Sat 03 Nov - Tue 13 Nov 2018

OVERVIEW

What to expect

ITINERARY

What you will do

COSTS

Ways to pay

ESSENTIAL INFO

All you need to know

Everything you need to know

This page provides you with a variety of information about the challenge that you might find useful.

Level of Difficulty

Typical day

Safety

Responsible Tourism

Extensions

Flights

Visa

Insurance

Vaccinations

Climate & Terrain

Training

Training weekends

Luggage allowance and valuables

Leadership

Group Size

What are the bikes like?

Clothing and equipment

Accommodation & Toilets

Food & Drink

Money

Phone & Wi-Fi

Level of Difficulty

The Saigon to Angkor Wat cycle challenge is graded as moderate. A "moderate" trip is the perfect challenge for someone who has perhaps never taken on a challenge event before, and is looking to test themselves on an active physical challenge. Although a moderate challenge might be culturally challenging, you will usually be staying in hotels/lodges rather than camping, and there will be no altitude involved. Training is necessary for all challenges to ensure you are fully prepared.

You can tell your supporters that on your Saigon to Angkor Wat cycle Challenge you will be:

  • Cycling for around 6-8 hours per day, covering approximately 450kms over 7 days.
  • Battling the heat and humidity. Temperatures can reach the 30s.
  • Cycling across waterways, plantations and on unpaved and dusty roads.

Typical day

During your cycling days, you will wake at around 7am, have breakfast and start cycling for 6-8 hours. You will stop at shady rest stops every 15–20 km where you can rest and regroup. Here you will be able to re-energise with fruit snacks and fill water bottles. For lunch you will stop at a local restaurant or beauty spot for a picnic lunch. Occasionally you will need to take public ferries to cross the Mekong; these stops need to be taken in a timely manner to keep to the schedule. In the evening there is usually an hour or so free time before we meet to discuss the next day’s adventure. Dinner follows the briefing.

Safety

Charity Challenge considers the safety of all of our participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have set up Challenge Safe, one of the most advanced and thorough safety management systems in the industry. Challenge Safe formalises our ethos when it comes to safety, and brings together the procedures and risk management strategies that we use to audit all aspects of our challenges, from vehicles to accommodation to the challenge activity itself. Your welfare is absolutely paramount!

It is policy that participants must wear a helmet – please take your own for comfort reasons. Be aware that cycling can be dangerous and accidents do happen – you must take responsibility for your own safety whilst riding. Throughout the challenge, back-up support will be close by. If for any reason any injury should occur, a relief vehicle will be made available. The relief vehicle will be a private air-conditioned bus, minibus or jeep that will support the riding throughout the tour. It will follow at a discreet distance, and is there for clients who need to rest, to carry the spare bike parts, and will also often contain refreshments such as water, snacks and soft drinks. During transfer sections, the bikes will be carried in the bus. When riding off road on single track trails support will sometimes be by motorbike. The guide will carry water and the first aid kit with him/her until the trail joins the main track where the bus will be waiting.

In terms of your Saigon to Angkor Wat challenge, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:

  • The cycling route is very exposed, with almost no shade, and on sunny days the temperatures can soar. You should ideally be wearing a sun hat, sun cream, and hydrating constantly!
  • Smoke alarms are not a legal requirement in Cambodia, and as such some of the hotels we use do not have them in place. Your leader will explain the emergency fire procedures to you.
  • Vietnam and Cambodia are regions where still today, a high number of unexploded land mines are being found every day.  Don't wander off well-trodden paths. You could encounter forgotten land mines and undetonated munitions. Never touch a leftover grenade or mine!
  • You will be cycling on the opposite side of the world to what you are used to, and occasionally on main roads frequented by many vehicles. Take the first day slowly until you become accustomed to your surroundings.

Responsible Tourism

At Charity Challenge we are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism, and work closely with bodies such as the International Porter Protection Group and Climate Care to ensure that our challenges benefit the local environments and communities in which they take place. We ensure that all rubbish is disposed of responsibly, and following local guidelines on cultural and environmental protection and respect, we aim to limit our impact on the natural environment. In addition to taking these practical steps to ensure that our challenges are sustainable, we also make a contribution each year to a number of local community projects, so as to give something back directly to the communities that we visit. Since 2000 we have donated almost £200,000 to such projects, supporting a range of initiatives, including schooling for children in Africa, shelter for street children in Brazil, and Orang-utan conservation in Indonesia. We recommend that any gifts brought over for children are given to the UK challenge leader and distributed where needed by them and our local Ground Agent. If you wish to do more, you should consider buying drinks, postcards and souvenirs from the local vendors. For many, it is their sole source of income. For more information, please visit our Responsible Tourism pages, where you will be able to view a list of the projects that we currently support.

Extensions

If an extension is available for your itinerary, this info will be included on the respective expedition website. If you wish to book an extension, you will need to do so no later than 4 months prior to departure.

Flights

You will be flying from London Heathrow to Ho Chi Minh. The flying time is approx. 14-15 hours indirect. Your flight tickets will be issued to you upon departure at the airport.  If you choose to book your own flights please confirm with the Charity Challenge office first, otherwise you may be liable for your included group flights (please contact flights@charitychallenge.com for further assistance). For more general flights questions, please refer to our main FAQs page.

Visa

Vietnam

Until 30 June 2018 ‘British Citizen’ passport holders travelling for tourism or business can enter Vietnam for up to a maximum of 15 days (inclusive of dates of entry and exit) without a visa. If you have a different type of British nationality – for example ‘British national (overseas)’ you’ll need to get a visa or an e-visa before entering Vietnam.

For visits of up to 30 days, you can get an e-visa online before you travel. Use of the e-visa is limited to certain entry/exit points which you must select at the time of application. If you don’t have fixed travel plans, consider applying for a regular single entry visa from the nearest Vietnamese Embassy, which allows more flexibility.

Cambodia

UK citizens do require a visa to enter Cambodia but this will be arranged locally. You must hold a full ten-year passport with at least six months to run from the end of your challenge, and at least two blank pages for your visas and entry/exit stamps. All nationalities must obtain a visa for entering Cambodia. It costs US$30 with a $5 handling fee at the border and allows a stay of up to 30 days and one entry only. You must pay in USD cash. You will need 2 passport photos and your guides will advise you on the procedure in Vietnam. If you are a British national and plan to stay for an extended period in Cambodia you are strongly advised to register with the British Embassy in Phnom Penh upon arrival. You can register online at www.britishembassy.gov.uk/cambodia.

Insurance

/more-information.html#faqsIt is a condition of booking that you have a suitable travel insurance policy whilst participating on the challenge. We have a special policy which covers among other things, medical (emergency, evacuation and repatriation) arrangements, cancellation and curtailment of the challenge, and more specifically for the adventurous activities undertaken on this challenge. If you have your own travel insurance policy, you must ensure that it provides at least the same level of cover as our recommended policy, including protecting the charity in the event of your cancellation 56 days or less prior to departure. If you choose not to purchase our recommended policy when you book we will send you a disclaimer which you should complete and return.

For more general travel insurance questions, please refer to our main FAQs page.

Vaccinations

For up to date vaccination information please check the NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx. Although the Charity Challenge team are travel professionals, they are not medical experts and we would encourage you to visit your GP or travel nurse to discuss vaccination requirements. Your GP may ask questions about the specific locations that you are visiting in Vietnam and Cambodia, and as such it may be useful to take a copy of your itinerary with you.

Climate & Terrain

While hot and often humid, Vietnam has a tropical climate, and so you may experience tropical rain and very occasionally storms. During the wet season it can be very humid. Cambodia has 2 seasons. The dry season is from December to May, with temperatures of over 40c, and the rainy season from June to early November, during which the temperature is around 25c but with a high humidity level.

As your cycle route is along the Mekong Delta the terrain will be fairly flat for the whole cycle, however please do not underestimate the length of the days as some days you will be covering 80 km - 90 km. Some areas of the cycle will be very exposed and with extreme heat and humidity which will be a challenge in itself.  Please ensure you drink plenty of fluids and protect yourself from the sun. The cycle paths will be narrow and you will be navigating a variety of paths and bridges and so good use of changing gears is recommended.

Training

Training is definitely required. It is important that you work specifically on your stamina, leg and joint strength, and balance in order to get as much out of the challenge as possible. Don’t forget that the temperature and climate is different to the UK and that you will be exercising constantly for a number of days – the heat and distance will be your biggest challenge. You need to be able to sustain around 6-8 hours of cycling for 7 continuous days, so if you can then replicating this over a weekend would be fantastic training. In your members area you will find more comprehensive Fitness Training Notes in your account. You can also look to join one of our training weekends.

Training weekends

We offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. These training weekends not only help you become physically prepared for the challenge, but our experienced instructors and leaders will talk you through your clothing and equipment, camp craft, health and wellbeing, trekking skills (walking on different terrain/at altitude/at night/using walking poles), teamwork on expedition and many more themes designed to make you get the most out of your challenge. The weekends are great ways for you to get out into the mountains of the UK, while also meeting other Charity Challengers and sharing your experiences. To read more about our training weekends, including dates and prices, check out our dedicated page

Luggage allowance and valuables

The luggage allowance will depend on the airline we are using for your challenge, but in general it will be one piece of checked baggage at around 23 kg. However, we suggest that for our Saigon to Angkor Wat challenge you should only need around 15 kg-17 kg. If you don’t need it, don’t bring it, is a good rule. For any valuables, safe deposit boxes are usually provided to use in the hotels. Use a padlock on your luggage when in transit to reduce any risks. Carry your passport with you and make sure you have a photocopy of your documents (travel insurance etc.) in case they get lost or damaged.

Leadership

There will be an English-speaking challenge leader who will be responsible for the logistics and co-ordination of your challenge. There will also be numerous local support staff to assist them. The challenge leader will be ultimately responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group.

Group Size

Each group is intended to be 16 people minimum in order to run and maximum of approx. 30 people. We will be able to run this challenge for 10 to 19 people by charging a small group supplement of £75 which will be added to your final balance invoice (self funders) or charged to your charity (minimum sponsorship or flexi).

What are the bikes like?

The bikes are good quality lightweight Trek 4300, 4500 & 4700 – 24 & 27 spd Mountain bikes with Shimano Deore components, V Brakes and front suspension. All bikes have water bottle carriers & quickly detachable wheels. On arrival you will be asked to sign a waiver issued by our local ground handler on arrival in case of incident caused by yourselves. Please indicate your height on your booking form so that we can aim to book the correct size well in advance.

Clothing and equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For this challenge, a helmet is compulsory, and comfortable footwear for your cycle will be indispensable, particularly coupled with some good quality padded cycling shorts. The benefits of a comfortable day sack cannot be underestimated, so make sure that you train with this. Other essentials are a high quality gore-tex waterproof jacket and technical/Dry fit t-shirts rather than cotton shirts. Cycling gloves, and a cotton scarf or buff are also highly recommended, to protect you from the dust. A full kit list for this challenge can be found here, and once you book you will have access to kit discounts with our partners The Outdoor Shop, Outdoorhire and Cotswold Outdoor.

Accommodation & Toilets

Accommodation
The standard of accommodation in Vietnam and Cambodia is generally very high. All rooms are en-suite and have facilities for charging batteries and wifi connection. If you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with please ensure that you note this where appropriate when booking or email challenges@charitychallenge.com

Toilets
These range from very basic during the cycling route to normal western standards in the accommodation. There will be en-suite toilet and washing facilities at the hotels. Remember bringing with you some tissue as you might find it difficult to find during your cycling route.

Food & Drink

Food in Vietnam is a delight. It is a blend of Thai and Chinese food, and is always freshly cooked with plenty of vegetables. Typical Vietnamese dishes include pho, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast, cha gio, deep fried spring rolls, and goi ngo sen, a delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimps and peanuts. Cambodian meals are based on fish, poultry, pork, vegetables and rice. The dishes are all very tasty and different and for the most part not too spicy. Food is usually prepared with a minimum of oil and served with ubiquitous fish sauce called nuoc mam. Saigon/Hanoi/Angkor Beer are the local brews. Wines are very expensive unless you want to sample locally made rice wine – ‘Roau’ (pronounced zeeo). Please let Charity Challenge knows prior to departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies. You will need to be somewhat flexible with your eating habits when travelling in SE Asia, however, as some diets are hard to cater for! Water will be supplied while you cycle. Please note that you may encounter a large amount of seafood on this challenge so please inform Charity Challenge of your dietary requirements if you do not eat seafood so we can accommodate you the best we can.

Money

Vietnam: The local currency is Vietnam Dong (VND), but US dollars are also accepted. It is almost impossible to change VND into US dollars without a flight ticket showing your onward destination. Only change money at official money exchange counters with a clear sign showing this status. Changing money elsewhere is illegal and while higher rate may be on offer you may risk losing your money.  Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but outside main centres you may find cash the only acceptable currency. It may be difficult to cash travellers’ cheques. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas. You can have funds transferred to Vietnam via international money transfer companies like Western Union or Moneygram.

Cambodia: ATMs are available in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap and in some other major towns. Take care when withdrawing cash and be aware of your surroundings.  Not all ATMs and banks accept foreign debit and credit cards. Check with your bank before you travel. Credit cards aren’t widely accepted, but some hotels and businesses in larger cities will accept them.Travellers cheques can be exchanged at some banks and bureaux de change. The US dollar is the main currency used in Cambodia. Prices in hotels, shops and restaurants are quoted in US dollars. Cambodian Riels are used only as small change at a rate of around 4000 Riels/US$1.   

Credit Cards: Visacard and Mastercard are now accepted in many hotels and shops, but the preferred currency is dollars, cash.

How much to bring: All accommodation and meals are included within the price of the trip, as well as water during the days of your cycling challenge. You will not need to carry a lot of money with you during the challenge, but as there are daily opportunities to buy soft drinks, alcohol and snacks on the way we would suggest a maximum amount of about £15 a day. Bring more if you intend to buy souvenirs and take up the opportunity of the additional things you can do during your time in Vietnam and Cambodia. You may have the opportunity of enjoying a relaxing post-cycle massage (about £30) in Siem Reap at the end of your challenge. There are plenty of great craft souvenirs, silk clothing and silver jewellery in Vietnam and Cambodia. Keep this in mind!  It is useful to have notes in small demoninations.

Tipping: Tipping is at your sole discretion and all staff are paid a fair wage. However, tourism is a tipping culture, and Vietnamese and Cambodian guides will generally receive a tip at the end of a job well done. If you choose to tip, we would suggest an amount of £100 - £150 per participant for the duration of the challenge. For those on Charity Challenge organised extensions, we would suggest between £5 and £6 per person per day.

Phone & Wi-Fi

Most of your accommodation will have limited Wi-Fi which you will be able to use, but please do not rely upon this, particularly while in Cambodia as internet connections are not always reliable. You will have phone signal in almost all places on the challenge.

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ATOL protected

We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6546. Many of the flight-inclusive challenges on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. This ATOL protection only covers challenges that include flights booked by Charity Challenge and that originate in the UK. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate

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