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Cambodia forum

Floating villages Siem Reap

Posted by nikkiclovelly on 19/11/2008 at 13:10

Can anyone recommend a good person/company for a trip around the floating villages - don't mind travelling further but really don't want to be with hoards of tourists.
Also any info on visiting an orphanage/hospital in Siem Reap for a day or two to help out?

#1 nikkiclovelly has been a member since 19/11/2008. Posts: 2

Posted by somtam2000 on 20/11/2008 at 07:32 admin

Your best bet in this regard is to go talk to Gordon at Two Dragon's Guesthouse in Siem Reap. He was one of the first operators to start running trips out to the villages and he really knows his stuff -- they may not be the cheapest in town, but they're amongst the best in my opinion.

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,933
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Posted by exacto on 20/11/2008 at 11:42

i'd love to hear if other people had a better experience than we did or not, but we really didn't enjoy the visit we made to the floating villages at all. it felt like we were voyeurs in a people zoo, and we were really hit hard by floating beggars once we were out in the tonlee sap. the cost was high, the trip was short. i can't say i'd recommend it.

all in all, we had a much better time hanging out on the upstairs balcony at Two Dragons drinking inexpensive wine and chatting. anyone else have a good or bad experience?

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Posted by biene on 6/12/2008 at 14:40

I agree that the floating village is not worth to see. We got there with a Tuk-Tuk, payed the entrance fee ($ 20 pp!!!), got a small boat (we were the only 2 tourists), we shiped around the village for half an hour, but there was nothing special to see. After introducing a little of their lifestyle we were asked if we want to visit a school. We agreed because there was nothing else to see. But they nearly forced us to buy some pencils, pens and books for the school (they insisted to bring something for all 40 pupils). We would love to do it, but the "shop" in the floating village asked $ 1 for 1 pencil! Here you really get ripped off! So we bought only 4 pencils and the crew (2 young boys) got really angry and the didn't speak to us anymore! I would not recommand to go there!

#4 biene has been a member since 9/11/2008. Posts: 14

Posted by berebansa on 9/5/2009 at 14:12

I also had a terrible experience at the floating village.
They charge $25 for one person or $30 for two people, for a two hour trip. I tried to bargain, but they argued that it's the "standard"price and they cannot give discounts.
After 20 minutes on the boat, we stopped at a souvenir shop. We stayed there for 10 minutes as the guides were insisting that we took a look at all the "attractions" (snakes and crocodiles). Then we went back to the boat to go around the village, which we did for 10-15 minutes. Then they said, "we go back now", and I replied, "but I paid for a 2-hour cruise". They looked at each other, said something in khmer and then drove 10 minutes out of the village and turned off the boat! We stayed there for 50 minutes drifting away and the only thing to do was to read my book as we were far from thw village so there was nothing to see. When we got back the main dock was busy so they dropped me off on another one, 1km from where I'd started. And they asked for a tip!

#5 berebansa has been a member since 9/5/2009. Posts: 1

Posted by cbaumga2 on 9/5/2009 at 19:02

Which village did you all visit? Was it Chong Khneas? I was planning to visit Kompong Phluk, but if it is the same as described here, I think I'll pass.

#6 cbaumga2 has been a member since 17/2/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by Suz on 9/5/2009 at 20:18

The floating village was one of my most amazing memories of Cambodia. For some reason I had concentrated most of my research on the temples and I hadn't really paid any attention to what this 'visit' was all about. What a wonderful surprise I got!
My eyes were wide open the entire trip, there was so much to see. From watching the kids playing along the riverbank in the most mud I have ever seen, then seeing TV aerials on the houseboats, some not much more than a floating dingy, and just watching everyday life go by - washing dishes in the dirty muddy river water, kids throwing water at each other from different house boats. It was all fascinating to me.
We went out past the village to the lake and the vastness of it was so unexpected. (We did this visit in early August 08).
Of course we stopped at that tourist spot but certainly weren't hassaled to buy anything. We did our trip with a guide and were the only 2 on the whole boat. Maybe having a guide with made the difference for us....I would say definately include a visit but perhaps book with an accrediated provider and if possible get a guide too so they can explain the how and why of the floating village. Very interesting stuff.

#7 Suz has been a member since 9/5/2009. Posts: 1

Posted by brucemoon on 10/5/2009 at 08:46


All journey's are what one makes of the experiences - in relation to expectations.

For me, as an environmentalist, Tonle Sap is a very important entity.

Few realise the environmental significance of the lake, or that within a few years the floodwaters that feed it are set to be denied the lake as the Mekong River and/or its tributories become increasingly dammed in China & Laos.

Environmentalists indicate that if the dams proceed as planned, within a decade, Tonle Sap will merely become a big desert (like several of the large lakes in Russia).

So, on an environmental basis, go see it as maybe it could be gone before you get back.

But, on another environmental basis, the fact of Tonle Sap was a necessary pre-condition for the erection of the Angkorian temples. The microclimate of the waters enabled the vegetation that is Siem Reap. The diverse ecosystem (especially as an abundant provider of fish, etc) supported Angkor.

If you consider that nearly every other centre for civilisation needed food to exist (and flourish) and most overpopulated or despoiled their food source/s, only to then decline, then Tonle Sap is an example of a food source for a flourishing civilisation centre that wasn't despoiled.

I could go on and on.

As for 'tours', I suggest it depends on what YOU want to achieve.

Clearly, a couple of observers here were expecting something different from what they got.

If you are to be taken to a school, yes, contributing to their education can be personally rewarding (but, clearly, one observer has warned that buy your needs at Siem Reap).

Other observers looked at the daily details of the Tonle Sap inhabitants, and gained some fascinating insights.

I suggest going to Tonle Sap for (1) the environmental reason, (2) to understand how the Angkorian 'empire' flourished, (3) as a sobering diversion to the 'internationalism' of Siem Reap, and (4) as a diversion from 'templing'.

And SomTam has suggested an organising option.


#8 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by slordan on 24/11/2009 at 21:00

I recently visiting a floating village on Tonle Sap (not sure which one). I really enjoyed the trip but did feel a bit ripped off afterwards. There were two of us. We paid $20 each for the boat. Then like Biene above, we went to visit an orphanage where we were also asked if we would like to buy them some pencils, etc. We stopped in one shop and it was really expensive...we refused to pay what they were asking, like above $1 per pencil. Cambodia cannot be more expensive than UK surely! We stopped at another shop hoping we would pick up cheaper goods but again the same ridiculous prices. I really did think what kind of scam is going on here. We would have felt bad if we did not buy anything so we bought some packet noodes for $20 and some sweets that cost us $10. I was really shocked we had to pay this much - but it was either pay this much and go empty handed, which I could not do.

I do recommend the trip but buy goodies for the kids before you leave Siam Reap and maybe organise a big group to go on the trip together - then perhaps boat wouldn't be $20 each.

#9 slordan has been a member since 24/8/2009. Posts: 13

Posted by Puggles on 25/11/2009 at 06:08

I am curious about where most here actually visited as my experience was completely different.

My husband and I visited the 'stilted village' of Kompong Phluk and we found it to be one of the most interesting activities of our holiday. The floating village is different I understand which is what it appears most of those responding here have seen.

Out trip was not the cheapest activity we undertook (although far from expensive by western standards at a total of approx $80 for transport and tour) but I would pay the money again without question to return.

We commenced our journey by tuk tuk (with our shy by lovely driver, Mau) to as far as we could go long one of the tributaries of the Tonle Sap where we then boarded a boat for the remainder of the trip.

The stilted village was simply amazing!!! Homes, school and even a temple all permanently on stilts and, for the greater majority of the year, above water. Pigs, ducks and chooks in floating pens, and the ocassional dog spotted through a doorway. Children diving from the ladders at the front leading into their homes and playing in the water, it was truly an amazing sight to behold and take in.

We stopped off for lunch at a floating restaurant/home. The food, while nothing to rave about was fine and tasty and we well preprared and suited to our sensitive western digestive systems. The Cambodians were incrediby friendly and warm people.

We were not taken to any tourist shops nor asked by anybody to buy anything. No-one approached us begging or selling anything either. It seemed like an every day village going about their lives and becoming used to tourists taking their photogrpahs and peering into their lives.

We have added it to our 'must do' of recommendations for anyone travelling to Cambodia.

#10 Puggles has been a member since 31/8/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 59

Posted by CunningMcFar on 25/11/2009 at 07:38

My wife and I also had a very positive, rewarding experience out at Kompong Phluk (no side trip to Chong Khneas, no sellers, beggars, or local cop monopoly on boats). We spent a good chunk of the afternoon visiting with the family that hosted us for lunch, very friendly folks, eager to share stories of their lives and to hear ours. After lunch and exploring the village for a bit, we went off for a relaxing glide through the flooded mangrove forest in a dugout canoe, peaceful. Then out into the vast expanse of the lake for swimming. Trip was in Oct, so the Tonle Sap was quite swollen. I would definitely recommend a visit, very glad we took the opportunity to go. I think we paid $40 for the two of us, arranged with Two Dragons GH, plus $2 each for lunch; and our trip was three yrs ago. It was pretty much a full day trip and well worth the $$--think we started late morning and returned to SR late afternoon. Sounds like the cost has about doubled since?
Gordon has a good write-up of Kompong Phluk on his site:

#11 CunningMcFar has been a member since 20/8/2004. Posts: 163
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Posted by Ova on 3/6/2013 at 00:40

When someone asks for the floating village in Siem Reap , I always like to recommend my friends at Triple A Cambodia.
They take you to the furthest and less touristic floating village around Siem Reap: Kompong Khleang. They also take you for lunch with Kompong Khleang locals in a stilt house. Definitely one of the best things I've done in Siem Reap so far.

Check it out here if you want more info:

Have a great one!

#12 Ova has been a member since 14/12/2012. Posts: 15

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