13 Things You Shouldn’t Do In Cambodia If You Don’t Want To Offend The Locals


Cambodia, a country in South-East Asia is known for its mountains, beaches, markets, culture, tragic past and the very famous Angkor Wat. The country is very fond of etiquette, decency and respect. So, there are some do’s and don’ts that one should follow while traveling to the blissful nation.

Being a responsible citizen, it is everyone’s duty to keep certain things in mind while visiting a country as a tourist. Therefore, it is important that you consider some essential things What not to do in Cambodia? If you want to make your travel experience worthwhile without any hassle.

13 things not to do in Cambodia

Before you plan your holidays and decide on all the things you can do in this country, make sure you are aware of what not to do in Cambodia to make your trip go smoothly. Needed

1. Avoid carrying single currency
2. Don’t go for elephant rides
3. Avoid drinking tap water
4. Avoid feeding or giving money to beggars
5. Do not disrespect the saints
6. Don’t take your skin for granted
7. Don’t trust the Internet completely
8. Casual strolling in temples is not allowed
9. Don’t neglect hygiene
10. Avoid clicking pictures of food
11. Don’t touch anyone’s head or show them your feet.
12. Avoid wearing careless clothes
13. Don’t forget your manners

1. Avoid carrying single currency

Avoid carrying single currency

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Anything costing more than $1 must be paid for in dollars and makes it necessary to carry US dollars while change less than $1 is returned in riel. Therefore, carry both the currencies with you at all times. Although some ATMs may give you the option to choose whether you want the money in US dollars or riyals, most ATMs will dispense cash in dollars only.

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2. Don’t go for elephant rides

don't go for elephant ride

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You will be offered elephant rides everywhere but please do not yield. This is really painful for the animals and if such activities are promoted by tourists then it may worsen the condition of the creatures. After birth, elephants are snatched from their mothers and trained and tortured to make them fit for riding. Therefore, do not promote such inhumanity by being a part of it.

3. Avoid drinking tap water

avoid drinking tap water

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This is one of the aspects that may also fall under Cambodia’s warnings and threats. Tap water is unhealthy and if drunk, it can cause serious stomach upset. Therefore, it is advisable to buy water bottles from the market and drink from the same all the time.

Also, it is suggested to buy bigger bottles instead of smaller bottles every few hours to reduce the use of plastic. Stay hydrated and stay green!

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4. Avoid feeding or giving money to beggars

Avoid feeding or giving money to beggars

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Do not buy food or anything else for someone who comes to you asking for help, especially someone who comes to you with a baby in his arms and asks for milk or to feed the baby. The prices of the things they ask you to buy are usually quite high. Therefore, be careful and do not become a victim of such scams.

Also, do not give money to children as this will encourage such actions and devalue education as an alternative will be provided in the form of begging.

5. Do not disrespect the saints

don't disrespect saints

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Monks are respected in Cambodian culture and tourists are expected to be respectful of local culture. One thing is to take the photograph of a saint only after taking his permission. Women are especially requested to be very careful around themselves and not to touch any monk, nor sit too close to him or hand him anything.

If you sit with him, you should always try to sit below the sage and make him sit first. Apart from this, while talking to a sitting sadhu, first sit and then talk. You’ll find monks almost everywhere in Cambodia, so it’s important to know how to interact with them without offending anyone.

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6. Don’t take your skin for granted

woman applying cream on face

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If you’re confused about what to bring when traveling to Cambodia, especially when it comes to your skin, this is for you! Carry sunglasses and something to cover your face or apply sunscreen when going to the beach.

The air is quite polluted and dust is sure to get into the eyes, nose and mouth while travelling. People with respiratory problems and allergies should take necessary precautions like anti-allergens and face masks to avoid any accidents.

7. Don’t trust the Internet completely

Don't trust the internet completely

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Internet service is not that good, so it is advisable not to depend completely on the internet. Even when service is available, it is quite slow and unreliable. Take precautions, don’t expect GPS to work. The few places you can get wifi the quality is also very poor. So, if you work on the Internet, be prepared with backups.

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8. Casual strolling in temples is not allowed

Casual strolling is not allowed in temples

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Cambodia is a very conservative country and one cannot just go to temples. To visit Angkor Wat one must obtain a temple pass. Passes are sold in one-day, three-day and seven-day passes and are to be used on consecutive days.

If the pass is lost, it will have to be taken care of and purchased again. Also, you should dress properly before entering any temple, long pants or skirts below the knees and a T-shirt will do. However, deep necklines and T-shirts with religious prints should be avoided.

9. Don’t neglect hygiene

Do not neglect cleanliness

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You may not find proper sanitation or well-maintained toilets everywhere so be prepared for all scenarios. Keep hand sanitizer and tissues with you to prevent diseases caused by uncleanliness. Also, the place is full of mosquitoes, so keep mosquito repellent cream with you and use it regularly. Be safe.

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10. Avoid clicking pictures of food

Avoid clicking pictures of food

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People here eat all kinds of things like snakes, crickets and spiders and tourists also often try it. However, if you try to take photos of this food on Pub Street, you may be charged by the vendor. Bon appetit.

11. Don’t touch anyone’s head or show them your feet.

Don't touch someone's head or show them their feet

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The head is considered the most sacred part of the person and hence it should not be touched, even children’s hair should not be plucked. On the other hand, the feet are considered the least sacred and dirty and hence should not be raised towards anyone. Even when you are sitting across from someone, your legs should be folded under your body to avoid offending the person.

Apart from this, use your right hand while handing over things to people and eating food. Also, pointing at someone is considered very rude in the culture so be careful.

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12. Avoid wearing careless clothes

Avoid wearing inappropriate clothes

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The people of Cambodia are quite modest in both dress and belief. Tourists are advised to maintain a discreet dress code so as not to offend locals or attract attention. Wearing short shorts, tights, deep necklines, miniskirts and other revealing clothing is discouraged.

13. Don’t forget your manners

don't forget your manners

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Etiquette is taken very seriously in Cambodia and is quite easy to practice once you understand the gist of it. The main thing is to respect the elders, monks and almost everyone. Take off your shoes when entering someone’s house, place of business or temple and take off your hat when you go inside. Let the elders take the lead in everything. Do not turn your back to Buddha statues to take photographs (only after taking permission).

Although there are no taboo topics for conversation, it is a common etiquette not to talk about politics, war or business while eating at a table. These are sensitive topics considering Cambodia’s past and war-torn history and the recent massacres there have affected almost everyone. Look around, see how the locals do it and follow it.

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These pointers will help you during your trip to Cambodia, making your trip a memorable one without any hassles. The main motto you should remember when thinking about things not to do in Cambodia is to respect everyone, follow etiquette and show courtesy.


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