Chinese new year celebrations, also known as Spring Festival, starts on the evening preceding the new moon of the first lunar month & runs until the full moon, coinciding with Tet, the Vietnamese new year.

dragon dancer phnom penh

Dragon dance, Phnom Penh

In Cambodia, this festival is not a public holiday, although a large proportion of Khmers will participate in the celebrations, many having Chinese ancestors. Officially it’s business as usual, however visitors may notice many places closed. Locals with ancestors from China will often return to their homeland and celebrate with their families.

chinese new year wat phnom cambodia

Celebrations, Wat Phnom

For the photographer, you will witness increased activity in the Chinese pagodas, easily identified with the Chinese writing and different style to that of the Khmer pagodas.  Visitors peak on the eve of the first day. A notable place to be is Wat Phnom in the capital, Phnom Penh, where crowds gather to see in the new year.  Here you will witness a rich array of culture, incense sticks, candles, releasing birds for good luck & the burning of fake money for their ancestors.

happy chinese new year

Performers in the countryside

Throughout the country there will be numerous dragon dance performances, the dragon being the symbol of China. Wealthy families will hire a team of performers to dance outside their houses, bringing good luck, enjoyed by passers by, well worth a look. There are a few places in Phnom Penh with quite large performances, just keep your ears & eyes open. These performances also happens In the countryside but on a smaller scale. Dancing dragons, along with fire crackers, it’s great if you stumble upon this, camera in hand.

Other things to note. Increased visitors it the Angkor Wat complex, but unlike Songkran (Khmer new year), it does not affect our photography workshops. Also, many Chinese & Khmer will head to the coast in great numbers, notably Sihanoukville, which will inflate accommodation prices.  Expect beaches to be busy with Chinese and Khmer.

Chinese new year 2017, the year of the rooster starts on January 28th.

Chinese new year 2018, the year of the dog, February 15-17

chinese celebrations cambodia dragons