The Cambodian Waterfestival

  • Bon Oum Touk

    The Cambodian Waterfestival

In November, Cambodia has  one of the biggest celebrations of the year with Bon Om Touk, also known as the Cambodian Water Festival.

The water festivals marks the end of the rainy season and around this time the Tonle Sap river will overflow, as will the Tonle Sap lake providing a lot of needed protein (fish) for the local people. It has been celebrated since the 13th century and signifies a celebration of water as an invaluable, life-giving resource and the colorful boat races a vestige of the former military might of Angkor. Dating back to Angkorian times, today's Water Festival is a throwback to times past. Because of the history behind this festival it is deeply rooted in the Khmer culture. This celebration of fertility is now a spectacular sight to see with thousands of people coming from the countryside to the big city to see the boat-races.


Every community, government organization or charity enters in the race. So you can see a race between police officers and nurses but also between a small village community and a feminist group.

In the night the festival turns more spiritual and people try to make their wishes come true. By buying little boats with candles in them the Khmer hope their wishes will be granted as their little boats will go down river to the lake. And you can even help luck a bit by buying a bigger boat ór paying some of the local kids to swim your boat downstream a little bit so your wish will have a headstart.