Khmer New Year Festivities in Phnom Penh, the Capital City of Cambodia



As the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh comes alive during the Khmer New Year celebrations, known as Chol Chnam Thmey. This festive time, which falls in mid-April each year, is a time for renewal, joy, and cultural festivities. In this blog post, we will explore the vibrant celebrations of Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh, providing insights into the unique customs, traditions, and activities that make this event truly special.

The Spirit of Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, with its bustling streets, iconic landmarks, and rich cultural heritage, is a perfect place to experience the spirit of Khmer New Year. The city comes alive with colorful decorations, lively music, and joyful celebrations, offering a unique insight into the Khmer culture and traditions.

Highlights of Khmer New Year Celebrations in Phnom Penh: Here are some of the highlights of Khmer New Year festivities in Phnom Penh:

  • Pagoda Visits: During Khmer New Year, many Cambodians visit pagodas to pay homage to Buddha, offer prayers, and seek blessings for the coming year. Phnom Penh is home to several historic pagodas, such as Wat Phnom, Wat Ounalom, and Wat Botum, which are adorned with colorful decorations and bustling with activities during the festival.
  • Traditional Ceremonies: Khmer New Year is marked by various traditional ceremonies that are observed in Phnom Penh. These may include the "Ben Thom" ceremony, where families offer food and drinks to their ancestors as a sign of respect, and the "Pithi Srang" water ceremony, where people pour water over the Buddha statues as a symbolic act of cleansing and purification.
  • Cultural Performances: Phnom Penh hosts various cultural performances during Khmer New Year, showcasing the richness of Khmer arts and traditions. From traditional dance performances to music concerts, you can witness the vibrancy of Cambodian culture through captivating performances by local artists.
  • Night Markets: Phnom Penh's bustling night markets, such as the famous Phsar Reatrey (or "Kandal Market"), come alive during Khmer New Year with special stalls offering traditional Khmer foods, snacks, handicrafts, and other festive items. It's a great opportunity to sample local delicacies and shop for unique souvenirs.
  • Street Celebrations: The streets of Phnom Penh are filled with festive spirit during Khmer New Year, with locals and tourists alike taking part in the celebrations. You can witness traditional games, performances, and street parties as the city comes alive with music, dance, and laughter.


Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, is a vibrant and lively destination to experience the Khmer New Year celebrations. With its rich cultural heritage, traditional ceremonies, cultural performances, night markets, and street celebrations, Phnom Penh offers a unique insight into the customs and traditions of Cambodia during this festive time. It's a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, connect with the friendly locals, and create lasting memories of this vibrant and colorful celebration. So, plan your visit to Phnom Penh during Khmer New Year and get ready to be captivated by the festive spirit of Chol Chnam Thmey!

Songkran Chnam Thmey image gallery

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