Tonle Sap, or " Great Lake" so called, refers to the vast lake that its shores can not be seen. This is one of the best eco tourist attractions in Siem Reap, Besides visiting the temples in Siem Reap, You take some time to discover Tonle Sap with immense skies full of water, beautiful homes and lush green forests.
Maximum lenth of the lake: 250Km
Maximum width: 100Km
Surface area: 2,700 Km2
Average depth: 1m, maximum depth: 10m
Tonle Sap means "large freshwater rivers", is a system that combines large lakes and rivers located in Siem Reap province, close to the city center, just only 25km Siem Reap, a 30-minute drive away.
Great Lake, has changed shape in two seasons (dry and rainy seasons). In the dry season from November to March , the lake is quite narrow and shallow, the average depth is only 1 m and the cover of the area is only about 2.700km2. When the rainy season comes from May to October, the lake becomes a huge area filled with water depth of about 9 meters and an area of about 16.000km2, creating more favorable conditions for fish reproduction and development.
The Lake is also known as the largest source of freshwater Mekong River fish, which provides freshwater fish to 3 million people living on the Lake, and 75% of freshwater fish to the people of Cambodia. Tonle Sap is not only important for Cambodia , but also it provides water during the dry season in Vietnam and it creates the flow reversal agaist the flood for Mekong Delta in the rainy season if the water flow is too strong.
In 1997, the Great Lake area was listed as a UNESCO world biosphere reserve.
The Lake is home to many Vietnamese communities and Chame people living on the floating house. The inhabitants here are still hard, very poor. The people live mainly on fishing, selling things on the boats, and also on tourism
The residents at the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake live peaceful, have lovely homes, floating schools, churches, pagodas. All those are very unique to attract tourists. Some famous floating villages such as Chong Khneas, Kampong Phluk, Kampong Khleang, Prek Toal.
Today, the Great Lake of Cambodia is not only a source of tremendous aquatic resources for the people of Cambodia but also local governments are investing to develop various types of tourist attractions here like sightseeing by boats, visiting the peaceful lovely floating village, exploring the sanctuary of Prek Toal rare bird, building more homestay.