Cambodia

Visiting Cambodia is an experience that will live inside of you forever. The country homes some of most valuable cultural assets of the mankind and is a place that is rich with traditional culture. Though many vicissitudes, the Cambodian people have never changed their friendly and hospitable nature. When you travel to Cambodia, there are some things you might be not familiar with but by making a little effort and showing a respectful manner you will gain trust, friendship, and have a better overall experience in this exciting part of Southeast Asia. Smile, relax and have fun!

Cambodia responsible travel tips

Dos

  • The traditional Cambodian greeting - known as “Sampeah” - is made by putting your two hands together (with fingertips near the chin) and a giving a slight bow with your head. The hands are held higher to show more respect to elders and monks.
  • Unless told otherwise, always remove your shoes and hat before entering a temple, home or business.
  • Modest dress is the rule in Cambodia, particularly for women. Dress modestly by wearing long pants and covering your shoulders when you visit religious sites.
  • Respect for elders. Aside from monks, elders are given the highest level of respect in Cambodia. Always acknowledge an elder's status by allowing them to control the conversation. When seated, you should attempt to never sit higher than the eldest person in the room. Always wait for the eldest to sit. The same applies to when to begin eating.
  • Use the right hand to accept things or shake hands.
  • When you come across a monk by the way, you should take off your hat.
  • It is proper way to do “sompeah” when you speak or listen to the monks or elders.
  • Do ask for permission before taking photos of others.
  • Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.
  • Some donation when you visit a temple, pagoda is appreciated.
  • Do be aware that Cambodia is just emerging from decades of war and services are still below expectations so being patient with waiters, hotel attendants, drivers, and the like.
  • Support local economy. Use and enjoy little family business, purchasing handicrafts in markets or villages directly to support local artisans and their traditional crafts

Don'ts

  • Do not use your left hand to touch, eat, or hand someone something.
  • Women should never touch a monk or hand anything to them; even the monk's mother may not do so.
  • If a monk is seated, you should sit also before starting a conversation. Avoid sitting higher than seated monks.
  • Monks are not allowed to eat after noon - be mindful by not eating or snacking around them.
  • Avoid loud or disrespectful conversation inside of temples.
  • Don't touch, climb or sit on statue nor take pictures posing with Buddha images.
  • Avoid conversation about business or war when at the table. Avoid to mention about sensitive subject like Khmer Rough or country politic. 
  • Do not point directly at someone.
  • Do not touch anyone on the head or hair (considered a sacred part of the body).
  • Do not point the soles of your feet at anyone especially when crossing your legs. When in a Khmer’s house or in a pagoda, do not sit with your legs crossed together but with both your legs on one side.
  • Do not display anger. This is a sign of lack of self control and considered very impolite.
  • Avoid aggression and confontration at all costs, raised voices and loss of temper are considered extremely rude.
  • Do not show affection in public.
  • Do not distribute gifts such as candy to children as it encourages begging, but give to an established organisation a school, monastary/temple/kyaung or village elder instead.
  • Do not get involve in any thing illegal like prostitution, drug nor buy stuffs from wild animal, endangered species neither buy antique or other sacred items.
Cambodia responsible travel tips