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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh need not be boring

Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh need not be boring

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As Phnom Penh empties for Khmer New Year, a few restaurants and bars are to remain open, offering provide entertainment throughout the holiday.

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

Kids play with powder during Khmer New Year celebrations. 

THE mass exodus of capital residents from Phnom Penh to their home provinces or various waterside retreats for Khmer New Year has left the city with only a scattering of residents wondering what to do with their precious time off work.

It's hard to imagine the capital lying dormant in the heat for three days and, thankfully, this will not be the case, with live music and a range of restaurants and bars remaining open over the festive period.

It's business as usual at the FCC, Comme a la Maison, the Magic Sponge, Tamarind, Metro and Chow, to name only a handful.

Some of the city's hotels are offering special deals for the New Year, with Raffles celebrating the holiday period with a special Khmer New Year dinner available every night of the holiday at the Restaurant Le Royal.

Prices start at US$35 for three courses, with one person dining free of charge at a table of four.

For those looking for something more casual, the Magic Sponge on the lakeside will be playing the Champions League Football each night with food and drink specials available during Liverpool games.

And for punters who want to let their hair down in a more traditional sense, well, Phnom Penh is still the place to be.

Traditional games

City Hall is throwing a party each night at Wat Phnom.

Traditional games such as chol chhuong will be played in the early evening between 3pm and 6pm, followed by live music late into the night.

Chol chhoung is a traditional Khmer New Year game played on the first night of the holiday between groups of boys and girls.

The game simply involves throwing the chhoung at your opposing team to wither down the opposition's integrity, with Khmer songs thrown in for fun. It's the Khmer version of dodge-ball, minus Vince Vaughn.

At Wat Botum, the party will begin with a comedy show from 7pm to 12am, and with a popular dance concert to follow.

On the downside, an array of places will shut for extended periods over the Khmer New Year.

The Shop, Fresco, Gasolina, Java, Meta House, Talkin' to a Stranger, Vans, Gym Bar and Green Vespa are just a few of the places that will be closed.

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