There’s more to a visit to Siem Reap than exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. While these historic wonders are certainly not to be missed, spending an extra day in the city to explore nearby floating villages will give travelers a taste of local life in this incredible country.
Travelers pressed for time can experience the wonder of a floating village in just a couple of hours. Private tour boats float through the great lake of Tonle Sap pointing out fishermen and rare flooded forests in this 600-family community on the water. A floating restaurant makes for a truly unique dining experience, but some travelers say the evidence of extreme poverty can make enjoying a meal difficult to stomach.
This authentic floating village may not be as close to Siem Reap as Kompong Phluk and Chong Kneas, but its peaceful waters draw travelers in search of a real Cambodian experience. Some 1,800 families inhabit the stilt houses that stretch into the horizon, and visitors can explore the pagodas and schools that make up this thriving community. The village moves based on water flow and according to the season. Travelers love that most boat tours are still owned by locals, which means money typically returns to the community.
Tiny riverboats packed with smiling children sporting massive river snakes chug along the waters of this floating village that’s so popular among Korean travelers the locals opened a restaurant selling Korean cuisine! A boat tour of Chong Kneas—perhaps the least popular of the floating villages due to its serious tourist trap feel—will cost travelers about $30 USD. The trip includes a stop at the community store and pressure from the guide to purchase massive bags of rice to donate to Chong Kneas residents.