Cambodia is at a fork in the road. While locals in more highly touristed areas like as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are well acclimated to tourist behavior, individuals in less touristed areas such as Stung Treng and Banlung are not. Always seek permission before photographing someone, since many people in more rural locations dislike being shot, and others in metropolitan areas may demand money.
Cambodian ladies wear more restrictive clothing. While shorts are increasingly allowed in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, wearing knee-length shorts or trousers outside of these places is more polite. While Cambodian women tend to dress modestly during the day, covering most of their flesh to avoid sunburn, which they deem ugly, the dress code at night is more exposing. Do not confuse such local ladies at nightclubs with prostitutes; they are out for a night on the town just like everyone else.
There are groups of young children everywhere in Cambodia, and many visitors feel ‘pestered’ by them to buy their friendship bracelets and other goods. However, youngsters often love the opportunity to practice their English on you, and by asking them their names and ages, a discussion is likely to begin in which the ‘hard sell’ is forgotten. Photographs of your family and home nation are popular for both children and adults.
The Khmer Rouge topic is very sensitive, and Cambodians usually prefer not to discuss it. However, if you approach it politely, they will happily reply. People in general have no problems about talking about the Vietnamese; in fact, when they intervened in Cambodia in 1979 to remove the aforementioned cruel government, they were generally regarded as liberators. The pro-Vietnamese government eventually repaired all of the infrastructure that had been badly destroyed by the Khmer Rouge’s program of de-urbanization, which led to economic success in the 1980s despite occasional upheavals.
Cambodia, like neighboring Thailand and Laos, is mainly Theravada Buddhist. This implies that monks are respected and expected to take their responsibilities seriously. Monks, as in Thailand, walk about in the morning collecting alms from people. Monks are not allowed to have personal contact with women, therefore ladies who want to give food to a monk should put it on a piece of cloth in front of him so he may pick it up. Monks are not permitted to receive or handle money, and giving money to a monk is considered insulting in local culture. Donate food if you want to help. Monks will cease collecting alms before noon since they are not permitted to consume solid food after noon. Imposters are “monks” who hang around in tourist areas and beg contributions from visitors.