Cambodia’s Water and Moon Festival, November 1-3 2009

More holidays! Next week, November 1-3, 2009 is one of the most anticipated festivals in all of Cambodia. The pirogue racing along the Tonle Sap, Phnom Penh is one event that Khmer’s look forward to. The whole carnival feeling plus thousands of tourists and locals flock to Phnom Penh to join in the festivities.

boat racing_water festival

water festival boat racing

Image credits: /Khmerization

Although there is also a smaller scale version of the festival held in Angkor Wat, but the exciting happenings are right in Phnom Penh. Yesterday, we took a stroll along the riverside and whoa! there are loads of stalls in construction, workers touching up on the pavilion that will serve as viewing stand for the boat race, more workers cleaning up the river from floating water hyacinth..

The annual Water and Moon Festival is also called the Bonn Om Toeuk in Khmer. This festival celebrates the start of the fishing season. It also marks the reversal of the current in Tonle Sap river. The most watched out for event is the boat racing, and there is fireworks, lots of fairs and mini concerts.

The Boat Race or Pirogue Racing, the highlight and worth watching. Some 300 boats all propelled by synchronized rowers. Most of the rowers are from different provinces and some from other countries. Loads of people from provinces come over to cheer on their rowing team.

The Moon festival coincides with the Water Festival and for Khmers the full moon means bountiful harvest. During this time, Khmers give offerings, light incense and say prayers to the moon.


  1. Lui

    October 30, 2009 at 9:34 am

    great timing. the water festival is really the ‘mardi gras’ of Cambodia. i’m not sure about the sched but the biggest boat race is on the last day. the riverside area is where things happen.  The ministry of tourism might have some sched published.

    it could get really really crowded there but its a fascinating insight to khmer culture..

    have a happy trip..

  2. Toe

    October 30, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Ang sarap ng madaming bakasyon! 🙂  My gosh… it’s chaos in PP during the Water Festival but it’s a lot of fun! 🙂

  3. Abaniko

    October 30, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Do you have the schedule of the festival activities? I will be in Phnom Penh on Nov. 2 and may get the chance to go around the city before proceeding back to Vietnam.

  4. Lui

    October 31, 2009 at 12:49 am

    hi ms. toe, you’re right on. grabe sobrang tao last year we went to check out the booths it was just super crowded almost hard to move around. i’ll probably pass this year and take advantage of the holidays 😀

  5. Sreisaat

    October 31, 2009 at 5:32 am

    Best to stay at home nga talaga, ano? We just got back from Lucky grocery to fill our cupboard and fridge good for 3 days.

  6. Lui

    October 31, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Z, talagang naghoarding ka ha.. sabi ng isang friend kong Pinay din, good time daw to roam other parts of the city aside from the riverside..

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