Kompong Cham is a quiet town in eastern Cambodia.
The city itself does not have many sights to see, but the suburbs are dotted with interesting spots.
We spent three nights in Kompong Cham and enjoyed two full days of cycling to see the sights.
Bicycle rental in Kompong Cham
There do not appear to be any shops in Kompong Cham town that offer bike rental at the moment. We walked around the town centre but could not find any bike rental shops. Covid has destroyed many businesses here.
We asked at the hotel reception, and someone who runs a bike rental business on the outskirts of the city contacted us by phone. These are not mountain bikes, but Asian-style mamachari bicycles.
We booked the bikes to be brought to us at 8am the next morning. The rental cost was USD 3 per bike.
After getting the bikes, we headed to the Bamboo Bridge that morning.
From the town centre of Kompong Cham, a short ride south along the Mekong River brings you to the Bamboo Bridge. As the name suggests, the bridge is made of bamboo and connects the Mekong River sandbank island Koh Pen with the city of Kompong Cham.
In the past, the bridge was used on a daily basis as an important transport link for citizens, and was rebuilt every year to keep it functioning as a bridge. However, since the construction of the concrete bridge, the Bamboo Bridge has mainly been used as a tourist attraction.
The Bamboo Bridge is also accessible by bicycle. The fee for using the bridge was USD 1 per person round trip. The ticket received at the entrance must be presented on return.
Once across the Bamboo Bridge, there are photo opportunities for travellers.
Island side across the Bamboo Bridge.
Some shops sold coffee and other soft drinks.
The Bamboo Bridge in Kompong Cham has now become a tourist attraction, but in 2017, when we last visited, it still functioned as a daily bridge for citizens.
This is a Youtube upload of what we filmed then. Motorbikes, as well as passenger cars and horse-drawn carriages, were using the bridge, and it is two lanes wide in some parts to allow four-wheeled vehicles to cross.
Comparing the two, you can see that the bridge has really been scaled down now.
Cycling on the Koh Pen, an island in the middle of the Mekong River
There are several villages on the and cycling is a fun way to get around.
There are many traditional stilt houses in the village and Buddhist temples are scattered around the island.
As well as banana trees, cyclists can enjoy the rural landscape of cornfields, rice fields and tobacco cultivation.
Mangoes were in season at this time and many mangoes were bearing fruit on the trees.
After leaving Kompong Cham town, we went around the island and crossed the Bamboo Bridge back to town. Most roads are paved or concrete and are easy to cycle on.
Wat Nokor/Nokor Bachey Pagoda
In the afternoon of the first day, we went to Nakor Temple, which is a quick trip from the town. It is about 3 km from the waterfront in Kompong Cham town centre.
The area is a Buddhist temple complex, where old temple ruins and new temple architecture coexist.
You can reach it by going almost due west from Kompong Cham town centre. The road is nicely paved with no hills, but there is heavy traffic at certain times of the day.
On the second day of cycling, we visited Hanchey Temple, 21 km north of Kompong Cham. Admission is free.
Hanchey Temple was first built in the 7th century, originally as a Hindu temple, but is now a Buddhist temple.
The old stupa, with its prominent red bricks, survived the American bombing. The other buildings are relatively new and reconstructed.
We pushed our bicycles up the steep hill, but there is also a stairway up the hill.
It is situated on top of a small hill and has a wonderful view over the Mekong River.
This temple is quite kitsch, and I remember from previous visits that Cambodian temples often have statues of fruit, food and animals.
They are placed throughout the temple grounds.
On the way to Hanchey Temple
To reach Hanchey Temple, head straight north from Kompong Cham town along the Mekong River. As you continue north along the promenade, the scenery quickly changes to a more rural setting.
The road to Hanchey Temple is mostly flat and paved, except at the end where it climbs a hill.
We visited on 1 April, a Saturday, two weeks before the Khmer New Year that year. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, but the traffic was unexpectedly heavy. We think it was people coming to the cemetery to pay respects to their family before the New Year.
On the way to the temple, we bought boiled corn and ate it for lunch after arriving at the temple.
On the way home, we bought freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. It is orange-flavoured and squeezed with fresh oranges. Really delicious!
Relaxing along the Mekong River after cycling
In the evening back in town, we relaxed on the promenade along the Mekong River. There are many little spots near the Bamboo Bridge that offer tables and chairs overlooking the bridge.
We soaked away the exhaustion of exercising with some fresh coconut water and a couple of beers!