Tonle Sap Lake, one of the world’s most vibrant ecosystem, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia with diversity of fauna and flora. Discovering Tonle Sap Lake, you also be overwhelmed by its fascinating local communities and their floating villages.
Located in southern Siem Reap about 15km, the Tonle Sap Lake is 250km in length and 100km in width at its widest point, that makes it seem like an inland ocean when you can see the opposite shore from ground level. More interestingly, it’s fairly shallow, with a maximum depth of only 10 metres.

Tonle Sap Lake is a confluence of the mighty Mekong River, Tonle Sap and Bassic River, so it becomes a unique eco-system with a great variety of species: over 200 fish species live in the lake, 70 of it are of commercial relevance. 23 snake species, among them the endemic Longhead Water Snake as well as 13 turtle species live in and around Tonle Sap Lake.

The Lake also play an important role in commercial resource due to providing more than half of the fish consumption in Cambodia. Parallel to impressive ecosystem, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive – floating villages with stilted houses, huge fish traps and an economic life on water.

Chong Khneas is the name of famous floating villages at the edge of the lake. The boat trip through the floating village takes approximately two hours. You will explore the different of Khmer, Muslim and Vietnamese floating households and the floating markets, fisheries, clinics, schools, basketball course, pigsty and other boatloads of tourists.

What is the best time to visit Tonle Sap Lake?

The best time to visit Tonle Sap Lake is during the rainy season (June to October). Water in the Mekong River makes the Tonle Sap Lake 5 times bigger than its sizes in the dry season. During this time, water will overflow the surrounding plains and forests, creating a diverse and rich ecosystem. And it is the best time to take a boat trip to explore Tonle Sap’s several floating villages. But, trips to the bird sanctuaries are the best during December and April.

During the dry season, Tonle Sap Lake becomes very shallow and large boats maybe stuck into mud. The surrounding forests also dry up an can not visit some bird sanctuaries.

Tonle Sap floating villages

There are many floating villages in and around Tonle Sap Lake, where many of these villages depend on the lake for its natural resources.

Chong Khneas

Chong Khneas is one of the most well-known floating villages in Tonle Sap Lake. During the wet season, it offers a nice scene of stilt houses, shops, schools, surrounded by water.

Kampong Khleang

Quite far from Siem Reap, it takes about 2 hours by boat from the Phnom  Krom boat. There is an outer floating village and an inner stilted village. Kampong Khleang has the largest population of all the villages on Tonle Sap Lake and its remote location means that it receives fairly few tourists.

Kampong Phluk

Kampong Phluk isn’t really a ‘floating village’ as the houses are built on tall stilts. During the dry season, the village is high and dry, with the tall stilted houses lining the road. When the water level is high, these stilts are submerged. This is also where you can enjoy boat rides through the flooded forest.

Prek Toal

A somewhat small floating village in Tonle Sap, Prek Toal is the starting point for birdwatching tours to the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. This is an important habitat for many endangered birds. There is a biosphere information centre and a water hyacinth weaving centre.

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