If you are wondering whether or not to visit Kampong Phluk during dry season, you are in the right place. Kampong Phluk is also known as one of the floating villages near Siem Reap, Cambodia and in the past few years it started attracting more and more tourists. Situated on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake, Kampong Phluk stands out due to the spectacular tall houses, built on wooden stilts. Read below to find out why I recommend visiting a floating village during the dry season.
1. Climate conditions
Due to Cambodia’s monsoon cycle, the dry and wet seasons alternate around the year and Kampong Phluk is highly affected by them. The water level of Tonle Sap Lake can reach 14 m during the rainy season (June – October) which leads to the flooding of a large portion of the nearby villages. This is where the creativity of the local people will amaze you – the houses of Kampong Phluk are built on tall, wooden structures which make the houses accessible by boat during the rainy season.
However, during the dry season (November-May) the water level reaches only 2 m which means that the once floating villages are now dry. But don’t get discouraged! The lower water level will unveil the amazing wooden structures below the houses.
2. Is Kampong Phluk worth visiting during dry season?
The answer is a big YES! Entering Kampong Phluk really opened another world to me. Seeing how differently people live here made me realize how adaptable we humans are. The tall houses with steep ladders, painted with bright colors are a one of a kind experience.
Visiting Kampong Phluk during dry season allowed me to discover an important piece of the local life. Moreover, this is the only chance you will have to see the incredible structures below the houses. During the dry season, people hang out on the levels below their homes since it provides shade from the sun. Also, the space is used for storing goods and food and as a playground for children. Even the police station and the school are built on high wooden stilts.
I was fascinated by the local buzz of the village. You could see people talking, doing their groceries and children going to school or playing. Even though they live a simple life, they seemed happy!
Do not miss the sunset from one of the floating restaurants on Tonle Sap Lake. If you are going with a guided tour, it will be probably included in the price. However, if you are going by yourself you can rent a boat to see it. I loved the sun’s orange reflection on the lake and seeing the fishermen returning to their homes.
3. Daily life in Kampong Phluk
The entire community of Kampong Phluk used to rely on fishing as the main source of income. There are about 300 species of fish that live in the Tonle Sap Lake. The rainy season is perfect for the fish to breed while the dry season makes it easier for the local people to catch it. However, the effects of overfishing are already starting to be seen. People in Kampong Phluk must look for alternative sources of income. Most of young people are looking for jobs in Siem Reap or have already left their homes in search for a better life.
However, a new source of income has been developing around the floating villages near Siem Reap: tourism. Therefore, if you plan on visiting Kampong Phluk or any other floating village in Cambodia, do not hesitate to buy some souvenirs or fruits from the local merchants in order to support the economy.
Villagers use the water from the lake for their daily chores: washing clothes or dishes, bathing and cleaning. With no public sewage system, people in Kampong Phluk must also rely on the lake as a toilet and garbage dump. Drinking water is scarce and people have to buy it from merchants. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t seem concerned with the environmental and potential health issues in these communities.
4. How to get to Kampong Phluk during dry season
There are two options to get to Kampong Phluk: either by tuk-tuk or guided tour. I will give you more details about each option below.
Rent a tuk-tuk
Renting a tuk-tuk for one day will cost you about $18, depending on your negotiation skills. Keep in mind that if you decide to go to Kampong Phluk by tuk-tuk, you will have to additionally pay for the entrance in the village and the rental of a boat. The reason why I didn’t choose this option was because I read many articles about tourists being scammed at the village entrance. Apparently, people have been asked to pay an entrance fee of $20-$30 per person even though the real price is $1. Therefore, I recommend visiting Kampong Phluk with a guided tour.
Guided tour – recommended
The price of a guided tour to the floating village during dry season is usually lower than during the rainy season – $20. You can book your tour from one of the many agencies near the Siem Reap Night Market. Do not forget to negotiate the price! Some of the advantages of a guided tour are:
- the price includes: transportation by bus to Kampong Phluk, entrance in the village, boat ride, sunset on Tonle Sap Lake. This is the only way to avoid being scammed at the entrance of Kampong Phluk.
- you will have an English speaking guide who will share with you interesting facts about the village
That being said, I would totally recommend visiting Kampong Phluk during dry season. It will be an eye-opening experience, which you will remember for a long time. The only thing I regret, is not having more time to spend in the village to really soak in the local life and culture.
May the travel bug bite you!
More about Cambodia:
- Visit Angkor Wat by tuk tuk – everything you need to know – click here
- A complete travel guide to Koh Rong – click here
- 10 Angkor Wat Instagrammable spots – click here
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