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Rice field in Siem Reap, Cambodia Apr 2016 - culture in Cambodia

Culture of Cambodia

With a culture and traditions steeped in history, you can expect a fusion of local traditions with religious customs. Set in the northwest, the luxury resort city of Siem Reap is perfectly poised for sightseeing tours, with the magnificent relics of the Khmer Empire, Angkor, just outside the city limits. One of the mightiest empires to ever rule the world, the Angkor complex is proof that Khmer architectural genius is comparable only to the world’s most stunning wonders, such as Machu Picchu. The Angkor temples, set between the Kulen mountains to the north and the serene Tonle Sap Lake to the south, are typical examples of Khmer-style architecture, and include UNESCO-listed gems such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Banteay Srei, Beng Mealea, Ta Phrom and Preah Khan.

Much of the spurt in Cambodian tourism may be owed to these ruins but, there’s a lot more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat temples. In Siem Reap itself, beyond the tourist trails frequented by motorized tuk tuks, or the night markets where street food stalls hawk exotic delicacies, luxury hotels, spas and a dizzying number of foreign travelers, lies a dizzying cultural scene that can rival any other in Southeast Asia. In Phnom Penh, on the banks of the Mekong River, unravel Asian mysticism, romance and heritage – right from the glittering Royal Palace to saffron-clad monks lined up at the morning alms giving ceremony, to the Silver Pagoda, and the Killing Fields from the Khmer Rouge era.

During your private Cambodia tour, you will notice that the culture and tradition are steeped in its history. The official language of Cambodia is Khmer.

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Women tourists wear jacket jeans walking into Angkor Wat landmark in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Asia

Cambodia travel advice

  • Visit the old town market in Siem Reap to see row after row of souvenir shops, local eateries and buzzing nightlife!
  • A tuk tuk ride is a great way to experience the local lifestyle. Bear in mind that tuk tuk drivers are not always familiar with the names of streets so it is best to remember the names of famous temples and pagodas close to where you wish to go. Remember also to always negotiate the price beforehand!
  • Regardless of gender, when meeting someone for the first time, press your palms together in front the of the chest, smile politely and, as you bow, say Chumreap Suor. The lower the bow, the more respect you are giving.
  • When addressing someone, you can use the title Lok for a man and Lok Srey for a woman before their name.
  • Choice of transportation in Cambodia is still quite limited. Cars that are available for usage are typically Toyota or Hyundai models from the late 1990s. While being old, these cars thankfully have air-conditioning for your comfort. Wearing a seatbelt in Cambodia is still not common practice – be aware that the vehicles in which you travel won’t be fitted with seat belts in accordance with current convention.
  • If you are giving a gift, avoid white gift wrapping paper and always present gifts with both hands. Note that Cambodians generally do not celebrate birthdays.
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