Happy November, everyone! While Western cultures celebrated Halloween last week, people all over Cambodia traveled to Phnom Penh for Bom Om Touk, also known as the Water Festival. This is a national holiday celebrated across Cambodia to commemorate the end of the rainy season (which fun fact: causes the Tonle Sap river to flow in the opposite direction!)
This was my very first time living in SE Asia, and luckily I was placed to work in Cambodia, so I knew I had to be present to witness this ginormous gathering in Phnom Penh*, which easily has a few million attendees over the course of three days! Cambodians from different provinces all travel into Phnom Penh to witness the boat races.
I decided to attend the Water Festival festivities on Saturday in Phnom Penh, and I’m glad I did because that’s one of the best days to go (the first and third days, according to what my friend told me). As you can see from the photos below, so many crowded both sides of the waterfront of the river to watch the boat races. These boats can have up to 100 rowers which is INSANE–just imagine how long these boats must be to be able to support that many men!
If you’re going to visit Cambodia in the fall, attending the Water Festival should be one of the top things to do if you want to experience an event the locals so proudly celebrate! Bear in mind that the festival dates change every year, so check before you book your tickets!!