We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“A great expanse of muddied water.”
Review of Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: At 4,000 square miles, this is the largest lake in Southeast Asia.
Reviewed 29 June 2018

Visited as part of Angkor Visitor tour and found the experience interesting especially the incursion of Vietnamese fishing folk who seemed to have settled in after the mid 1970's.

I quite enjoyed the boat ride and was taken in by whole families in the river and lake up to their wastes and above reeling in nets with minuscule catches - their take for the day.

The houses sitting ion small spits of land with their rears many metres from the water were suggestive of rather large water level rises which is now a concern because of the proposed Chinese dams further up stream which will have a devastating impact on the eco system and lake drainage.

Date of experience: June 2018
Thank HuahinCharlie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (2,066)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
  • More languages
All reviews
"on stilts"
in 112 reviews
"chong kneas"
in 24 reviews
"water level"
in 43 reviews
"their lives"
in 23 reviews
"stilt houses"
in 22 reviews
"fishing village"
in 26 reviews
"largest freshwater lake"
in 19 reviews
"kampong phluk"
in 30 reviews
"wet season"
in 52 reviews
"eye opening"
in 15 reviews
"flooded forest"
in 14 reviews
"crocodile farms"
in 16 reviews
"in south east asia"
in 23 reviews
"big lake"
in 14 reviews
"beautiful sunset"
in 15 reviews
"motor boat"
in 13 reviews
"daily life"
in 15 reviews

42 - 46 of 2,066 reviews

Reviewed 28 June 2018 via mobile

I’m glad we went & I loved seeing the village & going on the little boat through the trees but it was made extremely uncomfortable by the amount of money they tried to extract from us, you’d think over paying for a boat ride would be enough, but then asked to buy things for the lady rowing the boat, for children in the village etc I don’t think they realise we are not made of money & cant afford it all when away for a few weeks.. it’s a real shame as it kind of ruined it for me & made me feel like a cash cow. All they want is money, it takes away from Cambodians lovely genuine nature to be treated this way & is very awkward when you haven’t got the money to give out :/

Date of experience: October 2017
1  Thank Aims_Perth29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 June 2018 via mobile

It was an overall interesting boat trip. The ride costs $25 per person to begin with. You walk to get on the boat and a guy snags a photo of you without saying anything. We are told a lot about the village and how it’s living in poverty but surprising how much since they extract so much money out of you. They take you to a restaurant, crocodile pit, and local market. The market requests $50 usd for a bag of rice for the local students. They require a $20 usd tip for the boat driver and another tip for the tour guide. You’re then greeted by young girls who have your candid photo on a plate who try to sell it to you.

Sad and be wary of your money.

Date of experience: June 2018
3  Thank Ben H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 June 2018

Tonle Sap should be a fascinating place with a strong sustainable tourism sector. Instead it's designed to extract as much money from tourists while doing precious little for the inhabitants of Tonle Sap.

We went independently by hiring a tuk tuk from Siem Reap. The road trip out there was interesting and best part of the tour was stopping off at a lotus farm. When we reached the river, we were told that it would cost US$30 per person for a boat ride to the village. We would later find out that this takes us to a floating restaurant/shop/crocodile farm on the outskirts of the village. At this stage we were told that we would need to pay another US$20 per person to actually see the village as we would need another boat with a shallow draft. We paid and got a relatively short tour of the village. Then we stopped at the general store where we were told that we should buy a US$50 bag of rice to feed the orphans at the local school. When we refused, we were told that a US$30 bag would also do. Given the amount of tourist boats that were out and about all of whom were being approached, we suspected that the bulk of the money wouldn't go near the orphans. We refused again and were taken back to the floating restaurant. At this stage we were asked for a tip - sorry, not after paying US$40 for under an hours work. Then back to the mainland where another tip was requested (no). Finally, it turns out that somebody had discretely taken photos of us when we left and we were asked to buy a plate with our pictures on it - sorry.

Two things were immediately obvious. 1) There are a lot of boat loads of tourists and each one is being fleeced for as much as possible and 2) the village is depressing poor so very little of the money is going to them.

Tonle Sap should have a lot to offer but with the way that it is being run, I can't recommend it.

Date of experience: May 2018
2  Thank Clem P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 16 June 2018 via mobile

We paid $20 each for a boat ride of the lake which lasted about an hour. Whilst I understand it might be important to see the poverty the Tonle Sap villagers live in overall it felt exploitative, and seemed to encourage begging, even to the point of one young girl crossing the lake dangerously in a cut-in-half plastic barrell in order to come up to boats to ask for money.
We also encountered another scam - not sure if anyone's encountered this befofe, but when we were walking through the gates to get on our boat, a quite rotund and smiley man popped his head out and quickly took a photo of myself and my boyfriend and then seemed to wave us on. He took one of me off guard and I wasn't looking at the camera. We weren't sure what was going on but boarded our boat. When we got back to the dock we were walking back to our car and 2 young girls (about 5 years old and 7 years old) had cheap small plastic plates with "Angkor" written at the top, and our "candid" photos in the middle. They asked repeatedly if we would buy them for $1, even to the point of leaning into our car windows as we were leaving. We didn't buy them, following advice not to buy souvenirs from children as not to encourage exploitation/begging, but were also really concerned that the girls may have to pay out of their own means as the plates were already printed.
Left us with a very sad feeling about the place.
Overall, whilst it was interesting, I don't think people should go as it seems damaging to the local community.

Date of experience: June 2018
1  Thank Katie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Tonle Sap Lake also viewed

Siem Reap Province, Cambodia
Siem Reap Province, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Siem Reap Province
Siem Reap, Siem Reap Province

Been to Tonle Sap Lake? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing