Water Festival, Cambodia

Water Festival is one of the biggest, most important spectacles in Cambodia. Every year somewhere around November, everyone can enjoy 3 days of holidays and Phnom Penh City is packed day and night with people especially from other provinces, coming for the celebrations around the Riverside.

This year, from Nov 20-22, at the Riverside, along the streets around the main park, as well as on the Diamond Island City, there are hundreds of small commercial stalls having many products displayed and sold mostly at promotion rates. All these 3 days throughout, the place will be undoubtedly overcrowded; although all the streets around the area will be limited to only pedestrians, the number of people will be so crazy that it can be really stressful going among the crowd. Other than that, it can be such a wonderful time for shopping and there’ll be big stages for concerts with a lot of star appearances and performances, in addition to the boat races during the day time and the display of fireworks and illuminated boats (or Bro Tyb in Khmer) on the river.



Every year, hundreds of boats representing Khann and Srok (districts) of provinces all over the country sign up to participate in this competition. The tournament lasts for 3 days and is usually broadcast live on more than one national TV; the champion is to be found at the end of the third day. And usually the King is among the live audience of the race.

Over the past years, the Water Festival celebrations have become bigger and bigger; more and more attractions have been designed and set up exclusively for the event. It is also a great holiday for everyone. The city dwellers may not pin down the riverside as one of the places to go to but escape to enjoy their free time outside Phnom Penh in other cities and other provinces. However, this is definitely the time for non-Phnom Penh residents to come and enjoy such colorful and flashy event in the capital.

This celebration is so big and there are so many people that every time after it’s over, the beautiful and green area around the riverside becomes so dirty with trashes and with leaves and grass turning yellow, leaving a lot of work left to be done by our sanitation workers. It does take a while for the whole thing to recover and regain its beauty, tidiness, and freshness as a great escape from the ever-busy Phnom Penh.

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