Highlight Attractions - Tonle Sap and the Floating Village of Chong Kneas


This famous floating village is now extremely popular with visitors wanting a break from the temples and is an easy enough excursion. It is very scenic in the warm light of early morning or late afternoon, but this location is most well known as a place to take photos of the sunset.


The boat docks near Phnom Krom, 12 kilometres south of Siem Reap township.

Attraction Information

A boat trip on the Tonle Sap is a chance to encounter fishermen and their families who live on the water and whose homes form the floating village, Chong Knas.

Tonle Sap is the largest permanent freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and is the main source of fishing and agriculture to people living on the surrounding plain and has played an important role in Ankgor throughout history. The lake is connected to the Mekhong River via the Tonle Sap River at Phnom Penh.

The hydrological process that causes the lake to increase in size during the monsoon rains, and then recede, is believed to be of importance in maintaining the ecological system of the lake, which includes many different species of fish and bird.

The floating village may move 4 or 5 times in each direction during the year as the water level changes. During the rainy season, when the lake water level is high, the village can be found near the ferry terminal, while in the dry season, the village will be located at the mouth of the canal at the edge of the main part of the lake.

Tickets can be bought on a shared ferry or you can hire a boat for your group for a more comfortable trip with the flexibility to slow down and take photos or to explore a little more. The boat will take you along the canals to the edge of the lake and back again. The boat will stop at one of the few floating shops/restaurants which have a viewing platform on the 3rd floor where you can watch the sunset. These restaurants offer good quality Khmer food at a not too expensive price.

While at the floating shop, expect to see:

  1. Small naked children with snakes waiting for 500-1,000 riel when you take a photograph.

  2. Women with small children begging from small wooden boats.

  3. Children paddling around in pans.

  4. Crocodile and fish farms (a netted area under the house/restaurant).

The Tara, a boat with more western dishes and a little bit more luxury, can be found out on the edge of the lake. Tickets can be organised from Siem Reap for lunch or dinner or you can just turn up and try your luck.

Access and Surroundings

The 20 minute trip from Siem Reap township, along the road heading south, past the crocodile farm and along the river, costs $1-$2 (more if the driver waits). There are also tourist buses that run often that can be organised from one of the many tourist agents.

Alternatively, a number of tourists are opting to cycle out to the village. At 12-15 kilometers, in the heat, you need to be really sure that you want to cycle before setting out. There are no hills along the way, and the road is in very good condition for the most part, but the heat can take it's toll as well as often having to swerve off the road when larger vehicles beep to signal that they are coming through.

When the lake is high, you will encounter the lake on either side of the road as you approach Phnom Krom hill, otherwise you will see beautiful rice fields.

The road bends to the left at the base of Phnom Krom hill, goes past a round-a-bout at the Phnom Krom market and then goes on a short distance to the ferry terminal where boats can be hired to explore the floating village.

Tourist Tips

A trip to the floating village is simple to arrange yourself. Simply choose your form of transport and head south to explore the area for yourself.

The village moves depending on the season and you will need to rent a boat to get around it properly.

The area is very scenic in the warm light of early morning or late afternoon and can be combined with a sunset view from the hilltop temple of Phnom Krom or from one of the floating shops/restaurants.

The downside is that tour groups tend to take over, and the boats end up chugging up and down the channels in convoy.

You should also check out the Gecko Environment Centre (8:30am – 5:30pm) just before you get to the dock. Don't expect anything amazing from this ageing display, but it has displays on flora and fauna of the area as well as information on the communities living around the lake.

It is recommended to make this trip in the morning, so you can combine it with a trip to the hilltop temple of Phnom Krom, which is best to visit before the midday heat. You will need an Angkor pass to climb the Phnom Krom hill and visit the temple. The view of the lake from the top of the hill can be amazing.

As you take the 20 minute boat journey, the young boy that helps on the boat may give you a massage. Don't forget to tip him – 1,000 – 2,000 riel should be enough.

If you hire a boat, the boat and crew will wait for you. If you are hot and buy drinks, the crew may appreciate drinks too. A tip for the crew is also a good idea. $2-$5 for a hired boat depending on the service, might be fair.

By June, the floating houses are out at the furthest point.

From September to November, the floating village will be located close to the ferry terminal.

From September to March is considered the best time to visit lake. The water level is at it's highest and the water is naturally more clean for a swimming.


The boats run during daylight hours.

For most of the year, leave Siem Reap township by 3:30-4pm for a 6pm sunset, but from November to March, the sun sets about 30 minutes earlier, so leave 30 minutes earlier. 

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