Visiting Kampong Phluk Floating Village on a Boat Trip from Siem Reap (+Photos)

Visitors from every corner of the globe have been flocking to Siem Reap for decades to explore the illustrious Angkor Wat, but what if I told you there’s more to this Cambodian city than its iconic temple complex?

Of course, nowhere in the country is quite as magical as Angkor Wat (it’s the world’s largest religious monument, after all), but many people come to Siem Reap and miss out on the city’s nearby floating village, Kampong Phluk.

The term ‘floating village’ is perhaps more commonly associated with Thailand’s floating markets on the outskirts of Bangkok, and fewer tourists tend to know about Kampong Phluk.

However, this still somewhat hidden gem will steadily become more popular over the next few years, so now is the time to visit. In all honesty, I had no idea Kampong Phluk existed before my trip to Siem Reap.

If you’re keen to explore a different side of Siem Reap, I’ve broken down every aspect of my visit to Kampong Phluk, equipping you with all the essential information ahead of your Cambodian adventure.

In this post, we’ll cover:

What Is Kampong Phluk Floating Village?

Kampong Phluk Floating Village

At this point, there’s a good chance you’re asking yourself what a floating village is. In short, it’s more or less exactly as it sounds.

Picture houses, shops, schools, and restaurants, all seemingly drifting on the waters of Tonle Sap Lake, and you’ve got a pretty clear idea of what a floating village looks like. It has all the components of any small town or settlement; it just happens to spend about half the year perched above the water.

One part of the name is slightly misleading, though, as Kampong Phluk isn’t quite a floating village. In reality, it can appear as if it’s floating during the rainy season when water levels are higher, but each building sits on stilts, which are visible during the drier months of the year when the water is just two meters deep.

Kampong Phluk is actually made up of three different villages within a stone’s throw of one another. The name translates to ‘Harbor of the Tusks’, as local legends suggest that herds of elephants created the river or that tusks were once found along the riverbed.

How to Get to the Floating Village

Kampong Phluk Boat Trip

Although Kampong Phluk feels so remote and isolated, getting there is, thankfully, relatively straightforward. However, this depends on whether you join a tour or make your own way there.

I decided to join a tour as I was eager to learn a little about the history and culture of the area. It was also the most hassle-free option because my hotel ran an excursion to the village, so it was a win-win.

Most hotels and tour agencies run daily tours to Kampong Phluk, so you won’t need to look far if you’d rather not stress about the logistics of getting there and back. It’s worth keeping in mind that many tours don’t run until the afternoon to align with the sunset, which also means you can spend the morning discovering Angkor Wat.

If you’d prefer to do your own thing, you’ll need to hire a driver for the day to take you, and you’ll have a choice between taking a tuk-tuk or a car. The former is more adventurous and cheaper, while the latter is noticeably more comfortable and cleaner.

It’ll take between 45 minutes and an hour to reach Kampong Phluk, most of which you’ll spend on a bumpy and dusty stretch of road.

How Much Does a Trip to Kampong Phluk Cost?

Kampong Phluk

The total cost of visiting Kampong Phluk Floating Village varies depending on whether you join a tour or hire a driver.

Tours are usually the cheapest option, costing around $22. This includes your transfer to and from the village, your guide, a boat tour, and entry fees.

There’s an additional fee for visiting the optional mangrove forest, which is about $5. You’ll need to take a smaller boat for this part of the tour, which can hold two visitors at a time, and the price is per person rather than per boat.

If you choose to visit without a tour, you’ll need to factor in the cost of your transport in addition to the entry fees. Tuk-tuk drivers will take you to and from the village’s boat dock for around $20 to $25, while it’ll cost you approximately $45 to $50 if you take a car instead.

You’ll then need to pay $22 for the main boat tour (this includes a community fee) plus $5 for the mangrove forest, though you can choose not to do this experience.

As you can probably tell, the tours seem to get a group discount of sorts, so this is for sure the most wallet-friendly option and is considerably cheaper than going about it on your own.

Tour of the Village

Tour of the Village

Regardless of how you get to Kampong Phluk, you’ll arrive at the dock about 30 km from Siem Reap and transfer onto a large wooden boat. As I was part of a guided tour group, we quickly hopped on board and kickstarted our tour. Otherwise, there’s a ticket office at the dock where you’ll purchase your tickets and wait to be shown to your boat.

Within a few short minutes, I could see the stilted buildings in the distance as we cruised closer to the first of the three villages that we’d be exploring on this excursion.

Colourful homes, locals navigating the waters with ease as they get from place to place, and merchants operating their businesses from tiny wooden rafts; the way of life here is nothing short of fascinating.

This activity lasted around one hour, most of which you’ll likely spend out on the deck, keeping your eyes peeled for the temples, churches, and local stores that sit between the hundreds of traditional homes. Your guide will point out some of the villages’ most notable buildings, one of which is a super small hospital.

As the first expedition finishes up, you’ll be brought to the starting point for the next leg of the journey.

Taking a Boat Through the Mangrove Forest

Mangrove Forest

After you disembark the boat, you’ll be offered an additional boat trip through the stunning and tranquil mangrove forest. This experience isn’t included as part of the main tour package, though you’ll find that pretty much everyone adds this extra activity to their visit.

You’ll switch to a much smaller vessel this time around, which is typically a little wooden rowing boat operated by a local lady with just enough space for two guests at a time. Simply pay your additional $5 fee and join the fast-moving line to start the next, and in my opinion, the most enjoyable, part of your outing.

Mangroves are trees common in tropical countries that spend some of the year submerged in water, and gazing at these plants that seemed to rise from the water was a highlight of this trip for me. Even though there were dozens of other boats in my eyeline, the whole area felt so zen-like and untouched.

The 40-minute journey followed a loop, passing out of the forest and around another village. Here, you’ll get a much closer insight into the daily lives of the people who call Kampong Phluk home before circling back to the boarding area.

Visit to a Crocodile Farm and Restaurant

Crocodile Farm

Once you return from your second boating experience, you’ll be guided to the crocodile farm and adjoining restaurant, a rather questionable part of the tour.

Tonle Sap Lake, on which Kampong Phluk is built, is frequented by crocodiles, and many of these have been captured by locals and used in the floating eateries in the area.

The on-site farm consists of a small number of caged freshwater Siamese crocodiles, which visitors can feed. I felt a little uneasy about this aspect of the tour, so I decided not to partake.

This farm leads to the floating restaurant, where crocodile meat, amongst other local dishes, is regularly served to tourists. Most people in my group, myself included, chose not to eat here due to concerns about the attached crocodile farm and the unsurprisingly inflated prices.

As a group, you’ll be given some time to unwind around the restaurant area even if you choose not to purchase anything. If nothing else, it makes for a lovely sunset spot, especially along the upper deck.

Catching the Boat Back in the Darkness

Boat Back

After the sun goes down, your guide will lead you back onto the large boat that initially picked you up from the dock, and you’ll head out on the lake before the darkness sets in.

You’ll spend a few minutes learning about the importance of Tonle Sap for local people and gazing at the sheer size of the lake before travelling back through the villages and towards the mainland.

Like many others, I didn’t expect much from this portion of the trip, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the villages begin to light up after dark. As the boat glides past each home, you’ll be met with the smell of dinners being cooked, the sound of friends chatting over beers, and the sight of dimly lit boats sailing by.

After about an hour, you’ll land back at the dock and onto the comfort of your bus. As enthralling and scenic as the boat trip is, the seating arrangements don’t tend to be the most comfortable, so you’ll be glad of the bus’ cushioned chairs.

Within an hour, your transfer, tuk-tuk, or car will have you back in Siem Reap at your hotel or drop-off point.

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