Understanding Cambodian Culture

Understanding Cambodian Culture


The Cambodian history is well known for its strong religion which has been its pillar for the cultural inspiration. The country is predominantly made up of Buddhists who have an aggregate of 97% in the total population. Less than 1% is made of Christians and the rest of the citizens are Muslims, atheists or animists. Below are some of the elements that characterize the Cambodian culture.

  • Clothing

This is one of the most important aspects in the culture. The Cambodian fashion differs depending on the ethnic group and the social class. Khmer people wear a traditional scarf known as Krama which separates the Cambodians from their neighbors (the Vietnamese, Thai and the Laotians.) the Khmer also wear a long traditional garment called the Sampot. Sampot are put on the lower body parts and sometimes nothing from the waist upwards apart from jewelry and collars like the Sarong.

Khmers started wearing blouse, shirts and trousers when Buddhism replaced Hinduism. A few Cambodians still wear the religious style of clothing with both men and women wearing a Buddha pendant on the necklace. The pendant can be used for different purposes such as protection from the evil spirits or bringing good luck and prosperity.

  • Cuisine

The Khmer cuisine is almost the same as that of its Southeast neighbors. Cambodian cuisine uses fish sauces and soy sauces in the soups and stir-fried cuisines as dipping. The cuisine is commonly noted for its wide use of Prahok (Fermented fish paste) as a flavoring distinctive in many dishes. Coconut milk is the most preferred ingredient for the curries and desserts. Almost every meal is taken together with a bowl of Jasmine rice. Basically, the Cambodians take their meals with at least four separate dishes. The dishes will either be sour, salty, sweet or bitter and chilly is left up as an option for people to add for themselves.

Regional Cambodian cuisine has special dishes made depending on the traditions of the ethnic groups. In Kampot and Kep, the dish is prepared using local crabs fried up with local pepper. Curry which consists of fried spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, garlic, lemongrass and the Cambodian flavor is made available in almost all the dishes.

Cambodian Street Foods

Cambodia has most of the best sites in Asia although most of the traditional houses are just simple buildings made of wood and constructed on stilts making them to be above the ground. A nuclear family resides in a rectangular house that varies in size and is constructed in wooden frames. The roofs are steep thatched to protect the interior from the annual floods and the walls are made of woven bamboo. The house is typically divided into three parts with the front room serving as a living room, the second room for parents and the third room for the unmarried daughters. Sons can sleep anywhere they find the space. Urban and commercial buildings may be made of masonry, wood or brick.

In the urban areas, French influence is evident and the development rate is very high. Towns like Kratie, Kampong Cham, Battambang and Kampong Chhnang are marked by elegant villas and ocher walls, which create an impressive site.


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