Cambodia is one of the last rarely discovered countries in South East Asia. In the past the people of Cambodia had to suffer long years under the consequences of the terror regime of the Khmer-rouge and the civil war. Nowadays the country is free of wars and holds an enhancing economy. Especially the tourism sector is increasing fast and offers various job opportunities for the local society. Experienced travellers say that “Cambodia is like Thailand twenty years ago”, with lonesome islands, lost temples and rarely discovered regions and hill tribes.
Official name: Kingdom of Cambodia
Area: 181,035 km2 (59% covered by forest)
Capital: Phnom Penh
Islands: 30 (around Sinahoukville and Kep)
Climate: Tropical dry and wet
Population: 14,805,358 (more than 50% are less than 21years old)
Religion: Theravada Buddhism
Government: Constitutional democracy
King: Norodom Sihamoni
Prime minister: Hun Sen
People and Culture
The Cambodian culture can be generally described as conservative and traditional. Even so, there is a cultural change forming in the bigger cities where life is different and western influences are wide spread. Nowadays the majority of Khmer are Theravada Buddhist and this religion has a marked effect on their etiquette, customs and culture. Most travellers are impressed by the warmth and kindness of the local people. But not all tourists have the chance to discover this friendliness, caused by cultural barriers and their unknown misbehavior. To avoid these complications it is important to know a few Dos and Don’ts for Cambodia.
Nevertheless Cambodians understand that visitors come from another culture and will be indulgent about minor cultural faux pas. They will just appreciate every effort to understand their traditions and society and award these endeavors with a positive difference in the interaction.
- The traditional greeting, it is a little bow with the hands clasped together like in prayer.
- Remove your shoes before entering a temple or someone’s house.
- Try to make some indirect eye Contact from time to time. Staring can be interpreted as impolite.
- Ask for permission before taking photographs of people or monks.
- Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.
- A big no-go is to touch anyone on top of the head, because the head is holy.
- It is impolite to point your feet at anyone included a Buddha statue.
- In temples men should wear long pants and women tops covering their shoulders.
- Avoid handing anything with your left hand.
- To pass things politely, touch your left hand to your right elbow and pass the object with your right hand.
- Don't begin eating if you are a guest at a dinner and the host has yet to take a bite.
- Women should never touch male monks or hand something directly to them.