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Southeast Asia forum

festivals in september/october 2009

Posted by buecax on 9/8/2009 at 06:25

hi all,

i´ll be in vietnam from sep 15th - 28th, in laos from sep 29th - oct 19th and in cambodia from oct 20th - 29th. i would love to witness some local holidays/festivals.

i managed to find out that there is a festival call "awk pansa" on oct 14th in laos. not sure though if it takes place in vientiane only or in luang prabang as well...

does anybody have some more information on this or other festivals?

many thanks in advance!


#1 buecax has been a member since 15/7/2009. Posts: 44

Posted by BruceMoon on 9/8/2009 at 07:39


For Laos festivals (religious at least) go here and here and here.

For Awk Phansaa, it appears to be fairly universally celebrated. Look here and here. Also see this.

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For Vietnam go here and here

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For Cambodia, go here and here.

Hope that helps.


#2 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by wanderingcat on 9/8/2009 at 13:37

Boun Ok Phansa depends on full moon. Last year it was Oct 14th, this year it will be earlier around Oct 4th-5th. Celebrated wherever you find Buddhists in Laos, but Luang Prabang is the place to be for this, they'll be celebrating it as Boun Lai Heua Fai (lit. float boat fire). Starting 1-2 weeks before the actual date people will be crafting lanterns & floats esp in the temples. Actual day is full turn-out for morning almsgiving, chanting & blessings at temples, & temple fair at Wat Visoun, then night time lantern light up at Wat Mai & Wat Xieng Mouane. Following evening every neighbourhood lights up their float & parades it from Nam Phou to Wat Xieng Thong & then launches it onto the Mekong, together with krathong. Ask around, last year nearby Ban Xieng Nyuen(sp?) & further off Vientiane capital had their boat races at this time too (note that Luang Prabang holds boat races much earlier in late August, instead of October as what the site says). Over in Vientiane area people will crowd certain spots along the Mekong trying to spot 'naga fireballs' too.

#3 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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Posted by buecax on 9/8/2009 at 15:54

thanks, guys.

but it´s all very confusing ... hardly any website is giving any concrete dates. gives the date for awk phansaa as 14.10.2009.

other pages state that it is actually held in different months(!) in vientiane and luang prabang.

i´d somewhow hoped that ther is some kind of "official" site that gives the dates for 2009...

#4 buecax has been a member since 15/7/2009. Posts: 44

Posted by wanderingcat on 9/8/2009 at 16:39

Ok Phansa is a standard date across all countries where it's celebrated. My Chinese, Thai & Lao calendars all mark 4th Oct as the full moon date for 2009. For those of us who don't go to the temple regularly, we rely on these calendars to know when the 'major dates' are. At most you'll find a one-day difference, due to differing interpretations/calculations of when the moon will be at its fullest.

For boat races, Luang Prabang , Vientiane & other places in Laos hold theirs at different times during the rainy season. Luang Prabang = usually late August. Vientiane = during Boun Ok Phansa.

Have this feeling that many many websites with travel info on SE Asia publish/reproduce stuff that hasn't been written by people who are really familiar with things here...on some sites it's pretty obvious that the authors have no idea how many of the festivals here go according to the lunar calendar. 14th Oct was the full moon date for 2008. 14th Oct 2009 will be about 1/4 left of a waning moon ;)

#5 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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Posted by seagypsy on 9/8/2009 at 21:07

Yep, according to the Lao National Tourism Administration, Boun Ok Phansa will be celebrated on Oct. 4 this year. But it's a several days event and would recommend arriving several days earlier to visit the various temples as they prepare their 'fireboats' as offerings.
Have been attending the past 4 years and it's very festive in LP! Just watch out for firecrackers as each year they seem to be used more and more.
BTW, you mentioned traveling to Cambodia too in which case you might want to attend the Boun OM Tuk festival.

#6 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136

Posted by buecax on 9/8/2009 at 21:56

thanks again, guys!

@seagypsy: would you recommend to pre-book accommodation in lp? or will i be able to find something on the spot if i aarive a few prior to the event?

#7 buecax has been a member since 15/7/2009. Posts: 44

Posted by seagypsy on 9/8/2009 at 23:16

Hi bruecax,
Given that tourists numbers are down and that this is still not quite the high season, I think you'll be fine if you show up several days in advance. Luang Prabang offers the largest selection of hotels and guesthouses in Laos (but Vientiane might have the most total rooms since they've got large scale hotels).

#8 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136

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