Tonle Sap, Cambodia

Tonle Sap is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia and acts as a lifeline to Cambodia. While it occupies a small portion during summer, it swells by several times in rainy season. Along the lake, several “floating villages” are located. One such place is Kampong Phluk which we visited. The experience looks similar to boat rides in Alleppey or at Dal Lake in Srinagar but having gone through all these rides, I can say that each is unique in its own way.

Boats lined up
Unlike other places in Cambodia, we opted for group tour in Tonle Sap as it was cost effective. It was a small group of 11 people on a mini van. About 30 minutes of ride from Siem Reap took us to the village where we had to board the boat. In summer, it was possible to proceed further on road but being at the end of monsoon the lake was overflowing.

It took about 45 minutes to reach the village. What looked like a small waterbody widened as we proceeded further.

Water body

Our boat driver

The first sign of the floating indicated that it was a full fledged “living” village with some basic amenities. The school and the temple were visible as we entered into the village.

First view of the village
It was quite surprising to see how the people stay in those villages. Living in water is something we are not accustomed, I believe. For any emergency, they need to travel by boat for a long distance before getting any facilities.

The area around the village is filled with mangrove forests. One could also go into them using canoes as the boats cannot enter into mangrove forests.

From village, we were taken further to the actual lake. The size of the lake becomes clear as we enter the lake. It looks like a ocean with huge waves. The other side of lake is not visible. The boat swayed a lot as we entered into the lake. It looked dangerous as we were on the boat without life jackets. I asked the driver to return back!!

At the end, I must say that it was a good half day trip from Siem Reap. There is no need to prebook anything. You can easily find tour operators conducting group tour in Siem Reap. Reserving half day for this trip is sufficient.

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