Most visitors to Siem Reap are there for the sole purpose of marveling at the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. But if you’re spending several days exploring the Angkor archeological park you’ll likely find that you’re getting a bit “templed-out”. A day trip to the stilt village of Kampong Phluk and nearby flooded forest on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake is the perfect way to break up several days of exploring temples.
For a 3-day trip to Siem Reap we would recommend spending the first day taking the Small Circuit Tour of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom on the first day, visiting the Kampong Phluk stilt village on the second day, and then heading back to the Angkor Archeological Park for the Grand Circuit Tour on your third day.
We have put together this guide that covers how to get to Kampong Phluk from Siem Reap, how much it costs to visit Kampong Phluk, and what to expect when you get there. Enjoy!
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Kampong Phluk Stilt Village and Flooded Forest on Lake Tonle Sap
How to Get to Kampong Phluk from Siem Reap
Kampong Phluk is located ~20 miles southwest of downtown Siem Reap. Much of the way is on an unpaved dirt road so you can expect the journey to take you 40 minutes to 1 hour.
The best way to reach Kampong Phluk is by hiring a private driver and luckily, it’s fairly inexpensive to do in Cambodia. If you opt to travel by tuk-tuk it will cost you ~$20 USD. If you would rather travel by car, which makes the trip more comfortable and considerably less dusty, it will cost you around $40-45 USD.
After several trips to Siem Reap we have worked with quite a few local drivers and our favorite Siem Reap tuk-tuk driver is Nakry Mean who drives a batmobile themed tuk-tuk. You can reach him on WhatsApp at +855 17 761 110 or on his Facebook page, Siem Reap Batmobile Tuk Tuk.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Kampong Phluk
When we first visited Kampong Phluk back in 2009 it was relatively unknown and you were on your own to negotiate with a boat driver to navigate you through the waterways of the stilt village. These days the Cambodian government has gotten involved and pricing is much more standardized (and more expensive) than it was previously.
The total cost should be $22 USD per person to visit the stilt village and an additional $5 per person if you want to take a small rowboat through the mangrove forest at the far end of the village.
Currently, the fees to visit Kampong Phluk are as follows:
Boat Fee: $20 USD per person
The first fee you’ll pay is a ticket for a motorized boat to take you through the stilt houses. This fee is fixed at $20 per person and your group should have a private boat for the tour of the village. Unfortunately, it’s unclear how this money is split between the Cambodian government, the boat driver, and the local community (we assume the government keeps a large portion of it).
Entry Fee: $2 USD per person
There is a $2 entry fee for Kampong Phluk that supposedly goes to support the local community.
Rowboat through the Mangrove Forest: $5 USD per person
There is a flooded mangrove forest that sits between the Kampong Phluk stilt village and the Tonle Sap Lake. Here you’ll find a dozen or so ladies in rowboats eager to take you on a 30-minute ride through the forest. The fee is set by the government at $5 per person and the small rowboats can handle a maximum of 2 guests per boat.
What to Expect on a Tour of Kampong Phluk
The Drive to Kampong Phluk
The first thing you can expect on a trip to Kampong Phluk is a long drive. Even though the stilt village is only about 20 miles away from Siem Reap, it will take you 40 minutes to an hour to reach the boat dock. A car is much more comfortable but we always prefer to make the journey by tuk-tuk because it’s a more immersive experience as you ride through the Cambodian countryside.
Once you turn off of the main road (Highway 6) you’ll travel down an unpaved dirt road through the Cambodian town of Roluos. There is a small local market here where you can stop if you’re interested in seeing what Cambodian life is really like outside of Siem Reap (make sure you tell your driver in advance if you want this extra stop).
The Kampong Phluk Ticket Office
After passing through Rolous you’ll have about 10 more minutes of driving before you reach the government ticket office where you’ll need to purchase your tickets to visit Kampong Phluk. The cost of visiting Kampong Phluk is $20 USD per person for the boat ticket and $2 per person for the community entrance fee.
Once you have your tickets in-hand you’ll proceed to the boat dock. One unique thing about the boat dock for Kampong Phluk is that it tends to move around a bit depending on the time of year you are visiting.
The Tonle Sap Lake rises almost 20 feet during Cambodia’s monsoon season so if you’re there in the wet season the boats may be docked right at the ticket office. But if you’re visiting Kampong Phluk during the dry season you’ll likely need to proceed several hundred meters further down the road before you can board your boat.
Once you’re on board you’ll have a short boat ride out to the stilt village. You’ll soon begin passing some of the newer government buildings and a school – all situated 20-feet above the ground on concrete supports.
When is Kampong Phluk Flooded Versus Dry?
Water levels of the Tonle Sap generally rise from May to November with the lake reaching its highest water level in November. The water then flows out of the Tonle Sap beginning in December and the low water levels are experienced in April.
The Stilt Village of Kampong Phluk
The town itself is a hodgepodge of buildings rising out of the water on a network of pillars and semi-permanent scaffolding. Some houses look fairly new while others appear as though they might collapse at any moment. Among the rows of stilt houses, you’ll see the residents of Kampong Phluk going about their daily business – washing and drying laundry, untangling fishing nets, and shuttling kids to and from school on the family boat.
Kampong Phluk (which means “Harbor of the Tusks”) is home to ~700 families with a total population of around 3,500 people. Everything in this town is either built 20-feet above land or is designed to float so it can rise and fall with the water level of the Tonle Sap Lake. You may even see floating chicken coops or hog pens.
Some people refer to Kampong Phluk as a floating village which isn’t really accurate. All of the buildings are built on 20-foot high pilings, so depending on the water level of the Tonle Sap it may have the appearance of a floating village.
If you’re visiting Kampong Phluk during the wet season the entire town will appear flooded and the stilt houses will seem to be floating on the water. But, if you’re there in the dry season the waterway running through the town will be fairly narrow and the buildings will tower high overhead on their stilt pilings.
The Flooded Forest
After your boat driver has driven you through the stilt village of Kampong Phluk, you’ll proceed downriver towards the Tonle Sap. You’ll immediately begin passing through the “flooded forest”. There are a number of flooded mangrove forests on the edges of the Tonle Sap, but the one at Kampong Phluk is the largest in the Siem Reap province.
Your next stop is a floating dock anchored at the edge of the flooded forest. Here you’ll have the opportunity to climb into a small wooden skiff and be paddled through the forest for ~40 minutes (the cost is an additional $5 USD per person. The small boats can only accommodate a maximum of 2 people so if your group is larger than 2 you’ll need to split up into several boats for the boat trip through the flooded forest.
The Tonle Sap Lake
Once you have been paddled through the flooded forest you’ll be dropped off at a floating restaurant on the edge of Cambodia’s massive Tonle Sap Lake. The restaurant serves beer and snacks and also has an observation deck if you want to get a better view of the lake in front of you and the mangrove forest behind you.
When we were there they also had a pit full of alligators and a store selling alligator skin products. It’s honestly a bit of a sad affair, but you can purchase bits of chicken to feed to the alligators if that’s your cup of tea.
Your original boat will pick you up at the restaurant/alligator zoo and drive you out a few hundred meters onto the Tonle Sap Lake. There isn’t much to see but it’s pretty cool to get a feel for just how huge this lake really is.
After your short boat ride on the Tonle Sap, you’ll head back upriver, passing once again through the Kampong Phluk stilt village and returning to the boat dock where you started. From here your tuk-tuk driver will drive you back to your hotel in Siem Reap.
Optional Stop: Prasat Bakong
If you happen to have extra days on your Angkor Archeological Park pass you can ask your driver to stop at Prasat Bakong – it’s a set of 3 temples that are near the road to Kampong Phluk. As they are a bit off the main tourist track you’ll likely have to share these temples with just a couple of other visitors.
Have you visited the stilt village of Kampong Phluk? Did we miss any other tips or advice? Let us know below!
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