Religion & Etiquette
Buddhism is the official religion in Cambodia, with over 95% of the population following the religion devotedly. The remaining minority consists of Muslims and Christians. Buddhism is not only a practiced religion in the country but a philosophy that has an impact on all aspects of Cambodian culture. Theravada Buddhism is the dominant form, and the three symbols of the Buddha, the teaching of dharma, and the monastic community are extremely crucial for the society of Cambodia. Rituals and prayers are the main constituents of the structure of everyday life. You will see monks, nuns, and students going in and out of the monasteries almost everywhere in the cities.
A virtuous life led by wisdom and knowledge is core to the Buddhist philosophy adopted by Cambodians. Naturally, values such as merit-making, respect, sharing, and spreading knowledge are essential. Remember that is a conservative culture, valuing privacy and personal boundaries in the public. Practice caution when addressing to people, avoid public displays of affection, and most importantly, never cause someone to lose face. The concept of face is the binder element that keeps social interactions together in Vietnam. Embarrassing someone is probably the worst thing you can do in Vietnam.
When you are in the presence of monks or witnessing a religious ritual, it is wise to behave respectfully and avoid drawing attention. Women are not allowed to touch Buddhist monks, and people in general shouldn’t touch anything with their feet. The head, on the other hand, especially the top of the head, is considered the most sacred part of the body. Touching or patting someone on the head is considered very offensive.