by Female Abroad

Due to their uniqueness, Cambodia's unusual floating towns have become popular tourist attractions.

Land in Cambodia is expensive and most locals cannot afford it so they live on the water as they cannot buy land to build homes on. When it comes to living on the water, most people make a living by fishing, as there are about 300 different species of fish which in turn feeds about 3 million people. While exploring the water and the villages you may also spot crocodiles, turtles, and snakes especially if you are lucky enough to stop by the crocodile farm. Other buildings you can find amongst the floating village are shops, schools, hospitals, mechanic shops, and amenities for the tourists like restaurants.

The settlements are built by the people who live on water close to or on Tonle Sap Lake so they have to be floating to adapt to the periodic changes in the rivers. Every rainy season, for example, Tonle Sap's water surface area increases from the lowest point at 3,000 sq. km with a 2m depth to 10,000 sq. km with a 14-meter depth. In case you are planning on visiting, June to October is the rainy / wet season and November to May is the dry season. I went during September and the weather was gorgeous but the water was quite high. December and January are popular months to visit because the humidity is low compared to the rest of the year. I went hiking through the temples at Angkor with 100% humidity and you are wet in places you did not know you could be wet!

Floating Villages of Cambodia

If you do want to visit a floating village, there are three main ones that everyone goes to:

  1. Kompong Khleang - កំពង់ឃ្លាំង - largest with 7,000 inhabitants
  2. Chong Kneas - ចុងឃ្នាស
  3. Kmpong Phluk - កំពង់ភ្លុក

Chong Kneas is the most popular one as it is the closest to Siem Reap, at just 15km away. If you are taking a tour, typically they will take you to this one in the late afternoon from Siem Reap, or if you are transiting from a city into Siem Reap, then they will make a stop in the village along the way. Typically, the entire tour on the water takes about 2 hours, with a ride through the village, out into the lake, and then back. Ours stopped at an island where we were able to explore the grounds of a Buddhist monastery and a burial ground.

No matter which village you pick, there will be ticket booths where you can buy your ticket for the tour, or if it is closed for the day, you can always haggle with one of the boat drivers that are hanging around the long vessels. If you plan on visiting either of the Kimpong's, you will need to hire a boat for the day as they are a lot further away from Siem Reap.

Tours You May Enjoy