Chong Kneas Floating Village is located Tonle Sap Lake, which is about 1 hour south of Siem Reap.
So, What is Tonle Sap?
Tonle Sap literally means ‘Large River’ in Khmer or commonly translated to ‘Great Lake’ is Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. It covers an area of more than 10,000 km2, which is about 14 times the size of Singapore. (Singapore is about 700km2)
The population inhabited around the bank of the lake is estimated to more than 3 million, with up to 90% earning a living by catching fish and making agricultures.
In 1997, Tonle Sap was designated as a protected area under UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere programme.
The three noteworthy floating villages are Chong Kneas, Kampong Phluk and Kampong Khleang.
So, What is Chong Kneas Floating Village?
Chong Kneas is the floating village located at the edge of Tonle Sap Lake and is the closest and the most accessible from Siem Reap. Chong Kneas floating village is mostly Vietnamese and a tourist trap.
So, What is the Floating Village Scam?
Many tourists has shared that they are asked to pay USD$ 15-40 per person for a 45 mins to 1.5 hour boat ride, and the boat tends to break down in between the journey, allowing ‘passing by’ boats to sell you overpriced stationery and books, it seems that the boat tends to be ‘fixed’ when you are about to give in to the high-pressured sales tactics. The boat guide might even tell you not to give any money to the children, and would even suggest that you donate to the ‘orphanage’.
They would also be sharing sob stories of how poor the country is and how poor the people leaving in the area, the journey would make an ‘unexpected’ trip to a store to persuade you to purchase some rice and water for the children in the ‘orphanage’.
Some have spent about USD$50 for a pack of 5kg rice, which would usually cost not more than USD$10 in Singapore. (which is 5 times more expensive than in Singapore)
So, Where do the food and money goes?
It is mentioned that many have seen the food being transported back to the store and is being ‘recycle’ to be sold to the next unexpected, uninformed tourist and the money like all scams never ever goes to help the poor or the one in need. It is usually managed by illegal syndicates.
So, How can I help?
You should stop signing up for this and do your research. Traveller education is key. Supporting orphanages and organisations that work to help children can be a very positive thing, but not when the children themselves are used as a prop. By supporting these activities, you are doing more harm them help to the future of the children of Cambodia. Parents would rather send their kids out to beg then to sent them to school, and some might also be child trafficked.
CLICK here to read Volunteering 101: Cambodia ( A must-read before volunteering in Cambodia)
Watch Karl Watson: Travel Documentaries on Chong Kneas Floating Village
Do share your scam experience in the comments below