IMPORTANT DATES:

JANUARY
International New Year’s Day
The celebration of New Year’s Eve has become more and more popular in Cambodia, and although not an official holiday, many offices are closed.

Victory over Genocide Day
This national holiday commemorates Vietnamese-backed troops taking the capital from the Khmer Rouge in 1979. It marks the end of the Khmer Rouge regime after their defeat to the Vietnamese.

Chinese New Year
First new moon in the Chinese lunar calendar. An important celebration to Cambodians with chinese origin.

FEBRUARY
Meak Bochea Day / Magha Puja Day
An important Buddhist holy day, celebrated in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos on the full moon day of the third lunar month in Buddhist Calendar. The month is known in the Thai language as Makha (Pali: Magha). Bucha, also a Thai word (Pali: Puja), meaning to venerate or to honor. As such, Makha Bucha Day is for the veneration of Buddha and his teachings.

MARCH
Women’s Day
This United Nations-inspired holiday, International day for women has become a big deal. Don’t hope to get anything done.

APRIL
Cambodian Khmer New Year / Chaul Chnam Thmey
Possibly Cambodia’s most important holiday. The cities empty as Cambodians rush to spend the holiday with family. The holiday lasts for three days beginning on New Year’s Day. This time of the year is at the end of the harvesting season. The farmers enjoy the fruits of their harvest and relax before the rainy season begins. Gifts and tips are especially auspicious during April and should be accompanied with the phrase ‘Sok Sabay, Ch’nam Tmey’ (Happy New Year!)

MAY
Labour Day / May Day
A relatively minor holiday. Embassies advise avoiding large labor-related gatherings and rallies falling on this day as union disputes can occasionally turn violent.

Visaka Bochea / Visaka Buja Day
Vesak Day 2012, Buddhist observance commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha

Royal Ploughing Day Ceremony
Known in Cambodia as Pithi Chrat Preah Neangkol, this public holiday corresponds to the start of the planting season. Royal astrologers will predict the coming season’s weather.

HM King Sihamoni’s Birthday
Commemorates the birthday of King Norodom Sihamoni on 14 May 1953. The current king was crowned in 2004 after the abdication of his father, Norodom Sihanouk.

JUNE
Children’s Day
International and Cambodian Children’s Day celebrated to raise awareness of children abuse, children trafficking and children labour.

HM the Queen Mother’s Birthday
Commemorates the birthday of The Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. Cambodians have a deep affection for the queen mother. Even so, this is a minor holiday which does not usually affect travel.

SEPTEMBER
Pchum Ben Day
Festival of the Ancestors. Buddhist tradition demands Cambodians visit many pagodas over two weeks. Food, flowers, rice and gifts are given to the monks to convey to the afterlife so the dead do not haunt the living. This is a particularly poignant celebration given Cambodia’s recent history.

Cambodia Constitution Day
A public holiday called to celebrate the anniversary signing of the Cambodian new constitution by King Sihanouk on 24 September 1993

OCTOBER
Cambodia Coronation Day
Cambodia Coronation Day is the anniversary of the coronation of current King Norodom Sihamoni.

Former HM King Sihanouk’s Birthday
Retired king Sihanouk is indisputably Cambodia’s most important modern monarch and still widely regarded as divine.

NOVEMBER
Cambodia Independence Day
Marks anniversary of independence from France. King Sihamoni visits Independence Monument in Phnom Penh.

Water Festival / Bon Om Thook
Millions teem into Phnom Penh from the provinces to celebrate the end of monsoon season. Dragon boats race for three days with the king overseeing. Perhaps the best time of any for meeting the people and enjoying the culture of Cambodia but the capital is impossibly crowded!

DECEMBER
Human Rights Day
A United Nations-inspired holiday. Unlikely to affect travel plans but government offices are closed.