No two places are ever similar to each other; they will vary from each other in more ways than just one. And considering every place has its own sets of rules, customs, and traditions, one should always respect them, especially when you are a tourist. Respecting others’ beliefs and customs is a part of basic etiquette; you don’t want to do anything that will end up offending the locals. Hence it’s always best to gather some information about that particular place beforehand so that you could be a more responsible and informed tourist.
Cambodia, home to the very famous Angkor Wat, is considered a popular travel destination in Southeast Asia. The cultural customs of this country happen to be far more different as compared to the western areas. Tourists who are generally very respectful don’t have a hard time fitting in when in Cambodia. But it’s always a good idea to know a few things about the country before visiting it so that you can act responsibly being a tourist.
Ahead, we have put together a list of some dos and don’ts of Cambodia.
Do: Slip your shoes off at the door
It’s a common practice to take your shoes when entering a place. Since feet are considered to be the least sacred part of the body and the dirtiest one too, both locals and tourists take all the customs involving feet very seriously. This is one of the reasons why you will spot almost every person in the country wearing flip-flops. Apart from temples, you will be expected to take off your shoes at houses, hostels, and some restaurants too.
Don’t: Have interaction with monks
It’s very common to find monks in Cambodia, and just because you are so intrigued by their lifestyle, it doesn’t give you a free pass to have a friendly interaction with them, you need to draw a line there. You should try to avoid interacting with monks. Handing over anything to them isn’t a good idea, let alone touching them, especially their head, it’s considered very disrespectful. However, if you want to have some conversation with a monk and you find him seated, then you should sit as well and try to sit lower than they are sitting.
Do: Initiate a conversation in the local language
Nothing makes locals much happier than seeing tourists trying to have a conversation in their local language. The residents of Cambodia are no different, they will truly appreciate your effort for trying to have a conversation in their local language, no matter how good or bad you’re at it. And if you are struggling to speak in their local language, the locals would happily assist you without making any judgment. Therefore, try to learn their local language beforehand.
Don’t: Wear skimpy clothes
While it tends to get really hot in Cambodia, it doesn’t give you an excuse to wear skimpy clothes. The residents of Cambodia are pretty reserved when it comes to clothes. They prefer dressing modestly and expect the same from tourists as well. While they have gotten accustomed to seeing tourists in shorts and t-shirts, you should try not to embarrass them with your choice of attire. Try to cover your skin as much as possible, and when it comes to visiting temples or government buildings, you should always dress conservatively.
Unlike western areas, haggling is a common practice here. Feel free to test your haggling skills while shopping, if you are lucky enough, you might be able to secure a great deal or discount on purchased items.