Cambodia’s Water Festival is a traditionally Phnom Penh-centric affair. The first Water Festival celebration in Siem Reap took place was in 2001. That year, it was a small affair with just 20,000 people showing up to watch the races. This year couldn’t be more different. The streets around the river are closed to traffic, and Siem Reap has become a pedestrian paradise as everyone from the province has flooded into town to watch the boat races. Dozens of street food vendors are out hawking their wares, and local restaurants have dropped their prices for the Water Festival hordes (Blue Pumpkin are selling scoops of ice cream for $1). Locals, tourists, and expats were enjoying the carnival-like atmosphere that went on long after nightfall. If you didn’t head to see the Bon Om Touk festivities yesterday, it’s well worth a visit today.
The boats in Siem Reap are smaller than the ones in Phnom Penh, due to the smaller size of the river.
A group of nuns exchanging bracelets and prayers in exchange for 2,000 riel.
We bought some pickles and the women selling us watched expectantly as we walked away to see if we would like them, giggling the entire time.
The t-shirts the boat-racing teams wore were for sale all over town.
Siem Reap has a carnival-like atmosphere during Water Festival, there was even a Ferris wheel.
Siem Reap’s Water Festival could easily be called a street food festival, every vendor in town was out selling various treats.
Locals and tourists gather on the river to watch the races.
Went to the Water Festival empty-handed, came home with a tractor.
Whole parts of town are shut down for the festivities, and every resident of the province was out in force.
Cambodia street food.
Watching the Bon Om Touk races.
A friend told us that you can tell who has never been to Siem Reap before because they stand in the middle of the road, confused.
We can serve in English!
This was like the Cambodian version of funnel cake. Fried dough, deeply unhealthy, fantastically delicious.
Just say yes.
The races are over, but no one wants to go home.
Viewing objects d’art that looked eerily like living miniature monks.
Siem Reap’s Water Festival at night.
When night falls, fireworks began.
We got this chickens-in-a-cage ornament for 5,000 riel.