Floating Beggars in Cambodia

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The water was cloudy and badly polluted. Still there were beggars who kept trailing the tourist throughout the trip in their small boats. The tourist called them the ‘floating beggars’.

Thousands of tourists visiting Cambodia's famous floating village have unwittingly spawned a new problem - floating beggars, local media reported. Chong Kneas village has become a popular side trip from the tourist town of Siem Reap, 300 kilometres north of the capital, and authorities are desperate to stem the flow of intrepid beggars that have accompanied the boom, Koh Santepheap daily newspaper said.

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The newspaper reported the panhandlers come by outboard, row boat and even propel themselves in plastic buckets and bathtubs to crowd cruise boats and solicit tourist cash, and it is beginning to damage the tourist industry.

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Small children can be seen begging

"Among around 50 beggar boats, 24 have outboard motors, 28 are row boats and seven are plastic buckets, but these numbers can vary depending on the number of tourists," the paper said. Chong Kneas is home to around 1,000 floating homes, restaurants, schools, boutique farms and even a Catholic church and is part of many organized tours for travelers tired of touring temples.

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The floating village

The inhabitants were formerly mainly fishermen, but the lure of cash has converted more and more to the lucrative begging industry. Authorities say they do not have the facilities to arrest and detain the scores of beggars. Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the problem had become so severe that the issue would be discussed at a regional meeting on Siem Reap
tourism issues in a fortnight. "Chong Kneas is a very valuable tourist attraction, so we have to be ready to provide quality, service, sanitation and security and order," he said.


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