Cambodia is famous for its strange floating villages that have become tourist attractions because of its uniqueness. The villages are constructed by the residents who live next to Tonle Sap Lake and floating is a way to keep up with the river’s seasonal variations.
Why are they floating?
During the rainy season the water levels in Tonle Sap expands from 3000 square kilometers and 2m depth in the dry season, to a whole 10,000 square kilometers with 14 meter depth. Water flows into it from the great Trans boundary river Mekong during the rainy season. The rainy season ranges from June to October, where as November to May is a dry season.
The villages are made of small houses and are clustered together giving it a unique charm. During rainy season they go through dramatic transformation, where floating villages rise up and down with any change in the water levels. During dry season however, people live close to the shores, where houses are built on stilts.
Life in a floating village:
The communities practically live on water. Most of the people are ethnic Vietnamese and from Cham communities. These people make living from fishing on the lake. The lake has an abundant stream of fish with almost 300 different species as well as crocodiles, turtles and snakes, which makes it the main source of living. The lake feeds more than 3,000,000 people.
Land in Cambodia is priced too high for residents to buy. Many people are forced to live on the water mostly because they do not own land. Those who cannot afford it choose to live in these floating villages regardless of any risks involved.
The wondrous floating villages also feature floating shops, schools, churches, hospitals and other institutions that allow its people to live in total comfort above water. Many of these amenities are built on stilts. Most of the basic requirements have been set up keeping up with the needs of the people, including a mechanic shop and a crocodile farm! For tourist there are fancy restaurants and sundeck from where one can gaze into the expanse of water, marveling the beauty of the strange way of living!
Visit to floating villages:
There are three main floating villages around Siem Reap namely; Kompong Khleang, Chong Kneas and Kompong Phluk. Being closest to Siem Reap, Chong Kneas is the most popular of them all. There are approximately 6000 people in Kompong Khleang, 5000 in Chong Kneas and 2800 in Kompong Phluk. The largest floating village is Kompong Khleang with the floating houses extending far and wide.
Chong Kneas is just 15 kms from Siem Reap, and can be easily reached by a boat in less than an hour. Boats are available at ticket booths all day long. It takes around 2 hours for a trip to the village. These boats pass through smaller villages on both sides of river. One can spot small kids with snakes wrapped around their necks, they are soft drink vendors, who jump from one moving boat to the other without the slightest hesitation! You can’t resist buying a can of soft drink for $1, after seeing a daring stunt like that from a kid barely 7! Boats can also be hired for a day long trip to visit Kompong Phluk and Kompong Khleang.
Best time to visit:
You can visit Cambodia any time of year. The place has a tropical climate that is well suited for all visitors. However, if you want to marvel at the full extent of the floating villages, the rainy season is the best. December and January are the most favored months with relatively lower humidity levels.
Cambodia is full of attractions but if you just want to experience a daring and creative lifestyle; it is worth to visit these inspirational villages on water. Enjoy the rich cuisines in some of the floating restaurants.
- If you have finished visiting other attractions in Siem Reap, make a trip to one of the villages late in the afternoon and enjoy the sun setting in the back drop.
- One can also accommodate a trip to a village in the late afternoon, on the day of the arrival in Siem Reap, before visiting Angkor Wat the next day.
- Read more about Cambodia on ilovetripping
http://www.ilovetripping.com is a travel blog of Priti Zararia, an avid traveler, explorer, photographer and a travel blogger! A global citizen, she believes one does not need to be a backpacker or rich to travel around the world. Priti has traveled to various countries, exploring cities, villages, mountains, beaches, heritage, history, local culture, people and the food! She can be hired for travel photo assignments or travel blogging for tourism promotion for any country or a state. Write to her on firstname.lastname@example.org
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