Bonn Om Touk - Water Festival

Detail of design on Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor dragon boat.

Location: Siem Reap River
Date: 20 Nov. - 23 Nov 2010

One of the most popular festivals and celebrations in Cambodia is undoubtedly the Water Festival which is also called Bonn Om Touk in Khmer. It is celebrated on the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kadeuk, which usually falls in the end of October or November, and the Cambodian Water Festival 2010 will be celebrated between 20 and 22 November.

The Water Festival in Cambodia coincides with the end of the rainy season and reverses flow of the Tonle Sap River which is a unique phenomenon where the water pressure of the Mekong River causes the river to change its direction. The Water Festival also marks the start of the Cambodian fishing season and originates back to the reign of King Jayavarman whose navy celebrated in order to keep the god of the river happy to supply a plentiful crop of rice and many fish.

Even though the Water Festival in Phnom Penh by no doubt is bigger, there are many celebrations, boat races and fireworks in Siem Reap too. Cultural displays and traditional boat races make up a fantastic weekend of celebration and fun not to be missed!!

The boat races involve whole communities, and villagers from near and afar bring their boats painted brightly, with large eyes on the prows as a precaution to ward off evil spirits. The boats, often 60 oarsmen strong, compete throughout the festival and it's the finale on the last day that is especially worth seeing as the teams frantically paddle and chant their way to first place position.


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