Surrounded by unspoilt forest, the clear turquoise waters of Yeak Laom lake, 800m across and up to 50m deep, are warm and inviting. There are wooden platforms for bathing, and the 3km track around the lake perimeter makes for a tranquil little hike. The setting is mesmerizing: stands of bamboo rim the lake, lush ferns sprout from fallen trees, the reflections of clouds skim across the lake’s surface, and in the late afternoon an ethereal mist can be seen rising off the water. Watch out for your stuff though – there have been thefts from bags left on the bank while visitors are swimming.
The area is regarded as sacred by the Tampoun, who manage it for the benefit of their community. Chunchiet culture is showcased at the small and rather ramshackle Cultural and Environment Centre (300 riel), around 300m anticlockwise round the lake from the entrance steps, with a few dusty displays of chunchiet artefacts. The small craft stall next door sells locally produced textiles, the money from sales going directly to the community.