Customs Traditions & Etiquette of Cambodia

Recognized for its beautiful temples of Phnom Penh close to Siem Reap, Cambodia is among the hottest nations in South East Asia for guests from all all over the world. Not solely this, nevertheless it’s received stretches of beautiful shoreline and seemingly untouched islands off its southern coast, simply including to the intrigue and curiosity that this distinctive and lovely nation arouses in those that enterprise right here.

Sadly although, Cambodia additionally has a particularly darkish historical past, primarily partially to the brutal and bloody regime of the Khmer Rouge which lasted from 1975 to 1979, throughout which it murdered tens of millions of Cambodian individuals in chilly blood. In truth, it’s believed that folks of a sure age in Cambodia in the present day (inside about one to 2 generations) both have been instantly affected themselves or know somebody who was instantly 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, nevertheless it doesn’t need to be. We’ve put collectively this convenient information to navigating the customs and traditions of Cambodia in addition to among the etiquette so that you might be ready to your journey to this distinctive, culturally wealthy and wonderful nation with Explorient on any of our Cambodian excursions.

Cambodia – A Nation of Contrasts

Cambodia is unquestionably a rustic of contrasts – as evidenced by its extra trendy 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 relating to eating, faith, and life typically. Listed here are among the most typical ones you’re more likely 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 properly 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 lots of Cambodia’s neighbors. Usually being brash and abrasive will lose you a number of respect whereas being good-humored, sort and calm will get you an identical in return. Listed here are some fascinating (and simple!) methods to avoid wasting face in Cambodia.

  • When haggling, give a bit additional on the ultimate worth. You too can come again to the store to buy one thing later.
  • At all times politely refuse a present within the first occasion or two, however at all times settle for ultimately and obtain it with each arms.
  • Make sure you be real when giving compliments and deflect compliments towards you away from your self to another person. Above all, keep humble.

Fingers, Ft, Heads

Like with different nations within the area, the ft are thought-about the dirtiest elements of the physique and shouldn’t be pointed at anybody and care must be taken to not present the soles of your ft even by accident to an individual or level them towards a sacred place or statue, reminiscent of a temple or Buddha. This consists of casually sitting down along with your legs stretched out. When unsure, you may cowl your decrease legs and ft with a shawl or sarong if you happen to should sit this manner, in any other case, most well-liked strategies are cross-legged or on the knees if you happen to’re in a position. The pinnacle is taken into account essentially the most sacred and essential 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 averted. By way of arms, the left is taken into account soiled whereas the appropriate is for consuming and passing individuals issues, nonetheless when giving or receiving issues, it must be accomplished with each arms.

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 may 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 come back.


Like in Thailand with the wai, in Cambodia the standard greeting is called the som pas. They’re basically the identical, the place you press your arms collectively in a prayer-like stance and bow barely. Some Cambodians additionally go for the western handshake, however it will likely be pretty comfortable and never a agency one like we often count on within the west, so don’t be stunned 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 not less than indirectly. 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 reminiscent of tight pants, leggings, yoga pants, quick shorts, miniskirts and the like and likewise take care to not put on something with non secular symbolism – particularly the Buddha – on it. Swimwear is okay on the seashore, however reserve it for the seashore. 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 obligatory. It might get highly regarded in Cambodia, as with many surrounding nations, so overlaying up might sound counter-intuitive, however it could really assist shield you from the solar’s harsh rays and supply shade. Make sure you pack appropriately earlier than your Angkor Wat Exploration tour with Explorient and embrace some longer garments for consolation.


Conversing with monks is among the most fascinating issues which you could expertise whereas in South East Asia and plenty of of them love to speak to foreigners and have a superb grasp of English due to the excellent schooling they get via their temples. The final rule of thumb is to observe the lead of the monk. If he’s seated, sit earlier than putting up a dialog and attempt to sit decrease than they’re. Ladies are permitted to speak to monks however ought to by no means move them something instantly. 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 coming into any temples, take away footwear and go away it exterior. Observe the lead of everybody else – if you see a pile of sneakers, 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 might have among 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 data underneath your belt, you must be capable of hit the bottom operating and revel in all of your excursions and adventures with Explorient on our Indochina Spectacular tour.

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