Villages on Stilts
Floating Village © Paul Stocker
Most tuk-tuk and moto drivers in Siem Reap will be only too happy to take you on a tour of one of the area's famous 'villages on stilts'. Many of the houses lining Tonle Sap Lake are built on ten foot (3m) poles, so that when the water rises - as it does every year during the monsoon - the homes are not flooded or washed away. The closest floating village is situated in Chong Khneas, just an hour's drive from Siem Reap, though there are a number of these floating villages located around the Tonle Sap Lake should you wish to make a real trip out of it. Villages closer to Siem Reap tend to be touristy, while those further away are far more picturesque and authentic.
A two-hour boat trip through Chong Kneas village costs about $8 per person or around $20 for a boatload. Although during the wet season the stilted homes come into their own from a practical point of view the villages are most visually spectacular during the dry season, when their long stilts rise up eerily out of the mud or shallow water. Be aware that there have been tourist scams in the villages and that the poverty witnessed can be disturbing.