Ninety-five percent of the population is Buddhist (Theravada), the remainder being Muslim and Christian. Buddhism was reinstated as the national religion in 1989 after a ban on religious activity in 1975.
DOs & DON’Ts
DOs in Cambodia
- Ask for permission before taking photographs of any Cambodian people or monks.
- It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a place of worship such as a pagoda or temple. Additionally, visitors should dress appropriately when inside a religious site (upper arms and legs should be covered, hats removed).
- It is respectful to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
- Though not always expected, a respectful way of greeting another individual is to bow the head slightly with hands pressed together at the chest (known as “Sampeah”).
- If invited to dine in a Cambodian family’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift for the host such as fruit, dessert, or flowers.
- If invited to attend a Cambodian wedding, it is customary to bring cash as a wedding gift.
- When using a toothpick at the table, use one hand to cover your mouth.
- Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.
DON’Ts in Cambodia
- Don’t use your feet to point at someone.
- Don’t touch a Cambodian person on the head.
- Don’t begin eating if you are a guest at a dinner and the host has yet to take a bite.
- Women should never touch male monks or hand something directly to them.
- Keep public displays of affection to a respectful minimum.