Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Going big for Khmer New Year party in Siem Reap



Going big for Khmer New Year party in Siem Reap

Last year’s giant rice cake weighed 2.8 tonnes
Last year’s giant rice cake weighed 2.8 tonnes. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Going big for Khmer New Year party in Siem Reap

Celebrations are set to feature traditional games and dancing along with a giant rice cake, Khmer hat, palm pipe and chess game

More than 500,000 people are expected to descend on Siem Reap for this coming week’s Khmer New Year celebrations, which will feature traditional dances, games and a giant rice cake.

Unlike in neighbouring Thailand, which becomes one long wet T-shirt competition at this time of year, in Siem Reap traditions still take priority, with Cambodians taking over the temples and Pub Street for a change.

The pagodas around town and in the villages are the main focus of fairly solemn events for three days, with different rituals taking place at different times of the day for local communities and families. Visitors are welcome and early mornings are the best time to see the most activity.

More festive activities will take place as part of the Angkor Sangkranta events at Angkor Archaeological Park from April 14-16, starting in the morning around 8:30am and continuing until 9:30pm.

Dancing up a storm last year
Dancing up a storm last year. TERENCE CARTER

This is the time of year when Cambodians from across the country descend upon the temples, and Angkor Wat is filled with Khmer families and friends.

Activities that traditionally occur in villages will take place throughout the day over all three days, on the grassy areas around the Angkor Wat moat and in Angkor Thom, near the Royal Palace and Bayon as well as in town.

“We expect to welcome 500,000 people to join the event, because this year we have a lot of great things to see and do,” said Angkor Sangkranta spokesman Som Ratana.

He said Angkor Sangkranta had about 180,000 visitors in 2013, while in 2014, there were more than 380,000 visitors who injected $30 million into the local economy. “The visitors will have a chance to see a giant Khmer sticky rice cake that weighs 3.2 tonnes, a giant Khmer hat, a giant palm pipe and a giant chess game.”

Angkora Sangkranta is organised by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia which is headed by Hun Many, son of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Last month, Hun Sen said judges from Guinness World Records would be invited to judge the cake for a world record. Last year, a 2.8 tonne cake was cooked for the festival.

Apart from the giant things, expect to also see traditional ball games and tug of war, and ox cart and buffalo racing. The highlights for many, however, are the bokator and dancing, including traditional round-dancing and the Cambodian Madison. The non-stop bokator demonstrations take place throughout the day, with hundreds of practitioners of the medieval martial art participating in bouts and also encouraging the public to try their hand at the sport.

The dancing also takes place in a number of areas, peaking in the late afternoon, especially on the final day.

A Cambodian event wouldn’t be complete without street food, and stalls will be set up right around the park, most in the area across from Angkor Wat, along with more commercial displays, as numerous businesses use Khmer New Year as a hook to attract new customers.

Concerts are planned for the evenings with several stages being set up in Angkor Archaeological Park, the biggest near the Bayon. However, Cambodians, as well as expats and tourists, will fill the streets of the Old Market area, particularly Pub Street, which should see its biggest crowds on the final night, with a massive street party punctuated by fireworks.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride