With tourism opening up throughout the Mekong Sub-Region, local communities are opening up their traditional festivals for a tide of new tourists! If you’re visiting soon, plan your trip around one or more of these upcoming festivals and events.
Torch Festival, Yunnan, China
Lasting three days at the end of the sixth lunar month (July 22-24 in 2022), Yunnan locals celebrate this by setting up flaming torches in front of their houses, and burning a bonfire at the town square as locals dance, eat snacks, and (for singles) dress up in traditional costumes to find a mate.
Phchum Ben Day, Cambodia
The Khmer celebrate Pchum Ben for 15 days starting at the end of September or early October. (In 2022, the festival begins on September 24.) During Pchum Ben, the Khmer share food for the monks and make offerings to feed the “hungry ghosts” of the dearly departed.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival, Myanmar
This Buddhist festival takes place on Inle Lake after the full moon of Thadingyut (September 25-October 12 in 2022), starting (and ending) from the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. Four sacred Buddha images sail around Inle Lake on a royal barge, stopping at lakeside villages so locals can pay homage. Each village tries to outdo the other with fanfare and celebrations.
Kate Festival, Vietnam
For three days at the beginning of October, the Cham people of Vietnam celebrate their New Year, Mbang Kate (Kate Festival). The festival is best seen around the three Champa towers: Po Klong Garai in Phan Rang; Po Nagar near Nha Trang; and Po Rome in Ninh Thuan. The Cham celebrate their most victorious heroes and mourn the recent deaths in their families, all as villages hold sacred dances and traditional games.
Candle Festival, Thailand
The festival marks the beginning of the rainy season retreat for the Buddhist monks. During the celebration, gigantic, elaborately-carved candles are paraded through the Isan city of Ubon Ratchathani on floats. The parade is accompanied by dancers and musicians in traditional dresses.