeless, abandoned and vulnerable children too.  

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