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“Fraud, Corruption, Disrespectful, Scam”
Review of Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: At 4,000 square miles, this is the largest lake in Southeast Asia.
Reviewed June 12, 2015

It's a robbery scam, where they steal your money to not do what you paid for and actually tried to steal you even more when you are in the middle of the lake... The guide was young and very disrespectful and rude, almost demanding me to pay! - A psychological robbery attempt. - Thankfully I was with my girlfriend and had to be concerned about her, if I was with friends I'm not sure how it would end... I tried to ask my money back afterwards and of course they said no... I tried to call the police that was just by the entrance but of course he was useless as part of the scam. Lastly, it's absurdly expensive such as US$20 per person... They made $15 as I didn't want to go at all.... Just went as I believed in our tuk tuk driver who looks more to be an innocent soul than part of the corruption. Very sad to be part of it and see that the taking advantage mood for more money is in all parts and geographies of society.... Let's change it! Please share so no one goes there anymore!

Date of experience: June 2015
9  Thank 774felipem
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 9, 2015

Enjoyed the trip out to the lake and the view of the floating villages. However, for what it is this can turn into an expensive scam. Luckily we had a vary nice tuk tuk driver who warned us of the scams and what to steer clear of. Also, after paying for the boat $30 (May 2015) for the two of us, which we understand is the real price, the boatman told us once we had arrived in the vicinity of the villages we would have to transfer to a smaller boat and pay $20 each go closer to the village, which we politely declined along with other request to pay for school books and food. I would agree with some of the other reviews that this trip is turning into a real scam. We spoke to a few people and many of them had paid substantially more than we had. It's a pity because all this is going to do is drive people away from visiting.

Date of experience: May 2015
7  Thank JVPG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 8, 2015

Wow, how I wish I had read these reviews before going on this tour. I could rant on for pages, but the previous reviews say it all. Complete utter scam and tourist money extractor.

Sometimes when one visits a great attraction there are the inevitable hard sells (gem sale stops etc), which are annoying niggles in an overall good experience, but this tour offers nothing good at all, just scam. You are driven in a boat to the market to extract your money, then you are driven back to the harbour, with the driver in a mood if you didn't crack and cough up.

The driver was so unprofessional it is unreal. He was all smiles and jokes at first, until we got closer to lake and the stories about orphans and starving children emerged. Like anyone we were touched at first and listened keenly as he told us about them. He told us we will go and buy food for them in the market. Alarm bells tinkled a little bit (there was no question of would you like to buy food, just we are going...), nerverthless our faith hadn't been shattered at that point, and so we nodded along as we docked to the rice storehouse. The owner rocked up, and told us more stories and how we was glad we'd decided to buy the kids food. The rice is $50 a bag he said. 'Huh!?'. Wow, we'd already payed $30 each to get here, had so far been shown nothing at all, and now we were being given the guilt laden hard sell for $50 of rice. These situations are so awkward with the driver, the guide, the owner all staring over you laying of heaps and heaps of guilt. It wouldn't surprise me if they 'sell' the same bag over and over or just split the money. We gave the guy the few dollars of KHR we wanted to get rid of, and got back in the boat. I'm all for charity through the right channels, but this was unscrupulous.

The mood of the driver had instantly changed, no more Mr Chit-chat and jokes, he barely spoke to us now. We stopped by another sales pitch, which was a restaurant with a 1m^2 of pond with a few catfish and another with crocs. They tried to sell us some junk, we got back in the boat, and that was it, tour over! back to the harbour in silence we go. He told us if we wanted to actually go around the village it would be another $20 each for a smaller boat. Yeah, right.

The size of the lake is impressive, but that is about it, there is no romance here. Maybe one of the far away villages, but not the one closest to Siem Reap.

Worst of all, after him sitting in a mood for the rest of the trip, the guide asked us if we had enjoyed the trip and wanted to tip the driver. We just walked out of the boat to land, but he chased us asking "do we not want to tip the driver? he's the driver!?". Suffice to say, we did not.

Abysmal.

Date of experience: June 2015
10  Thank Azrael84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 6, 2015

We travelled on the Tonle Sap lake to visit a floating village. The lake itself was very low as there hasn't been any rain and unfortunately it was very dirty, the rubbish that the locals leave around is shameful.

Date of experience: May 2015
1  Thank Trish C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 6, 2015 via mobile

In advance I apologise for going on, but I do not want anyone else to fall for this utter scam....

My girlfriend and I were informed by our very friendly Tuk Tuk driver that drove us back from the Cambodia circus ( a must see) that the Tonle Sap lake was 13km away and that it is a must see experience. After hearing from several information sources in the city of 'things to see' we decided to take him up on the offer and he drove us there the next day.
When we arrived we were surrounded by Bus loads of Asian tourists who were all ushered into the ticket office/cafe. Our Tuk Tuk driver never mentioned the experience was $25 each as he had made it sound as if it was a peaceful floating 'market' where you can see the real Cambodia. We agreed to pay as we thought that it must be good if it costs that much. It really was not. After a 30min boat ride up a merky brown canal, with nothing to see but diggers, construction works and the odd fisherman, we came to the vast open lake that the boat struggled to move through (due to it being dry season) meaning several times the driver had to get out and push.

The size of the lake was amazing, however, shortly after arriving the driver began to tell us more after the local school, where, apparently, a large percentage of the children were orphans due to loosing their parents in the wet season while fishing, and that they were starving and that infact two children had died recently due to starvation. After passing the school, where he had told us this very sad story, he proceeded to say that we could buy food for them. After hearing such a story, any human being would consider doing this, and so we agreed and he drove us to the 'market', where we docked.

As soon as we got off the boat we were approached by the owner of this so called market which was more of a store room, who quickly blurted out information about the food he has there and how it could help the children. It was as if he had rehearsed the information and didn't seem to really care how much the food could help. The only information we picked up was that it would cost $50 for a large sbag of rice! We had spent $50 already that day on just the boat ride and so asked about the smaller bags and we were told they were still $30! In the end he allowed us to buy a pack of 50 noodle boxes which cost $20 as we felt guilty not buying anything. The man seemed very displeased and didn't show any signs of gratitude.
We then were taken back to our boat and driven to the school.

Now, I'm 6ft 6, and throughout my travels in Asia plenty of locals have been interested and taken photos, but the children in the classroom we were led into took no interest in myself or my girlfriend or the fact we had brought them food (baring in mind they are apparently starving), and only did so when our boat driver asked if we wanted a picture. The children immediately surrounded us and posed for the picture before quickly returning to their activities. It seemed all so set up and rehearsed. We didn't stay long as the children were not interested in us at all.

After the school our driver drove us to a floating shop/restaurant where crocodiles and snakes were kept in rather poor conditions. It would be an amazing view to see the sunrise or sunset over the lake from the roof of this floating shop, but apart from that there was nothing there to do but view the shop. As we got back onto the boat the driver insisted we return. We were expecting to see a thriving market at some point, but we were then informed if we wanted to see the floating village up close we would have to hire another smaller boat that would cost even more money. We refused and returned back to the tourist centre where all of this had started.
Before we disembarked our boat, our driver rudely confronted us saying 'you should tip us really yes?'. To his disappointed we said sorry we have spent all of our money already, and got off the boat. As we walked up the ramp to the building, we were then faced with several young children, one holding a baby, who began to beg. Usually I sympathise for young beggars, however It seemed as if they were linked to the business as one of the girls was trying to sell a plate with a picture of myself and my partner that we had not requested. We refused and tried to move on but the young girls continued to pester us and slowed us down. We didn't want to be rude, but they were constantly getting in our way while trying to exit the building.

The trip was an utter disappointed and the biggest scam I have ever come across on my travels. I would not recommend this to anyone, MAYBE the views would be better in the wet season, when the water seems clearer, however it was still not worth the money, we may have not even done it if it was free. Apart from this awful experience Siem reap is a gem, and a place of wonder.

Date of experience: June 2015
13  Thank Hutchboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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