Tonle Sap - an Impressive Cambodian Natural Lake

Tonle Sap Lake (Great Lake) in Cambodia is a combining system of lakes and rivers which have enormous significance for Cambodia. It is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and recognized by UNESCO as The World Biosphere Reserve in 1997.

Location: Tonle Sap Lake is far from Siem Reap about 25 kilometers and it will takes you 30 minutes by bus. When visiting Cambodia, you should not miss this destination.
Characteristic: Great Lake has 2 different seasons of the year, dry season and flood season.

Dry season is from November to May, during this time, Tonle Sap Lake is rather narrow and shallow, only about 1 meter deep with 10,000 km² area. In the rainy season, from June, instead of water is withdrawn from Tonle Sap River to Me Kong River, it flows upstream into Tonle Sap Lake making the water level rise and increase the area up to 16,000 km². With that water volume, the lake may reach 9 meters deep flooding fields and trees in the area. Submerged area turns into an ideal breeding ground for many species of freshwater fish. Arriving October, Great Lake water is drawn back from Tonle Sap River out to Mekong.
Chong Kneas Village in the flooding season 
Chong Kneas Village in Great Lake
Because of special terrain with hydrological system of twice flow-changing each year, Tonle Sap is one of the freshwater lakes which have diverse and abundant ecosystems. Alluvia from downstream enrich Tonle Sap Lake with large fish output dramatically all over the world. Fishery on the lake sustains life of 3 million people and provides 75% of freshwater fish production and 60% of protein for Cambodian.
Children in Kompong Khleang Village
Children in Kompong Khleang Village
There are reports that because of the large amount of alluvia flowing into the lake, Tonle Sap are filling up gradually. However, some other studies said that the lake has only received about 0.1 to 0.16 mm / year for more than 5,000 years recently so the risk of being filled is not correct. Alluvia volume is not only harmless but also helpful to keep the environment of Tonle Sap Lake rotatory.

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Also thanks to regulating of Tonle Sap Lake, Mekong Basin reduces flooding in rainy season and opposite, in dry season about 50% of river water in Mekong River Delta is compensated by Tonle Sap Lake. Coming to Great Lake, any visitor will be impressed by the immense space of the river especially in flood season, when the lake water rises seemingly invisible shore. If you visit Tonle Sap Lake in high water season, floating houses with triangular iron roofs appear scattered throughout the lake area that would be sure to make you excited.
Tonle Sap just is a rural floating area where almost people depends on the fishing
For one time experiencing in Golden Temple country, missing Great Lake is meant that you've wasted 1/3 your trip. Tonle Sap Lake is similar to fish-granary of the Mekong region. Unless the immensity of water, delicious sweet shrimp, fish markets, the way of living and rising on wherry of the Cham, the Vietnam here are unforgettable culture beauty.


Ideal time to visit Tonle Sap

From November to May, during the dry season in Cambodia, Tonlé Sap flows into the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. However, when heavy rains started in June, Tonlé Sap Lake swirled and immense, with 5 times more water than the dry season.

The best time to visit the lake is when the water level is high and the floating villages are flooded, then you will be able to go to the mangrove forests and reserve wildlife. You should visit the bird sanctuary from December to April.

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