Hello In Khmer And Other Greetings

 Learning a new language without knowing where to start, is not easy. But if you are planning to, it is ideal to start with day-to-day conversational words. Amongst the first things you should be learning, therefore, are the standard greetings and basic phrases: hello, goodbye, yes, no, thank you, etc. Making a good impression with the locals by trying to use their language can earn you a lot of respect.

Aside from having magnificent ruins and amazing temples, Cambodia is also known for their people and traditions that really captures visitors’ hearts. We all know that a simple ‘hello’ could lead to a million things that’s why in this blog, you will learn how to say ‘Hello’ in the Khmer language. This is a quick guide on how to greet people in Khmer, Cambodia’s national language. Included are the transliterations and Khmer versions for reference. Oh, and it is not tonal either. They just stress the final syllable of the word.

Saying Hello

It is amazing that it only takes few seconds to say Hello but it can make a big difference in someone’s day. There are times in our lives that the bravest thing we can do is just to say Hello. If you want to travel to different places, it is really essential if you know at least how to say Hello to speak with the locals.

Figuring out how to initiate a conversation wherever you are indicating not just being polite but also expresses openness and respect to other cultures.

Different countries have their own way of saying hello in their own native language. In French, they say Bonjour. In Spanish, they say Hola. In Chinese, they say Nǐn hǎo. This will also depend on the level of formality which is really important to know when you are new to the country.

How To Say Hello In The Khmer Language

How to Say Hello in Khmer

Cambodians are known for their kindness, being gentle, and being polite. If you travel to Cambodia, the first thing you need to know is how to say Hello in the Khmer language properly. Although most of the population of Cambodians know how to speak English especially the younger ones, it is still nice and heart-warming if you use their native language.

If you want to say hello to someone in the Khmer language, you have two (2) different ways- Chom Reap Sour  (ជំរាបសួរ ) for formal and Susadei (សួស្តី)for informal.


Choum Reap Sour (Formal) VS Susadei (Informal)

Like what is stated above, if you are new to a certain country, it is best when you use the formal one- Choum Reap Sour  (ជំរាបសួរ ). It is also used when you are talking to older people and those of a higher social standing to show respect.

On the other, susadei (សួស្តី)is used for informal conversations such as greeting a friend or a peer that is the same age as you.

Being aware of the difference between formal and informal will really help you to avoid misunderstandings with the locals. It is also a reflection of respect and sincerity as a foreigner to their land.


How To Say Hello In Khmer Properly

After knowing the right words to say Hello, let us know the right way to say and do it. Did you know that Cambodians have their own unique way of greeting someone? This unique way of saying Hello and also saying Goodbye is called Sampeah (សំពះ).

There are five versions of Sampeah.

First Sampeah

  • It is used when Cambodians greet their friends and peers.
  • Place both hands or palms together at the chest level.

Second Sampeah

  • It is used when Cambodian greet their bosses, older person or higher-ranking people
  • Place both hands or palms together at the mouth level.

Third Sampeah

  • It is used when Cambodians greet their parents, grandparents, or teacher.
  • Place both hands or palms together at the nose level.

Fourth Sampeah

  • It is used when Cambodians greet the king or monks.
  • Place both hands or palms together at the eyebrows level.

Fifth Sampeah

  • It is used when Cambodians pray to God or sacred statues
  • Place both hands or palms together at the forehead level.

Learning how to greet someone Hello and Goodbye properly in Khmer is really important. It is a way of respecting who you are talking to whether they are older or younger than you. Now that you already know how to do it, can you practice saying greeting in Khmer with sampeah?


Greetings And Other Khmer Phrases

Greetings and Other Khmer Phrases

If you want to travel to Cambodia, it is a good idea to learn some simple phrases that you can use to speak with the locals. Knowing some Khmer phrases will not only help you talk with other people but also symbolizes your respect for their culture. Imagine a foreigner trying their way to speak your own native language? Isn’t it touching?

How would you start a conversation? How do you want to express your gratitude and humility? How will you greet others on a normal day and on any grand Cambodian occasion? What do you need to know about saying hello and greeting in Khmer? Here are some words and phrases that will surely be useful in building a connection with the locals.


Greetings In Khmer


When you are in a foreign country, it is really hard to initiate a conversation with someone. Greetings are always used to open any conversation. Knowing that not all people are comfortable in starting a conversation, as a foreigner, it is your duty to know at least basic greetings that will help you get along with the people. If you are shy or having doubts talking with other people, here are some Khmer greetings that you may use:


KhmerPronunciationEnglish Translation
អ្នក​សុខសប្បាយ​ទេsoks-a-byeHow are you?
ខានជួបយូរហើយkhan-chuob-yu-haeuyLong time no see
សូមឱ្យមានថ្ងៃល្mien-tingay la-awHave a nice day
អរុណ​សួស្ah-roeun-sour-sdeiGood morning
ទិវាសួស្tiveah-sour-sdeiGood afternoon
សាយ័ណសួរស្តីsayon-sour-sdeiGood evening
រាត្រីសួរស្reatrei-sour-sdeiGood night
ជុំរាបលាjom-reap-learGoodbye (Formal)
លាហើយlia-haeuyGoodbye (Informal)
សូមឲ្យ​បាន​ជោគ​ជ័យsom-aoyy -ban -chouk ​-choyGood luck


Now that you know the basic greetings in Khmer, you will surely get along and start a conversation anywhere and any time of the day in Cambodia. Also, wherever you are, Cambodians will always make feel you welcomed.

Special Occasions And Holiday Greetings

People love to visit places during special occasions and holidays. This is a way of having a deeper understanding and experience of the culture of a certain country. In Cambodia, there are lots of special occasions that are celebrated throughout the entire year. If you happen to visit the country on any important occasion, here are some ways to greet people.


KhmerPronunciationEnglish Translation
រីករាយថ្ងៃបុណ្យណូអែលrikreay-thngey-bon-no’elMerry Christmas
រីករាយ​ឆ្នាំ​ថ្មីsuo-sday-chnamhmeyHappy New Year
រីករាយថ្ងៃខួបកំណើតrikreay-thngey-khuob-kamnaeutHappy Birthday


Some people think that the best time to go to Cambodia is during the  Cambodian holidays. Their celebrations are truly amazing that’s why if you are lucky to witness and experience at least one of these, it is a good idea to know how to greet people. It is not just about greeting and meeting great people but also being part of the important times in their country.

Expressing Politeness In Khmer

While you are traveling across the country, you might be needing help or favor from others especially if you are not familiar with the place. When you find yourself in that situation, don’t forget to be polite. Please, Thank you and Sorry are some of the powerful words that express gratitude and humility. When you are asking something, whether big or small, make sure to say thank you, stay polite, and remember these Khmer phrases.


KhmerPronunciationEnglish Translation
អរគុណaw khunThank you
មិន​អី​ទេ munh I tayYou’re welcome
សូមទោសsom tohExcuse me/Sorry


As a foreigner, you should always remember to be sensitive about their culture because it will surely be different from where we came from. The misunderstanding may be brought conflicts with others that is why learning how to be great politely is a must in visiting not just Cambodia but in every country of the world.


Gendered Words In Khmer

Some words in Khmer are gendered, in that the word changes based on whether a male or female is saying it which can get confusing. While there is just one example that would be used in everyday greetings and communication, I have made sure to include them here.

Yes (male): baat (បាទ)

Yes (female): jaah (ច៎ា)

No: dteh (ទេ)


A Great Starting Point For Vocabulary

Whether you are visiting Cambodia for work, living there or just backpacking, learning these Khmer phrases for greeting people can go a long way. Remember too that actions speak louder than words. The way you act will reflect your sincerity. From a simple hello to the sampeah, it is interesting to learn the ways different cultures and languages like Khmer greet each other. So even if there are just a few words you learn before you arrive in Cambodia, these greetings should be at the top of your list. 


Why Learn How To Say Hello In Khmer?

People are often shy to initiate a conversation when they are in other countries. Talking with the locals in might be challenging if you do not exert any effort to learn even just a few Khmer phrases. Always remember that the greatest achievement in visiting a country is learning about their culture.

To do that, you should express your respect and sincerity first through learning their language. From this, you will develop a great connection to the people, start a conversation, and build meaningful encounters with the locals.

This connection with the people will surely bring you to a wonderful travel experience in Cambodia that will always remain in your heart. As they say, every journey starts with a single step. Here, every meaningful conversation starts with a simple hello.

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