If you decide to book a Cambodia travel package and you are reasonably flexible with your dates, do some research, or ask your Cambodia travel agent for advice, because if there is a chance that you can experience a festival in Cambodia, it will be something you will never forget. A major aspect of life in Cambodia is the harvest. Rice is important to every citizen, and throughout the year there are festivals seeking a good crop or thanking god for a great harvest. There is plenty of information available on Cambodia festivals, and the important ones are nationwide; they are an integral part of Cambodia culture and society.
The lunar calendar is held in great esteem in the country with festivals a great source of enjoyment. Life can be fairly hard for ordinary Cambodians, especially those living in rural areas and growing food for mere survival. Festivals provide a break from the hardship; they are colorful events when traditional clothes come out, there is song, dance, and general merriment.
If you are planning a Cambodia holiday, here are five festivals that take place each year. A Cambodia family vacation which includes one of them will be truly memorable.
• Khmer New Year is definitely nationwide. It lasts for three days starting around 13th or 14th of April. It often marks the end of the harvest so hopefully there is something extra to celebrate. Even those living in cities will return to their villages so don’t expect Phnom Penh to be busy at that time. Many businesses will be closed but tourist facilities are still open though prices might go up.
• Pchum Ben falls any time from the end of September. It lasts 15 days but just the final three are public holidays. It is a time when Cambodians believe that the spirits of their ancestors return to Earth.
• Bamboal Krobei is the last day of Pchum Ben and the place to be then is a small village fairly close to Phnom Penh when there is horse racing and water buffalo contests as well. The animals are highly decorated with the idea behind it a way to entertain their ancestors. There are prayers before the racing starts and wrestling after it finishes.
• The Water Festival is a time when people head from their villages to cities like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap to watch the colourful boat races. It is held at the end of the rainy season, sometime in November depending on the lunar calendar.
• Royal Ploughing Ceremony is the start of the rice growing season. The rituals are led by the King with oxen pulling ploughs before being allowed to eat from a variety of food. What they go for is seen as a sign of what will be the best harvest; grain, beans or rice obviously but if they go for grass that is not a good sign. Worse still if they head for water; that suggests there will be floods.