A visit to a floating village is a unique and eye-opening experience. However, be careful which villages you choose to go to as some have become notorious for tourist scams and overcharging.
One of the most popular is Kampong Phluk (or Chong Kneas). It is closest to Siem Reap and easiest to reach, but the village has become overrun by tourists and begging is common.
The Siem Reap floating village tour offer a truly authentic experience and are well worth visiting. However, it’s important to research and go with a reliable tour company as some of the villages can be over-touristic or even a bit dangerous. Also, it’s important to make sure that you’re not intruding into the privacy of the locals and are being respectful of their space.
Kompong Phluk is the largest of the floating villages and offers a lot to see. The village is surrounded by mangrove forests and houses built on stilts that are adapted to the floods of Tonle Sap lake during rainy season. The villagers here are also very friendly and welcoming to tourists.
It’s the furthest away from Siem Reap at 50km but is a great option for a day trip. This village is highly run on ecotourism and your money goes right back into the community. The villagers have schools, pagodas, and restaurants.
Tonle Sap Lake
The lakes of Tonle Sap are a life-giving source of freshwater for the communities that live around them. But the ever-changing water levels, pollution, overfishing, and cutting down of mangroves are causing a number of problems for the lake itself and its dwellers.
The villages are fascinating to visit and seeing the lives of people who fish, travel in boats, and eat at floating restaurants is something that many visitors find genuinely memorable. However, there are some pitfalls that are best to avoid when visiting these places.
The best way to visit the floating villages is with a tour company that is environmentally conscious and respects the inhabitants of the villages they visit. Tara River Boat, Sam Veasna Conservation Tours, and others offer trips to Chong Kneas, Kampong Phluk, and Mechrey, and keep interference with daily lake life to a minimum. For a particularly special experience, book the sunset dinner excursion aboard the Queen Tara.
One of the best things about this floating village is that the boat service here is run by the local people themselves. This means that any money you spend on a tour here goes straight to the villagers and helps maintain the local services. It also makes the experience more authentic than some of the other floating villages like Chong Kneas, which are often described as a ‘human zoo’.
The villagers are very friendly and the children love to meet tourists. The village is surrounded by an immense forest area that habitats numerous species of birds, making it a perfect place for nature lovers and photographers.
A day trip to the floating village of Kompong Phluk is a must-do for any visitor to Siem Reap. To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience, it’s recommended to book your floating village tour with a reliable and reputable travel company that offers a variety of packages with the option to add additional tours.
A floating cemetery of sorts sits on the shores of Tonle Sap Lake and is not to be missed. It’s a somber reminder of the human cost of this remarkable ecosystem.
Which floating village you choose to visit will largely depend on your priorities and what kind of experience you’re looking for. While Chong Kneas has become notorious for tourist scams and a one-star experience that leaves visitors disappointed, the other villages offer an authentic and immersive experience.
Browse a local market or pagoda and dive into jaw-dropping floating houses to witness how the residents of this extraordinary community adapt to seemingly inconceivable conditions with beaming smiles. Alternatively, hop on an eco-tour of Mechrey for the most genuine experience possible and a chance to see how the locals truly live. All the entrance fees and tourism taxes you pay will go straight back to the villagers.