The famous floating village of Chong Kneas has become somewhat of a circus in recent years. Tour groups have taken over and there are countless scams to separate tourists from their money. In-the-know travellers opt for harder-to-reach but more memorable spots such as Kompong Khleang or Prek Toal.
For all its flaws, Chong Kneas is very scenic in the warm light of late afternoon and can be combined with a sunset from the nearby hilltop temple of Phnom Krom.
Avoid the crowds by asking your boat driver to take you down some back channels. Boat prices are fixed at US$20 per person, plus a US$3 entrance fee (although in practice it may be possible to pay just US$20 for the boat shared between several people). Your boat driver will invariably try and take you to an overpriced floating restaurant and souvenir shop, but there is no obligation to buy anything.
One of the best ways to visit the floating village of Chong Kneas is to hook up with the Tara Boat, which offers all-inclusive trips with a meal aboard its converted cargo boat. Prices include transfers, entry fees, local boats, a tour guide and a two-course meal.
Visitors to Chong Kneas should stop at the Gecko Centre, an informative exhibition that is located en route to the floating village and helps to unlock the secrets of the Tonlé Sap. It has displays on flora and fauna of the area, as well as information on communities living around the lake.
To get to Chong Kneas from Siem Reap costs US$3 by moto each way (more if the driver waits), or US$15 or so by taxi. The trip takes 20 minutes. Alternatively rent a bicycle in town and just pedal out here, as it is a leisurely 11km through pretty villages and rice fields.
Visitors arriving by boat from Phnom Penh or Battambang get a sneak preview, as the floating village is near Phnom Krom, where the boat docks.