Visiting Kampong Phluk
In the heart of Cambodia, Lake Tonlé Sap is so huge that it looks like an inland sea. It is the largest lake in South-East Asia. Along the lake, some villages are quite popular among visitors. One of them is Kampong Phluk.
During the rainy season (June to October), the annual flood of the Mekong River impacts the lake and make it grow impressively from 2,500 km² to 16,000 km². It was declared as a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 1997.
In the middle of this immense area that gets flooded every year, men chose to settle and build the village of Kampong Phluk. Often described as a “floating village”, it is actually built on tall stilts. Many tourists like to sail on small wooden boats between the houses of the village.
But I was in Cambodia in April, during the dry season, and there was hardly any water (and no other tourist)! The small boat was struggling to pass between the other parked boats on the narrow almost dry river, and at some point it was not possible to continue and disembarking to continue on foot was the only choice.
I didn’t get to experience the water village but it was actually quite surprising to see all these houses, this whole village perched on these tall stilts. During the rainy season, the waters can rise up to 7 meters above our heads and reach the houses, the guide said. That’s a really impressive quantity of water!
The village has a straight main street, with a row of houses on both sides. In this season, it’s all dry and dusty. People partly live on the ground under their house, and rest in hammocks. The village has a temple with some nice golden stupas, and a school.
At the end of the village, a new structure has been built in what is known as “the flooded forest”, flooded like the village during the rainy season, with only the top branches coming out of the water. They built a nice wooden walkway among the trees and even a terrace on which you can sit and have a drink and a snack.
At the time of my visit, the walkway was not finished (it probably is by now), and it supposed to take you all the way to the lake.
So what feelings remain after this visit? First of all, the idea of seeing a rather touristic spot in a way that much fewer tourist actually see it, with no water. It was a very surprising and interesting thing to see, and I am still perfectly satisfied with my visit even if I didn’t get to see the “normal” flooded village.
But I can’t say that I don’t wish to see it flooded too… That will need to be taken in consideration for any next trip to Cambodia!
GPS: 13°12’33.63″N, 103°58’25.15″E
Best way to go: Tuk-tuk or taxi from Siem Reap
Cost of tour: Around US$ 20 for a boat tour. Some scams have been mentionned by other travelers, be careful!
Duration of the boat tour: Around 2 hours
Best season: All year long, but June to October to see it flooded