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Cambodia’s “Waterworld”


Tonlé SapCambodia’s Tonlé Sap is both a lake and a river system with an unusual feature – its flow reverses twice a year. In the dry season (November to May), the river drains into the Mekong at Phnom Penh. In the wet, silt in the Mekong delta causes the river to back up and flood a huge area of Cambodia, forming the Tonlé Sap lake. People living near the lake thus have to cope with water levels that go from nothing to nine metres. They do so by building their homes on stilts. In the dry season, walking around one of these villages you’ll see homes built high above the ground, with people clambering up and down huge ladders. In the wet season these same homes seem to float on the lake, with people zipping around by boat.

These so called ‘floating villages’ are well worth a visit, and are not too far from Siem Reap. Kompong Phluk is less visited than others in the region, as it is a little further away. You take a boat from the shore, crossing a vast expanse of water dotted with half-submerged trees, before arriving at a thriving collection of wooden buildings, all floating in the middle of the lake – schools, churches, shops, police stations and homes. Each building has numerous boats tied up outside, with traders rowing between houses selling their wares.

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Kompong Phluk combines well with the Roluos group of temples, which are well worth a visit in themselves and receive far fewer visitors than the main Angkor complex. Check out our Cambodia pages for more details of what do and see, as well as itinerary ideas. All our trips are private and can be tailor-made to your requirements and dates.

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