Skip to Main Content
SMU Libraries

Understanding Cambodia: Home

This guide provides useful information and links to resources on Cambodia.

At A Glance



The following information have been carefully selected for your reference. Some resources may have bias perspectives. Please approach the SMU Libraries ( ) should you have any doubts or need clarifications.

This video gives a brief introduction and the top things to do while you are in Cambodia.


Learn more about Cambodia history, geographical history and culture through this educational video.

Need To Know

This section helps prepare an individual before visiting Cambodia, such as learning the cultural etiquette, basic conversational phrases, and useful local contact numbers.

Cultural Dos and Don’ts

Cambodia has its own customs, traditions, and rules for manners. Observe the following etiquette for a great experience:

  • DO Greet Cambodian people by saying “Chum Reap Suor”, accompanied by a gesture of pressing their palms together in front of their face and slightly bowing forward, which is called ‘sampeah’.
  • DO Before entering a sacred place, such as a Buddhist pagoda or the Royal Palace, please remember to take off your shoes and your hat. Also please remember to be dressed in a clean and modest manner. Especially, women should wear a t-shirt or a blouse with short or long sleeves and a skirt or pants at least at knee-length.
  • DO When entering someone’s home, please remember to leave your shoes at the entrance. Although your Cambodian hosts will often insist that you keep them for your comfort, they will always appreciate your consideration for their home.
  • DO If you buy foods at a street cart or a stall in a market, please remember that the price is usually cheap. Please remember that Cambodia is still a developing country and the Cambodian people are just starting to be familiar with other cultures’ customs and expectations. So be patient when communicating and interacting with your Cambodian hosts.
  • DON'T touch or pat the head of people, even children. In the Cambodian and Buddhist culture, the head is the most sacred part of the body.
  • DON'T use your feet to point at someone or something, to get the attention of someone or to push an object to someone. As the feet are the lowest parts of the body.
  • DON'T Women are not allowed to touch a monk’s robe or his body. Buddhist monks are deeply revered and respected.
  • DON'T Cambodian society is relatively conservative and public displays of affection, such as kisses and hugs, are considered inappropriate and offensive behaviours.

Basic Conversational Language

Some phrases in Khmer that are handy to know when visiting Cambodia.

  • chom-reap-sore (Hello)
  • cham-moo-ey (What is your name?)
  • knyom-cham-moo ___ (My name is _____)
  • soks-a-bye (How are you and I am fine)
  • chom-reep-lear (Good bye)
  • Ar-koon (Thank you)
  • bah / chaa (Yes for male / female)
  • ot-tei (No)
  • som-toe (Sorry / excuse me)
  • bow-man (How much?)

Phone Apps

    Lessons are broken down into bite-sized chunks and it feels like you’re playing a game. Duolingo is a great introduction, but it can feel like you’re learning a random mix of information, often through repetition. The more you do, the more robust your vocabulary will be.
    The only way to become fluent in a new language is to speak it. Tandem is geared toward conversations with native speakers. The idea is that you can help one another learn new languages via text, audio, and video chat. The app vets you and then helps you to find a partner who shares your interests. They teach you and you teach them.


Riels (KHR)

More details on the exchange rate.

Dialing Code


Useful Numbers

  • Tourist Police - Phnom Penh: 012 942 484
  • Tourist Police - Siem Reap: 012 402 424
  • Police - Phnom Penh: 117
  • Fire Police Phnom Penh: 118 or 011 997 296
  • Ambulance - Phnom Penh: 119 or 023 724 891 or 023 426 948
  • Tourist Information Center in Phnom Penh: 097 2473 773
  • Singapore Embassy in Cambodia (Phnom Penh): +855-23-221-875
    • Emergency Tel (after hours): +855-977017371
  • More emergency numbers

Local Media Source

This section links to the various local news media in Cambodia.

What To Look Out

This section informs the common scams and crimes to look out for when visiting Cambodia.


  • Common Tourist Scams
    Learn how to protect yourself from these common scams and crimes when visiting Cambodia.

Crime & Security

  • Overall Crime and Safety Report
    Find out more information on the common crime threats, areas of concerns, transportation-road safety, and even terrorism threat.


This section lists some recommended readings about Cambodia.


Useful Links

This section provides useful links to the Cambodia social media.

Social Media

Discover the thousand years historical sites, and its culture


Acceptable Use Policy

Electronic resources (e.g., databases, datasets, e-journals, e-books and streaming audio/video) provided by the SMU Libraries are governed by license agreements that restrict use to current students, faculty and staff of SMU and the Singapore Copyright Act.

The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy