Ok Om Bok (or Ooc Om Bok) Festival is the biggest festival of Khmer people in Mekong Delta region. This festival plays a crucial role in the locals’ spiritual life, which is a highlight of the cultural beauty of Southern Khmer people. If you are familiar with other activities in a Mekong daily tour such as shopping at floating markets, taking a boat trip to some capujut forests or visiting an orchard and crocodile farm, this mesmerizing Ok Om Bok Festival will be an unforgettable memory with beautiful night lanterns and exciting traditional games.

  • Time: on the 14th day (the Full Moon Day) of the tenth lunar month
  • Location: Khmer community, mostly in Tra Vinh and Soc Trang Provinces
  • Purpose: Express gratitude to the Moon to protect an abundant crop

What is Ok Om Bok Festival?

Mesmerizing Ok Om Bok Festival
Mesmerizing Ok Om Bok Festival

Ok Om Bok Festival is held annually on the 14th day of the tenth lunar month among Khmer community. This festival is also known as the Festival of Worshipping the Moon. It is the ending time of the harvest, local people worship and express their gratitude to the moon – the Nature God which protect them from the bad weather, promote successful crops, and bring a peaceful life next year.

Offerings are well-prepared for the ceremony - Ok Om Bok Festival
Offerings are well-prepared for the ceremony

In preparation for the night of Ok Om Bok Festival, local people prepare a table of offerings which contain cốm dẹp (sticky and sweet rice flakes), coconuts, bananas, sweet potatoes, taro, sweeties, and other fruits. Cốm dẹp is a traditional dish of Khmer people in Southern Vietnam. This dish is made from young green rice, shredded coconut, and coconut juice. Only rice of the highest quality is chosen to cook cốm dẹp for the festival.

The next thing to do is setting up a bamboo gate. This gate is built by two bamboo trees as two pillars and coconut leaves as horizontal arches. At the top of the gate, the locals hang 12 betel leaves symbolizing 12 months of a year and a betel palm tree with 7 fruits representing 7 days a week. Under the gate, offerings are placed to show Khmer people’s gratitude to the moon.

Cốm dẹp - a must-try dish when visiting Mekong Delta - Ok Om Bok Festival
Cốm dẹp – a must-try dish when visiting Mekong Delta

On the night of the 14th day, when the moon rises highest, people gather at the pagoda or their house’s courtyard. The ceremony is participated by both the elderly and younger children. A prestigious elder of the village represents everyone to express their sincere to the moon and pray for a prosperous year with good harvests. After the worshipping ceremony, he lets the children eat cốm dẹp and ask them what their wishes are. Khmer people believe that the children’s wishes are a motivation for adults in the next year.

Things to Do at Ok Om Bok Festival

1. Take photos of beautiful wind lanterns

A lantern ceremony on the lake - Ok Om Bok Festival
A lantern ceremony on the lake

The highlight of Ok Om Bok festival is a sparkling lantern ceremony on Ba Om Lake. Unlike Hoi An Lantern Festival, the lanterns are not only dropped on the lake but also flown on the sky. You can immerse in a mesmerizing atmosphere of dozens of lanterns on the sky in the harmonious music. The lanterns carry the wishes of Khmer people for the prosperous and successful year.

2. Enjoy a boisterous atmosphere of Ghe Ngo Race

Ghe Ngo Race is a part of Ok Om Bok festival. Ngo is a boat which is 25-30 meters long and 1-1.4 meters wide. This boat is wide enough for 40 to 60 boatmen with a leader at the top to guide the whole team. The race becomes boisterous when people gather along the riverbanks. They sing, dance, and play drums and trumpets to cheer the participators. Ghe Ngo Race is an undoubtedly engaging cultural activity of the festival.

Ghe Ngo Race - Ok Om Bok Festival
Ghe Ngo Race

Together with the race, you can participate in some traditional games such as tug-of-war and bamboo bridge crossing. Moreover, there are other cultural events for your trip to Vietnam such as a local cuisine fair and a souvenir-making contest.

3. Savor some famous local cuisines

Bun nuoc leo - Ok Om Bok Festival
Bun nuoc leo

When you travel to Northern Vietnam and visit Mekong Delta, you will not only have a chance to visit magnificent Khmer temples, admire the beauty of our ‘rice basket’ and discover our floating markets but you can also explore the wonderful culinary world. This region is endowed with abundance in nature and famous for many dishes made from river fishes, shrimps and other fresh vegetables. Soul noodle (bún nước lèo), suong noodles (bún suông), fish congee (cháo ám), and fried snakehead with soybeans are some must-try foods here. Tra Vinh is nicknamed as a ‘Coconut Kingdom’ by the locals, so don’t forget to try waxed coconut (dừa sáp) here.

4. Retreat your soul at a Khmer temple

Doi Pagoda (Bat Pagoda) - Ok Om Bok Festival
Doi Pagoda (Bat Pagoda)

Soc Trang and Tra Vinh are two provinces with the largest number of Khmer people in Vietnam, thus, it is not surprising that these provinces consist of numerous Khmer religious sites. Clay Pagoda (Chua Dat Set), Bat Pagoda (Chua Doi), Kh’Leang Temple, and Chen Kieu Pagoda are notable spots in Soc Trang while Tra Vinh is famous for Vam Rai Temple, Giong Lon Temple (or Nodol Temple), Hang Pagoda, and Ang Temple. When visiting these sites, you can notice that the main worship hall is carefully and vibrantly decorated since it is dedicated to the Bodhisattva.

5. Visit a local market and buy some fruits

You can buy some tropical fruits in Mekong Delta - Ok Om Bok Festival
You can buy some tropical fruits in Mekong Delta

An all-time-recommended activity to understand deeply about local life is visiting a local market. You can buy anything as a gift to your friends and relatives there, as well as try some local snacks such as sweet pudding (chè) or Vietnamese pancake (bánh tráng). As Mekong Delta is the most prosperous region in Vietnam, you can find many agricultural products at the market. There are many fruit vendors which sell some succulent tropical fruits such as mango, rambutan, jackfruit, durian, banana, grapefruit, etc.

Ok Om Bok Festival dates

Save your date to attend Ok Om Bok Festival
Save your date to attend Ok Om Bok Festival

Did you know that September – November is the best time to visit Mekong Delta? Customize to Vietnam tour with us so that you can attend this memorable Ok Om Bok festival:

201820th November 2018
201918th November 2019
202028th November 2020

Start planning your tailor-made Vietnam tour by contacting one of our specialists…

A Hanoian lover of art, cuisine and culture, Chi Nguyen enjoys exploring all elegant aspects of this city as well as discovering off-the-beaten-track destinations in the beautiful S-shaped country.

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