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  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

Travel Guide
 
Cambodia Cultures & Festivals

Cambodian holidays are inextricably intertwined with Theravada Buddhist ritual. The holidays that really count are Buddhist in origin - not even the Khmer Rouge could eradicate the practice of holidays like Pchum Ben. Even the increasing presence of modern Western culture has done little to change the way the Cambodians celebrate the ebb and flow of life. Cambodian holiday celebrations are, and will always be, all about religion, tradition, and occasionally the Khmer's irrepressible sense of fun.

International New Year’s Day (Saturday, 1 January 2011)
The celebration of New Year’s Eve has become more and more popular in Cambodia, and although not an official holiday, many offices are closed. You will find a range of special events and gala dinners for Christmas and New Year's Eve in various hotels and restaurants in Siem Reap and in popular Phnom Penh hotels and restaurants as well as seaside celebrations in some of Sihanoukville’s top hotels. The period around Christmas and New Year is also the absolute peak season in Siem Reap and Cambodia, so make sure you reserve your accommodation early as many of the most popular places tend to be booked out early. Places to Visit: Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanouk Ville

Victory Day over the Genocidal Regime (Friday, 7th January 2011)
This national holiday commemorates when the Vietnamese-backed troops took control of the capital from the Khmer Rouge in 1979. It marks the end of the Khmer Rouge’s bloody regime and the darkest time in Cambodian history.
Cambodia celebrates Victory Day with cultural shows and exhibitions. A gathering is held in Phnom Penh to mark the momentous event of the fall of the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge). Thousands of people participate in this yearly event to remember those who perished in the genocide. Places to Visit: Phnom Penh

Meaka Bochea Day (Wednesday, 19th January 2011)
An important Buddhist holy day, celebrated in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos on the full moon day of the third lunar month in Buddhist Calendar. Is the day for the veneration of Buddha and his teachings? During the holiday, especially at sunset, the faithful gather in local temples and participate in traditional religious ceremonies. Processions called ‘Wian Tian’ also happen on this day. Buddhist monks call for the observance of ‘Five Precepts’, a Buddhist principle which includes meditation in the temple being at peace with nature by clearing one’s mind of earthly worries. Places to Visit: across the country


Chinese New Year (Thursday, 3 February 2011)
Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year or Vietnamese New Year, also known as Tet, is widely celebrated in Siem Reap and Cambodia. People visit their families, friends and relatives and have offerings such as fruits and special food like 'Samlor Chab Chhay', which is a special kind of soup for this event, grilled pork and grilled duck.

Later, people often visit their local pagodas, pray and pay respect to their grandparents, parents or any deceased relatives. Clothes, cars, gold, money (US$ in particular) made of paper are burnt and offered to the spirits. On this day, it is very

common that people stay at home for the whole day and spend time with their families. Places to Visit: across Siem Reap and Cambodia

Cambodian Khmer New Year “Chaul Chnam Thmey” (Thursday-Saturday, 14-16 April 2011)
This is most important of all the Cambodian holidays during Khmer New Year most Cambodian people return to their home province to be with their family. The holiday lasts for three days beginning on New Year’s Day. This time of the year is at the end of the harvesting season. The farmers enjoy the fruits of their harvest and relax before the rainy season begins.

Celebrated at the same time as the Thai New Year, this festival marks the turn of the year based on the ancient Khmer calendar. Cambodians often decorate their homes with bright lights and hanging stars to please the Heaven God and bring good luck.

Many people can be seen on the streets armed with small bags of water or water pistols to bless people passing by. Apart from performing all rituals and customs to welcome the New Year, it's time to have some fun. Some physical activities become part of New Year celebrations. Popular games are played at the time of New Year in Cambodia including Tres, Chol Chhoung, Chab Kon Kleng, Bos Angkunh, Leak Kanseng, and Bay Khom. Places to Visit: Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and across the country


Visakah Bochea (Sunday, 17 April 2011)
Visakha Bochea is a religious festival celebrating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha. Cambodians march in procession towards a pagoda where the monks are waiting to exchange their old saphron robes for new ones.
Places to Visit: across the country

Royal Ploughing Ceremony (Monday, 2 May 2011)
Known in Cambodia as ‘Pithi Chrat Preah Neangkol’, this public holiday corresponds to the start of the planting season. Royal astrologers will predict the coming season’s weather. Cambodia has a deep connection with the Earth and farming. There is a deep astrological belief that the Ox has an instrumental role in determining the fate of the agricultural harvest each year. Every year, in May, a cultural ceremony takes place in the large park next to the Royal Palace and in front of the National Museum in Phnom Penh and outside the ancient Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor in Siem Reap. The King plays a key role in driving the Ox and depicting real ploughing activities in the process of growing rice. The Ox is given a selection of foods and beverages to consume and the royal soothsayers interpret what the Ox has eaten. For this festival both men and women can be seen wearing brightly colored traditional Khmer costume.
Places to Visit: Phnom Penh only

Bonn Phchum Ben (Thursday-Saturday, 7-9 October 2010: Monday-Wednesday, 26-28 September 2011)
Festival of the Ancestors. Buddhist tradition decrees that Cambodians should visit many pagodas over two weeks. Food, flowers, rice and gifts are given to the monks to convey to the afterlife so the dead do not haunt the living. This is a particularly poignant celebration given Cambodia’s recent history. This is the most culturally and religiously significant event of the year and is celebrated in September. This festival of souls concentrates on blessing the souls of ancestors, relatives, and friends who have passed away. All Buddhist temples, especially Wat Phnom, are the focal points for this festival and most Cambodians visit the temples to make traditional offerings and pray.
Places to Visit: across the country

Cambodia Independence Day (Thursday, 9 November 2010; Friday, 9 November 2011)

Marks anniversary of independence from France. King Sihamoni visits Independence Monument in Phnom Penh. This ceremony is held in the morning at the independence monument, (junction of Norodom and Sihanouk Boulevards). The ceremony is held in celebration of Cambodia gaining independence from France in 1953 and is often attended by the king. In the evening there is a fireworks display, held by the riverside, at the front of the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh. Places to Visit: Royal Palace, Phnom Penh

Water Festival/Bon Om Thook (Saturday-Monday, 20-22 November 2010; Thursday-Saturday, 10-12 November 2011)
The water festival, (Bon Om Touk), is a highly regarded festival in Cambodia and marks an incredible phenomenon, the reversing of the flow of the Tonle Sap River. During the monsoon season, the water levels of the lower Mekong become so high that the water is forced to flow back up the river into Tonle Sap Lake. The lake swells, reaching ten times its original size. The festival is also an indicator, for local Cambodian people, that it is time to start the fishing season, a great additional source of income. Approximately 10% of Cambodia’s population attend the event each year and join in with the games and festivities, watch the fireworks and attend the spectacular boat race. The best place to join in the festivities has to be the capital Phnom Penh, but the festival is also celebrated, on a smaller scale, in Siem Reap.
Places to Visit: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap

International Half Marathon (Sunday, 5 December 2010)
This International Half Marathon is held at Angkor Wat and attracts competitors from all over the world. Thousands of people come to see this international event held in the spectacular setting that is Angkor. It is an international charity event that has been running since 1996 for the benefit of landmine victims and other pressing issues in Cambodian development. Not only does it support good causes, but it is an awesome event so it might be a good idea to make some space in your diary early.