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Cultural Customs in Cambodia

When heading to another country, it is always a great idea to do your research. Many cultures differ vastly from Western culture, and you don’t want to inadvertently offend someone in your host country! This list of cultural customs in Cambodia covers the basics so you can have a great time whilst respecting the local culture.

Pagoda etiquette – When you visit Buddhist pagodas (which there are plenty of in Cambodia), always err on the side of caution with the dress code. It is best to keep a hat off when entering a pagoda, and ensuring your knees and shoulders are covered it all times. If you are female, it is absolutely forbidden to touch a Monk. You should also avoid pointing the soles of your feet or fingers towards Buddha statues or Monks. Finally, remember to take your shoes off being venturing inside any pagoda building.

Greetings – The traditional way to greet someone in Cambodia is by putting your hands together in front of your face. Although some Cambodians may shake your hand, it is usually only people who are used to interacting with foreigners. To be on the safe side, always greet people with this traditional method as you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable

Titles – A great thing about Cambodian culture is the respect they show for other people. Instead of calling people by their names, they usually address them by a title. For example, if someone is younger than you, call them ‘oun’ (pronounced own). If they are around the same age or a bit older than you, call them ‘bong’. If they are much older than you, call them ‘om’ which translates to grandparent. This is a fantastic way to show respect for the beautiful Cambodian people AND help you save face if you forget names!

Be sure to book one of our tours to gain a better insight into the local culture from Chang. He can take you to his favourite local places, educate you further on the culture and of course, he loves to practice his English!


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