Tonle Sap view area is located in front of Phsar Krom, about 1 kilometer from the provincial town. The site includes many floating houses and fishing lots, where locals raise and catch fish. The site is popular among foreign visitors who want to learn about Cambodian fishermen and those people who live on the river. The Tonle Sap is a very large river, which at one point becomes as wide as a lake. Traveling along this river is an interesting way to reach Siam Reap from Pnomh Penh. While the slow boats take a couple of days to make the journey, it is easy to find fast boats which take only half a day.
It is preferable to arm oneself with sunscreen and sit on the top of the boat (which will be overcrowded), to get a better view, more fresh air, and improve your chances of survival should the boat capsize. In June and November the Tonle Sap River changes direction. In June, with monsoon rains swelling the Mekong, excess water is pushed into the Tonle Sap that then drains back upstream into the lake, flooding the surrounding low plains. By monsoon’s end, in November, the pressure is relieved and the Tonle Sap reverses course and returns to the direction of flow expected of it.
However, the waters of this, the largest of Southeast Asian lakes, take several more months before they begin to recede, and it is not until February that Tonle Sap Lake begins its return to normal size. The mud banks created by the flooding are extremely fertile, and local rice farmers have developed a deepwater rice that is unique to this area. The months of flooding also encourages the growth of huge fish stocks and other aquatic life, that become extremely easy to catch once the waters begin to reside. Fishing families string nets and bamboo traps across the lake’s mouth and the numerous fish can almost be plucked from the water. The Tonle Sap Lake’s level drops so fast that it catches out many of its inhabitants, and its not unlikely to see fisherman picking their catch from the trees.