Cambodia’s water festival tradition flourishes

  • News by Country

  • What kind of News

Cambodia’s water festival tradition flourishes

One of Cambodia’s most colourful and fun celebrations, the Bon Om Touk water festival involves dragon boat racing, firework displays and evening concerts.

Held in late October or early November depending on the lunar calendar, it marks the end of the monsoon season and the reversal of the Tonle Sap river’s current, a natural phenomenon that is unique in the world.

The festival has been held since the 12th century during the era of the Khmer Empire. It is celebrated on the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kadeuk and is believed to bring good luck and an abundant coming harvest.

This year’s event will take place from November 26 to 28 on Sisowath Quay, opposite the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The entire area will be closed to traffic to accommodate revellers who flock to the capital from the provinces.

The boat races are the main attraction; each province enters a team and the traditional wooden boats are elaborately decorated for this special occasion.

The lawns in front of the Royal Palace provide a great place for families to enjoy picnics and take in the celebratory atmosphere. It is traditional for people to place flowers, candles and incense in the rivers as offerings to the moon and the water deities and this adds to the spectacle.

Asian Trails plus: Contact us to reserve your place in the VIP stand – the best place to watch all the action!

Our water festival recommendations:

Where to sleep?

Amanjaya Pancam Suites Hotel located on Sisowath Quay. Some rooms overlook the river – the perfect place to watch the races and the fireworks! This property opened its doors in November 2002 and it is one of Phnom Penh’s first boutique hotels. Completely renovated in 2020, the hotel is located on the capital’s lively waterfront in the heart of the tourist district, just minutes from the city’s main landmarks and abundant restaurants serving global cuisines.

Where to eat?

Sombok, located on Sisowath Quay. This is a gourmet restaurant serving authentic Cambodian food using fresh, local ingredients. The dishes are elegantly laid out and competitively priced.

Where to watch the sunset?

Sora Skybar, on the 37th floor of Vattanac Tower. The view of the capital and the Mekong River is breathtaking and the cocktails are varied and delicious. This is a popular meeting place for young professionals post-work. Once a month, a mixologist is invited to create his cocktails and the city’s best DJs spin the tunes. For whisky lovers, Sora has a private room stocked with the world’s finest brands.

Where to dance?

Bassac Lane is a small alley in the heart of the city with a number of bars and nightclubs offering multiple musical styles – from Latin, to electro, to hip hop, tunes are spun for all tastes!

For more information or to reserve your place in the festival, contact our Cambodia team.

Start typing and press Enter to search