Customs Traditions & Etiquette of Cambodia

Identified for its gorgeous temples of Phnom Penh close to Siem Reap, Cambodia is without doubt one of the hottest international locations in South East Asia for guests from all around the globe. Not solely this, however it’s acquired stretches of attractive shoreline and seemingly untouched islands off its southern coast, simply including to the intrigue and curiosity that this distinctive and beautiful nation arouses in those that enterprise right here.

Sadly although, Cambodia additionally has an especially darkish historical past, primarily partly to the brutal and bloody regime of the Khmer Rouge which lasted from 1975 to 1979, throughout which it murdered hundreds of thousands of Cambodian individuals in chilly blood. In actual fact, it’s believed that folks of a sure age in Cambodia immediately (inside about one to 2 generations) both have been immediately affected themselves or know somebody who was immediately affected by the Cambodian Genocide of the mid to late seventies. The outcome has made discussing politics one thing of a discomfort for a lot of Cambodians.

Touring to Cambodia could be a daunting prospect for a lot of given the historical past, however it doesn’t must be. We’ve put collectively this handy information to navigating the customs and traditions of Cambodia in addition to a few of the etiquette so that you might be ready to your journey to this distinctive, culturally wealthy and superb nation with Explorient on any of our Cambodian excursions.

Cambodia – A Nation of Contrasts

Cambodia is certainly a rustic of contrasts – as evidenced by its extra fashionable capital of Phnom Penh – residence to glass edged skyscrapers generally neighboring shantytowns to the coastal hippie villages alongside the seashores of the south, to the traditional capital of the Khmer Kingdom of Siem Reap. All through the nation, you’ll expertise a myriad of various traditions and customs in terms of eating, faith, and life generally. Listed here are a few of the commonest ones you’re prone to run into if you discover this lovely nation on Explorient’s Mekong Delta Explorient tour.

Keep Cool

We don’t imply temperature-wise, though that’s a good suggestion as nicely when the mercury soars in the summertime months, generally breaking 45C. Staying cool by way of your mood is integral to the idea of saving face. It’s completely unacceptable to lose your mood and yell or belittle individuals in public – as with a lot of Cambodia’s neighbors. Usually being brash and abrasive will lose you quite a lot of respect whereas being good-humored, form and calm will get you an identical in return. Listed here are some attention-grabbing (and straightforward!) methods to save lots of face in Cambodia.

  • When haggling, give a bit additional on the ultimate value. You too can come again to the store to buy one thing later.
  • All the time politely refuse a present within the first occasion or two, however at all times settle for in the long run and obtain it with each palms.
  • You’ll want to be real when giving compliments and deflect compliments towards you away from your self to another person. Above all, keep humble.

Palms, Toes, Heads

Like with different international locations within the area, the ft are thought-about the dirtiest components of the physique and shouldn’t be pointed at anybody and care must be taken to not present the soles of your ft even unintentionally to an individual or level them towards a sacred place or statue, corresponding to a temple or Buddha. This consists of casually sitting down along with your legs stretched out. When doubtful, you possibly can cowl your decrease legs and ft with a shawl or sarong when you should sit this manner, in any other case, most popular strategies are cross-legged or on the knees when you’re ready. The top is taken into account essentially the most sacred and vital a part of the physique as that’s the place the soul or consciousness lives, and so touching anybody’s head – even youngsters’s – must be prevented. When it comes to palms, the left is taken into account soiled whereas the precise is for consuming and passing individuals issues, nevertheless when giving or receiving issues, it must be finished with each palms.

The Previous

Whereas Cambodia has a considerably sordid historical past that will incite curiosity from vacationers, it’s advisable to keep away from asking or speaking about it outright to keep away from upsetting anybody. For vacationers who’re curious in regards to the Cambodian Genocide, you possibly can go to locations just like the Killing Fields or S21 (Tuol Sleng), a former school-turned-prison within the middle of Phnom Penh the place the Khmer Rouge would torture and kill many harmless Cambodian individuals. You’ll go to Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields in your go to to Cambodia on Explorient’s Cambodia Impressions tour, a go to you’ll be speaking about for years to return.


Like in Thailand with the wai, in Cambodia the normal greeting is named the som pas. They’re primarily the identical, the place you press your palms collectively in a prayer-like stance and bow barely. Some Cambodians additionally go for the western handshake, however will probably be pretty smooth and never a agency one like we often anticipate within the west, so don’t be shocked to obtain a limp handshake. The everyday greatest response to a greeting by a Cambodian – whether or not it’s a handshake or the som pas – is to return the greeting in the identical means… or a minimum of ultimately. Not returning a greeting in Cambodia is taken into account extraordinarily impolite.


Whereas many individuals could put on shorts in Cambodia, that’s about the place the acceptance for western apparel ends. Guests ought to take care to not present an excessive amount of pores and skin or put on revealing clothes corresponding to tight pants, leggings, yoga pants, brief shorts, miniskirts and the like and in addition take care to not put on something with spiritual symbolism – particularly the Buddha – on it. Swimwear is okay on the seaside, however put it aside for the seaside. Clothes within the metropolis must be respectful and canopy shoulders and the like. In temples take care to cowl shoulders and knees. Carry a shawl or sarong if needed. It might probably get highly regarded in Cambodia, as with many surrounding international locations, so overlaying up may appear counter-intuitive, however it could actually really assist defend you from the solar’s harsh rays and supply shade. You’ll want to pack appropriately earlier than your Angkor Wat Exploration tour with Explorient and embody some longer garments for consolation.


Conversing with monks is without doubt one of the most attention-grabbing issues which you could expertise whereas in South East Asia and lots of of them love to speak to foreigners and have a wonderful grasp of English because of the superb schooling they get by way of their temples. The final rule of thumb is to observe the lead of the monk. If he’s seated, sit earlier than placing up a dialog and attempt to sit decrease than they’re. Girls are permitted to speak to monks however ought to by no means go them something immediately. Lastly, monks don’t eat within the afternoon, so take care to not devour meals or drink when conversing with a monk out of respect.

Temples and Journey

When getting into any temples, take away footwear and go away it exterior. Comply with the lead of everybody else – if you see a pile of footwear, it’s a very good indication that your footwear ought to be part of these within the pile. Temples are sacred locations so you should definitely flip your cellphone on silent, eliminated headphones and respect the peace and serenity by not speaking loudly, particularly as there could also be individuals meditating or praying. Ask earlier than photographing something, and by no means contact the statuary current or flip your again to the Buddha statue. Additionally at all times make sure you’re dressed appropriately for temple exploration – even Angkor Wat if you go to on the Indochina Explorient tour to expertise these beautiful temples up shut and personally.

There you’ve gotten a few of the finer factors of Cambodian etiquette and customs to assist put together you to your journey to this lovely, heat and welcoming nation. With a bit of knowledge below your belt, it is best to be capable to hit the bottom operating and revel in all of your excursions and adventures with Explorient on our Indochina Spectacular tour.

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