Tonlé Sap Lake


Tonlé Sap Lake is located in the northern part of Cambodia. Tonlé Sap Lake, also known as Phnom Penh Lake, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and the “lake of life” of the Cambodian people.


Tonlé Sap Lake Map

Tonlé Sap Lake, Siem Reap

Tonlé Sap Lake, also known as Phnom Penh Lake, is located in the northern part of Cambodia, Tonle Sap Lake is connected to the Mekong River and is the natural reservoir of the Mekong River. It is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and the “lake of life” of the Cambodian people. There are several floating villages on the lake. Because of the large number of Vietnamese refugees living in the lake, it is called “Vietnamese Floating Village”. You can take a boat tour of the lake to visit these floating villages, see the houses, churches, schools and other buildings on the water. In the evening, you can also enjoy the sunset on the lake which is unlike Angkor Wat.


Characteristics of Tonlé Sap Lake:

  • No.1 Visit floating villages - There is a group of Vietnamese descendants who live by the lake and live in the middle of the lake to make a living by fishing. They live in the lake, read, live, see a doctor, eat, buy and sell, they do everything in the lake. Even their water is taken from the lake, and the excrement is also excreted into the lake. They are not allowed to go ashore for life, because they have no nationality.
  • No.2 See sunset of Tonlé Sap Lake - In addition to visiting the floating village, the sunset of Tonlé Sap Lake is also an activity to attract tourists. The sun-drenched landscape on the lake is memorable.


How to visit Tonlé Sap Lake?

Tonlé Sap Lake, Siem Reap

The floating village closest to the northern shore of Tonlé Sap Lake is Chong Kneas, the busiest floating village on Tonlé Sap Lake. The location of the village varies from season to season, and the dry lake surface is seen during the dry season.

Going deep into the lake, there are Kampong Phluk and Kampong Khleang. The larger tour groups are mostly visiting the Kampong Phluk, where there are high hanging stilts. When the water rises, the village will become a “Flooded Forest”. At this time the landscape is very unique, so it is more interesting to visit it during the rainy season.

Because of the distance, Kampong Khleang also has fewer visitors, which is more suitable for backpackers who like eco-tourism. Kampong Khleang is one of the largest communities in Tonlé Sap Lake. It is like a floating city and even has several tower temples. You can find many interesting things here.

Although the landscape of the floating village is very special, it is one of the most impoverished places in Cambodia. Most of the people on the lake fled to avoid the Vietnamese civil war. The governments of both Vietnam and Cambodia do not recognize them.

Dirty lakes and tattered cabins are awesome. Visitors often meet local children in the floating village to jump on the tourists' boats to sell drinks, or around their neck with a big python to take pictures with you, or force you to do massage, hatchback and so on. If you don't give a tip, they won't let you leave. Some will even be begging directly, so be sure to be mentally prepared before the tour.


When to visit ? (Best time to visit Tonlé Sap Lake – December to April)

It is suitable to visit Tonlé Sap Lake all year round. The seasonality of Tonlé Sap Lake is very obvious. The period from December to April is dry season. The average water depth is 1 meter. The lake area will be several times smaller than that during the rainy season. However, the climate is milder and the most suitable for sightseeing. So, Best time recommended to visit Tonlé Sap Lake is from December to April.


How to get there ?

From Siem Reap to Tonlé Sap Lake, it takes about half an hour to get to the lakeside pier. You can see that many cruise ships are soliciting business. Due to the different locations of the floating villages on the lake, the cost of boat trips varies, generally around 15-20 dollars, you can discuss with the boatman in advance about cost and which floating village that you want to go. In addition, there are also special cruise companies, such as Tara Boat, which will arrange half-day trips, sunset trips, etc., and even take you to visit several floating villages at once, but the price is more expensive.


Tips for visiting Tonlé Sap Lake:

  • No.1 When visiting the floating village, remember to bring anti-mosquito drugs and mineral water. Do not eat local food to avoid discomfort.
  • No.2 You can pick up some Riel as a tip. If you want to give the children of the floating village gifts such as homework, it is recommended to buy them in the city of Siem Reap in advance. Some stationery stores on floating village sell these writing materials with a very expensive price.

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