Phnom Penh the capital of Cambodia oozes French colonial charm and remnants are evident in the architecture and cuisine. The city though is entrenched with rich Khmer history and Buddhism and this is put on show each year when two festivals are co joined, the Water Festival and full moon of the Buddhist calendar month of Kadeuk.
In November each year for three days, Phnom Penh plays host to the most magnificent carnival in South East Asia, the Water Festival or Bonn Om Toeuk. A celebration of the unique phenomenon when the great freshwater lake of Tonle Sap reverses its flow forcing the river to do the same. The city is adorned with colorful bunting and the Royal Palace is lit with thousands of lights, the night air is filled with the sight and sound of fireworks and street food and parks come alive with food stalls and amusement rides as Khmer people travel from all over the country to be part of this significant event. The highlight of this national holiday is the boat race.
More than three hundred boats take part in the annual race on the Mekong River, each propelled by a team of up to 70 oarsmen. The boats are colourfully decorated and come to the city from temples and provinces all over Cambodia. Villagers come to support their boats swelling the cities population by a further 2 million. Click on the thumbnails below and scroll through the images for a window on this incredible annual festival.