The Tonle Sap Lake is located only 15 km south of Siem Reap Town. The area is one of the world’s most diverse and productive ecosystems and since 1997 it is recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The Tonle Sap Lake and its floating villages evoke mixed feelings on visitors. On the one hand the area offers a unique insight into the villagers’ lifestyle and daily activities. Floating markets, schools, houses and crocodile farms adorn the lake’s surface. On the other hand some parts of the lake suffer the damages of uncoordinated development, particularly around the Chong Khneas area; a growing number of persistent beggars – a practice that became more common as the tourists numbers increased, poor maintenance of the ports, channels and facilities, pollution and little or no money going to the community from tourism activities.
However there is always a bright side and an alternative for the status quo. Kampong Phluk and Kampong Kleang – two communes located on the Tonle Sap Lake still offer an authentic insight into this fascinating area and an alternative for travellers who want to enjoy and learn about Cambodia’s rural lifestyle in a responsible manner. Nevertheless, it is important to be mindful of the environment and keep an open mind towards the experience. Also knowing the right people is key to make sure your trip to the Tonle Sap is contributing to the local economy.