4D/3N Backpacking Siem Reap : Journey To The Floating Village & Flooded Forest of Kampong Phluk, Tonle Sap Lake

        Our adventure in Siem Reap, Cambodia continues with a must-not-to-be-missed visit to the floating village and flooded forest of Kampong Phluk. Besides Kampong Phluk, there is the more famous Chong Kneas floating village. Both villages are located by the edge of Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia. We decided to visit Kampong Phluk instead of Chong Kneas because the latter is more touristy and known for its tourist scams.

Time Travel Back in Time

        Our journey started as early as 9 am in the morning. My sister and I did not book a tour, instead we hired a tuk tuk to take us to the floating village of Kampong Phluk. It is much cheaper compared to booking a tour as they are known to charge exorbitantly. Fyi, Siem Reap, Cambodia is a hub for various tourist scams too, so do your research before you enter the country. It costs us USD15 for a return tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap town to Kampong Phluk.

        Our tuk tuk arrived at the guesthouse on time, picked us up and made our way to the outskirts of Siem Reap. It was pleasant to the eyes to see a change of setting from the busy, hectic city to the laid-back, rustic countryside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. In the city, we were surrounded by hundreds of vehicles on the road, whereas there was more greenery in the countryside.

        We know we were near to our destination when we went off-road, onto the dusty red dirt path of the countryside. Along the road, there were numerous makeshift stalls selling fruits, food and drinks. Most buildings were made of wood and had attap/zinc roof. Time stood still as we passed by the villagers going about their daily activities without the intervention of fast-moving modern developments. Children were seen roaming on the streets without a care in the world.

Hire a tuk tuk instead of taking a tour to the floating village and flooded forest of Kampong Phluk, Siem Reap if you're travelling on a budget like us

Tonnes of vehicles, mostly motorcycles on the road in Siem Reap town

School children cycling by the road

Makeshift stalls by the roadside selling a wide variety of items

Red, Dusty Dirt Everywhere!

        As we got closer to our destination, we noticed something strange – that almost everything we saw was earthy red in colour! From the roads, the roof, the walls of the buildings to even the plants, everything was in the same colour tone. Upon closer inspection, we found out that it was actually a thick layer of red dirt/earth and not paint.

        This is one of the unique features found in the villages along the road to Kampong Phluk. Its land consists of layers of loose red earth/dirt, so whenever the wind blows, particles of red earth and dust are sent flying into the air. These red earth/dust particles then stick to anything that it touches, creating a thick layer of colour that looks like paint over the buildings and plants from afar.

        Seeing such an interesting sight made our journey more memorable, if not comfortable. The road to the floating village of Kampong Phluk is very dusty and bumpy. The unpaved road was uneven and had potholes everywhere. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the bumpy ride very much. However, the amount of dust was unbearable, therefore it is essential to have a mask on hand and bring several bottles of drinking water too to stay hydrated for it can get rather hot, dry and dusty especially during the dry season. 

Red earth/dirt and dust everywhere!

Red earth/dirt covered roofs and buildings

Red earth/dirt and dust covered plants create an interesting sight

Traditional Cambodian wooden houses on stilts

Most villagers are hard-working farmers

A traditional Cambodian wedding tent/reception

The villagers working together to prepare the food for the wedding feast

A traditional Cambodian shop

A common scene in the Cambodian countryside

More stalls by the road on the way to Kampong Phluk

Private Boat Ride To Tonle Sap Lake & Kampong Phluk

        It took approximately an hour’s journey to reach the ticket counter located in the middle of nowhere. At the counter, we paid USD20 each for the entrance fee and a 2-hour boat trip to the floating village and flooded forest of Kampong Phluk, Siem Reap. This is also the place and our last chance to answer nature’s call before we hopped on the boat.

        After that, it was another 20 minutes scenic ride on the dusty road through green paddy fields that stretched into the horizon. Several white egrets were seen looking for food in the paddy fields. My sister and I took the opportunity to play and take some photographs in the paddy fields for remembrance.

A water canal separating the road and the paddy fields

Green paddy fields stretched out into the horizon

This is where we bought our entrance ticket and booked a return journey boat ride to the floating village and flooded forest of Kampong Phluk 

Many tourists headed towards the same direction

A picturesque Cambodian countryside scenery

The simple life we know before modern conveniences

A Cambodian fisherman coming back from work with his bounty from Tonle Sap Lake

A lovely view of the typical Cambodian countryside

My sister and I did not miss the chance to play in the paddy field

The Discovery Of "Bubu" & "Kelong"

        Another interesting thing my sister and I got to see on our journey to Kampong Phluk, Siem Reap was the eye-catching makeshift tents set up by the villagers by the water canal. Most often, these tents were located nearby the site where traditional "bubu" (funnel fish traps made of bamboo) and "kelong" a.k.a kaylong (a large fish trap built with stakes) can be found! The villagers use these primitive methods to catch fish and even small crabs for their food and livelihood.

        They will stay overnight in the tent to watch over their traps and collect their catch in the morning to be brought back to their home or sold at the market. I took the opportunity to explore one of the available kelong a.k.a kaylong while its owner cautiously observed from a distance. We then continued our journey.  Not long after that, we reached our boat, met its young captain and made our way through along the river towards Tonle Sap Lake and Kampong Phluk. Good news was we had the entire boat to ourselves! Bad news was our young captain did not speak English, but that did not trouble us at all.

A makeshift tent by the water canal

We were fortunate enough to come across these traditional "bubu" (funnel fish traps made of bamboo) and "kelong" a.k.a kaylong (a large fish trap built with stakes) on our journey to Kampong Phluk, Siem Reap

Our private boat to Tonle Sap Lake and Kampong Phluk

All aboard the boat and off we go to the floating village and flooded forest of Kampong Phluk!

We enjoyed a smooth boat ride to Tonle Sap Lake

Local Cambodians transporting their goods

We barely reach Kampong Phluk yet, but we already spotted some submerged trees along the way

Our young captain casually guiding the boat to its destination - Tonle Sap Lake and Kampong Phluk of Siem Reap, Cambodia

Up next: Cruising through the fascinating floating village and flooded forest of Kampong Phluk

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