Do’s & Don’ts in Cambodia

When travelling Cambodia is it important to know and to follow the basic codes of behavior and cultural conventions. It is recommended to be sensitive about local traditions and pay respect to the local beliefs and culture. Please keep this list of basic Do’s & Don‘ts in mind, during your stay in Cambodia.

DO’s

  • Always respond to a smile with a smile.
  • Adapt to local greeting habits. When you meet someone, it is polite to remove your hat, bow slightly, and put your hands together in a ‘prayer’ position, in particular elderly people or monks. However, most Cambodians greet foreigners by shaking hands.
  • Dress appropriately: women must always cover their shoulders and wear at least knee length shorts or a skirt or Sarong, even when swimming. It is considered as extremely disrespectful not to cover yourself in temples, as they are sacred places.
  • Ask for permission before taking photographs of any Cambodian people or monks.
  • Take off shoes and hat when entering someone’s house or a pagoda.
  • If invited to a Cambodian party, it is polite to bring a gift, take nicely presented fruit, sweets, pastries or flowers.
  • Feel free to make a small donation while visiting a pagoda.
  • Use both hands or right hand to give or to accept something from Cambodian people.
  • Cover your open mouth when using toothpick, sneezing, coughing, yawning.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t give gifts to kids informally.
  • Don’t touch people on the head and try not to point your feet at people or an object.
  • Don’t show affection in public.
  • Dining etiquette: Don’t begin eating if you are a guest at a dinner until the host has taken a bite. When invited to the dining table wait to be told where to sit as you would not want to upset any hierarchical arrangements.
  • Don’t buy any wild animal products from villagers or support any manner of wild animal abuse.
  • Don‘t barter to much on markets. Be respectful and settle on a reasonable price for both parties.
  • Don’t step over food.
  • Monks are forbidden to touch or be touched by a woman.
  • Smoke in front of others if they are not smoking.

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