Floating Village Siem Reap Tour
We had read about a number of scams (particularly in Chong Kneas) when visiting the floating villages alone. We therefore booked an afternoon Floating Village Siem Reap tour with Siem Reap Shuttles for just $18pp. They also run tours in the morning starting at 8.30am. The company has 6 years experience in running tours and the price always include the entrance fee, English speaking tour guide and bottled water.
We were picked up from our hotel at 1.30pm and taken to the main office near the Old French Quarter. We departed for Kompong Phluk at 2pm with Mr Chenda (meaning the moon in Khmer language).
Mr Chenda was a brilliant tour guide who talked to us about Cambodia and Siem Reap on the way. He really was a great story teller! Kompong Phluk is situated South East of Siem Reap, around a one hour drive from the centre, including a washroom break. During our journey we drove through rice fields and were informed that the rice in Cambodia is of great quality as only natural fertiliser is used. It is also rather delicious!
The Boat Trip and Local Floating Village
At around 3pm we arrived at the boat which would take us to the Kompong Phluk village. We sat on the roof of the boat admiring all of the stilted houses and locals catching fish.
After 10 minutes we arrived in the village where we learnt more about local life. More than 800 families occupy the village and the houses are built high so they are not susceptible to flooding. There are two schools in the village and a health centre. Life is basic but we saw many children playing football, some drawing and others just running around. We were informed that the village is like a big community where families share all opportunities to earn income.
There were a few locals selling notebooks and pencils which you could give to the children but they were not pushy. You could freely give them out to the children (we have read that sometimes you make a donation but the stationary never makes it way to the school). We ended up buying a whole tub of lollies from a local stall and handing them out. Some of the children were very polite and others were jumping up and down tugging for lollies!
The Flooded Forest
After visiting the village, we embarked back on the boat for another 5/10 minutes to the flooded forest. Here you can take an optional boat for $5pp where you are rowed through the forest for around 30 minutes.
The first part of the trip through the overgrown trees was really peaceful and we loved listening to all of natures sounds! However, in the last five minutes, each tourist boat was pulled up against a boat selling souvenirs/ drinks / food. We felt very pushed into buying something and ended up paying $7 for some small crackers and a beer. This was quite an uncomfortable experience where they clearly wanted as much money as possible and it felt like they were guilting us into buying something.
I am more than happy to provide donations and would have happily tipped the lady rowing our boat but this felt way more ‘scam’ like. If you don’t want to feel pressured, I recommend just leaving $2-3 dollars in your purse and saying that is all you have.
After the floating forest boat tour, our group (and others) watched the sunset on a large floating boat. There was food, drink and souvenirs to purchase (but no obligation) and the sunset was gorgeous. We sat right by the edge of the boat and were mesmerised by all the changing colours!
After sunset, we made our way back to the boat to take us to our minibus. We arrived back at our hotel around 7pm.
This floating village Siem Reap tour around Kompong Phluk was well organised, insightful and we loved our guide Mr Chenda. We thought that $18 was very reasonably priced for a great afternoon trip.
East London Girl: Kompong Phluk
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