Tour notes:Battambang to Bak Pra
Bike needed: off road (maybe large wheeled semi-automatic but will be less comfortable and may struggle with ground clearance and river crossing. XR125 perfect. I took a Honda Transalp)
Skill needed: strong confidence with basic controls
Equipment: first aid kit, map/GPS, able to replenish drink and fuel on the way, sunscreen, phone, cash (small bills).
Out of Hostel Cambodia, turn right then left at the river past ‘The Pizza Company’. Cross the bridge then turn immediately left, following the river (Stung Sangher), keeping it on the left heading north out of town.
On right, look for temples; feel free to visit. Final temple in right offers views over rice fields. Still good road up to this point, many places for fuel, drinks etc.
Continue along road, becoming a reasonable quality dirt track. Work way through the rice fields keeping the river to your left.
I deviated from be river slightly, riding through the farmland and along the farm tracks. These are fun to ride along, cool place to be; that can be quite bumpy however so beware. Head back in direction you came, bearing right to take you further up the river.
After a while the river turns sharply. The path goes straight across the fields – there should be an obvious route – basically follow the river left round the right corner. Upon arriving at a selection of high walled residences/general store after a meander in the river, the road will appear to run out. It continues on the other side meaning fording the river is required (a bridge would be nice – pre-arranged barge during wet season).
The locals will have a good idea as it looked liked a common fording point.
Looking for the most obvious path but in the direction of the river, travelling north. The road quality of getting much worse now with off-road bikes necessary.
Continue following the river. Track then becomes narrow path through overgrown bushes – here is an opportunity for improvement. The bushes need stripping back with machete/strimmer otherwise the sharp spikes can become uncomfortable. Follow this track for approx. 8km. There may be another way round.
This will lead you to a good quality dirt track wide enough for a car. Turn right at the end of the path and follow the dirt track back towards the river. You’ll see house boats on the embankment and a loading crane in the water.
Looking not back towards the boat houses. The crane just out of shot to the left of frame.
Continue down the dirt track. You’ll leave the river slightly, but rejoin at the next village. People are very welcoming, opportunity for drinks and fuel.
Continue down track following river. The track is mostly good quality here so use opportunity to give novice riders a ride.
Eventually you’ll come to a much larger settlement by the river. This is Bak Pra.
Here there is the opportunity for food, drinks, fuel. A large tributary comes in from the left. There is many stilted and boat houses, lots of boats and a large school in the middle of the town. People are welcoming and helpful, however I did not find one person who could get past the word ‘Hello’ in English. Khmer speaker would have been super useful.
For me, this is where my exploration down the river ended. I had the option to push on, however this meant fording the river and I had neither the knowledge or support for this to have been a good idea. With a group/translator/accurate map of the area, it would be possible. I managed to get as far as confirming that Prom Preah and the lake were further down steam and I was heading in exactly the right direction; another attempt should be made with more people to cross the river and continue to the lake.
I headed back along the dirt track I had come down back towards the riverside crane. Follow this track past where you join and follow, follow, follow.
It will take you away from the main river (you’ll follow a small river for a short while) the road will remain good quality dirt track (with a few ruts and occasional other traffic to be aware of). It will pass through small settlements (again with opportunity to replenish) and eventually become paved.
Follow this road past the villages, schools and rice factories until coming to a later road. Turn left and follow into Battambang.