Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake

Location : Siem Reap

Cambodia’s Great Tonle Sap Lake sits only 15 km south of town, a unique eco-system and cultural area offering the opportunity to see a different side of the Siem Reap - floating villages, cultural and nature tours, birdwatching.

The Tonle Sap Lake is the most prominent feature on the map of Cambodia - a huge dumbbell-shaped body of water stretching across the northwest of the country. In the wet season, the lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, swelling to an expansive 12,000 km2. During the dry half of the year it shrinks to as small as 2500 km2, draining into the Tonle Sap River, which meanders southeast, eventually merging with the Mekong River at the 'chaktomuk' confluence at Phnom Penh. During the wet season a unique hydrologic phenomenon causes the Tonle Sap River to reverse direction, filling the lake.

The engine of this phenomenon is the Mekong River, which becomes bloated with snow melt and runoff from the monsoon rains. The swollen Mekong backs up into the Tonle Sap at the point where the rivers meet at Chaktomuk, forcing the waters of the Tonle Sap River back into the lake. The inflow expands the area of lake more than five-fold, inundating the surrounding forested floodplain and supporting an extraordinarily rich and diverse eco-system.

More than 100 varieties of waterbirds including several threatened and endangered species, over 200 species of fish, as well as crocodiles, turtles, macaques, otter and other wildlife inhabit the inundated mangrove forests. The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is 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.

See More attractions in Siem Reap

Prasat Neak Pean

Prasat Neak Pean

Neak Pean is one of the temples that make one dream of the olden days of luxury and beauty. It was worth while to the overpowering temples of Siva that men and armies repaired; but it was at the tiny ...

Phnom Krom

Phnom Krom

Prasat Phnom Krom is approximately 12 kilometers (7 .4 miles) southwest of Siem Reap near the north end of the Tonle Sap Lake. It is located on a mountain 137 meters (449 feet) highs. Climb the steep ...

West Baray

West Baray

The largest artificial reservoir (8 x 2.2km) in the Angkor Park, called the West Baray is located near Angkor Thom city. In ancient times, the Baray was supplied by fresh water that came from two ...

Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm's state of ruin is a state of beauty, which is investigated with delight and left with regret. Ta Prohm is locating southwest of the East Mebon and east of Angkor Thom. Its outer enclosure ...

Angkor Thom Temple

Angkor Thom Temple

Angkor Thom is undeniably an expression of the highest genius. It is, in three dimensions and on a scale worthy of an entire nation, the materialization of Buddhist cosmology, representing ideas ...

Angkor National Museum

Angkor National Museum

Visiting the Angkor National Museum was an eerie, surreal experience. For the first 45 minutes of our trip through the mammoth, 20,000-square-metre building, we didn't spot another visitor. The ...

Phnom Kulen

Phnom Kulen

A playground for locals, Phnom Kulen (literally Mountain of the Lychees) is a gorgeous day out. The main attraction is the waterfalls at the top of Kulen Mountain and it’s also a great picnic spot; ...

War Museum

War Museum

The War Museum in Siem Reap is the only War Museum in Cambodia. It offers visitors a unique and insightful view of the perils that Cambodia faced during the last 3 decades of the 20th century. It ...

Cambodia Landmine Museum

Cambodia Landmine Museum

Cambodia remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world as a result of decades of conflict, including a civil war, the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and genocide, American bombings, and ...

Siem Reap Tours