New Year in Southeast Asia: how to join the party in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos

  • Water fights, processions, traditional dishes, games and dancing – where to join in the solar New Year fun in three countries in Southeast Asia
  • From April 14 to 16, people across the region head home to visit their families and take part in the festivities

Laughter rings from young Cambodians armed with water bombs and talcum powder. The laughter quickly turns to screams as a sticky combination of water and white powder is fired through the air, drenching passing motorbikes and tuk tuks.

In Cambodia, this can mean only one thing – it’s Khmer New Year. Running from April 14 to 16, this is a time for celebration, as festivities take place in the Buddhist countries of Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

New Year in Thailand, known as Songkran, is famous around the world for its chaotic water fights. But other countries in Southeast Asia also celebrate New Year at the same time; while there are some slight differences, the festival in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos also involve water fights.

Khmer New Year
Sousaday chhnam thmei” (Happy New Year) is the phrase you will hear on the streets as Cambodians get into the celebratory spirit and make the pilgrimage to their home provinces to ring in the new year with their family.

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