Cambodia is not only temples. It’s also about water, a lot of water, as much as some villages start to float. Ready to dive in?
Welcome to Kampong Khleang, one of the biggest villages of Tonle Sap lake, best time to visit during the wet season from August till October, because it will be literally floating. Wonder what does this mean? Here we go!
During the dry season it’s also connected by a road, but during the wet season you’ll need to take a boat.
Wet season means that it will rain a lot and you need to expect and be prepared to a HUGE amount of rain. It will rain for no more than 1-2 hours but it will rain heavily. And this contributes to all the rice fields and submerged forests of the region.
Now, what we found difficult was to not get scammed or just being overpriced for being tourists as we wanted to live an experience that was the least touristic possible.
Hence we’ve started our research, calling and whatsapping several numbers found on tripadvisor; we’ve found out that:
- The closest floating village to Siem Reap (15km) is (almost) a touristic trap – with overpriced goods and a lot of useless stuff;
- The mid-way far away floating village together with the Mangrove submerged forest (Kompong Phluk) was way better but a lot pricier than expected (kinda 60$ back and forth with tuktuk + not specified boat ride fee* + conservation fee* + tips*) – hence it was already a no-go.
- The less touristic and way more real place was Kampong Khleang. But yeah, it’s around 50km away from Siem Reap and obviously, not being a local, it is very difficult to get a good price for being transported there. Said that, also there you will need to take a boat and pay a conservation fee or something around that name.
So we started and we committed to stay at least one night in the village. We found ST 63 Home Stay where Lee Chhan is ready to host you for around 10$ per person per night. This was the experience we were searching for and he agreed to send somebody local to pick us up in Siem Reap (and drop us off at the airport the day after – for 50$ total). Then he arranged for us also a local boat to pick us up and to give us a ride around Tonle Sap for 35$ total for 2 people.
We stayed at Lee’s house, sleeping on a hanging bed and eating some local specialties prepared straight from him, who had years of culinary experience into a major hotel chain. As you can see from the pic below, this is a normal house, but really well maintained!
And by the way, if you have a drone you can shoot some pics like this at sunset.
We really lived the local life, joining also some local children the morning after into the local school to practice a bit of english. It was super super interesting and I would definitely recommend to contact him and give it a try!
Do not expect to sleep a lot during the night though – these boats start to go around at 3-4 am and they are really loud, bring some good earplugs with you!
And then, the local temple will start to sing songs and prayers around 4:30am – you will get the full local experience indeed!
But hey, you can shoot some pics like this during your stay, so I guess this is more than enough to get you there!
Give this unique opportunity a try and enjoy, tell “Ciao” to Lee from Luca & Cristina!
PS: bring some mosquito repellent, there are not so many but the bite is scratchy as hell!
PPS: you will sleep under a mosquito net, no worries 🙂
*=all bargain-able and depending on how many tourists you are travelling with.