Buddhism has been a part of Cambodia’s history since the 5th century and the countries main religion since the 13th century. Today, more than 95% of Cambodians are Buddhist. The predominant form of Buddhism in Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism and according to the Cambodian constitution it’s the national religion of Cambodia. Other religions, however, are not banned.
Cambodians Speak Khmer
Khmer is the official language of Cambodia and spoken by more then 13 million Cambodians. Unlike English, the general order of speech is is subject – verb – object, which basically means that unlike English a noun comes before a verb.
Gambling is illegal
There are no casino’s in Siem Reap, but there are some near the Thai border, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. However only foreigners are allowed to gamble. Any form of gambling is illegal for Cambodians, unless organised or approved by the government, like a national lottery
Playing cards for money, lotteries or any other games that involve gambling, without government approval, are illegal. Online gambling is also prohibited throughout Cambodia and although casino’s are open to foreigners any gambling outside the casino’s, online or not, is also prohibited for foreigners
The Cambodian flag is unique in its kind
The colors of the Cambodian flag are blue and red and in the center of the flag you will see Angkor Wat. It’s the only flag in the world with a building on it.
Related fact: Cambodia has a close and stable relationship with China. Therefor and in line with the ‘One China’ principle, the flags of Taiwan and Tibetan are prohibited in Cambodia, as well as celebrating Taiwanese holidays.
As a visitor you may not notice it, but Cambodians have a strict dress code for all kinds of situations. Visiting a temple or pagoda requires arms and legs covered. Remove your shoes, slippers and hats or caps when entering a pagoda, a temple or peoples homes. Keep in mind that many shops are actually operated inside peoples homes, so taking off your shoes or slippers in many shops is also common practice.
Cambodians have two different ages
Unlike in western countries, where people start counting the age at birth, Cambodians start counting their age at their first birthday.This explains why there is a difference between a Cambodians international age and Khmer age. The international age of a Cambodian may be 24, while his or her Khmer age will be 25.
Another common practice (in some parts of Cambodia) is that people age one year during the Khmer New Year, which falls in April. Cambodian youth do celebrate birthdays but mostly with friends and not with family. Traditionally birthdays are not that important and not celebrated.
Lèse-majesté is punishable by law
The Royal Family is very much respected by the locals and insulting the King of Cambodia is a crime that carries a maximum prison sentence of 5 years.
Barrang means ‘French’
Cambodia was once a French protectorate and the word Barrang literately means ‘French’. However, the word is used for all westerners. People from other Asian countries are not referred to as Barrang. The word is not an insult but can be compared to the way westerners use the word ‘Asians’ or ‘Africans’.
There is a strict hierarchy in place
Respect is always shown to monks and images or statues of Buddha. Monks are always greeted with a formal greeting, including a head bow. The age of a person determines his or her position on the ladder of respect. Children, minors and youth are at the bottom, elderly at the top. The age of the person is vital for the way you greet that person: formal or informal. If someone is much older, a formal greeting is practiced , even if they know the person for a long time.
It’s good practice to acknowledge the elders. Wait for the oldest person to start eating, let the oldest person lead the conversation, allow the oldest person to enter a building or room first and so on. Keep in mind that this is not limited to locals. If you’re a foreigner of age, the locals will treat you with the same respect. Be ready to lead….
Cambodians, don’t brag, but are proud of their nation
Whatever it is that you may not like about Cambodia, be a good guest and keep it to yourself. Cambodians are proud to be Cambodian and disrespecting that pride will not open more doors and definitely won’t make your number of friends grow.
Cambodia has two seasons: the dry season and the monsoon season. The rainy season starts in May and lasts until November, when the dry season starts. November is also the start of tourism high season, basically between December and February. It’s the time that visitors from all over the world visit this nation to enjoy the beautiful suroundings of