An easy getaway from Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang is a beautiful way to experience the
Cambodian rural lifestyle and its diverse cultures and ways of living. Being situated on a river
near the Tonlé Sap lake, its waterfront is composed by different villages made of wooden
houses on stilts and floating villages. Besides that, various different ethnic groups live happily
side by side, a must see if you are looking for an authentic cultural experience in your travels.
More peaceful is impossible.
So rent a bicycle and come explore the different villages, going around slowly to allow you to
engage with the locals – you will definitely hear a lot of hellos while you are passing, so take
your time to stop and engage in some conversations. Try as well to understand where the
people came from, because in this area you will find different ethnic communities. Besides
Khmer people, like the majority of population in Cambodia, you can meet some Cham families,
Vietnamese and Kampuchea Krom, ethic Cambodians that before lived in the Delta Mekong
(now part of Vietnam but during Angkor era belonging to the Khmer empire).
Cham girl in front of her cute house.
One of the most interesting communities due to its differences to the other ethnic groups is
the Cham people. They were part of the old Champa empire (that stretched from Cambodia to
south Vietnam many years ago) and are mostly muslim and with different traditions. You can
notice this for instance in the clothes they wear, the bits of Arab language you can find from
time to time, and the presence of a mosque in the village (the only mosque on stilts that we
Mosque on stilts, definitely a reason to go back during rainy season to see people go praying by boat.
During the monsoons the whole area is flooded and people have to travel to their houses by
boat, but during dry season you can have a great time cycling on the road along the river and
see the different villages and their people.
Lifestyle by the river.
Explore the various roads near the canals more close to the city as well, for a glance on the
beautiful traditional wooden houses on stilts.
We want to live here.
Besides the architecture, this is a great way to meet the locals and their way of life. They are
mainly fishermen due to the proximity to the Tonlé Sap lake, the most important source of
protein in the country’s diet.
The lake is upstream from the river, so if you want is possible to ask any local owner of a boat
to bring you there, passing of course through the fascinating Vietnamese floating villages.
Great opportunity to work on your bargaining skills!
Floating village populated by Vietnamese families.
Other option is to cross the river by ferry to go to Kampong Leang, where you can hike the
Neang Kong Rei mountains or visit some ancient temples, built before the Angkor era. But if
you are more into relaxing mode, on the water front you can also find Phsar Krom, a series of
small roads filled with shops and street food stalls, and a nice promenade to walk or chill out
with the locals.
Kitsch sculptures on the river front.
Hope we gave you enough reasons to come explore these communities and floating villages, have a look on Camboticket website for options on how to get here!