For most of my temple visits, please visit my blog post under “Siem Reap Part 1”.
Tonle Sap – is the largest lake in South East Asia. The difference in the size of the lake between the dry and the wet seasons can be as much as 10 to 15 times. We were there in July so the water level of the river and the lake is quite high. It is not advisable to visit the lake during the dry season as the water level in the river can get too low for boats to access the lake or the floating villages.
Tonle Sap is about a one and a half hours drive from Siem Reap town. It will cost you about USD25-30 per person for the boat ride up the river to the floating villages, the floating forest and the lake. The whole trip probably takes about 2 to 3 hours. We love it while others have commented that it is not worth the time.
The houses along the river (lake) are all built on stilts to safeguard the houses from being flooded during the wet seasons when the water level rises.
Floating Forest – this is an area of the river (lake) where all the trees are submerged in water. There are many boats operating here, to take you for a tour of the floating forest, for a fee of course. I think it was USD30 per boat. Some of the visitors felt it was a rip-off. The villagers here are quite poor and depend on fishing in the river (lake) for a living, so life here is especially tough for the children, so we were quite willing to be ripped off.
After the floating forest, our boatman took us to the lake to get a feel of the vastness of the lake and then back up the river to the same point that we embarked the boat earlier.
After Tonle Sap, our driver suggested that we have lunch and then visit another temple near Tonle Sap before we return to Siem Reap. We were told that this temple was quite badly damaged by the Khmer Rouge who blew up parts of the temple.
On our last day in Siem Reap, we visited a centre set up for the preservation of Cambodian arts and crafts. Also, a visit to the Pub Street is a must for completeness sake.
We had a really great time during our five days in Siem Reap. We also had a really good driver. He pick us up at the airport for the transfer to our hotel and on the way, he suggested that we book him for our daily transportation to visit the temples. I remembered that he asked for something like USD50 or 60 for the whole day. As he was driving a nice clean Toyota Camry with good air-conditioning, I believed that my wife offered him about USD50 and he accepted.
Our driver would pick us up at about 8 to 8.30am every morning and after the day’s tour he would take us to dinner and on two occasions waited for us while we finish our massage sessions and would finish the day sometimes at about 10pm or later without any complains whatsoever. We are aware that most of these drivers rent their cars and do not make much per day after paying for the costs of the car rental and fuel, so my wife would tip him about USD50 or more, everyday.
We asked him to take us to restaurants for authentic Cambodian food, places where the locals would take their family to, which he did. We always asked him to eat with us whether for lunch or dinner. Since he knew that we love to try local food, he invited us to his home for dinner prepared by his wife. We felt really touched by his hospitality. I will end this post with some photos of us with our driver.
All photos shot with the Nikon D810 and 24-85mm f3.5-4.5g lens.