So, you have visited the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia, and you are in Siem Reap with time to kill scuffing your heels on the curb. Where to go? Well if you ask anybody with local knowledge this question, you may be told to go see the floating villages. There are three main floating villages around Siem Reap, ranging from the highly touristic (and therefore more pricey) Chong Kneas, to the smaller Kompong Phluk or the arguably more authentic Kompong Khleang. Whichever you choose, it will be a unique experience. Floating animals, schools, houses on stilts, their whole way of life is floating on the river. The village Kompong Khleang moves along the river according to the seasons, and even sits on Tonlé Sap lake during the dry season.
The Lake is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in South East Asia. Its size changes depending on the season. During the rainy season from June to October, the lake is filled by water flowing from the Mekong, expanding the surface to 10,000 square kilometres compared to the 3,000 squared kilometres in the dry season. On my experiences with the floating villages, it is best to go further afield from Siem Reap to Kompong Phluk or Kompong Khleang to avoid the tourist trap and monetised Chong Kneas. The money you spend is also more likely to go to the community with these two villages, and it definitely has a more authentic and genuine feel to the experience. If you are looking for a quick and easy trip to fill in a gap in your itinerary, then Chong Kneas may be for you, due to its closer location to Siem Reap.
Have you been to the floating villages? Any advice for any budding travellers? Let me know in the comments below!