Culture, Food and Traditions in Cambodia

Children in Cambodia - Beneficiaries of World Vision's Child Sponsorship Programme


Cambodia is made up of 16 million people, containing 1.71% of the world’s population. Cambodia’s demographics are very much influenced by the civil war and genocide - 50% of the population being under 22 years old and having the most female-biased sex ratio in the region.


Cambodia’s way of greeting is usually the “Som Pas” - putting palms together in a manner of prayer and lifting their hands to the chest level and bow slightly. When articulating a greeting, a polite way of saying hello to someone for the first time in Khmer is, “Chum Reap Suor” while “Sous-dey” is the informal version.

Additionally, when greeting others in public, titles to reflect differences in one’s social and professional class, as well as age may be used.


Cultural Dance:


Traditional clothing:

Cambodian children in the local traditional costume
Children in traditional Cambodian clothing

Cambodia’s traditional clothing is differentiated via class - Sampot for the lower class and Sampot Phamuong/Hoi for the upper class. The 2 costumes are similar - both made from silk and combine sophisticated knitting techniques to create exquisite pieces of fabric. However, the Sampot Phamuong and Sampot Hoi are dyed in 52 different colours and up to 22 different needles are used, while the Sampot is only dyed in 5 basic colours.

Days of Celebrations:

Some of the noteworthy celebrations in Cambodia are Victory Day and Meak Bochea Day.

Victory Day celebrates the start of the fall of the Khmer Rouge, commemorated with a remembrance parade and service at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh. Meak Bochea Day is a Buddhist festival celebrated during the full moon of the 3rd Khmer lunar month - celebrating the spread of Buddhism principles that became a major milestone in the religion’s development.

Local Food:

Kako soup is a Khmer dish of vegetables and meat

A World Vision's sponsored child's lunch in Cambodia
A Cambodian lunch in a beneficiary's home

Cambodian cuisine is heavily influenced by the Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cultures, hence the dishes are not entirely foreign to us. While Fish Amok is a national dish in Cambodia, the more common items eaten among the locals include Kako soup (also known as Samlor kako or samlor korko) a nutritious food from the Khmer culture, and fish or seafood.

Fast Facts:

  1. Cambodia is a relatively reserved country, hence it is inappropriate to wear revealing clothes and show too much skin in public places, especially religious monuments.
  2. Touching anyone on the top of their head is not allowed and it is considered rude to point the bottom of the feet at people – the head is considered the most sacred part of the body, while the feet is the least.
  3. A 14-year-old boy from Cambodia who can speak 15 languages went viral when a tourist posted a video of him online.


Because of our community-focused solutions, for every child you help, 4 more children benefit, too.




Learn about the culture, food and traditions of other countries we are supporting

Bangladesh | Cambodia | China | Ethiopia | Indonesia | Jerusalem-West Bank | Mongolia | Myanmar | Nepal | Philippines | Sri Lanka | Thailand | Vietnam | Zambia 



Written By: 
World Vision Singapore