Culture and customs
The Khmer culture has lasted for centuries, and is based on tradition, honouring ancestors, respecting elders and living a life of honesty, humility and kindness. Which is probably why Cambodians are known for being some of the most warm, hospitable and humble people in the world. Above all these qualities, Cambodians are known for their remarkable ability to get on with life after enduring the atrocities that ravaged the country in the 1970s.
As with other neighbouring nations like Thailand, the concept of “saving face” is important. Displaying control and keeping a peaceful nature in public is paramount, as is not losing your temper or ridiculing others.
Most Khmer people are Buddhist. Monks are highly regarded and respected in society, and religious festivals and ceremonies are important parts of daily life. When visiting Cambodia, expect to see orange-robed monks and many displays of faith – from people visiting large, elaborate temples to them praying over small, humble shrines.
Despite the infiltration of modern ideas and concepts, Khmer customs and traditions are kept alive with traditional dance, art, festivals and costume enduring alongside modern pop music and dance.
Geography and environment
Bordered by Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, much of Cambodia is covered by forested area, although sadly, this is rapidly changing due to the growth of agriculture, logging and deforestation. Home to the largest lake in South-East Asia, Tonle Sap (Great Lake) connects to the Mekong River and swells to four times its normal size during the monsoon season.
Most of the country is low-lying, except for pockets of mountains. Large cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are typically built-up, busy and filled with modern conveniences like nightclubs, bars, public transport, internet cafes and restaurants. Smaller towns and rural areas enjoy more peace and space, with low-density, simple housing and a reliance on agriculture for income.