Tradition & culture – about Cambodia


Traveling to Cambodia, you should learn about their customs, habits, especially common characteristic. We would like to introduce to you some psychological characteristics, customs and social norm of the Cambodian.

>> 8 featured gifts only exist in Cambodia

Language in Cambodia

Khmer is the official language of Cambodia and is used in most social contexts including government administration, education at all levels, and in the mass media.  Modern Khmer language is used across the nation. Besides, Khmer vocabulary used in literature, the military, and administration is borrowed from Sanskrit or Pali. Because of French colonial time, numerous French words have been incorporated into the language as well.


Cambodia is one of the countries where people have absolute faith in religion. Religion has been introduced in this country since the ancient time. Hinduism has been presented in Cambodia since the dawn of time and quickly established a culture of religious belief among Cambodians. Until the VII century, Buddhism was introduced to this country, interntional tourists visiting the Kingdom of Cambodia, will see local people here have gentle nature, hard working sprit, and honesty.

Khmer Dancing via Landlopers

Social relationship

The Khmer prefer to live in peace, away from crowds.
Buildings: Cambodians prefer to build houses confront southward.
When entering the house: The left side of the house is reserved for older people. On the right is a place for children.
Bedroom: Cambodians do not like strangers in their bedrooms, especially the bedrooms of women and girls. They usually turn their heads toward the south.
Abstinence: Cambodia abstained from touching their head. Never touch children’s heads no matter how cute they are. Cambodian think that will reduce children’s intelligence

Meeting & greeting

There is a very unique character in the way Cambodian people greeting. It will vary depending on type of relationship, social hierarchy and age gap between two side. The simplest and traditional way of greeting is to bend down with your palms touching together and elbows touch your hip. And if a person wants to show respect for the other person, he will bow lower and clap his hands higher. For foreigners, the Cambodian people still use handshake, however, women still choose the traditional way to greet guests.

1 / Greetings: Cam people do not trend to shake hands, especially between men and women. People greet each other by folding their hands and slightly bowing. The higher the person, the lower the bow.
——For slightly more respect
For slightly more respect, the fingertips climb to the tip of your nose.
—– For people of high standing
For people of high standing or older people, your fingertips touch level with your eyebrows.

2 / Voice tone: Cambodian people are mostly Buddhist, so you try to lower the voice in communication and negotiation, never make quarrel, loud voices in public.

3 / Do not spit indiscriminately

4 / Do not honk your horn when going on the road if not too necessary

5 / Eating norm: Cam people often eat with plate, spoon and plate. Do not use your own spoon for sharing food. Each bowl of food should be prepared a separate utensil. Including bowl for each person. Do not put the bowl directly on the mouth drinking soup.

6 / Do not touch or sit near monks, this rule is especially strict for women.

7 / Do not sit on snake statues, Buddha statues, temple roofs at the worship area.

8 / Gift: gifts are for special holidays, Cambodian attach great importance to decoration. Giving flowers on the occasion of welcome home party, birthday, ….

9 / In the funeral, go to the temple: wearing black pants (skirts) extend down to the knees, don not show chest or armpit. You should buy a set for going to funeral only.

10 / Wedding: depending on the relationship to celebrate wedding in money. Currently, if you are invited to a restaurant in the city, you should celebrate a minimum of $ 20 / person.

Cambodian monk via vivi Travel

Social Psychological characteristics:

The Khmer people are honest, patient with difficulties, suffer from hardship in labor. Everyone wants to be polite and be treated politely in society, Khmer women are shy. Both young and old are gentle, do not like people bragging, liar. So if anyone lie or cheat the Cambodian only once is enough to lose all confidence even lead to hatred.


The Khmer in some areas are very trusting in evil spirits, gods, so they are interested in worship. This custom has been almost eliminated, only the ceremony for grandparents remains.

Special Occasions

Every year, Cambodia celebrates traditional Khmer New Year from April 13-15. At this time of the year, people swept and clean the village, repair their houses. In front of the house, they put a table with candles, incense, flowers, and fruits for a procession of the gods. At night they burned all lights and the lanterns. During the Lunar New Year, the Khmer people presented new clothes to the pagodas, prayed for good health, luck and wealth. As for the boys and girls, they play push and pull, throw towels, shoot indigo and dance in joyfulness. 

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