Pchum Ben Day, Ancestor's Day

19 Sep 2017 - 4 Oct 2017
Angkor Wat

Souls of the deceased gather to accept the offerings of fruit and rice from their surviving ancestors.

Ever wondered if the ghosts of your dead relatives are watching over you? Was it your great-granny who pushed the ornament she always hated off the mantelpiece? How did Granddad's cap end up back in the cupboard? Well, if you're curious about the supernatural world, you're in the right place because many of the Cambodian people certainly believe in ghosts and actually welcome the spirits back to earth by cooking food for them. 

Dressed in cotton linen, families visit the pagodas erected at local Wats (temples) in the early morning (6 a.m.) to offer gifts to alleviate the suffering of departed spirits.

There is a fraternal feeling in Cambodia during this public holiday and those who arrive at temples will be warmly received and invited in to pray and share food. Num onsam (pork wrapped in glutinous rice) and num korm (rice flour with coconut and palm sugar) are provided by participants. Bring a snack yourself such as fruit or biscuits if you wish to contribute.

It is said that on the first day of Pchum Ben, the gates of hell are opened and spirits are released into the world for 15 days. The offerings placate the spirits of ancestors and enable them to benefit from the good karma of their relatives. Neglectful ancestors on the other hand will be haunted for a year.

Head to the pagodas around Angkor Wat but purchase tickets the night before. If you forget, the office on the Charles de Gaulle road opens at 5 a.m. However, make sure you dress appropriately by covering your shoulders and legs to the knee.

If you are afraid of ghosts, let's just hope you don't see anyone raising their (translucent) head on Ancestor's Day. 

  • Get there: Fly to Siem Reap and take a taxi to the city centre.
  • Stay: Find accommodation near the city centre so you can travel between venues easily.

*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!