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Bon Om Touk, Cambodian water festival

In November, Cambodia erupts into one of the biggest celebrations of the year with Bon Om Touk, known as the Cambodian Water Festival. It has been celebrated since as early as the 13th century, marks the end of Cambodia’s rainy season. This annual festival happens on the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kadeuk, the full moon is considered to bring good luck that can lead to an abundant harvest. Bon Om Touk is one of the most important celebrations for the Cambodian people, it’s worth to take flight to Cambodia and attend it to found an experience unlike any other.

Where does it take place?

Bon Om Touk is celebrated throughout Cambodia, though the size of the celebrations varies depending on location. In Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, for instance, the festival is commemorated with boat races. In smaller communities, celebrations include special feasts, performances, dances and parties, and there are songs centred on Bon Om Touk that are commonly performed during the event. Stay late into the night, and you can see some impressive fireworks displays.

Who celebrates?

Anyone and everyone. Bon Om Touk is a non-religious celebration. Several events such as the boat races, which are said to celebrate a Khmer military victory in the 12th century, have cultural and historical precedent that make you learn more about this country’s rich heritage.

What should you wear?

Cambodia is hot year round, so depend on daytime temperatures in the low-to mid-30 degrees Celsius. Nights during the late part of the year can be a bit cooler, averaging around 22 degrees Celsius. And while Bon Om Touk is not a religious festival, you may wish to visit a temple (or several) during your visit; for this, you will need to pack conservative dress that covers your knees and shoulders, and women may need a shawl or scarf.

When should you go?

Bon Om Touk only takes place once a year, in October or early November, and the exact date varies. In 2018, the festival takes place from November 22-24.

Ready to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Bon Om Touk? Check out Cambodian Water Festival trip here.

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