A Cambodian investor is mulling out the idea to build a floating market in Kandal similar to the one existing in Thailand. A good idea to promote a new destination but where is however authenticity?
Floating villages have been in existence for centuries in Cambodia on the Tonle Sap Lake, an affluent of the Mekong River. It has been a long tradition around Siem Reap with three floating villages welcoming already tourists. However, they do not have floating market.
But this does not seem to deter Srey Chanthorn, CEO of SkyLand, to pursue the idea of creating a floating market in Cambodia. Talking to the Phnom Penh Post, he declared that the ” floating market will be based on ancient Khmer traditional design that follows the norm of the Longvek era,” referring to the city that became the capital of ancient Cambodia after the sacking of Angkor by Siam military in 1431.
The local entrepreneur is now seeking government support to realise his vision for the country’s first custom-built floating market and entertainment complex. The floating market would be based along the Mekong River in Kandal Province.
It is part of a large masterplan which foresees the development in the province of a new city covering 1,000 hectares in Ksach Kandal District. The project foresees residential areas, industrial zones as well as tourist facilities with a resort, horse riding stud farm and a circuit for motorcycles and cars. The floating market would cover 50 hectares.
According to SkyLand CEO, the future floating market would not only be a facility for travellers but also act as a proper shopping precinct for locals. In addition to souvenirs and traditional handicrafts popular with tourists, vendors would also sell food, vegetables and household goods. The project’s site would be vast enough to accommodate up to 20,000 visitors.
Also he stressed to the Phnom Penh Post that the new market would not be designed to emulate the floating markets of central Thailand that are popular with package tours. The floating market would be based on historic Khmer examples, although SkyLand does not hide to inspire itself from Thai existing floating markets which have been real tourist attractions for a long time.
How far the market will be able to attract foreign travellers in a totally created artificial environment? This is definitely to be seen but it will also all depends of the type of travellers the future market is looking at. Probably, a more mature travel market looking for authenticity might not be that interested. But for groups looking for a “colourful” experience with less interest for an truly genuine experience, the market might become a good excursion from Phnom Penh. At least, it would help to put Kandal on the tourism map.