10 Things You Must Know Before Backpacking Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the most visited places in South East Asia. If you are planning for a backpacking Cambodia trip next holiday, here are some of the essentials that you must know before packing the bags.

1. The religious background

The culture, heritage, dressing standards, and often the lifestyle depend on the religion of the people living in a region. As far as the land of wonders, Cambodia is concerned; most of its population follows Buddhism that preaches modest ways of living. Hence, pack the clothes and accessories accordingly. You will be required to wear decent dresses across Cambodia and especially for visiting the pagodas and temples. Make sure that you have done the research well before backpacking for Cambodia.

Read More: A Brief Introduction to Cambodia History    Wat Ounalom - The Heart of Cambodian Buddhism


Quick Facts:

•    Primary Religion: Buddhism
•    Acceptable dress code: Decent clothes that extend below the knee and keeps the shoulders covered
•    National Dress: Sampot

Cambodian Buddhist
Rich Buddhist Culture in Cambodia

Ways to Greet in Cambodia
Ways to Greet in Cambodia

2. Ways to greet

Every nation and every culture has a unique way of greeting people. The oriental culture has always followed the gesture of putting two hands together to pay respect to the person standing in front of you. In Cambodia, people put their hands together in the form of a lotus to pay respect and greet. The position of the hands decides the stature of the person bowed to. This is a piece of essential knowledge for backpacking Cambodia.

Quick Facts:

•    For Elders: Hands are placed at Mouth level
•    For Parents, grandparents, and teachers: Hands are kept at nose level
•    For kings and Monks: Hands are kept at eyebrow level
•    For Prayers: Hands are kept at forehead level

3. Face Loss

Cambodian people are gentle and fun-loving. They always reply with a smile. But, the smile does not necessarily indicate their agreement, happiness or comprehension over a certain thing. If you ever find a Cambodian, standing baffled in front of you with a smile of face, check if he/she has understood your words or not to avoid a face loss.  

Special Tips:

•    Double-check if the person has understood
•    Smile to every smile
•    Learn the basics of the local language to avoid hassles

Angkor Wat Temple
4. Anger management

Anger management is a must for every one of the backpacking Cambodia trips who is planning to travel. No one in Cambodia erupts anger publicly. Make sure that when you feel iterated, you try explaining things in a better way than shouting and making the situation embarrassing for you.

Special Tips:

•    Be patient
•    Do not involve in disagreements
•    Ask some local to help explain if you are struggling

5. Choice of driver

Hiring a tuktuk for local rides is the best and the most available choice in Cambodia. But, if you are hiring one from the roads, make sure that you have illustrated the destination well. The tuktuk drivers attached to the hotels are aware of the tourist spots but the same is not true for the others. The tuktuk drivers often fail to understand the maps. Hence, it is of great importance for every backpacking Cambodia trip to know how to make the drivers understand the place you wish to go to.

Read More: A Guide to Tuk Tuk in Cambodia for Travellers


Special Tips:

•    Hire the vehicle from the hotel
•    Explain the destination with images and maps

6. Bartering

Sharpen your bargaining skills before finalising a backpacking Cambodia tour. Anything in Cambodia that is not tagged with a market price is going to be high priced. Before settling for any deal from purchasing jewellery to hiring motorcycles for transport, make sure that you have agreed over a reasonable price.

Read More: 5 Best Cambodia Markets for Shopaholics


Special Tips:

•    Buy from fixed-price shops
•    Start your bargain from half the quoted price

7. Currency

You must know about the currency that operates in the country you are visiting. For a perfect preparation for the backpacking Cambodia trip, make sure that you have taken enough information about the prevailing exchange rates of the Cambodian currency to avoid confusion.

Riel is the currency for Cambodia. However, the American dollar will be enough to carry with. Most of the market in Cambodia operates on dollar transactions.

Special Tips:

•    Keep the notes crisp and fresh
•    Many places do not accept torn or crunched notes
Cambodian Kid
Stay away from the Kids Selling Gift Items
•    Keep smaller denominations available

8. Do not pay the kids

Cambodia is a flourishing economy with an inflating middle-class population. However, poor people are not a rare sight in the country and you will find plenty of kids begging and selling gift items in the tourist spots. One of the essentials to know before your backpacking Cambodia trip is to stay away from these kids and rout your charity through proper organizations like the local NGOs.

Read More: Tipping in Cambodia


Special Tips:

•    Buy from the shops
•    Do not give alms

9. Set your clock alarm early

One of the must-follow backpacking Cambodia rule would be to set your clock alarm early to enjoy the surreal moment of the sunrise every single day. Especially if you are staying by the river banks or the sea beaches, witnessing the marvels of the morning sky hues would be an additional gift from the trip.

Special Tips:

•    Be ready with your camera every morning
•    Rise a little before the dawn to see the sky palette changing colours

10. Learn the language

Knowing a little bit of the local language will always help you to carry on your backpacking Cambodia trip in a hassle-free manner.

Special Tips:
•    Learn some basic words
•    Keep the Google translator on

Plan your Cambodia trip carefully and enjoy every bit of it.


See Also:

10 Interesting Facts about Cambodia

Cambodia Honeymoon Guide

Cambodia Packing List: What to Bring & Supplies Tips