Tonle Sap Lake

Located about 10km from the city of Siem Riep, Tonle Sap is a site of major importance from the ecological point of view, recognized as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1997.


Tonle Sap Lake (also known as the Great Lake) is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, whose surface varies from 2,500km2 in dry season to 12,000km2 during rainy season. The flooded forest surrounding the edge of the lake is the best shelter and also very important for all kinds of fishes spawned and breeding babies. This lake is one of the richest fishing lakes in the World, supporting over 3 million people and providing over 75% of Cambodia’s annual inland fish catch and 60% of Cambodians’ protein intake with over 300 species of fresh water fishes, as well as snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters. More than 100 varieties water birds including storks, pelicans, etc. can be found here.

How to get  there

From Siem Riep town, you can make your journey from to Phnom Penh by speedboat crossing the lake and dock at the village of Chong Khneas. Its takes only six hours, but this trip is only recommended you during Monsoon season. In dry season, the boat sometimes stuck in mud because of low water level. There are several ways to see the culture and wildlife of the lake area depending on the amount of time you have and your interest.

What to see

For those who like a magical discovery of Cambodia, it is strongly recommended to make a boat trip to meet the floating villages of Chong Kneas which are essential visits as well as temples. The village locates at Southern part of Siem Reap town, about 15km, and it takes only 30min drive to the boat dock where there are always boats waiting for visitors. The 2-hour boat trip through the floating village takes approximately two hours enables you to explore the different of Khmer, Muslim and Vietnamese floating households and the floating markets, fisheries, clinics, schools, basketball course, pigsty and other boatloads of tourists. 

This is one of the places where one is close to local life, in contact with their daily lives. Here, all life takes place around the water. The lake full of fish is a paradise for fishermen. The houses on stilts appeared in these villages long long ago. Much of goods arrive by the lake. It is the lung of Siem Riep because major roads to join other cities are in too poor condition. It is considered the “nurturing mother” of Cambodia.

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