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Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since French colonization of Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security, politics, cultural heritage, and diplomacy of Cambodia. Once known as the "Pearl of Asia," it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina  in the 1920s. Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, are significant global and domestic tourist destinations for Cambodia. Founded in 1434, the city is noted for its beautiful and historical architecture and attractions. There are a wide range of hotels, ranging from several 5-star hotels and chic resorts to hundreds of budget guesthouses.

 

  • Victory over Genocide Day 07 JANUARY

    History of Victory over Genocide Day

    During the Vietnam war, Cambodia was a base for communist forces, and at the end of that conflict, an offshoot from the Vietnam People's Army called the Khmer Rouge (Red Khmer) took power in 1979.

    Mixing the ideology of communism and the Angkor Empire, they implemented extreme communist policies, enforcing strict self-sufficiency and taking children from parents, so they could be indoctrinated in communism.

    An aim of the Khmer Rouge was to return Cambodia to a purely agricultural society. To implement this, many Cambodians were forced to leave the cities to work on labor camps.

    It is estimated that around two million Cambodians (almost a quarter of the population) were killed in the four years of the Khmer Rouge regime from starvation, illness, overwork in the labor campus or execution for not embracing the ideals of the Khmer Rouge. This led to the reign of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot being seen as effectively a campaign of genocide against the Cambodian people.

    On 7 January 1979, Vietnamese troops entered Cambodia and began the assault to remove the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge surrendered on 17 April 1979.

    How is Victory over Genocide Day celebrated?

    Commemorating such a dark period in history means this holiday is a solemn affair, with the day marked by remembrance services for those who lost their lives.

    It is also not a universally welcome holiday in Cambodia as many Cambodians feel uneasy about their dependence for liberation on Vietnam.

  • Meak Bochea 11 FEBRUARY

    Meak Bochea is an important religious festival observed by Buddhists in Cambodia. Meak Bochea is celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month.

    Followers of Buddhism are reminded of Buddha and his teachings.  Many will go to a temple and perform merit making activities on this day.  The spiritual aims of the day are not to commit any kinds of sins and to purify one’s mind.

    Some of these precepts include avoiding consumption of alcohol, killing, stealing, lying and cheating.  Some of the less ‘severe’ precepts are broken regularly by many (such as alcohol consumption) and Meak Bochea is a chance for people to seek forgiveness.  The festival also reinforces the idea of pure and sacred path to enlightenment.

    Meak Bochea commemorates the ordainment of Buddha’s first 1250 disciples who spontaneously came to see him and to listen to his sermon that day 2500 years ago.  It is also said that on this day more than 2550 years ago, Buddha announced his passing away, which would happen three months later.  He correctly predicted his death and it is now remembered as Visakha Bochea Day (which also happens to be his birthday and enlightenment day).

    In the evening, most temples in Cambodia hosts a candle procession called Wien Tien (Wien meaning circle and Tien meaning candle).  With a candle, incense sticks and lotus flower in hand, people walk around the temple three times, once each to venerate Buddha, the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings), and the Sangha (monastic life).

    Cambodia strong Theravada Buddhist traditions, making this holiday a very important one in each country’s calendars.

  • Khmer New Year 14-15-16 APRIL

    Cambodian New Year is the greatest traditional festival and national holiday in Cambodia. It starts on 13th, 14th or 15th April depending on the ancient horoscope, and it lasts for three days. Cambodian New Year marks the end of the harvest season when farmers enjoy the yield and relax before rainy season starts.

    Maha Songkran

    Maha Songkran, derived from Sanskrit Maha Sankranti, is the name of the first day of the new year celebration. It is the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. People dress up and light candles and burn incense sticks at shrines, where the members of each family pay homage to offer thanks for the Buddha's teachings by bowing, kneeling and prostrating themselves three times before his image. For good luck people wash their face with holy water in the morning, their chests at noon, and their feet in the evening before they go to bed.

    Virak Vanabat

    Vireak Vanabat is the name of the second day of the new year celebration. People contribute charity to the less fortunate by helping the poor, servants, homeless, and low-income families. Families attend a dedication ceremony to their ancestors at monasteries.

    Vearak Loeng Sak

    T'ngai Loeng Sak in Khmer is the name of the third day of the new year celebration. Buddhists wash the Buddha statues and their elders with perfumed water. Bathing the Buddha images is a symbolic practice to wash bad actions away like water clean dirt from household items. It is also thought to be a kind deed that will bring longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity in life. By washing their grandparents and parents, the children can obtain from them best wishes and good pieces of advice to live the life for the rest of the year.

    Traditional games

    Cambodia is home to a variety of games played to transform the dull days into memorable occasions. These games are similar to those played at Manipur, a north-eastern state in India. Throughout the Khmer New Year, street corners often are crowded with friends and families enjoying a break from routine, filling their free time with dancing and games. Typically, Khmer games help maintain one's mental and physical dexterity.

    • Chol Chhoung

    A game played especially on the first nightfall of the Khmer New Year by two groups of boys and girls. Ten or 20 people comprise each group, standing in two rows opposite each other. One group throws the "chhoung" to the other group. When it is caught, it will be rapidly thrown back to the first group. If someone is hit by the "chhoung," the whole group must dance to get the "chhoung" back while the other group sings to the dance.

    • Chab Kon Kleng

    A game played by imitating a hen as she protects her chicks from a crow. Adults typically play this game on the night of the first New Year's Day. Participants usually appoint a strong player to play the hen who protects "her" chicks, while another person is picked to be the "crow". While both sides sing a song of bargaining, the crow tries to catch as many chicks as possible as they hide behind the hen.

    • Bos Angkunh

    The simple style consists of just throwing the Ongkunhs to hit the target Ongkunhs. The extended style adds five more stages in addition to the throwing stage. Both styles end with a penalty called Jours-activity that the winning team members get to perform on the losing team members. The Jours-activity is performed by using the Onkunghs the hit the knees of the losing team.

    • Leak Kanseng

    A game played by a group of children sitting in a circle. Someone holding a "kanseng" (Cambodian towel) that is twisted into a round shape walks around the circle while singing a song. The person walking secretly tries to place the "kanseng" behind one of the children. If that chosen child realizes what is happening, he or she must pick up the "kanseng" and beat the person sitting next to him or her.

    • Bay Khom

    A game played by two children in rural or urban areas during their leisure time. Ten holes are dug in the shape of an oval into a board in the ground. The game is played with 42 small beads, stones or fruit seeds. Before starting the game, five beads are put into each of the two holes located at the tip of the board. Four beads are placed in each of the remaining eight holes. The first player takes all the beads from any hole and drops them one by one in the other holes. He or she must repeat this process until they have dropped the last bead into a hole that lies besides any empty one. Then they must take all the beads in the hole that follows the empty one. At this point, the second player may have his turn. The game ends when all the holes are empty. The player with the greatest number of beads wins the game. It is possibly similar to congkak.

    Angkor Sankrant

    Angkor Sankranti is an event of Khmer New Year organized by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC) which is held in Siem Reap. Angkor Sankranti is an opportunity for all Cambodians as a united Khmer Family and for foreign friends to receive unforgettable and exquisite experiences during Khmer New Year in Cambodia.

  • Visak Bochea 10 MAY

    Visak Bochea Day is the most holiest day in Buddhism celebrations. God Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and passed away in the same full moon day of the 6th month of Lunar calendar (normally in May).

    So Visak Bochea is celebrated to mark these three events of Buddha.

    In Cambodia, Visak Bochea Day is a national holiday, all public sectors are closed, though some private sectors might be working. Since Buddhism is the State religion, Visak Bochea is always presided by high ranking of officials in the royal government and hundred of Buddhists participated. Hundred of monks from pagodas over the country would be invited to the food-offering ceremony. Since it’s believed that food-offering is the way to gain merit for the present life and also next life of the person. And it’s also to praise the spirit of death relatives.

    Since 2002, the celebration takes place in Oudong mountain (40km from Phnom Penh), where the stupa containing Buddha’s relic is located. As before, the event has always prepared in Phnom Penh city, in front of the Railway station. Because the Buddha’s relic was maintained in the stupa there.

    On Visak Bochea Day, beside bringing foods to the monks in their village pagodas, Cambodian people would prepare some offering such as fruits, lotus flower or Jasmine for praying at home. People believe that, praying on Visak Bochea day with sincere mind, most praying would be answered.

  • Royal birthday of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni 13-15 MAY

    His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni was born on 14 May 1953. He is the eldest son of Norodom Sihanouk and his second wife Norodom Monineath.

    He was Cambodia's ambassador to UNESCO and named by a nine-member throne council to become the next king after his father. Norodom Sihanouk abdicated in 2004. Before ascending the throne, Sihamoni was best known for his work as a cultural ambassador in Europe and as a classical dance instructor.

    His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni has been the sovereign of Cambodia since 29 October 2004.

    The royal birthday of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni is marked as national holiday which is celebrated from 13 May to 15 May each year.

    During this celebration, in front of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, fireworks are shot into the sky over Tonle Sap river for about 20 minutes. People all enjoy the moment and wish our king a long life which bring Cambodia to prosperity and glory.

  • Royal Ploughing Ceremony 14 MAY

    The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, or 'Bon Chroat Preah Nongkoal' in the Khmer language, is solemnly celebrated at the beginning of the sowing and planting season.

    Every year in May, this cultural ceremony takes place at the park in front of the National Museum (next to the Royal Palace). Cambodia has deep connection with earth and farming. There is a deep astrological belief that royal oxen known in Khmer as Usapheak Reach, have an instrumental role in determining the fate of the agricultural harvest each year.

    Traditionally, the King Meak, representing the king of Cambodia, ploughs the field whilst the Queen, the Preah Mehuo, sows seeds from behind. The field is ceremoniously ploughed three times around. The royal servants then drive the royal oxen to seven golden trays containing rice, corn, sesame seeds, beans, grass, water, and wine to feed. The royal soothsayers interpret what the oxen have eaten and predict a series of events including epidemics, floods, good harvests, and excessive rainfall. At this festival, both men and women wear brightly colored Khmer traditional costume.

  • Pchum Ben Festival (Ancestors Day) 19-21 SEPTEMBER

    A history of Pchum Ben Festival

    What does Pchum Ben Festival mean in Buddhism? In the Khmer language, Pchum or Brochum means “a meeting or gathering”. 

    Ben means “a ball of something”, such as rice or meat. The Pchum Ben festival originated in the Angkorian era when people followed animism, before Brahma or Buddhism.

    Both Buddhism and animism reflect Khmer respect and remembrance for their ancestors.

    Pchum Ben is also a convenient way for Buddhist monks to receive food during the heaviest part of the rainy season while they stay in the pagodas to follow their moral principles.

    Celebrations

    The first 14 days of the Khmer month Pheakta Bot are called Kan Ben (“observed celebration”). The 15th day is called Brochum Ben or Pchum Ben Day. During Kan Ben, people give Buddhist monks gifts of food and candles. At night Buddhist monks recite a protective prayer. Cambodian artists play traditional music such as yike and lakhon basac. Pchum Ben Day is the biggest celebration. Villagers come from all around to prepare the pagoda of their village the night before the celebration. Pchum Ben is when the villagers gather to celebrate in their villages.

    Scriptures

    The scriptures relating to the festival are complex, but the first scripture involves the five Buddhas negotiating with hungry ghosts. In the second scripture, from Pet Vuto (Monks’ Governor), the King’s servants and soldiers were commanded to make war. On the ship at night, they met ghosts who were hungry. The servants and soldiers asked: “How can we get food to you?” The ghosts said: “You can offer the food to the person among you who has the five moral conducts or eight moral conducts, and invoke our names.” The third and fourth scriptures say that in the first 15 days of Pheakta Both, the heaviest rainy period, the devil releases the ghosts to find their relatives to receive food.

    Ghosts

    There are four kinds of ghosts: those eating pus and blood, burning ghosts who are always hot, hungery ghosts and the Pakrakteaktopak Chivi, who can receive food through the monks. The others cannot receive food from their relatives until their sins are reduced to the level of Pakrakteaktopak Chivi.

    What is bay ben?

    Bay ben (balls of rice) are offered to ghosts at dawn. People believe ghosts with heavy sins cannot receive food during the day. Bay ben is made from sticky rice and sesame. Sometimes people add coconut cream to make it more delicious. Buddhist Institute consultant Miech Ponn said he thinks bay ben should be put on a plate. “Getting rice to the poor, people also can get more merit than only giving it to ants,” Miech Ponn said.

  • CamFood 2016 T.B.A

    SAVOUR THE SUCCESS AT CAMBODIA'S BIGGEST INT'L FOOD, BEVERAGE, WINES & SPIRITS SHOW

    CamFood – Cambodia's Biggest International Food & Drinks Exhibition will be back with its 5th Edition at the Diamond Island Exhibition Centre, Phnom Penh from 20-22 October 2016. Catering to the vibrant F&B industry in the country, the Exhibition will be its biggest yet with many bookings for booths received from major local industry leaders and international Pavilions from China, India, Italy, Korea, Japan, USA, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.

    Backed by key industry organizations including the Cambodia Tourism Federation Cambodia Hotel Association, Cambodia Restaurant Association, Cambodia Chefs Federation, Cambodia Chef's Association and Cambodia Sommelier Association, CAMFOOD'16 is the largest gathering of the F&B industry in the Kingdom and is packed with many exciting Hospitality Competitions. Presented by the Cambodia Tourism Federation, the Competitions attracts hundreds of chefs and hospitality staff from around Cambodia to compete in the most prestigious event of the year.

    CamFood'16 is the platform to support the development of the F&B industry by introducing new products, ideas and solutions and at the same time, further improve the quality and professionalism in the industry. As Cambodia's economy continues to expand over 7% and tourism arrivals at this similar rate, the demand for a wide variety of food establishments will increase. The increasing number of F&B franchises are already mushrooming as disposable income of Cambodian grows.

    Event website: www.camfoodhotel.com

    Click here to find hotels nearby the event!

  • Independence Day 09 NOVEMBER

    History of Cambodian Independence Day

    The region of Cambodia became an area of influence under the rule of the Angkorian era from the 8th century.

    With the arrival of the French in 1863, Cambodia became a protectorate of France and a virtual colony by the twentieth century. In 1941, the French installed Prince Sihanouk on the Cambodian throne. Having sensed that the French influence was affected by World War II, with the support of the Japanese, Sihanouk declared independence from France in March 1945.

    Following the defeat of Japan, France regained control of the region, but the move had sparked a desire for independence. By July 1953, France had stated that it was ready to grant full independence to Cambodia and on 9 November 1953, full independence was achieved.

    King Norodom Sihanouk went on to rule Cambodia for the next 15 years before he was overthrown by a military coup.

    How is Cambodian Independence Day Celebrated?

    Cambodian Independence Day is celebrated with festivals, parades, and firework displays across Cambodia.

    The main celebrations are held in Phnom Penh beginning with a formal ceremony at the Independence Monument, which is situated at the junction of the Preah Norodom and Preah Sihanouk Boulevards.

    This is followed by a gala parade featuring colorful floats and marching bands in front of the Royal Palace.

    In the evening, the Royal Palace and other buildings are illuminated and a huge fireworks display takes place near the riverbanks of the Royal Palace.

  • Water Festival (Bon Om Touk) 02-04 NOVEMBER

    Called "Bon Om Tuk" in Khmer, The Water Festival is one of the largest festivals in Cambodia.

    It is usually held in Mid-November during 3 days with many outdoor activities.

    The 3-day Water Festival in Phnom Penh celebrated at the end of the rainy season, the start of the fishing season, and also the unique natural phenomenon - the flow of the Tonle Sap River changing direction. At the end of the rainy season, the water level of the Mekong drops again, the current reverts and flows back into the Mekong. It is a good omen promising a bountiful harvest.

    The origins of the Water Festival dates back to the powerful navy of King Jayavarman II, the 9th century founder of the great Angkorian Empire, and the main purpose is to make the god of the river happy so he will provide many fish and the rice crop will be plentiful.

    Many villagers throughout the country have spent almost a full year preparing their villages boat – elaborately and brightly decorated dugout canoes with large eyes on the prows to ward off evil spirits. Thousand of Khmers descend on Phnom Penh over the three days to watch the races and cheer on their villages boat, which can be up to 20 meters long and contain up to 60 oarsmen, frantically paddling and chanting as the do battle in highly competitive races.

    Many other interesting activities such as fairs, festivals, shows, parades, fireworks, music and dancing are also occur in the festival. All of those activities make Phnom Penh takes on a carnival atmosphere during this time.

    Please contact cambodia@hotels.tv for accomodation near the event.

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