Phnom Penh this Water Festival

Photo Courtesy by Kem Gunawadh.

Photo Courtesy by Kem Gunawadh.

The traditional Water Festival is back this November with many expectations and a lot optimism. Actually the real translation of “Bon Om Tuk” in English must be “Festival of the Canoas”. After three years of absence, the government announced its celebration this monsoon season November 5, 6 and 7. The last one was in 2010 that ended with an unforgettable tragedy that cost the life of 347 persons, mostly young women, and several were injured in a stampeded on a bridge to Diamond Island (Koh Pich). The next year the passing away of King Norodom Sihanouk would prevent its realization and 2013 was also suspended due to flooding and political conflicts. 

Official announced also that there will be a more strict security scheme around the millenarian festivities that consist in regattas in front to the Royal Palace, at the waters of the Bassac River. Every Cambodian province is represented in colorful canoas led by a big group of young people, but also some ministries, the Senate, the Royal Palace and some pagodas participate with their own boats. As previous festivals, it is expected a number of 2 million persons entering the capital.

If you are going to participate in the Water Festival this year, please follow these recommendations:

  • Avoid agglomerations where you cannot see evident routes of evacuation.
  • You should reserve a hotel several days before the festivities. Looking for hotels or guest houses during the event would be mostly impossible.
  • Please be aware of thieves. Don’t bring with you valuable things if you walk through the crowds. If you bring money, credit cards, photographic cameras, telephones, make sure they will go with you in a safe place.
  • Make a photocopy or your passport and its visa and let the original documents in your place of residence.
  • Don’t take money from ATM in any place. Prefer malls or your own hotel.
  • Don’t bring your car to the capital. Many roads will be closed and there will be several traffic disruptions.
  • Bring drinking water with you.
  • Bring with you the number phone of your embassy or people who can assist you in any emergency.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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