When anyone thinks about Siem Reap, world-famous Angkor temples and unique Khmer culture are at the top of tourists’ mind. However, if you want to discover the natural diversity and ordinary inhabitants, Tonle Sap Lake is definitely a place you should check out for your Cambodia trip.

Tonle Sap

15 km from Siem Reap, this is an ideal place for a half-day tour. It is easy to book a tour to the Lake, or you can take a cruise from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and Angkor temples.

What is Tonle Sap?

Tonle Sap

Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. With the change in dry and wet seasons, the lake can expand and shrink tremendously. In the rainy season (June to November), the lake can be more than 12,000 square kilometers and it is the best time to travel since floating villages become more accessible.

Tonle Sap is a home to 100 varieties of birds, 200 species of fish as well as crocodiles, turtles, and snakes. Visiting this lake, tourists can immerse themselves in a mesmerizing atmosphere and see how the locals go about their daily life in this fascinating aquatic environment.

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What to do at Tonle Sap?

– Visiting some floating villages

More than three million people, including Khmer and Viet, are living along the lake. The villagers are fishing households, living on either boats or stilted houses. You can get a glimpse of their daily activities, such as rice harvesting, pig farming, and fish catching.

1. Chong Kneas

Chong Kneas

This is the most famous village in Tonle Sap. Alongside the village, you will see shops, schools, clinics and even temples and churches! Stop at a souvenir shop, chat with local people and try some tasty fish dishes.

2. Kampong Phluk

Kampong Phluk

Less touristy than Chong Khneas, Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages where people living in stilted houses. In the dry season, the village seems to be dry and high. However, in the rainy season, the stilts are invisible and you feel like the village is ‘floating’ on the river.

3. Kampong Khleang

Kampong Khleang

Located about 55 km from Siem Reap, Kampong Khleang is a remote place which will be an off-the-beaten-track experience in our trip to Tonle Sap. This place is the largest community on the Lake with 20,000 inhabitants. Thanks to its remoteness, you will have more opportunities to interact with villagers and enjoy relaxing atmosphere.

– Visiting bird sanctuary in Prek Toal

Prek Toal

Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary is the most famous birdwatcher out of three biospheres on the Lake. Boat trip to this place takes two hours from Chong Khneas. The best time to visit this sanctuary is the dry season (December to May) when massive flocks of birds gather at Prek Toal. Photographers and travel lovers will be thrilled at this magnificent natural landscape and botanical diversity.

– Enjoying fish dishes

Ginger catfish

Local fish dishes in Tonle Sap will never disappoint you as the lake is the main source of fish in Cambodia. Freshwater fish such as snakehead, carp, and catfish are commonly used with curry flavor. Compared to Thai food, Cambodians use less sugar and spice, so don’t worry if you are not into spicy food.

– Seeing sunset on boats

Sunset at Tonle Sap

Sitting on the boat and watching sunset will be an unforgettable ending for your Tonle Sap trip. Most of the tourists compliment that sunset on the Lake is their most memorable experience. The stunning horizon above the lake combined with the lake, village, and boats is a spectacular scenery that photographers cannot miss.

Interesting Tours to Tonle Sap



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Chi Nguyen

My name is Linh Chi, a true beach lover. My passion is to explore off-the-beaten-track destinations in Vietnam and introduce our S-shaped country's culture and beautiful scenery to friends all around the world.

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