On the Tonle Sap from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
On the small river cruise ship Toum Tiou we travel up the Tonle Sap River and across the Tonle Sap Lake from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
On the way we discover the lifestyle of the Khmer in floating villages and along the river and visit places of interest that are not easily accessible overland.
- Day 1 Phnom Penh – Koh Chen – Udong – Kampong Tralach
- Day 2 Kampong Tralach – Kampong Chnang – Kampong Luong
- Day 3 Kampong Luong – Siem Reap
Day 1: We board the Toum Tiou at at 0800 and depart up the Tonle Sap River for Udong. Udong was once Cambodia’s capital, and there are a number of stupas on the top of nearby Phnom Udong, where former kings and queens are buried. We enjoy the magnificent views over the plains below as our guide provides us with information about the historical and cultural significance of this sacred hill. We then continue to Prek Kdam from where we visit Koh Chen, a small village specialising in silverware. We enjoy lunch on board before we visit the magnificent pagoda at Kampng Tralach. Nearby the Toum Tiou will anchor for the night. We enjoy a delicious dinner on board.
Day 2: We have breakfast as the Toum Tiou heads to the fishing town of Kampong Chhnang where we make a tour of the local market and visit a traditional pottery village. Back on board we sail on to the point where the Tonle Sap River meets the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. We enjoy lunch before we continue to the floating village of Kompong Luong, one of the largest floating settlements on the Tonle Sap Lake. We observe the goings-on in this bustling community, where every aspect of life takes place on the water, from small wooden boats. Back on board the Toum Tiou dinner is served anchored at Kompong Luong.
Day 3: Early in the morning set sail for the last stage of our cruise, crossing the vast Tonle Sap Lake. We arrive in Siem Reap, the gateway to the famed Temples of Angkor, shortly after noon.
The above tours are therefore sample itineraries.
Cambodia’s bustling capital is situated at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers. Legend has it that Phnom Penh was founded when a woman by the name of Penh found Buddha images washed up on the bank of the Mekong River. In 1373, a temple, Wat Phnom, was built on a hill to house them. With Phnom in Khmer meaning hill, Phnom Penh literally translates as Hill of Penh. Officially the city was founded in 1434 by King Ponhea Yat, following the fall of Angkor.
Today, Phnom Penh is a city of more than 1.5 million people. With continuing urban development it is fast developing into an economic hub of the region, at the same time retaining its distinct atmosphere with its wide tree-lined boulevards, French colonial buildings and an abundance of chic bistros dotted along the riverfront, bustling markets, intriguing boutiques and stylish hotels.
Places of interest include the royal palace including the Silver Pagoda with its spectacular floor made up of 5,000 silver tiles, the National Museum housing treasures from the world’s finest collection of sculptures from the Angkor period, Wat Phnom, the city’s landmark and the notorious Toul Sleng Genocide Museum.
Phnom Penh is also ideal gateway for daytrips to the surrounding countryside. Particularly attractive are boat trips on the Mekong and Tonle Sap combined with a visit to the picturesque Silk Island or a visit of Udong, once the Capital of Cambodia, and the floating villages of Kampong Chhnang.
Tourist hub of Cambodia
As gateway to the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap is clearly the tourist hub of Cambodia. Accordingly, the town offers a vast array of accommodation options, ranging from boutique guest houses to some of the best hotels in the region.
The picturesque town centre hosts many speciality restaurants, lively bars, designer boutiques and a bustling night market.
Apart from temple visits, there are plenty activities that warrant a longer stay than just a couple of days, ranging from photography courses to cycling adventures to excursions to nearby bird sanctuaries or a homestay in a floating village on the nearby Tonle Sap Lake.
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