Cambodian culture is influenced by a variety of influences, including Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism, French colonialism, Angkorian civilization, and contemporary globalization. Cambodian culture is promoted and developed by the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. Cambodian culture encompasses not just the culture of the lowland ethnic majority, but also the culture of approximately 20 culturally different hill tribes popularly known as the Khmer Loeu, a name created by Norodom Sihanouk to promote harmony between the highlanders and lowlanders.
Rural Cambodians use krama scarves, which are a distinctive feature of Cambodian attire. The sampeah is a customary Cambodian greeting or expression of respect towards others. The Khmer kingdom created and disseminated unique forms of dance, architecture, and art, which have been traded with neighboring Laos and Thailand throughout history. Angkor Wat (Angkor means “city,” and Wat means “temple”), along with hundreds of other temples found in and around the area, is the finest surviving example of Khmer architecture from the Angkorian period.
Tra leaves have traditionally been used by the Khmer people to record information. Tra leaf books include Khmer mythology, the Ramayana, the origins of Buddhism, and other prayer books. They are cared for by covering them in fabric to protect them from moisture and the elements.
The annual boat rowing competition, Bon Om Tuuk (Event of Boat Racing), is the most attended Cambodian national festival. At the end of the rainy season, when the Mekong River begins to sink back to normal levels, allowing the Tonle Sap River to reverse flow, approximately 10% of Cambodia’s population attends this carnival-style event to play games, give thanks to the moon, watch fireworks, dine, and watch the boat race.
Cockfighting, soccer, and kicking a sey, which is akin to a footbag, are all popular sports. The Cambodian New Year is a significant festival celebrated in April that is based on the ancient Indian solar calendar and Theravada Buddhism. Singers Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Serey Sothea (and subsequently Meng Keo Pichenda) were recent creative luminaries who brought new musical genres to the nation.
Rice is the staple grain, as it is in the rest of Southeast Asia. The cuisine also includes fish from the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. In the year 2000, the supply of fish and fish products for food and commerce was 20 kilos per person, or 2 ounces per day per person. Some of the fish may be turned into prahok and stored for a longer period of time.
Cambodian cuisine includes tropical fruits, soups, and noodles. Kaffir lime, lemon grass, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, curry, tamarind, ginger, oyster sauce, coconut milk, and black pepper are key components. (Num Banh Chok), (Amok), and (Num Banh Chok) are some delicacies (Ah Ping). The nation also has a number of unique native street delicacies, such as fried spiders.
The Cambodian red curry with toasted baguette bread is an example of French influence on Cambodian cuisine. Toasted baguette slices are dipped in curry and consumed. Cambodian red curry is traditionally served with rice and rice vermicelli noodles. Kuy teav, perhaps the most popular dine-out meal, is a pork broth rice noodle soup with fried garlic, scallions, and green onions that may also include beef balls, shrimp, pig liver, or lettuce. In comparison to its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, the cuisine is largely obscure to the rest of the globe.
Khmer women are traditionally expected to be modest, soft-spoken, “light” walkers, well-mannered, industrious, to belong to the household, to act as the family’s caregivers and caretakers, to perform as the “preserver of the home,” to keep their virginity until marriage, to become faithful wives, and to act as advisors and servants to their husbands. Cambodian women’s “light” walking and refinement is further characterized as “silent in […] motions that one cannot hear the sound of their silk skirt rustling.” Women in Cambodia may be recognized as having genuine home power at the family level as financial controllers.
Football (soccer) is one of the most popular sports, but due to economic constraints, professional organized sports are not as widespread in Cambodia as they are in Western nations. Soccer was introduced to Cambodia by the French and quickly became popular among the people. Cambodia’s national football squad finished fourth in the 1972 Asian Cup, but progress has been sluggish since the civil war.
Basketball, volleyball, bodybuilding, field hockey, rugby union, golf, and baseball are among the most popular Western sports. Volleyball is the country’s most popular sport by far. Traditional boat racing, buffalo racing, Pradal Serey, Khmer traditional wrestling, and Bokator are examples of native sports. Cambodia first competed in the Olympics in 1956, sending equestrian riders to the Summer Olympics. In the 1960s, Cambodia also held the GANEFO Games, an alternative to the Olympics.
Khmer classical dance, folk dance, and social dances are the three major types of Cambodian dance. The precise beginnings of Khmer classical dance are unknown. Most local Khmer academics link contemporary dance traditions back to the time of Angkor, citing parallels in temple carvings from the time, while others believe modern Khmer dance techniques were acquired (or re-learned) from Siamese royal dancers in the 1800s.
Khmer classical dance is a stylized performance art form that originated in Cambodia’s royal courts and was shown for both amusement and ceremonial reasons. On public occasions, elaborately dressed, highly trained men and women perform the dances as a form of homage, invocation, or to recreate ancient tales and epic poetry such as Reamker, the Khmer version of the Ramayana. It is officially known as Robam Preah Reach Trop ( “theater of royal riches”) and is put to music by a pinpeat ensemble backed by a vocal chorus.
Cambodian traditional dance, typically performed to mahori music, honors Cambodia’s many cultural and ethnic groupings. Folk dances began in communities and are mostly performed by villagers for villagers. The motions are less stylized, and the dancers wear the clothes of the people they are representing, such as hill tribes, Chams, or farmers. Folk dances, which are often faster-paced than classical dance, depict themes of the “common person,” such as love, humor, or warding off bad spirits.
Guests at banquets, parties, or other casual social events conduct social dances. Traditional Khmer social dances are similar to those of other Southeast Asian countries. The circle dances Romvong and Romkbach, as well as Saravan and Lam Leav, are examples. Modern western popular dances such as the Cha-cha, Bolero, and the Madison have also had an impact on Cambodian social dance.
Traditional Cambodian music may be traced back to the Khmer Empire. Royal dances like as the Apsara Dance, as well as the Mahori ensembles that accompany them, are symbols of Cambodian culture. Chapei and A Yai are examples of more rustic music. The former is popular among the elder generation and usually consists of a guy strumming a Cambodian guitar (chapei) in between a cappella lyrics. Typically, the lyrics contain a moral or religious message.
A Yai may be done alone or by a man and a woman, and it is often humorous in tone. It is a kind of lyrical poetry that may be written or totally spontaneous and ad-libbed, and is frequently full of double entendres. When performed by a duet, the man and woman take turns “answering” one other’s lines or presenting riddles for the other to solve, with brief musical pauses in between verses. Pleng kaah (lit. “wedding music”) is a collection of traditional music and songs performed for amusement as well as accompaniment to the many ceremonial elements of a typical, multi-day Khmer wedding.
Cambodian popular music is played on western-style instruments or a combination of traditional and western instruments. Dance music is written in specific genres for social dances. From the 1960s through the 1970s, the music of crooner Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea is regarded as Cambodia’s greatest pop music. Many famous and popular vocalists of the 1960s and 1970s were killed, starved to death, or overworked to death by the Khmer Rouge during the Khmer Rouge Revolution. Many original master tapes from the time period have been lost or destroyed.
Keo Surath (a refugee resettled in the United States) and others carried on the tradition of the classic vocalists in the 1980s, often recreating their famous songs. Kantrum, a Khmer Surin music style adapted to contemporary instruments, gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.
Astronomy Class, an Australian hip hop ensemble, has collaborated with Cambodian vocalist Kak Channthy, a native born Cambodian female singer.
The Dengue Fever rock and roll band consists of a Cambodian female vocalist and a California back-up band. It’s categorized as “world music,” and it mixes Cambodian music with Western-style rock.
As Cambodia grows, so does its connectivity to the rest of the globe. In most cities, restaurants and hotels provide WiFi connections for its guests, and there are many public locations where internet access is accessible, such as coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and gas stations.
Due to recent advancements in mobile phone connection, about one-third of Cambodians now have access to the internet.
Internet access in cities is less costly than in rural regions. The basic service with a speed of 3 Mbit/s costs $12 per month plus the cost of modem rental. In remote locations, installation and delivery costs may increase the cost. Lower costs have come from recent advancements in internet connection technology and competition.