Avoid These 13 Mistakes and Spare Yourself from Awkward Moments in Cambodia.

by operator
Don’t Forget Your EtiquettesDon’t Touch Someone’s Head Or Show Feet To ThemDon’t Neglect The HygieneStrolling Casually Into The Temples Isn’t AllowedDon’t Rely Totally On InternetDon’t Go For Elephant RidesThings not to do in Cambodia

Cambodia, a nation located in South-East Asia, is renowned for its majestic mountains, picturesque coastline, vibrant markets, rich cultural heritage, tragic history, and the iconic Angkor Vat. It is a country that places great emphasis on etiquette, modesty, and respect. Therefore, it is imperative to be aware of the dos and don’ts to ensure a seamless and fulfilling travel experience in this mesmerizing nation.

As responsible travelers, it is our duty to be mindful of certain aspects when visiting a foreign country. Thus, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the things you should refrain from doing in Cambodia to ensure a hassle-free journey that is truly worthwhile.

Avoid Carrying Single Currency

13 Actions to Avoid in Cambodia

Before planning your vacation and considering all the exciting things you can do in this country, it is essential to be well-informed about the actions that are best avoided in Cambodia. This will contribute to a smooth and enjoyable visit.

1. Steer Clear of Carrying a Single Currency

2. Say “No” to Elephant Rides

3. Avoid Consuming Tap Water

4. Refrain from Feeding or Giving Money to Beggars

5. Exercise Respectful Behavior Towards Monks

6. Do Not Take Your Skin’s Well-being for Granted

7. Don’t Solely Depend on the Internet

8. Adhere to the Rules When Visiting Temples

9. Pay Attention to Hygiene Practices

10. Resist the Urge to Capture Food in Photographs

11. Avoid Touching Someone’s Head or Showing Your Feet to Them

12. Dress Decently and Respectfully

13. Always Demonstrate Good Etiquette

1. Steer Clear of Carrying a Single Currency

In Cambodia, any expenditure exceeding $1 must be paid in US dollars, while change less than $1 is provided in the local currency, Riel. It is imperative to carry both currencies with you at all times. While certain ATMs may offer the option to choose between US dollars and Riel, most will dispense cash in dollars.

Avoid Drinking Tap Water

2. Say “No” to Elephant Rides

Everywhere you go, people will try to convince you to ride an elephant. However, it’s crucial that you resist the temptation. These activities are extremely painful for the animals and supporting them as a tourist only worsens their situation. These elephants are taken away from their mothers at birth, subjected to cruel training methods, and tortured just so they can be ridden. We must not contribute to such inhumanity by participating in it.

Avoid Feeding Or Giving Money To The Beggars

3. Refrain from Consuming Tap Water

This is one of the issues that fall under the category of warnings and dangers in Cambodia. The tap water is unclean and drinking it can result in severe stomach problems. It is strongly advised to purchase bottled water from the market and drink from them at all times.

Furthermore, it is recommended to purchase larger bottles in order to minimize plastic usage, rather than buying smaller bottles every few hours. Stay hydrated and go green!

Do Not Disrespect Monks

4. Avoid Giving Money or Food to Beggars

Do not purchase food or anything else for individuals who approach you asking for help, especially those who are holding a baby and requesting to be fed or to feed the child. The items they ask you to buy are often overpriced. Be cautious and do not fall victim to such scams.

Additionally, avoid giving money to children as it only perpetuates such behavior and undervalues education, as begging becomes a viable alternative.

5. Show Respect to Monks

Monks hold a revered position in Cambodian culture, and as tourists, it is important to be mindful of and respectful towards the local customs. When taking a picture of a monk, always ask for permission first. Women, in particular, should exercise caution and avoid touching or sitting too close to a monk, or offering them anything.

If you find yourself seated with a monk, make sure to sit lower than them and allow them to be seated first. Additionally, when conversing with a seated monk, wait until you are seated before engaging in conversation. Monks can be found throughout Cambodia, so it is crucial to know how to behave around them without causing offense.


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Woman applying face cream

6. Never Underestimate the Importance of Protecting Your Skin

If you find yourself unsure about what skincare essentials to pack for your trip to Cambodia, pay attention! Remember to bring sunglasses and a head cover or apply sunscreen before heading to the beach.

Considering the polluted air, it’s inevitable to encounter dust in your eyes, nose, and mouth while traveling. If you have respiratory issues or allergies, be prepared with the necessary precautions such as anti-allergens and face masks to avoid any unwanted incidents.

7. Don’t Solely Rely on the Internet

The internet service is subpar, therefore it is advised not to rely solely on the internet. The service, even if available, is considerably sluggish and undependable. It is wise to take precautions and not expect GPS to function properly. The limited WiFi hotspots that you may come across also suffer from poor quality. Consequently, if you rely on internet for work, it is imperative to have a backup plan in place.

8. Casual Strolling into Temples is Prohibited

Cambodia is a highly conservative country where it is not permissible to casually stroll into temples. To visit Angkor Vat, one must obtain a temple pass. The pass is available in one-day, three-day, and seven-day options and must be utilized on consecutive days.

It is crucial to take care of the temple pass as it cannot be replaced if lost, requiring a new purchase. Additionally, appropriate attire is mandatory when entering any temple. Pants or skirts that extend below the knees, along with t-shirts, are acceptable. However, it is advised to avoid deep necklines and t-shirts with religious motifs.

9. Hygiene Should Not Be Neglected

Proper sanitation and well-maintained toilets may not be readily available everywhere, so it is essential to be prepared for all circumstances. Carry hand sanitizers and tissues to safeguard against diseases caused by unhygienic conditions. Moreover, the area is teeming with mosquitoes, therefore it is advisable to have mosquito repellent readily accessible and to use it regularly. Prioritize your safety.

10. Refrain from Snapping Food Pictures

Avoid Clicking Pictures Of Food

Locals in Cambodia consume a variety of exotic foods such as snakes, crickets, and spiders, which tourists often try as well. However, if you attempt to take photographs of these unique dishes at Pub Street, the vendor may charge a fee. Bon Appetit.

11. Avoid Touching Someone’s Head or Showing Them Your Feet

The head is deemed as the most sacred part of a person and should never be touched, not even to tousle a child’s hair. On the contrary, feet are considered unclean and least sacred, and therefore should never be directed towards anyone. Even when sitting in front of someone, it is necessary to fold your feet under your body to prevent offending them.

Furthermore, it is customary to use your right hand when handing things to others or while eating. Additionally, pointing at someone is highly impolite in this culture, so it should be avoided.

Avoid Dressing Immodestly

12. Dress Modestly

The people of Cambodia adhere to modest attire and beliefs. It is advised for tourists to follow a modest dress code to avoid offending locals or attracting unnecessary attention. Wearing short shorts, tights, revealing necklines, miniskirts, or any other provocative clothing is discouraged.

13. Remember Your Etiquette

Etiquette is of great importance in Cambodia and can be easily followed once understood. The key aspect is to show respect to elders, monks, and everyone you encounter. When entering someone’s house, a business establishment, or a temple, it is customary to remove your shoes and take off your hat once inside. Allow elders to take the lead in any situation. Additionally, avoid turning your back to Buddha statues when taking photos without permission.

While there are no specific taboo conversation topics, it is considered proper etiquette not to discuss politics, war, or business when dining at a table. These topics are sensitive due to Cambodia’s past and history of conflict, and most people have been affected by recent genocides. Observe the locals’ behavior and follow suit.

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By adhering to these guidelines, your visit to Cambodia will be filled with cherished memories and devoid of any inconveniences. Remember to treat everyone with respect, abide by the local etiquette, and show courtesy.

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