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10+ Important Khmer Manners And Etiquette: Facts And Phrases

Khmer manners and etiquette

Being a traveler means you have to adapt to different traditions and customs that might be nowhere close to your own. Likewise, if you are traveling to Cambodia, Khmer manners and etiquette will undoubtedly follow up in your routine in order to have a fruitful trip. The traditional Cambodian greeting to ethnic Cambodian etiquette concerning dress code and food comes from the Khmer culture and Buddhism. The rules the locals follow majorly revolve around the idea of respect and selflessness.

So, to help you get acquainted with the traditional etiquette in Cambodia, this blog is prepared with all the do’s and dont’s along with essential vocabulary. Reading this blog alone will walk you through the essential culture of the Khmer locals and their linguistic traditions, allowing you to experience a native lifestyle once you reach your destination.

Moreover, reading the vocabulary and phrases below will help you enhance your linguistic horizon and become a fluent speaker if you are a language learner. So, want to learn more? Continue reading and exploring Cambodian culture.

Khmer Manners And Etiquette

Do’s And Dont’s In Cambodia: Etiquette And Manners

As we all know, etiquette is the code of conduct that acts as a way of positive human interaction in society. Different societies can have different norms, and following these norms allow one person to be seen as a positive member of a particular group or community. On the other end, manners reflect one person’s attitude.

In Cambodia, the locals have their own code of conduct and following which reflects your goodwill and manners towards their customs. Thus, in this section, we will take you through some basic and vital do’s and dont’s that you must remember during your journey. These are the general etiquette in Cambodia that the Khmer people follow, and disrespecting them might cause unnecessary tension on your trip.

Day To Day Etiquette

The most important custom the Cambodians follow is the impurity of the left hand. Cambodians address people with their right hand, and it is considered disrespectful to give or receive anything from the left hand. Moreover, it is impolite to touch anyone on the head, even a younger person, and to raise your feet above one. It is a conservative country, and they strictly follow the rules regarding topics such as the Khmer rouge, Cambodia’s war-torn history, and the display of affection in public.

Lastly, if you are invited to someone’s house, buy nicely presented fruit baskets and follow gift-giving etiquette gifts that are usual in the local customs. However, avoid using white wrapping paper and politely refuse at first if they give you a small gift in return and accept it later.

Dress Conservatively

Dressing appropriately is a must. As mentioned, it is a conservative place, and proper dressing is critical in their rule book. Especially when it comes to the dress code of women, locals tend to cover as much skin as possible. If you come from a western country, nude sunbathing should be entirely off the list. Although tourists wear shorts to beat the heat and humidity, shorts are considered rude when worn by women and are a principal school uniform for men. Most importantly, when visiting temples, you must avoid dresses that are too revealing at all costs. Cambodians tend to wear full-covered clothing as much as possible.

Respect For Elders

One of the most vital parts of Buddhist etiquette is paying respect to elders. There are many rules that the younger person is expected to follow and the most prominent being the bowing culture. You must always bow in front of the elder to show respect. This tradition is known as som pas. It is done by putting your hands together in a prayer-like gesture in front of your chest and bowing. It is said that the more you bow, the more respect you give.

Moreover, if an elder person gives you something, you need to receive it with both hands. And when it comes to taking pictures, especially for foreigners, it is entirely unacceptable to keep your arm around the shoulder of your Cambodian counterparts. It is a basic etiquette you must keep in mind.

Food Habits

Coming to food etiquette, every place has its own table manners. However, some specific rules cannot be avoided when it comes to Khmer culture. The first is the use of a fork. The fork should be used only to push food into the spoon, and putting the fork in your mouth is impolite. Poor manners also include sticking your chopsticks vertically on the rice bowl, eating before the oldest people start eating, finishing everything on the plate, and touching the center food with the spoon that touches your mouth. Other than that, dining etiquette table manners are almost normal.

Buddhist Monks And Temple Etiquette

Since you are traveling to a Buddhist country, you should follow some code of conduct that concerns the Buddhist monks. The first is the rejection of women touching a monk, even the monk’s mother. Never offer food after noon as monks do not eat during that period. And while talking to a monk, ensure you are seated and do not stand up before a seated monk during your conversation.

Talking about temple etiquette, always remove your shoes before you enter, and do not touch the holy images of Buddha. As mentioned earlier, dress appropriately, if possible local dress, and if you are sitting inside the Wat, ensure you tuck your feet beneath yourself.

Business Etiquette

If you are traveling for business, you must understand that a hierarchical culture exists in the business world. Allow the most senior person in rank to introduce first, treat business cards with utmost care as it indicates how you will treat the person, avoid wearing t-shirts in a business setting, and do not discuss business on sensitive subjects in social settings. If you encounter a group, the highest ranking person will be introduced first, and likewise, your highest person in rank will greet them.

Khmer manners and etiquette

Khmer Manners And Etiquette: Vocabulary And Phrases

Now that you know all the etiquette you must be thorough about, in this section, we will go through some words and phrases that will further help you settle in with the locals. Apart from the etiquette mentioned above, learning the local language remains another essential subject. While fluency is not what the locals expect of you, knowing some words and phrases will make them appreciate your efforts. Moreover, most locals still do not speak English, and thus, boosting your English skills will not help you in any way.

Traditional Cambodian Greeting

Here is a list of phrases that you must use to sound respectful and responsive in front of the locals. It includes basic greeting words and lines that are a part of daily conversation in Cambodia.

EnglishKhmerPronunciation
Hello!សួស្តី!suostei
How are you doing?តើ​អ្នក​សុខសប្បាយជាទេ?tae​ anak​ sokhasabbay cheate?
It’s a pleasure to meet youរីករាយដែលបានជួបអ្នក។rikreay del ban chuob anak .
Good morning!អរុណ​សួស្តី!aroun​ suostei!
Good night!រាត្រី​សួស្តី!reatrei​ suostei!
May I come in?តើ​ខ្ញុំ​អាច​ចូល​មក​ក្នុង​បាន​ទេ?tae​ khnhom​ ach​ chaul​ mk​ knong​ ban​ te?
Thank you so much for having me!អរគុណ​ច្រើន​ដែល​មាន​ខ្ញុំ!arkoun​ chraen​ del​ mean​ khnhom!
That’s very kind of youអ្នក​ពិតជា​ចិត្តល្អ​មែនanak​ pitchea​ chettala​ men
Pardon meអត់ទោសឱ្យខ្ញុំattosa aoy khnhom
I am so sorryខ្ញុំ​សូមទោសkhnhom​ saumtos
Excuse me, pleaseសូមអភ័យទោសsaumoaphytos
You’re welcomeមិនបាច់​គួរសម​ទេមិនបាច់​គួរសម​ទេ
You are so helpfulអ្នកពិតជាមានប្រយោជន៍ណាស់។anak pitchea meanobrayoch nasa
Thank you for taking the trouble to help meអរគុណដែលបានយកបញ្ហាមកជួយខ្ញុំarkoun del ba
n yk banhhea mk chuoy khnhom

Dining Table Phrases

EnglishKhmerPronunciation
Can I have a glass of water?តើខ្ញុំអាចផឹកទឹកមួយកែវបានទេ?tae khnhom ach phoektuk muoy kev ban te?
I’d like to have another servingខ្ញុំ​ចង់​មាន​ការ​បម្រើ​មួយ​ទៀត។khnhom​ chng​ mean​ kar​ bamreu​ muoy​ tiet .
Can you make it less spicy?តើអ្នកអាចធ្វើឱ្យវាហឹរតិចបានទេ?tae anak ach thveu aoy vea hoer tech ban te?
Would you mind if I smoke here?ចុះបើខ្ញុំជក់បារីនៅទីនេះ?chohbae khnhom chkbari now tinih?
Thank you for your service!សូមអរគុណចំពោះសេវាកម្មរបស់អ្នក!saum arkoun champoh sevakamm robsa anak!
Can I have the bill, please?តើខ្ញុំអាចមានវិក័យប័ត្របានទេ?tae khnhom ach mean vi k y btr ban te?
Do you have extra tissues?តើអ្នកមានជាលិកាបន្ថែមទេ?tae anak mean chealikea banthem te?
Please, you may share mineសូម​អ្នក​អាច​ចែក​រំលែក​របស់​ខ្ញុំ​saum​ anak​ ach​ chek​ romlek​ robsa​ khnhom​
Do you want anything?តើអ្នកចង់បានអ្វីទេ?tae anak chngban avei te?
Could you please pass me the plate?តើអ្នកអាចហុចចានឱ្យខ្ញុំបានទេ?tae anak ach hoch chan aoy khnhom ban te?

Business Phrases To Communicate

EnglishKhmerPronunciation
I am pleased to be hereខ្ញុំរីករាយដែលបាននៅទីនេះkhnhom rikreay del ban now tinih
Allow me to introduce myselfអនុញ្ញាតឱ្យខ្ញុំណែនាំខ្លួនឯងanounhnhat aoy khnhom nenam khluoneng
Can you please share your company details?តើអ្នកអាចចែករំលែកព័ត៌មានលម្អិតអំពីក្រុមហ៊ុនរបស់អ្នកបានទេ?tae anak ach chekromlek ptrmean lomait ampi kromhoun robsa anak ban te?
I was wondering if you could help meខ្ញុំឆ្ងល់ថាតើអ្នកអាចជួយខ្ញុំបានទេ?khnhom chhngal tha tae anak ach chuoy khnhom ban te?
Can I say something here?តើខ្ញុំអាចនិយាយអ្វីមួយនៅទីនេះបានទេ?tae khnhom ach niyeay aveimuoy now tinih ban te?
I am sorry to interruptញុំសុំទោសដែលរំខានkhnhom somtosa del romkhan
Do you mind if I take your business card?តើអ្នកយល់ទេប្រសិនបើខ្ញុំយកនាមប័ណ្ណរបស់អ្នក?tae anak yl te brasenbae khnhom yk neambnn robsa anak?
Could you repeat that please?តើអ្នកអាចនិយាយឡើងវិញបានទេ?tae anak ach niyeay laengvinh ban te?
Thank you for attending today’s meetអរគុណសម្រាប់ការចូលរួមប្រជុំថ្ងៃនេះarkoun samreab kar chaulruom brachoum thngainih
That was very usefulវាមានប្រយោជន៍ខ្លាំងណាស់vea meanobrayoch khlang nasa
Thanks for all the contributionសូមអរគុណចំពោះការរួមចំណែកទាំងអស់។saum arkoun champoh kar ruomchamnek teangoasa

Wrapping Up!

Learning these phrases and facts about the code of conduct of the local men of Cambodia will allow you to have a smooth experience during the trip. In most cases, foreigners get called out for not being responsive and informed, which leads to negative impressions on both ends. But when you are equipped with such knowledge, you will undeniably have the best time and meet the finest people. You will not just make friends but also become a native part of the country as you keep practicing and following the rules.

If you want to look for more such resources concerning the linguistic base, Ling App will be the right source of help. It is a language-learning app that you can easily download from the App Store or Play Store.

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Ling app is the go-to app for beginner language learners. It provides access to multiple language content on various topics such as hobbies, funny phrases, culture, Christmas greetings, and many more. Curated by expert writers and native speakers worldwide, the app ensures that you receive verified lessons, causing constant growth during your entire learning journey. The fun part is you can learn other languages, too, because Ling covers more than 60 languages pertaining to different corners of the world.

Moreover, you also get to chat with an AI interactive bot which will improve your communication and help you retain all the lessons you learned. With just a few months of practice and patience, the Ling app is here to offer the best possible chances of you becoming an expert in the language you yearn for. So, download the app now and start learning Khmer today!

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