With one of the longest cultural histories in Southeast Asia and fascinating traditions that have survived to the modern day, the culture of Cambodia is intriguing, insightful and amazing to discover.
1. While many countries in Southeast Asia have dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of tribes and ethnic groups, the majority of people in Cambodia are of Khmer ethnicity. The Khmer date back to at least 2000BC and the Khmer Empire centred on Angkor Wat, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. The language of Cambodia is also called Khmer – although some refer to it as Cambodian. This is one of the oldest languages in Southeast Asia, influenced by Sanskrit.
3. The sampot is one of the most traditional items of clothing in Laos – a cloth that is wrapped in different ways around the lower body to form a skirt. It’s been around since ancient Khmer times and is worn across the country, regardless of social status.
4. Some traditional dances from ancient Cambodia have survived despite difficult eras in the country’s history ever since. Most notable is The Royal Ballet of Cambodia, which has been designated one of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
5. Cambodia has its own martials arts unlike any others in the world, dating back to ancient times. Bokator is said to be most like kickboxing, and was previously only practiced by soldiers on the battlefield. Khmer traditional wrestling is another sport that is practiced by Cambodians to this day.
6. Cambodia has a proud history of craft making, which has seen a resurgence in recent years. Particular Cambodian specialities include kite-making and basket-weaving.
7. Some of Cambodia’s oldest architecture and temples took inspiration from Hindu traditions. Depictions of creatures from Hindu mythology can commonly be seen, such as the garuda – a bird-like creature linked with the Hindu god of Vishnu.
Discover the culture of Cambodia
and plenty more fascinating cultural traditions like this with us on our week-long Cambodia adventure.