Siem Reap Travel Guides

January

New Year’s Day: although 1 January still plays second fiddle to the Buddhist New Year, the number of foreign visitors to Siem Reap means it has increased in popularity. There are always plenty of good bars to visit to ring in the New Year the night beforehand.

Victory Day over Genocide: commemorates one of the most important days in Cambodia’s recent history when on 7 January 1979 the Khmer Rouge were overthrown by the invading Vietnamese Army. This is a good day to visit the Siem Reap Killing Fields and perhaps even Pol Pot’s house.

February

Chinese New Year: we may not be in China, but Siem Reap like Phnom Penh has a fairly sizeable Chinese population, meaning this event is followed with some enthusiasm. Expect to see lots of Chinese characters around the city on red posters and abundant traditional Chinese hanging lanterns.

Meak Bochea Day: is a fairly low-key Buddhist festival that falls on the full moon day in the month, usually at the end of February. The temples on this day will be busy with sermons among the many gathered monks in their orange robes.

April

Chaul Chnam: the Buddhist New Year, this holiday spanning three days is the most significant in the Khmer calendar and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The date changes according to the Buddhist lunar calendar but it always falls sometime in the middle of April and is marked by the throwing of water, music, processions and partying.

Silk Festival: usually held in the New Year, this festival transforms the Royal Independence Gardens into an expanse of colourful silks produced within the vicinity of Siem Reap.

September

Spirit Festival: coming at the end of September, P’chum Ben as it is known in Khmer, makes for a good excuse to head down to Tonlé Sap lake where locals make offerings to lost loved ones and friends at the water’s edge. It’s a solemn but fascinating event.

October

Water festival: Although bigger in the capital, the Water Festival is still major news in Siem Reap as it lies close to the source of the Tonlé Sap river – the lake of the same name. The event marks when the river reverses its flow back to the sea and is marked with fireworks. It is sometimes held later in November so check the exact date.

King Sihanouk’s Birthday: expect more to be happening in Phnom Penh than in Siem Reap but still the road between the Royal Residence and the Royal Independence Gardens always have events going on during the day, which falls on 31 October.

November

Angkor Photo Festival: partly sponsored by the Siem Reap Foreign Correspondents Club, this event sees piles of Angkor Wat photos on display along with numerous other images from local photographers. The event usually begins at the end of November and lasts a week

December

Angkor Half Marathon: when the temperature and humidity drops in Siem Reap, it’s time for a run around the city that also takes in many of the temples among the Angkor Wat complex. It’s not too serious and serves as an excellent way to raise money for various disadvantaged groups in the country, including landmine victims.