The Tonle Sap - Cambodia's Great Lake - is the most prominent feature on the map of Cambodia It is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and one of the richest fishing lakes in the world. During the dry season, the lake is as small as 2500 km2. In the rainy season, a unique hydrologic phenomenon takes place - the swollen Mekong backs up into the Tonle Sap river causing it to reverse its direction and thus filling the lake. This inflow expands the surface area of the lake more than fivefold flooding the forested plains and supporting an extraordinarily rich eco-system. Crocodiles, turtles, macaques, more than 100 varieties of waterbirds, including several endangered species, over 200 species of fish and other wildlife inhabit the flooded mangrove forests. The human settlements at the edges of the lake are similarily distinctive; their life being intertwined with the cycles of the lake, the fish and the wildlife. The economy of these floating villages is based on fishing and shrimp harvesting.
The floating village of Chong Kneas - $7
Chong Kneas is the floating village closest to Siem Reap; by TukTuk, it takes about 30 minutes to get there. At the boat dock, you'll need to hire a boat (about $15/pax), which takes you on a two-hour trip to see floating households, clinics and markets.
The floating village of Kampong Phluk - $15
Kampong Phluk is further away from Siem Reap; it will take about one hour to get there by TukTuk. It's a cluster of villages of stilted houses right in the floodplain of Tonle Sap surrounded by mangrove forest. During the dry season, the stilted houses may rise up to six meters in the air exposed by the lack of water. Kampong Phluk sees less foreign visitors than Chong Kneas, you can get there by boat from the same dock, at the same cost. The boat will take you to the village and from there, you can hire a smaller row boat with a driver ($5/boat) to take you through the mangrove forests.
The floating village of Kampong Khleang - $30
is located at the northern edge of Tole Sap lake, 55 km from the city. The whole community has some five thousand stilted houses built on the shore and by the side of the river and is home to 20,000 people. During the dry season, the houses are about 10 meters above the ground. During the monsoon season, the water rises up to floor level of those houses. Boats ride through the village to its unique flooded forest.
The tour will take 2 hours to see the villages, schools, market boats, floating houses.