So you’ve seen Angkor and are now wondering what else to do in Siem Reap. “Go visit the Floating village” is the most common answer you’ll get from fellow visitors, tuk-tuk drivers and travel agents alike. And we agree! Going through an authentic Siem Reap floating village is a real treat for those who have never seen similar things before. However, the quality of your experience will largely depend on which floating village you go to. In this post, we’ll review the three main floating villages around Siem Reap and explain why Kompong Khleang is our favorite.
A lot has been written about Chong Kneas already (e.g. here on Travelfish ), so let’s just say that there are only a few reasons for which you would want to go there. Here’s an exclusive list for you:
Chong Kneas features absurdities such as small kids sporting huge water snakes and so-called crocodiles farms which in reality are small ponds where dozens of crocodiles are crammed together. At some point, your boat will probably also stop by a “local shop” where it’ll be “strongly suggested” that you buy $60 rice bags “for the children”…
Last but not least, the locals do not get much from the money you’ll spend as the boat service, which is what you’re paying an entrance fee for ($30/person), is managed by a private company. As most visitors there come from Korea, the aforementioned company kindly built floating “local” restaurants that serve Korean food in case their main customers miss it.
If you want to read further about it, take a look at Trip Advisor’s page about Chong Kneas. At the time we are writing this, there were 101 reviews out of 166 that deemed the experience as “terrible” (one star).
You won’t see any croco farms or children with snakes there, and the boat journey is actually quite scenic and enjoyable. Despite the growing flow of tourists (you’ll understand what we mean when you see the dozens of boats at the dock) , Kompong Phluk has kept a lot of its authenticity and its visit is overall a nice experience.
“Then why don’t you take Triple A customers there?” you may ask. Well, Kompong Phluk is a small village, so the boat ride is consequently quite short. Some find it too short compared to the $20 entry fee per person. Moreover, the boat service is managed by a private company, which means that the locals don’t really see much of the money generated from tourism. Overall, Kompong Phluk is still a good option if you only have a few hours to spend.
Kompong Khleang is where we take our customers and the place we would recommend to anyone who wants to visit a floating village around Siem Reap.
First off because it is truly authentic.Thanks to its low number of visitors (most travel agencies and tuk-tuk drivers prefer to take their clients to Kompong Phluk and Chong Kneas because they’re closer to Siem Reap), Kompong Khleang feels genuinely untouched and peaceful. When we arrive by the small pier in the late morning, there generally are only a few visitors’ cars or mini-vans already parked, if any.
The second reason we choose to take people there is that it is the most beautiful village out of the three. Consider this: Kompong Khleang is the home of about 1800 families, more or less 6000 people altogether. This means that when you arrive in Kompong Khleang, you will see stilt houses as far as the eye can see. More than a village, Kompong Khleang is a small town with its schools, its 3 pagodas, its clinics and everything such a large community requires to function. For those of you who have never seen such things before, it is a truly mind-boggling experience.
Once your boat navigates away from the stilt houses, you will enter the “actual” floating village: several dozens of wooden houses floating on the river. The village moves along the river according to the seasons, and even sits on Tonlé Sap lake during the dry season. Just amazing.
One of the best things about Kompong Khleang is that the boat service is still owned by the locals, which means that the money we spend on the boat trip gets back to the community. We really hope it remains this way.