The tourist behaviour code is written with the intention to minimize
any that may arise between tourists and residents due to differences in
language and customs. It is also to reinforce and even renew a sense
of pride in the local people, their culture and provide an opportunity
for tourists to learn, appreciate and respect the Khmer culture. It aims
to inform tourists about the local society, its customs, dress code and
acceptable behaviour in religious and other places.
Swakum ! Welcome !
Welcome to the Kingdom of Cambodia. It makes no difference whether you
are here on business or pleasure. You are in for a treat. You will catch
a glimpse of the Khmer people, their history, culture and nature through
the pristine beaches, natural landscapes, quaint villages, exotic traditional
dances, the world famous Angkor complex and archaeological treasures.
Cambodians traditionally greet each other by joining their hands together
in front of their chest and bowing often (Chum Reap Suor) followed
by the western practice of shaking hands.
Although men tend to shake hands with each other, women usually use the
traditional greeting with both men and other women. It is considered
acceptable for foreigners to shake hands with Cambodians of both
sexes. When you are invited to a gathering,
it is polite to make an effort to properly greet the people you meet
on your arrival.
You should respond to greetings from others.
It is considered disrespectful not to return greetings by other people.
When you enter pagodas (wats) sit with
your feet to the side rather than in lotus position, then you join
both hands together under chin and bow three times to the floor. Always
be seated when the monks are seated.
Casual dress is the norm because of the hot and humid weather. However,
more formal attire is preferred for meetings, official functions and major
ceremonies or events. if you are here for pleasure, wear sport shirts,
tee shirts and trousers, skirts, slacks, blouses and comfortable shoes. If
you are here on an official or business visit and will be attending meetings,
receptions and parties, you will need to be appropriately attired.
For any such occasions-in a suit or sports jacket and tie for men and
formal dress for women.
Do not wear shorts or sandals to government offices, or wear swim
suits, biker suits (lycra), bikinis, or see-through apparel in the
city streets or villages. This is considered offensive by local people.
Both men and women should be particularly sure to dress appropriately
if visiting a religious site, for example, a pagoda (wat). Smart casual
attire is recommended.
Nude bathing is unacceptable in Cambodia
There are many photographic shops in Cambodia, offering international
standard services. Be sure to take plenty of photographs so you can
take back good memories of the Kingdom. Photographers are free to
shoot almost everything. However, a few principles should be
If photographing local people, always ask their permission first.
Most of them will be happy to pose for you.
Taking photographs of military bases and other designated security
areas is prohibited.
Ask permission before taking photos inside pagodas, royal palaces,
other sacred places or special events.
Food and Drinks
Cambodian culinary specialties can be described as mild variations
of the tastes of Thailand, but often with some French influence. Rice
and fish are the basic ingredients for many Khmer dishes. Local specialties
include curries, soup and varieties of dishes prepared with beef, pork,
poultry and seafood which are abundant.Fresh fruits and vegetables are
readily available in the markets.
Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made
with boiled water. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot
and fruit which can be peeled.
You are most likely to be offered a cup of water or hot tea when
you visit a Cambodian house or other places. This is a symbolic gesture
It is inappropriate to put all the dishes on the table at the start
of a meal.
A Cambodian meal almost always includes soup (samloh). It is eaten
at the same time as the other courses, not as a separate stand-alone
Visiting Pagodas (Wats) and other religious and traditional places
The official religion of Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism, which is also
practiced in neighboring countries like Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Sri
Lanka. The sight of a saffron-robed monk is common throughout the Kingdom
and almost every village had a pagoda (wat).Visitors should dress neatly
in all religious places. They should never go shirtless, in shorts, hot
pants or other unsuitable attire.
Shoes, sandals and a hat should be removed when entering a mosque or
a pagoda (wat) where Buddhist images are kept. Each Buddha image, large
or small, well kept or in ruins, is regarded sacred.
Members of the family or people whom you wish to treat as friends
should be addressed according to the following rules:
People of your age or younger can be called by their name.
People older than yourself should be addressed as Bang (older
brother ) and Bang Srey (for women).
Old people should be addressed as Ta (for men and Yeay
Official and casual acquaintances are supposed to be addressed by
usages approximating "comrade", but in practice people use Lok
(Mr), and Lok Srey (Mrs), which is not only formal but conveys
respect as well. When speaking with such people in English, it
is best to use Mr, Mrs or Miss.
There is no regulation on tipping in Cambodia. However, tipping is greatly
appreciated as salaries are low. The value of the tip is optional, depending
on individual generosity. It should commensurate with the level of service
A small present, instead of a tip, is greatly appreciated.
Bargaining is a way of life in Cambodia and many shops will offer discounts
after negotiation. Cambodia is noted for its handicrafts - handmade articles
such as silk materials, wood carvings, stone copies of Khmer art, silver
items and jeweler are worth buying. It is illegal to export anyantique
Polite behaviour is welcome everywhere. What is considered polite
in other countries is probably considered polite in Cambodia too.
However, there are few customs, social and religious taboos.
Cambodians admire a calm and considered approach to all aspects of
life. Open show of temper and anger should be avoided.
It is considered a grave insult to touch another person's head, even
if is meant as a friendly gesture.
Use the right hand to accept things or shake hands.
It is considered rude to point your foot at a person or object.
Keep an open mind and do not demand much from your host. Loud voices
and boisterous behaviour are considered impolite. Smiling and nodding
establishes good intent.
public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon.
If you like someone to come over to you, motion with your whole hand,
palm down. Do not signal with your finger.
When picking your teeth with a toothpick after a meal, it is considered
polite to hold the toothpick with one hand and to cover your open
mouth with the other.
In private homes, it is polite to remove your shoes when entering
Be appreciative of people who appreciate
By observing the behaviour code, you can thoroughly enjoy your stay in
Cambodia and take home pleasant memories.
Courtesy of the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in London,