Cambodia Public Holidays: National Events Highlights

Cambodia may be one of the world's happiest countries, with more than twenty official holidays annually. The highlights of Cambodian national events will be contained in this article. Let’s go through the Cambodian public holidays listed below with Cambodia Immigration Services.

1. Official public holidays in Cambodia 2023

Cambodia has a multitude of public holidays, at least twenty of which are honored each year. Other holidays, such as Chinese New Year, are widely observed without being formally recognized.

List of public holidays in Cambodia 2023

  1. New Year's Day - Sunday, 1 Jan
  2. New Year Holiday - Monday, 2 Jan
  3. Victory Day - Saturday, 7 Jan
  4. International Women's Day - Wednesday, 8 Mar
  5. Khmer New Year - Friday, 14 Apr to Monday, 17 Apr
  6. Labour Day - Monday, 1 May
  7. Visak Bochea Day - Thursday, 4 May
  8. Royal Ploughing Ceremony - Monday, 8 May
  9. King Norodom Sihamoni's Birthday - Sunday, 14 May
  10. King Norodom Sihamoni's Birthday Holiday - Monday, 15 May
  11. Queen Mother's Birthday - Sunday, 18 Jun
  12. Queen Mother's Birthday Holiday - Monday, 19 Jun
  13. Constitution Day - Sunday, 24 Sep
  14. Constitution Day Holiday - Monday, 25 Sep
  15. Pchum Ben - Fri to Mon, 13 Oct to 16 Oct
  16. Commemoration of Late King Father - Sunday, 15 Oct 
  17. Commemoration of Late King Father Holiday - Monday, 16 Oct
  18. King Norodom Sihamoni's Coronation Day - Sunday, 29 Oct
  19. King Norodom Sihamoni's Coronation Holiday - Monday, 30 Oct
  20. Independence Day - Thursday, 9 Nov
  21. Bon Om Touk - Sunday, 26 Nov to Wednesday, 29 Nov

2. The most significant Cambodian holidays of the year

Throughout Cambodia's festival seasons, it is especially vital to recognize the six most important holidays of the year for this ancient Asian country. 

Let's look at the highlights of those six significant occasions for Cambodian cultural holidays:

1. Cambodian New Year

Khmer New Year, or Bon Chol Chhnam Thmei, is a three-day celebration held on April 13 or 14 each year that historically commemorates the conclusion of the harvest season and is Cambodia's single most important festival.

Cities close for a week during Khmer New Year to allow Cambodians to spend time with their families, hold celebrations, and visit the local temple.

If you want to learn more, we have a more complete explanation, including information about Khmer New Year celebrations.

Khmer New Year decoration in front of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Khmer New Year decoration in front of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

2. The Water Festival

Every November, the Tonle Sap reverses course, and Cambodians assemble in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh to celebrate the Bon Om Touk Water Festival. Two million Cambodians and travelers from all over the world go to Phnom Penh to see the colorful boats race down the river. (Festivities in Siem Reap are comparable, though not as large.) 

Cambodia Water Festival in Phnom Penh City

Cambodia Water Festival in Phnom Penh City

3. Pchum Ben

Pchum Ben (Ancestor's Day) is another prominent holiday in Cambodia, lasting 15 days from the end of September to the middle of October. The ghosts of deceased ancestors are said to be very active at Pchum Ben, and they may even return to earth.

During this time, Cambodians dress in white and deliver food offerings to monks at pagodas; some think that these gifts provide merit that benefits the departed ancestors indirectly, while others believe that these food offerings are transported directly to the dead.

Cambodians spend a lot of time at the pagodas on this festival, making offerings and praying for their ancestors.

Buddhist monks are in expectation to food and money offerings in Pchum Ben

Buddhist monks are in expectation to food and money offerings in Pchum Ben

4. The Royal Plowing Ceremony

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, or Bon Chroat Preah Nongkoal, is traditionally held in May to celebrate the start of the rice-growing season.

Sacred oxen plow a ceremonial row and are subsequently served with dishes of food, most of which symbolize Cambodian products, during the observances, which are often led by the monarch. The Royal Palace's soothsayer forecasts the season based on the foods the oxen consume. Wine is also presented to the oxen; if they drink it, tragedy awaits.

5. Day of Meak Bochea

This Buddhist festival is observed throughout the area on the full moon of the third Khmer lunar month (Meak), which falls on January 23rd this year. It is also known as the Buddha's Preaching Commemoration Ceremony.

Meak Bochea ceremonies begin early, with monks receiving donations. People gather at temples in the evening to hear sermons and participate in a candle ceremony.

The procession of monks in Meak Bochea Day

The procession of monks in Meak Bochea Day

6. King Father Norodom's Commemoration Day

When King Norodom Sihanouk died on October 15, 2012, the kingdom was shocked by the death of the former King, who abdicated in 2004 and transferred the throne to his son. The country observed 100 days of sorrow, and the loss is still commemorated with a public holiday today.

Something to ask about Cambodia's public holidays in 2023

Do I need a visa to visit Cambodia?

Most overseas tourists will require a Cambodian visa and a valid passport to visit the country and attend a festival.

Only nationals of nine Southeast Asian countries are eligible for visa-free entry into Cambodia. Many other nations can acquire an e-Visa to Cambodia by applying online right here to see the fastest e-Visa application process with Cambodia Immigration Service.

How many public holidays in Cambodia 2023?

There are 21 public Cambodian holidays. According to a sub-decree issued by the Royal Government, there will be a total of 21 public Cambodian holidays in 2023.

What is the most important festival in Cambodia?

All Cambodia's traditional festivals, the most important as such as popular are Khmer New Year and Water Festival (Sea Festival)

Do you have any tips for visitors to the Cambodia Festival?

Here are some pointers to help you make the most of Cambodian festivals:

  • Book your accommodations ahead of time: Booking your accommodations ahead of time will save you a lot of trouble.
  • Plan your transportation ahead of time: Knowing how to get around the country will be critical. During those days, many people will be traveling.
  • Examine the festival schedules to ensure that you experience the best of the festivals and do not miss anything.
  • Be wary of pickpocketing and scams, especially in crowded places.
  • Respect local customs: Observing proper etiquette is a good way to show respect for the locals and their celebrations.

Explore colorful Cambodia's public holidays on an informative journey of its biggest sites. During your vacation, soak in the vibrant colors of Phnom Penh as you stroll through the festivals held at historical sites and vibrant scenes of festive life, be overwhelmed by the magnificence of Angkor historic sites, trace the vestiges of ancient glories, and indulge yourself in stunning natural beauty.

Related Articles