There is no better way to experience the rich and diverse cultures across Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar than during the festival season. The many local festivals that take place vary from country to country and even from village to village. Some are national and others only take place in a particular region, town or even hamlet. A festival visit is a perfect cultural add-on to every MICE- or leisure trip to Indochina.
Get inspired by our top 4 favourite festivals:
1. Roong Pooc Festival
An annual festival where local residents express their gratitude to their guardians for a successful harvest: Roong Pooc Festival. This lively and colourful festival takes places in a valley in Tan Van Commune, about 10 km away from Sapa Town. Definitely worth if you are happen to be there whilst the festival is taking place as, for the very lucky, it presents opportunity to meet a real life wizard!
Festival start date: first Dragon Day after the first full moon in Lunar Calendar, usually fall in March.
Duration: 1 day
2. Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
Inle Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival is one of the most famous pagoda festivals in Myanmar. It celebrates the rediscovery of four scared Buddha Images. Each village greets the four Buddha images with fanfare and celebrates every moment of the one-night stopover. Think of rowing competitions, Shan dances and martial arts on ceremonial boats; it will all happen during this festival. Many participants come from the small villages in the hills and plains surrounding the lake. A visit to Inle Lake during this time combined with biking tours, visits to local vineyards and a night in a local homestay really enhances the festive atmosphere in the air.
Festival start date: 14 – 31 Oct
Duration: 18 days
3. Bon Om Touk
Bon Om Touk, also known as Cambodian Water Festival, takes place once a year. It is the celebration of a major natural occurrence: the reversing of the river flow between lake Tonle Sap and the Mekong River. Schools close and most workers do not go to work. Millions of Cambodians gather at the riverbanks to celebrate. Colourful racing boats fill the river itself, with the largest boats over a hundred feet long and crewed with up to eighty oarsmen. Colourfully-costumed ladies at the prow dancing to the beat of the drums accompany the many boat crews that join the festivities. Find a good seat at the terrace of the Foreign Correspondents Club on Sisowath Quay for a full view of the river races whilst enjoying a drink.
Festival start date: 24-26 November
Duration: 3 days
4. Elephant Race Festival
Celebrated in one of the nicest months of Central Highland area, the Elephant Race Festival honours the chivalry and domesticated elephants of the local community. Echoing gongs accompany the spectacular performances of the elephants. The winning elephant is granted a laurel wreath. After the race the elephants swim across the Serepok River and relax. The M’nong people are an ethnic group famous for their bravery. This festival combined with visits to the hill town of Dalat, will definitely enhance your trip to Vietnam.
Festival start date: third lunar month
Duration: 1 day
Curious about the festivals and MICE facilities in Southeast Asia? Please contact our partner Saffron Travel for more information.