Chong Kneas – Tonlé Sap Lake, Siem Reap


My trip to Chong Kneas was disappointing for sure. I half regretted my decision to go there and came back asking myself why one earth did I choose to go there..   I think it was because of my husband’s friend’s recommendation that it would be a nice experience and that I might see kids in buckets, pots in the water and so on. I was imagining an idyllic setting… but the reality was anything but that… 


Tonlé Sap is said to be the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and its ecosystem is unique in many ways. During the monsoon, the lake’s surface area becomes six times bigger compared to its size during the dry season from November to May.

Moreover, it is estimated that over 1.2 million ethnic Vietnamese and Cham people inhabit the floating villages around the lake, mainly living from fishing (and tourism). More than half of Cambodia’s fish supply comes from this lake, so the lake’s importance for the entire Cambodia, economically and otherwise, cannot be exaggerated.


From Siem Reap it will take about 20 minutes to reach the harbour, and my Tuk Tuk driver Safi brought me there… I have to say the ride there from Siem Reap’s city centre was certainly a bumpy one…. where you can hop onto a boat that will bring you to Chong Kneas. That boat ride will cost you USD20 but well, you have a boat with a captain and a guide, yeah some of the Cambodians can speak reasonably good English. The entire trip lasts about one hour and thirty minutes.

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After a fifteen-minute boat ride through what seem like a muddy, murky river, you enter the actual lake and start seeing the floating village with houses, shops… it is quite a slum….  The water is still rather filthy and murky (and I won’t be surprised if a crocodile really shows up) but the water surprisingly does not stink, though it is obvious everything gets thrown into the lake, and that the sustainability of this ecosystem is in danger as much as inhabitants’ health…


There are even dogs and even a pig farm!!!


People in these floating village communities make a living off of what the lake provides- fishing, boat making, shrimp farming, crocodile farming, etc… They wash, bathe, swim and fish for dinner in it. It’s certainly a little village like what you can find anywhere else with the exception of watery streets, where you get around by boats instead of cars, and there are floating schools, markets, etc…etc…….


My boat then stopped by one of those floating shops where they urge that you buy USD60 rice bags for the orphans (I was forewarned by my Tuk Tuk driver Safi)… Heck, these rice is so much more expensive then the Basmathi rice I eat!!! The cheapest things would be some candy which cost USD5 per bag as well!! Definitely over priced and overkill.. I declined, much to their annoyance…and so I did not get to see any kids as a punishment…(hahahah)…


My boat then stopped at a resident crocodile farm where you can get some drinks, buy souvenirs or get yourself a crocodile to bring home (those baby crocodiles posed standing in grotesque positions)  or snap photos of the crocs in an enclosure (and a little girl, who wraps herself with a big python – so cliché).

The crocodiles are of course motionless as usual…However since this enclosure is in the middle of the lake….it does makes you wonder if there are there crocodiles in the lake… but my boat driver says not… and well, you can see  children and adults swimming and happily splashing in the lake at certain time.

After visiting the crocodile farm, we headed back to shore….much to my resignation…. Ah well, no used crying over spilt milk right…anyway it was an eye opener to make me appreciate my life better , so there is always a silver lining in every cloud…


5 thoughts on “Chong Kneas – Tonlé Sap Lake, Siem Reap

  1. I read the line twice trying to understand can i get a crocodile for real haha.
    I can totally relate to a bad trip then again there is always something new and that silver lining thingy 😛


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