Enjoy a day visiting floating villages on Cambodia's Tonle Sap

A Half-Day Visit to Floating Villages on the Tonle Sap

For a real Cambodian style slice of life, take our Tonle Sap boat cruise on this immense freshwater sea. Normally 3,000 square kilometers in size, melting ice from the Himalayas more than doubles the area of the lake each year from July through October. As a result, Tonle Sap is home to numerous floating villages made up of charming houseboats, gas stations, schools, and even karaoke clubs! A haven for wildlife, the lake is visited by millions of migrating birds, especially during the period from December through March. This short half-day trip that can be enjoyed in the morning or the afternoon, depending on the advice of your guide.

This morning you enjoy a short drive from Siem Reap down country roads to a floating village at the edge of the lake (wherever that happens to be since the lake shrinks and grows dramatically throughout the year). Board a colorful wooden boat which you will have all to yourself for a cruise lasting around three hours.

Glide though this fascinating town of houseboats and pontoon structures, each unique and some sporting colorful folk craft decorations. Everything here has to float to move with the changing shoreline as the Tonle Sap swells and shrinks with the change of seasons. Pass a school house filled with singing children, a bright blue church bobbing on the gentle waves, and homes where people go about their daily lives always.

Suddenly you leave the village behind and cruise through a watery garden of sunken trees, where birds of all varieties fish for food in the shallows. The water mirrors the vast sky where clouds echo the shapes of palaces and temples in nearby Angkor (don't forget to bring your sunscreen, even in the seeming protection of the shady boat). Suddenly you're heading out into a vast inland ocean, with nothing but a few fishing boats dotting an horizon.

Farther on, more floating villages appear. Here, commerce is all done by boat. Granny paddles by in her canoe heaped with a mountain of sundries and even a small charcoal stove for fresh-grilled fish treats. Children leap from rickety wooden porches to splash around for your (and their) entertainment. Bad hair day? Pull up to a floating beauty salon!

On your way back to shore you may stop if you like for a platter of freshwater shrimp and a cold beverage in a floating cafe.

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Includes: Personal guided sightseeing, private car and driver, boat trip and snack

Where We Shine: Purple Dragon highlights unique and offbeat insights to Cambodian life that most tourists overlook. We use only LGBT- friendly hotels, so couples never suffer embarrassing moments. Your tour is private, which gives you maximum flexibility and the undivided attention of our legendary local guides. Our guests often tell us that the highlight of their holiday was the charming company of our trained guides and their superlative insights into Cambodian culture.