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Places to Visit in Tonle Sap Places to Visit in Tonle Sap

Tonle Sap

Welcome to the beating heart of Cambodia - Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake. During monsoon, it swells into a vast inland sea, nourishing rice paddies and teeming with fish. Explore floating villages, a unique way of life, and witness the vibrant local fishing culture.

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Highlights of Cambodia

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Highlights of Cambodia

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Experience Cambodia's Highlights in 8 days: Iconic Angkor Wat, tranquil Tonle Sap Lake, Battambang & Phnom Penh's rich history. Let’s enjoy & book your journey!

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Overview Tonle Sap

1. LOCATION

Tonle Sap travel guide

Tonle Sap travel guide

The lake lies in the west of the country, which is surrounded by Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, and Kampong Thom provinces. The region breaks the record with a surface area of up to 16,000 km2. Most people here live by catching fish and growing vegetables on the land by the lake. For this reason, when you choose to take a trip to Tonle Sap, you can observe many things that are considered to be plain and rustic sights.

2. BEST TIME TO VISIT TONLE SAP

The dry season from November to April, provides the most perfect time to visit Tonle Sap for those who are interested in bird watching.

With no rainy days, warm sunlight and birds gather in some particular places in Prek Toal bird sanctuary (located on Tonle Sap Lake) - one of the most important breeding grounds of water birds in Southeast Asia.

Tonle Sap Lake Excursions

Tonle Sap Lake Excursions

From May to late October, monsoon takes place making it easier to access floating villages as the water level rises dramatically. Thus, if you want to experience authentic local life on the water or enjoy all the features of river tourism, head to Tonle Sap Lake during this time of the year.

3. THINGS TO DO IN TONLE SAP

Take a Boat Trip

Take a Boat Trip in Tonle Sap

Take a Boat Trip in Tonle Sap

Standing in front of this magnificent body of water, you might be confused about where to start, well, in this case, the region provides boating trips for tourists, which various to many kinds of boats, places to eat, stop stations, and floating villages to reach. Otherwise, you can catch the local boats and enjoy the view while they are riding. During a few hours on the trip, you will be taken through many villages, several stops, and cross through the mangrove forest.

Visiting Floating Villages

Along the trip, many floating villages are still in a rather poor condition. You will have a chance to see kids playing on the water, and local people living on those floating stilt houses. Among those jungles of local homes, you will probably pass through the Chong Khneas, which is also the easiest village to access when you start from Siem Reap province.

The Floating Villages of Tonle Sap

The Floating Villages of Tonle Sap

Then, following next is Kampong Phuluk, a village consisting of three smaller villages of stilt houses, which were built within the floodplain. After that, you can pay for a short time to the Kompong Khleng village, Mechrey village- the entrance to Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary if time permits.

Observe Agriculture and Aquaculture of the Locals

Local life in Tonle Sap

Local life in Tonle Sap

The region supplies 60% of protein sources and provides 75% of the amount of freshwater fish for the entire country. This leads to the fact that most people here do agriculture and aquaculture for a living. You can see during your trip on a boat, that lots of locals and kids are rowing their wooden boats to catch fish and collect plants on the river surface. At this time, taking out your camera and shooting some nice pictures would be cool.

Have Meals at Queen Tara Floating Restaurant

This is the most well-known restaurant in the region, which floats in the center of the lake, it provides cuisine that has tasty flavor and variety to many dishes, especially fish. The journey to the restaurant itself is an exciting adventure.

The unique Queen Tara Floating Restaurant

The unique Queen Tara Floating Restaurant

If you are hesitant to travel so far for a meal, then visit the Vietnamese Tonle Sap Floating Restaurant on the edge of the river instead, though they are Vietnamese they also provide some Cambodian cuisine. Besides, they also score a point by owning a big crocodile-raising pond.

Contemplate Sunset on the Lake

Sunset Dinner on Tonle Sap Lake

Sunset Dinner on Tonle Sap Lake

Contemplating the glamorous sunset on Tonle Sap Lake is a not-to-be-missed activity for its unique features and stunning view. Make sure to save battery for this fascinating scene. Watch the sundown fully, this would set a fulfilling and satisfying end to your one-day trip to Tonle Sap.

5. THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  • Since the area is rather poor, so there aren’t many things to buy. There are several small markets on land and some boats of locals selling goods, most of the products they sell are food, vegetables, and bottles of drink. Or else, you can have meals in the floating restaurants, remember to try fish dishes out.

Having a meal in Tonle Sap

Having a meal in Tonle Sap

  • Make sure to choose the right boat and the right tour. In particular, you should go on a large boat tour that has proper tour guides and managers.
  • Bring along a hat, sun cream, and bottles of water.
  • Don’t talk or look at the sellers who keep recommending you to buy their goods, in this way, they will row away.
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