For solo travelers visiting Angkor Wat, I highly recommend renting a Green e-bike. It’s cheap, liberating, very easy to use, and safe for the environment. It’s also a great alternative for a motorbike, which not all people know how to drive.
While planning my trip to Siem Reap, I got really stuck on deciding the best way to go around the massive temple complex. Taking a bicycle is definitely the cheapest but IT WOULD TAKE FOREVER to go from one palace to another. Tuktuk is the most comfortable option, but it’s a bit expensive ($25) for a solo traveler on a VERY tight budget. I kept berating myself for not learning how to use a motorcycle until I found a great alternative!
At $10 for 24 hours, renting a Green e-bike is a great bargain. A perfect choice for me too!
It was a very liberating experience — taking the road aboard a two-wheel ride at 20kph. To be honest, it felt frustratingly slow at times, but the mostly fresh air blowing on my face made it worth it. The best parts were the roads far away from any temple, without any other vehicle around. I felt like I was shooting a music video haha!
For someone who likes having her own schedule and staying away from the crowd, taking the e-bike turned out to be a great decision. It was definitely not the most comfortable option, but it somehow felt like a seal of approval.
Throughout the day I really felt like I was totally alone, but I was far from lonely. It also felt exhilarating to drive around — from before sun up to after sun down — all on my own.
A Few Notes
If you’re hoping to be in Angkor Wat in time for sunrise and stay there until sunset, you have to rent your e-bike the night before.
The e-bike shop closes at 7pm so you have to be there by 6:30pm to have enough time to sign various documents, check your e-bike for previous damages, and learn how to use it.
The people at the shop are unbelievably kind and patient, although the same goes for most locals I’ve encountered in Siem Reap. Don’t worry if you don’t know a single thing about motorcycles, scooters, or driving. An e-bike is surprisingly very easy to use and balance. Age limit is 14 years old and above.
They will also give you a map of the best route to take depending on how many days you plan to go around the complex. Included in the map are the free charging sites within Angkor Wat. You will have to charge mid-day. Best to do it while taking your lunch break so you don’t waste time.
After your e-bike lesson, you might want to drive around town for a little bit just to get the hang of it. When you get back to your hotel/hostel, make sure to charge the battery overnight. AND I MEAN OVERNIGHT. I unplugged mine when I thought it was already full. HUGE MISTAKE. I had to charge again mid-morning. Almost ruined my schedule.
Thankfully, I found a charging station that’s quite near another palace so I was able to leave my e-bike there while going around. I had to charge twice though, so I was not able to visit a couple of highly-suggested sites.
A Very Unfortunate (?) Event
After this trip, I have officially accepted that there is ALWAYS going to be a very unfortunate incident wherever I go.
I stayed in Angkor Wat until sunset. ONE OF THE MOST MAGICAL I HAVE EVER SEEN.
I had to leave around 6pm though so I could be back in town by 7pm, before the e-bike shop closes. Otherwise, I would have to bring the e-bike back home and rent it for another 24 hours. That was not part of the budget.
While heading out, I met another girl who was using an e-bike and we decided to head back to town together. It was already dark by the time we made it to the main road, she was a few meters ahead of me when my e-bike stopped. It just STOPPED. There were many cars heading out but it was generally forest on opposite sides of the road.
I had to pull my e-bike to the sidewalk, where it was very dark. I tried to start it again several times, nothing. A car stopped. A couple went out, the guy looked like a complex marshal. He moved a few stuff around and the e-bike started working again. I thanked him a lot and he waited until I drove away. I swear Cambodians are so kind.
Sadly, his magic only worked for a few minutes. The e-bike stopped again. This time, most tourists were already out — leaving me and the forest behind. Are you afraid of the dark? I am. Not the dark per se, but all the images that come to my head when I can’t see more than a meter ahead.
I was half crying as I alternately pedaled and walked my way into civilization. Occasionally, I would pass by houses, but I was too embarrassed to ask for help. I REALLY HATE BOTHERING PEOPLE.
After half an hour or so, I saw the light. But judging from my trip to Angkor in the morning, I was still far away from town. I had no choice. A spot a group of salon employees taking their break and braved the question: Do you have a phone? My e-bike broke down. I need to call the shop to have someone pick me up.
Salon employees: …
THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH.
So I started miming: makes the universal signal for call, points to the e-bike, points to the phone number at the back of the e-bike, takes out the brochure and shows them the guideline written in their language. After a couple of minutes of charade, they called the e-bike shop and told the people there where I was. I was told to wait.
The employees (2 girls, 1 gay man) offered me a seat. Although they couldn’t speak English, they attempted several times to make me feel more comfortable. I really appreciated that. Some 30 minutes later, a guy arrived to pick me up. He came with a battery, he thought I just lost power. But apparently, there was a problem with the wiring. He adjusted it just a bit and I was good to go. The e-bike worked fine until I got back to the shop.
They apologized profusely. It looked like they failed to double-check the wiring of this particular e-bike. They assured me that it is a very rare incident. I believed them. There was no point in getting mad. Apart from the last hour, the whole day with my e-bike was amazing.
I went out of the shop with my back and my legs feeling like lead, opposing every single movement. My original plan was to walk back to my guesthouse located some 1.5 kilometers away from town as I did on other nights, but my body said NO. I asked my kind landlord instead to send a motorbike to pick me up.
That time, I officially understood how Neville Longbottom felt: Why is it always me?
Well, I think because I can handle it. Sure, I ended up wasted and looking like I went through war, but I was not broken.