Public Holidays in Cambodia

There are quite a few public holidays in Cambodia; some to celebrate international events and some to celebrate local festivals. Experiencing the country during these public holidays can be a great way to get to know the people living here better and to participate in the festivities. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at all the public holidays in Cambodia.

1st January, International New Year’s Day

1st January is celebrated as International New Year’s Day all around the world. As Cambodia does not really have a significant Christian population, celebrations on this particular public holiday in Cambodia are subdued, with only the big cities (Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap) witnessing festivities.

7th January, Victory Day

Every year, Victory Day sees Cambodians rising up together to pay homage to the lives lost under the brutal 4-year-long Khmer Rouge regime in the ‘70s.

February, MeakBochea Day

Celebrated every year with great zest and fervor, MeakBochea is a Buddhist festival that remembers the final sermon of Lord Buddha, where he preached to more than 1,000 monks. In the mornings, the locals give offerings to Buddhist monks.

In the evenings, large Buddhist crowds gather at Buddhist temples, where candle ceremonies are performed. During this time, monks also deliver sermons to preach Lord Buddha’s teachings.

This public holiday does not have a fixed date, as it depends on when the full moon shows during the Khmer calendar’s third lunar month, Meak. However, it is most typically celebrated in either late January or February.

8th March, International Women’s Day

While this international public holiday does not see spectacular celebrations or festivities, people do organize small-scale gatherings to emphasize on the importance of women and their achievements.

April, Khmer New Year

This is the New Year that Cambodians are really passionate about. During this three-day festival, Cambodians spend time with their families and perform rituals like giving offerings, lighting candles and praying at pagodas.

This is one of the public holidays in Cambodia for which most locals typically take seven days off, with very little regard for the fact that government employees only get three holidays.

Like MeakBochea Day, this festival too does not have a fixed date. It depends on when the first day of the Khmer calendar coincides with the Gregorian calendar. However, it is typically celebrated sometime in April every year.

1st May, International Labour Day

Another international public holiday in Cambodia, this day is typically celebrated by the people of the working classes. However, celebrations are subtle and cannot be compared in any way to the festivities involved on other occasions such as Khmer New Year or MeakBochea Day.

13th – 15th May, The Birthday of King Sihamoni

This three-day public holiday in Cambodia sees the people of the country celebrate and pay their respects to the current king of the country, King NorodomSihamoni.

May, VisakBochea

Celebrated in accordance with the Buddhist calendar, this day celebrates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. On this day, Cambodians visit prominent Buddhist temples and statues around the country.

This is another of the public holidays in Cambodia that does not have a fixed date according to the Gregorian calendar. However, in most years, it is celebrated in May.

20th May, Day of Remembrance

This holiday was only added to the list of public holidays in Cambodia in 2018. Much like Victory Day, this holiday sees Cambodians commemorating the people who lost their lives in the devastating days of the Khmer Rouge rule in the country.

22nd May, Royal Ploughing Ceremony

On this public holiday in Cambodia, the Cambodians welcome the monsoons, during which agriculture thrives in the country. There is a formal ceremony held in the capital Phnom Penh that features the king planting and ploughing to usher in a season of rice-growing.

1st June, International Children’s Day

This public holiday in Cambodia is not celebrated very actively in the country. It’s a holiday that mainly provides both children and adults an opportunity to take a break from their work.

18th June, the Birthday of the Queen Mother

Cambodia’s queen mother will turn 84 in 2020 and on the occasion of her birthday, the locals will celebrate with their families and engage in fireworks.

24th September, Constitution Day

This is a day where the locals celebrate the existence of the modern Cambodian constitution.

September, Pchum Ben

This public holiday is announced according to the Buddhist calendar and is a holiday during which Cambodians pay their respects to their ancestors.

15th October, Commemoration Day of the Father of the King

King Norodom Sihamoni’s father passed away on this day in 2012 and people pay their homage and respects to him on this public holiday in Cambodia.

23rd October, Paris Peace Agreement Day

This holiday gives a chance for people to remember the conclusion of the Vietnam – Cambodia war.

29th October, Coronation Day of King Sihamoni

Back in 2004, this was the day when Norodom Sihamoni was formally declared the King of Cambodia.

9th November, Independence Day

This public holiday celebrates the independence of the country from French rule in 1953. It is marked by a wide range of cultural activities and events.

10th – 12th November, Water Festival

Another one of the three-day public holidays in Cambodia, the Water Festival marks the change in the course of the Tonle Sap River. This holiday also witnesses locals commemorating a naval victory from the 12th century.

10th December, Human Rights Day

For a country that has suffered terribly from heinous human rights abuses in the past, this public holiday is very important.

Read More:

A Brief Introduction to Cambodia History

Top 5 Traditional Festivals in Cambodia