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Visiting the floating village in Siem Reap -Enjoying the emptiness

floating village Siem Reap
Tonle Sap floating village Siem Reap

Siem Reap might be going through the wars right now, but lack of tourists also
means opportunity. Now is a great time for visiting the floating village in Siem
Reap.


To read about 60 Meter Street click here.

What is a floating village in Siem Reap?


This is actually a bit of a grey area, last year I spent some time in a “floating village” with the people from Food Explorers. In actual fact these were villages on extremely high stilts, which meant that when the water was high the houses theoretically did not flood.
To read about my last visit toe floating villages of Siem Reap click here


People would still go to school and stuff by boat, but the buildings were for the
most part stationary.

floating village Siem Reap
floating village Siem Reap

Are there actual floating villages in Siem Reap?


There are though actual floating villages in Siem Reap, with the most famous
being on Tonle Sap Lake, colloquially known as “The Floating Village”. This has
long been a popular tourist attraction and during normal times involves boatloads
of people driving through, employment for the locals and direct cash pumped back
into the economy. Alas these are not normal times.

floating village Siem Reap


Siem Reap has recently been under a complete lockdown, as well as having people
stuck in Red Zones – this has drastically affected the nightlife, something we will
get to in a bit.

How to visit the floating village in Tonle Sap Lake?


From town it takes next to no time to get to the dock for boat tours, perhaps 20
minutes at best, depending on if you have a car, or are going by Tuk-Tuk.

The setup is very touristy and obviously prepared for better times, with there being
space for people to line up. Tickets will cost $20, regardless of how busy things
are.

What do you do in the floating village in Siem Reap?


This is a good old fashioned pleasure cruise, with your motor-boat going through
the “town”, seeing various sites along the way, before either thundering through
some undergrowth, or stopping in the vast expanse of the lake area.

floating village Siem Reap
floating village Siem Reap

On the way back you do a classic tourist stop, where it is possible to buy
handicrafts and the like. During usual times this would double up as a restaurant,
but during Covid times things are a bit more chill.

Street Food Tonle Lake!


This will be a fairly short entry! Actually there is a ton of street food around the
lake, much of it based around some mini-lake-shrimp, as well as some really
interesting shrimp pancake thing – I will cover these in the next section, but factual
street food on Tonle Lake, I had some crisps and a coke.

Sometimes you gotta take what you are given.

River shrimp (កំពឹសស្រុះ) and River Shrimp pancake (កំពឹសចៀន).


The river shrimp are tiny and you eat them whole with either hot sauce, or as is the
way in these parts salt, pepper and lime. Indeed a few of my favorite things. The
pancake was a particular joy – it is called (កំពឹសចៀន) in Khmer and involves
whole shrimp in the dish. Each pancake cost 25 cents, with a bag of shrimp cost
$1.25. Not much you can argue about that!

floating village Siem Reap
Street Foodin the floating village Siem Reap

What is it like visiting the floating village in Siem Reap?


I’ll first explain how the floating village works. These are now houses on stilts,
they are for all intents boats that move when they need to. What is most amazing
about the area is that it is a functioning village, just made up of boats. There are
hardware stores, restaurants, liquor stores and of course mini-marts. Most of the
people make their money through fishing and everyone travel by boat.

floating village Siem Reap
Gift shop at the floating village

It is fairly cool seeing kids rowing to and from school, although perhaps less cool
for the kids. There is apparently no Covid-19 in the floating villages in Siem Reap,
which means that come lock-down they close.
To read about which countries are open to tourism click here.

Why visit the floating villages and Siem Reap now?


The city is struggling and until recently was under lockdown. Things recently
opened up, but there is as of now still no dine-in in restaurants. So, yes no bars are
open. This will undauntedly change, but do not visit right now if you are looking to
party in Siem Reap.


The primary reason to visit the floating village in Siem Reap now is that not only
are you doing your bit to support the ethnic Vietnamese villagers, but sites such as
these and indeed Angkor Wat are almost entirely empty. This will not last forever,
undoubtedly the tourists will come back in droves, at which point you may well
regret not taking up the opportunity when you had the chance…..

floating village Siem Reap
Real life at the floating village in Siem Reao

Written by Gareth

Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.

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