Table of Contents
- Welcome to Tonle Sap Lake
- 1. Characteristics
- 1.1 Ecosystem
- 2. Floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake
- 3. Where you can find a good tour?
- 4. Best time to visit Tonle Sap Lake
Welcome to Tonle Sap Lake
The largest lake of Southeast Asia is Tonle Sap Lake. This lake is located in the middle of Cambodia and holds an amazing ecosystem. This lake is not only a lake but also the nest of Khmer civilization. Moreover, this lake also provides water for various neighborhoods nearby. With the length of 250km and the width of 100km, you will feel like being in the middle of sea because you can’t see the both sides.
Tonle Sap Lake is also called Boeung Tonle Sap or “ Great Lake” which is 15km to the north of Siem Reap. This lake is the perfect place for those who want to visit floating villages, some relics a long the lake and have a relaxing boat trip.
This largest freshwater lake has the total area of 2,500km2 and this area will be enlarged during the monsoon season. The quality of water in the lake changes because it has hydrological relationship with Mekong River. From June to October, Tonle Sap experiences the raining season, which means the lake will depend and widen more than usual. In contrast, during dry season this lake is smaller. And thanks to the continuous change, the flooded forest around the lake becomes the home of water ecosystem. The ecosystem of Tonle Sap is abundant with various fresh water fish, turtles, water snakes,…
1.2 Life in Tonle Sap
Moreover, there are 5 provinces surrounded the lake with more than 3 million people. And most of them live on fishing. With the diversity of ecosystem on Tonle Sap, it can be said that people can live with it. And this lake also provides half of fish consuming in Cambodia. If you visit Tonle Sap, you will see a lots of small floating villages, fish traps,… with many people doing their job. The local life there attaches closely with the lake from daily activities to commercial ones.
This lake is located aprox 15km from the south of Siem Reap, so you can get there by express boat which docks at Chong Khneas village. This 6 hour trip is only recommended in the monsoon season because the boat will be stuck in mud. All people living here always use small boat as main transportation or dedicated to their work.
2. Floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake
The most interesting thing you should do in Tonle Sap Lake is visiting floating villages. There are various small villages scratching on the lake. Here are some villages that you can visit easily
2.1 Chong Kneas
This village is one of the famous tourist spots in Tonle Sap lake. This was formerly built to serve Korean, that’s why there are lots of Korean restaurants here. Therefore, besides of income from fishing, this village reaps benefits from tourist too. Chong Kneas is located near the access to Siem Reap. As you can see, there are various stilted house and floating houses here where local people live and run their business.
2.2 Kampong Phluk
Kampong Phluk means “Harbor of the tucks” and it’s a region more than a village. This region comprises 3 villages located in the way of main entrance to Tonle Sap. People of this area live mainly on fishing and during dry season they can harvest some from land.
You can visit Kampong Phluk in one day because in compared with other villages the river and road trip of this place are shorter. This place is truly a village not a tourist spot, so there aren’t not much activities or interesting spots for you to visit. People here only focus on their daily life and their jobs.
However, you also find a really local atmosphere here without any tourist annoying. You can embark a small boat to see around the villages and admire flooded forest. Then, you also can have dinner or just relax in some floating restaurants here.
2.3 Khampong Khleang
You will see the slight similarity in the name of this village with the former. And this name means “harbor warehouse”. This village is located really far away from Siem Reap with 50km. This village also has less tourism in town so you will have some authentic experiences and totally feel relaxed here.
There are both stilted and floating houses here and the population is quite big. Like any floating house on Tonle Sap Lake, the houses here also move according to the level of water. On dry season, the houses will be located by the edge of the lake.
You can use boat service here to visit around and this service is run by locals, which means the price is fixed. There are some tours offering you to visit around Kampong Khleang. Some tours also offer you to local markets and a village that produce sticky rice.
Mechrey is also a floating village which is located in the southwest of Siem Reap. This area lives mostly on fishing but recently the eco-tourism has developed here. Because of this reason, everything here is still pristine and intact. The local authorities try to maintain the village in the best condition. And if you visit Mechrey you will have various great offers because this place tries to compete with other famous tourist spots.
3. Where you can find a good tour?
You may want to have a travel on budget and not need a tour, but sometimes a tour with local guide will make your vacation. They can support you as much as possible, especially in a place where less people speak English.
3.1 Beyond Unique Escapes and Triple A Adventures
They run the best tour only to Kampong Khleang to floating villages. They always make sure that their customers have the best experiences. With 24/7 support, they can help you deal with any problem.
3.2 Tara Boat
If you are into visiting Chong Kneas and Kampong Phluk, you should book a tour from this agent. When you get a tour here, you also have a sunset dinner in a floating restaurant. The tour only brings you to tourist places but it’s worth a try.
3.3 Sam Veasna Center
This agent offers you tours to Chong Kneas, flooded forest as well as to Prek Toal Bird sanctuary. They provide you with really educational tours in which you will listen to the guide talk about the ecosystem of Tonle Sap and wildlife in Cambodia in general.
4. Best time to visit Tonle Sap Lake
There are 2 main seasons on Tonle Sap Lake. The first one is dry season when the lake is swallow. During this time, floating villages move to the middle of the lake. If you go there by boat this time, you get stuck in mud. Also, you can see the flooded forest becomes dried.
In contrast, during raining season from June to October, this lake becomes wider and you hardly can see both sides of the lake thanks to the amount of water from Mekong river. It is said that this is the best time to visit Tonle Sap Lake because you can admire the abundant of ecosystem here. And the floating villages are also in the best condition.