Celebrated during the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kadeuk (usually in November), the Cambodian Water Festival known as Bon Om Touk heralds the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap river, a major focus of life for many Cambodians. The festival also commemorates the end of the country’s rainy season, and its origins date back to the 12th century.
The festivities are meant to keep the river divinities happy, ensuring a bountiful harvest of rice and fish for the year to come. One of the highlights of the festival is the Loy Pratip, an evening fluvial parade featuring beautifully illuminated boats, and Sampeas Preah Khe, the salutation to the moon.
Every town and province joins in on the festival but the biggest celebrations take place in Phnom Penh, along the Sisowath Quay. For 3 days the city’s residents celebrate day and night with boat races, concerts and other festivities.