Allo' Expat Cambodia - Connecting Expats in Cambodia
Main Homepage
Allo' Expat Cambodia Logo

Subscribe to Allo' Expat Newsletter

   Information Center Cambodia
Cambodia General Information
Cambodia Expatriates Handbook
Cambodia and Foreign Government
Cambodia General Listings
Cambodia Useful Tips
Housing in Cambodia
Bringing Pets
Driving in Cambodia
Domestic Help
Business Etiquettes
Social Customs & Etiquettes
Cambodia Education & Medical
Cambodia Travel & Tourism Info
Cambodia Lifestyle & Leisure
Cambodia Business Matters
  Sponsored Links

Check our Rates

Social Customs & Etiquettes in Cambodia


Cambodia is a collective society in which individuals take second place to the group whether this is the family, neighbourhood or company. In such societies, etiquette and protocol guidelines are used to maintain a sense of common harmony – for example subtle communication styles are employed in order to minimise the chances of causing offense to others.

The concept of face also ties in with this collective outlook. Protecting both one's own and other's face is extremely important. Face can roughly be translated as a combination of honour, dignity and public reputation that is attributed to a person. Face can be lost, given and accrued. Foreigners in Cambodia need to be aware of the mechanics of face to ensure they do not cause anyone to lose face as a result of unintentional actions. Face is lost when someone is criticised, embarrassed or exposed in public. It can be given by complimenting someone publicly.

Buddhism reinforces a sense of hierarchy within Cambodian society. Interpersonal communication is built on the relationship between those involved.

Common hierarchical guidelines are that parents are superior to children, teachers to students and managers to subordinates. Monks will even walk in rank order, highest in front and most junior at the rear. As a foreigner you may find that people ask personal questions – this is a means to identify your 'rank' rather than being nosy. They may change the way they communicate depending on your status.

Meeting & Greeting

Greetings between Cambodians are dependent on the relationship/hierarchy/age between the people. The traditional greeting is a bow combined with a bringing of the hands together at chest level (similar to bringing hands together for prayer). If one intends to show greater respect the bow is lower and the hands brought higher.

With foreigners Cambodians have adopted the western practice of shaking hands. Women may still use the traditional Cambodian greeting. The simple rule is to respond with the greeting you are given.

In Cambodia people are addressed with the honorific title 'Lok' for a man and 'Lok Srey' for a woman followed with the first name or both the first and surname.

Gift Giving Etiquette

Gifts are usually given at Cambodian New Year (Chaul Chnam). Birthdays are not big events like in the West and people of the older generation may not even know their date of birth. Unlike most other cultures, Cambodians do not celebrate birthdays. In fact, many older people may not know the exact date of their birth.

A small gift can also be taken if invited to someone's home for food. If invited to a home, take nicely presented fruit, sweets, pastries or flowers. Gifts are usually wrapped in colourful paper – do not use white wrapping paper, as it is the colour of mourning. When giving gifts use both hands. Gifts are not opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

Table manners are fairly formal and if you are not sure with the dos and don'ts, just simply follow what the others do. When invited to the dining table, wait to be told where to sit as you would not want to upset any hierarchical arrangements. The oldest person is usually seated first.

Do not begin eating until the eldest person starts and never discuss business in such social settings.





copyrights ©
2019 | Policy