Kompong Khleang, Siem Reap Overview

Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia located near Siem Reap in Cambodia. Fed by Mekong river, it is the most productive ecosystem in the world forming a significant source of livelihood to this region. Kompong Khleang is one of the three floating villages located on Tonle Sap. Home to more than 20,000 people living in stilted houses, it is the most populous as well as the most advanced among all the settlements on Tonle Sap.

Located about 60km from Siem Reap, Kompong Khleang is the farthest of the three settlements and hence is also the least touristic of all. The village receives about just 10 to 15 visitors every day, even during the peak seasons. So if you are looking to get away from crowded Siem Reap, you can make a trip to Kompong Khleang.

The unique thing about this village is that depending on the season you visit, you can see the town floating on water connected by just boats or a remote town on land amidst a dense jungle with muddy roads.

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Kampong Khleang Tour

Kompong Khleang is nearly ten times the population of Kompong Pluk or Chong Kneas, the other two settlements on Tonle Sap lake. The way people live here throughout the year during all types of seasons is inspiring to know. Cut off from the modern, urban world villagers have been living in harmony with nature here for thousands of here adapting with the flood plain. Being a permanent settlement, touring around this village gives an insight into the unusual life of people here. Water rises to more than 10 feet deep during the wet season causing high currents, which brings in water from the Mekong flooding the lake. As the summer approaches, water levels in Tonle Sap subside clearing the muddy roads built at the stilt levels of the houses. Unlike the other two villages, Kompong Khleang still has its authenticity, which you get to experience uniquely. It is more of a town than a town, the most developed among the communities thriving in the Great Lake. Kompong Khleang has lovely pagodas, public offices, hospital and even a school, all floating above the water. Most of the houses and the other buildings are built on stilts to adapt to these varying water levels. These buildings appear to be floating with water levels coming up to their door front during high tides. Fishing is the primary source of livelihood for all the villagers when the water levels are up. During the dry season when the water levels recede, villagers do farming in the nearby villages. If you visit during this time, you can enjoy the views of beautiful lush forests surrounding the town, which remain flooded during the rest of the year. The entire village also looks like a place with a series of wooden skyscrapers, thanks to the stilts. If you take a guided boat tour, you can get a chance to visit the houses of locals, shop in the little floating markets where you can buy the traditional products. Cruising through one of the largest lakes in the world, you can enjoy the pleasant views of these houses, beautiful forests and many rare birds. You can also take a private tour and freely navigate making your routes under the stilted houses through the various canals. Watching the local life observing old traditions and interacting with the warm and friendly locals makes it for an exciting day trip from Siem Reap.

Time Required

You need at least an hour to explore Kompong Khleang and another 3 hours for the return journey. The best way to plan this trip is to take a day trip to the village, where you can also cover the other two communities Chong Khneas and Kampong Pluk on your way back.

Best time to visit Kompong Khleang

As mentioned above, you get to experience Tonle Sap and Kompong Khleang differently depending on the season that you visit. From October to January, the village looks picturesque floating above the water surrounded by greenery after the rains. If you visit during the onset of summer between February and May, you'll encounter muddy roads with little water and the lake almost dry, during which the village doesn't float. It's difficult to travel to Kompong Khleang during the rainy season itself, between June to September due to a sudden influx of water and floods.

How to reach

It takes about an hour to reach from Siem Reap. You can go up to Chong Khneas dock by taxi, and a round trip of the same costs about 50 USD per person. From there, you'll have to take a boat to get to Kompong Khleang. The total time to travel to the village and back would be around 2.5 hours excluding the time spent there. A boat ride of 1 to 1.5 hours through the village costs around 20 USD, which is worth it. These tours are usually arranged for a group consisting of 7 to 8 people. You can also take a private trip at an increased value.

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