Do's & Don'ts


An excerpt from the book:
"Cambodian strolls and proverbs" by Isabelle FOURNIER-NICOLLE & Anne-Yvonne GUILLOU

Chohl Steung T’aam Baatt, Chohl Toohk T’aam Kompong, Chohl Srok T’aam Prohtehs”.

“Travel up the river (by) following its meanders, Moor the dugout canoe to the jetty, Enter the country through its borders”…

… is in fact an invitation for visitors to the Kingdom “that one must respect local customs and adapt/adjust to them (and not the other way round)! Chol Tuk not only means “to moor” but also to “get in the dugout canoe”. 

Be it while visiting temples, beachcombing or simply hanging around, you will come to interact with the People of Cambodia who are well-known for their traditional hospitality and warmth. Out of respect to the Khmer traditions, visitors to the Kingdom should take care to observe local customs and practices. You may find it useful to familiarize yourself with the following common Do’s and Don'ts before embarking on your trip to Cambodia.



  • Ask for permission before taking photographs of any Cambodian people or monks.
  • It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a place of worship such as a pagoda or a sacred spot in the temple. Additionally, visitors should dress appropriately when visiting and when being inside the premises of a religious site, e.g. Angkor Temples, Royal Palace (shoulders and upper arms with a shirt or blouse, and legs and knees should be covered with long pants or long skirt – no mini shorts and miniskirt above the knees - , and hats removed when entering the sanctuaries or Vihear).
  • It is respectful to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
  • Though not always expected, a respectful way of greeting another individual is to bow the head slightly with hands pressed together at the chest (known as “Sampeah”).
  • If invited to dine in a Cambodian family’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift for the host such as fruit, dessert, or flowers.
  • If invited to attend a Cambodian wedding, it is customary to bring an envelope with cash as a wedding gift.
  • When using a toothpick at the table, use one hand to cover your mouth.
  • Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.
  • Last but not least, protect yourself from the heat and sun and do drink plenty of bottled water as to avoid severe dehydration.



  • Don't use your feet to point at someone as it is considered extremely insensitive and impolite.
  • Don't touch a Cambodian person (be it an adult or a child) on the head.
  • 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.
  • Keep public displays of affection to a respectful minimum.
  • Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.
  • Travel safely and do not put your own life at risk.


Commonsense practices

  • Do not litter; keep our community clean and safe.
  • Plastic bags can be hazardous; dispose them properly and help keep our city and streets clean and tidy.
  • In any situation, do keep a smile on the face as this will also help your interlocutor to keep a “face-saving” attitude, for making someone “losing face” may lead to misunderstandings and should you lose temper, you could end up spoiling your entire holidays.