Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages of stilted houses built within the floodplain of the Tonle Sap about 16 km southeast of Siem Reap.
Kampong Phluk, meaning “Harbor of the Tusks”, includes three primarily Khmer villages which are home to 3000 inhabitants. Flooded mangrove forest surrounds the area and is home to a variety of wildlife including crab-eating macaques.
The houses of Kompong Phluk are built on top of wooden poles and stilts between six and eight meters high and tower over the boats moored along the river, which snakes through the village before heading out into the Tonle Sap lake. During the dry season when the lake is low, the buildings in the villages seem to soar atop their 6-meter stilts exposed by the lack of water. At this time of year many of the villagers move out onto the lake and build temporary houses. In the wet season when water level rises, the villagers move back to their permanent houses on the floodplain, the stilts now hidden under the water.
The stilted houses on Kampong Phluk village
Kompong Phluk is a relatively small village providing deep insight into the village lifestyle of the Tonle Sap Lake. The lake exhibits a unique hydrologic phenomenon during the wet season - the river reverses direction, filling the lake instead of draining it. The engine of this phenomenon is the Mekong River, which becomes bloated with snow melt and runoff from the monsoon rains in the wet season. The swollen Mekong backs up into the Tonle Sap River expanding the surface area of lake more than five-fold, inundating the surrounding forested floodplain and supporting an extraordinarily rich and diverse eco-system.
The local life on Kampong Phluk
The local community is busy fishing, especially shrimp harvesting, along with doing laundry, cooking, fishing and scaling swinging ladders. An out-of-this-world experience is taking a boat tour to witness the daily village life as well as take a look into the domestic animals like pigs, cats, kitchens living inside paddle boats floating around. Another worthwhile experience is catching the awe-inspiring sunset when the sun peaks below the clouds as the sky changes from a bright blue to a luminescent orange.
Sunset view from the wooden bridge in the jungle of mangrove trees
During the rainy season, June to November, the water level rises to nearly the height of the structures. Hence, the best time to visit Kampong Phluk is around December and January when the water level drops and you will see temples and schools balancing on thick, wooden trunks.
Kampong Phluk is 16 km upriver from Siem Reap. It takes 45 minutes to get to the village and about another 45 minutes to take the entire trip through the village. The village is opened to visit from 8 am to 5 pm, so spend a half day to experience the Khmer tranquil water life.
There are plenty of tours include all transportation, tickets and even a meal in a total cost of US $35-50. Of course, you can arrange the trip yourself by booking a boat up ticket costing US $18.