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5 provinces surround Tonle Sap Lake with a total population of more than 3 million people, 90% of whom earn a living by fishing and agriculture. The lake stretches across the northwest section of the Cambodia and is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia.
The lake’s dimensions change depending on the season Get More Information. During the monsoon season from June to October, the lake is filled by water flowing from the Mekong with 14 meters in depth and expands the surface of 10,000 square Kilometers. In the dry season from November to May, its size is 3,000 square kilometers with two meters in depth.
The flooded forest surrounding the edge of the lake is the best shelter for wildlife and also very important for spawning all kinds of fish and other animals. This lake provides for much biodiversity; over 300 species of fresh water fish as well as snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters; And more than 100 varieties of water birds including storks and pelicans.
The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the ecosystem, the human populations living around the lake are similarly distinctive – floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters.
Tone Sap Lake is located about 15 km south of Siem Reap. You can make your journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by express boat crossing the lake and dock at the village of Chong Khneas. Its takes six hours, and we recommend this trip during the Monsoon season. In the dry season, the boat sometimes gets stuck in the mud because the water is low.
There are several ways to see the culture and wildlife of the lake depending on the amount of time you have and your interests. Chong Khneas is the name of the famous floating village at the edge of the lake. It’s located at the southern part of Siem Reap about 15 Km, and takes only 30 minutes by vehicles to the boat dock where there are always boats waiting for visitors. The boat trip through the floating village takes approximately two hours. You will explore the different Khmer, Muslim and Vietnamese floating households and the floating markets, fisheries, clinics and schools.