Among the non-temple related activities in Siem Reap is a visit to the floating village of Chong Kneas. First you will need to hire a tuk tuk or car to drive you out of town towards the river. This cost $8 for a roundtrip with the driver waiting for while you areon the boat.
Chong Kneas, as you know, is a floating village at the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake. This is where the boat docks if you’re arriving from Battambang or Phnom Penh. It’s about 20 – 30 minutes from the center of Siem Reap.
On the way to the floating village itself, you’ll see large paddy fields and stilted houses on both sides of the road. You’ll also pass by Phnom Krom hill which has an ancient temple at the top.
Just before the lake is a post of the cooperative of boat owners Chong Kneas, where you are supposed to pay $ 15 entrance fee. It is still a further 5 minutes drive to the departure of the boats.
As soon as you enter the village, you’ll see rows of tourist boats docked closely together. You’ll also start smelling that fishy smell that seems to be present with river villages.
One look at the water and you realize that it’s not even remotely clean. But such is life. People in the village still use it for washing and bathing. The floating village is rather small.
A two-hour long boat ride to the village most recently cost $20 per person if you are less then ten people. Complete with driver and boat guide, the motorized boat goes through the floating village for about 15 minutes.
The boat goes on to Tonle Sap lake, which joins the river in shrinking and expanding dramatically with the seasons, thereby causing villagers to move their floating houses to different points. The next tourist stop is at the cat fish and alligator farm / souvenir shop. Then the boat takes you back to the shore.
This school is probably one of the most famous schools in Cambodia. Even before seeing it in person, I’d seen it several times in other travelers’ photos. Sadly, school hours were over when I arrived so I didn’t actually see any kids.
There was a school basketball court also, which will make you wonder how that could be possible. But as soon as you see the court, you’ll see the genius behind it. The floating court has rails on all sides, so the ball and the kids will always stay inside no matter what happens.
This farm is probably the ‘highlight’ of the Chong Kneas visit (other than the village and the lake itself). The fish farm is a catfish farm and visitors have the chance to feed them. When we came, the fish weren’t that excited about the food that we threw in. I suppose they were already full of food thrown in by previous visitors.
As more visitors stop by the farms, the lady who keeps an eye on the place looks weary when new visitors fed the fish. No wonder, you really can kill fish by overfeeding them.
There is a crocodile farm with about ten crocodiles right next to the fish farm. Most of them hide, but you can still see some of them clearly, whether they’re sleeping or yawning.