Angkor Sankranta festival. Image courtesy of Ministry of Tourism Cambodia, used with permission
Cambodia's traditional Khmer Traditional New Year lasts for three days. From the 13th or 14th of April, the festivities see Khmer families visiting temples, performing purification ceremonies, and attending dedication ceremonies to their ancestors, among many other rituals of thanks for the coming new year.
Angkor Sankranta, an annual festivity simultaneously held in Siem Reap during Khmer New Year, aims to “show off solidarity of the Cambodian family as a whole and to contribute to maintaining Cambodian tradition, culture, and custom.” Organized by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, Angkor Sankranta has drawn more than a million local and foreign visitors to experience many of Cambodia’s customs amidst the beautiful ancient Angkor temples.
On Angkor Sankranta, you can watch traditional folk dances and games, cattle races, Khmer orchestra, and other performances that correspond to the theme for the year. The food is a major Angkor Sankranta draw: 2016’s celebration welcomed two four-ton traditional Cambodian cakes, Num Treap Bay, a stick rice dessert with toasted sesame seeds, and Num Ple Ay, glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar.
Should you make a trip to Cambodia in April during the New Year, take note that many locals will be traveling so it’s best to make your travel plans early.
Angkor Sankranta games. Image courtesy of Ministry of Tourism Cambodia, used with permission
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The nations of Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar share close cultural ties, and thus also share common New Year traditions, occurring at the same time. Myanmar celebrates Thingyan; Thailand Songkran; and Laos Boun Pi Mai Lao near simultaneously with Angkor Sankranta.