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Enjoying the Beauty of Tonle Sap Lake with a Boat Trip in Cambodia

Article by GVI


Posted: February 22, 2023

Tonlé Sap is a unique freshwater lake in the heart of Cambodia, located within the Tonlé Sap Biosphere Reserve. Its diverse landscape of floating villages, wildlife and rare bird species create an incomparable experience that is sure to captivate anyone looking for an adventure.

What is Tonlé Sap

The Tonlé Sap is a huge freshwater lake in Southeast Asia that covers an area of 15,000 square kilometres. It’s connected to the Mekong River, which fills it up with lots of fresh water and nutrients during the rainy season from May to October. This helps fish and other creatures thrive in the lake, with over 300 types of fish and lots of birds calling it home. The lake is also important for people living in the area, who rely on it for food and money. The fish in the lake are a major food source, and it’s also used to irrigate crops in the nearby farms.

What wildlife can be seen near Tonlé Sap Lake

Tonlé Sap is teeming with fascinating wildlife, making it a must-visit destination for animal lovers. Fishing enthusiasts can try their hand at catching giant carp, catfish, and small-eyed black bass, while bird watchers can spot species like grey-headed fish eagles, great crested grebes, and oriental darters. 

The lake is also home to a diverse array of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, including tigers, elephants and monkeys. In addition to the abundant wildlife, Tonlé Sap is also known for its beautiful aquatic plants like water lilies, lotus and water hyacinths, which provide a home for the lake’s aquatic creatures. Visitors can also experience the local culture and witness traditional fishing communities in the surrounding villages.

Boat tours in Tonlé Sap Lake

A great way to explore the lake is to take part in a boat tour. Operating from many parts of Cambodia, these guided tours can take visitors around all or some of Tonlé Sap’s stunning views and wildlife hotspots. You’ll get to visit some of the floating villages for a firsthand look at life on the lake. The boat tours may also include stops at some of the nearby Angkorian sites such as Angkor Wat or Bayon Temple.

Local culture and history 

Most boat tours also take you through vibrant local markets where you can get your hands on authentic handicrafts and delicious local street food while learning more about Khmer culture and its intricate history. You’ll also get access to local fishing villages, as well as a chance to interact with locals who inhabit these remote parts of the lake.

Safety tips

Before heading out on a boat tour, it’s important to consider safety. Make sure you pack plenty of snacks and water so that you are well hydrated and fueled for your journey. Ensure that your boat operator is experienced and reliable, and look for life jackets for everyone on board before departing. Always be aware of your surroundings – there are often thunderstorms and strong currents at this time of year.

What to bring on the boat trip 

In addition to snacks and water, always bring appropriate clothing for your excursion. Comfortable but lightweight shirts and pants are ideal for warmer temperatures along the shores of Tonlé Sap Lake. Bring along sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn, insect repellent and hats/caps to keep away bugs. Good walking/boat shoes are also important since many of the boat tours require some walking while exploring villages.

Cost of a boat trip in Tonlé Sap Lake

Costs for a tour around Tonlé Sap vary depending on which operator you choose and how long/far your tour will be departing for. Different operators will offer different packages with different fees depending on the trip’s itinerary. Generally, boat tour fees start from about $25 for a half or full day use.

Touring around Tonlé Sap is an amazing experience that you won’t soon forget. Make sure you take your time to explore its various hidden gems, savour some of its delicious local flavours, learn about local customs and visit some ancient Angkor sites nearby. And while you’re in Cambodia, why not consider volunteering with GVI? You’ll make unforgettable memories while experiencing the country through local eyes.

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