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How To Go to The Floating Villages Of Tonlé Sap Lake, Cambodia

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Locals have tailored to the dramatic seasonal fluctuations of Tonlé Sap by constructing floating villages and bamboo skyscrapers towering excessive on stilts. Right here’s how one can expertise life on the water in these outstanding villages on a day journey from Siem Reap.

By: Mark Barnes |
Printed: 12 Mar 2024

Tonlé Sap (Prek Kdam) is the biggest lake in Southeast Asia. This large physique of freshwater sustains over 200 species of fish and supplies a livelihood for over one million Cambodians.

The lake is particular for its outstanding seasonal fluctuations.

Performing as a pure flood reservoir for the Mekong River system, Tonlé Sap rises and falls as much as 9 metres between the moist and dry seasons. Locals have tailored to this fluctuating ecosystem by constructing floating villages alongside the banks of the lake.

A day journey to the Tonlé Sap villages makes a fantastic break from visiting the Angkor temples round Siem Reap.

Over latest years some villages have turn out to be vacationer traps, whereas others nonetheless present an genuine expertise with vacationer earnings positively supporting the group.

Listed here are our suggestions for which villages to see and how one can see them.


Tonlé Sap Lake is a outstanding ecosystem.

Within the moist season (June to October) torrential rains in southeast Asia and snow soften from Tibet forces water from the Mekong up via Tonlé Sap River into Tonlé Lake.

Within the dry season (November to Could), the river reverses course and begins to circulation again out to sea by way of the Mekong River.

On the peak of the moist season, the lake might be 9 metres larger than it was within the dry season with a floor space swelling from 2,500 km2 to 16,000 km2.

This implies locals should adapt. Many dwell in floating villages on the lake, or in homes constructed on towering stilts alongside its fluctuating banks.

There are 5 other ways to discover these floating villages and we offer a breakdown on every of them under.  

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The villages of Tonlé Sap are dotted alongside the northern shore, making them accessible from Siem Reap. Learn our Siem Reap information for extra actions within the space.


The village of Chong Khneas is residence to about 1,000 households. Their properties are constructed on strong land, on stilts or on floating platforms that drift on the lake. It’s the closest floating village to Siem Reap and the simplest to go to independently.

After we first visited right here in 2010 it was a beautiful expertise. Our non-public information took us amongst locals going about their day by day lives and there have been only a few vacationers.   

As of late it’s a really totally different expertise. Boat excursions ferry vacationers between a crocodile farm and memento outlets. There’s little or no of the actual Cambodia to see and there’s fixed trouble to buy overpriced souvenirs.  

We propose you head additional afield to one of many different villages. However if you happen to do go to Chong Khneas, cease on the mountain temple of Phnom Krom on the way in which.

How you can go to Chong Khneas – Tuk-tuks from Siem Reap to Chong Khneas take about 40 minutes every method and price about $13 return. It’s free to stroll across the village on land. Boat excursions from the dock final 2 hours and price $28 (per boat) and as much as 8 folks and usually gained’t go away till it’s full.  


Kompong Phluk is without doubt one of the greatest floating villages on Tonlé Sap with homes constructed on towering stilts. Within the dry season they’re elevated excessive above the muddy banks of the lake, however within the moist season they seem to drift simply above the water’s floor.

Excursions differ relying on the time of 12 months, however often, they consist of 4 parts:

  • A ship experience alongside the river passing stilted homes.
  • A stroll via Kompong Phluk Village to see the temple, faculty and homes.
  • An optionally available experience in a canoe via the floating forest of dense mangroves ($5 per particular person).
  • Sundown drinks or dinner on a floating restaurant.  

It’s a wonderful expertise, though it may be busy. There’s a likelihood to satisfy the locals and among the cash from the tour goes again to the village, particularly if you happen to take the optionally available canoe experience via the floating forest which is powered by native ladies.

How you can go to Kompong Phluk – The easiest way to see Kompong Phluk is on a half-day tour. Excursions might be booked on-line and price about $25 per particular person. Choose up out of your lodging is included.

Essential Be aware – Money is required to pay for the optionally available canoe experience, and meals and drinks within the floating restaurant. This must be good high quality US notes with none marks or tears, or the equal in Cambodian Riel.

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Kompong Khleang is the biggest floating village on Tonlé Sap, with ten occasions the inhabitants of Kompong Phluk. Situated 55 kilometres from Siem Reap (a 75–90-minute drive every method) it will get far fewer guests.

Other than the truth that it’s a lot quieter, you too can assist the group through the use of Kompong Khleang Excursions. This organisation will get ongoing approval for its actions from the village, entails them in selections, and employs villagers. Income are reinvested again into the group with virtually 50% serving to fund schooling on the Bridge of Life College.

The shared group tour features a go to to the Bridge of Life College, a strolling tour of the village, a group boat experience, and an ethnic Vietnamese village. It ends with sundown on the lake.

It’s a fantastic community-led expertise, nevertheless, it’s dearer than Kompong Phluk and it entails 3 hours of driving for less than 2.5 hours exploring the floating village.

How you can go to Kompong Khleang –  Shared group excursions ($35 per particular person) go away at 2 pm from Siem Reap and take 5.5 hours. Longer non-public excursions are $250 for as much as 4 folks and might be mixed with a go to to Beng Mealea, one of the crucial atmospheric Angkor temples


Prek Toal Floating village is on the western finish of Tonlé Sap, the place the Sangkae River flows into the lake. Surrounding the village, the Prek Toal Hen Sanctuary is a novel ecosystem that’s residence to 150 totally different species, seven of that are of world significance.

Eager birders can see the Spot Billed Pelican, Milky Stork, Painted Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Higher Adjutant, Blackheaded Ibis, and Oriental Darter. From January to Could, giant flocks of cormorants, storks and pelicans are virtually assured.

Excursions mix early morning chicken watching, with lunch in Prek Toal Village adopted by a paddle across the stilted and floating homes.

Prek Toal excursions are costly by Cambodian requirements, and it takes appreciable time to get there, so it’s a 5.30 am begin. Except you’re an avid chicken watcher, it’s in all probability higher to go to Kompong Phluk or Kompong Khleang.

How you can go to Prek Toal – A number of tour operators present equally priced excursions. They value roughly $295 for 1 particular person, $450 for two, $510 for 3, $600 for 4. Excursions go away Siem Reap round 5.30 am and return round 4 pm. Pickup, drop-off, breakfast, and lunch are included.


Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are the important stops on any Cambodia itinerary, however the laidback life-style and French structure of Battambang has its personal attract.

Battambang is barely 2 hours 45 minutes by bus from Siem Reap, nevertheless it’s additionally potential to go by boat.

The journey takes 5 to 9 hours relying on the season. Boats go away from the dock at Chong Khneas, journey down the western finish of Tonlé Sap Lake, after which up the Sangkae River to Battambang.

Alongside the way in which, it passes a number of floating villages together with Khum Koh Chiveang and stops at a floating restaurant for lunch.

This isn’t a luxurious boat experience. The picket boats are fundamental and the seats not significantly comfy. One facet of the boat shall be in solar on a regular basis, and there aren’t any bathrooms onboard.

It’s nevertheless a great way to see Cambodian life. Locals hop on and off as they journey between villages, and you’re shortly off the overwhelmed observe.

It’s an excellent possibility if you happen to’re travelling via Cambodia on the gradual, however when you have a packed itinerary there could also be higher methods to spend your time.

How you can take the boat – Two firms supply the boat experience on alternate days: Angkor Specific Boat and Chann-Na. The journey prices $35 a technique and takes 5-6 hours from August to February and 8-9 hours from March to July.

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Thanks in your assist – Paul & Mark.

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