The Khmer people are traditionally friendly to Westerners, perhaps because of the country's 90 years as a French protectorate. The recent explosion in the number of tourists visiting the area has also had an effect, with more local people working in the hospitality sector making the effort to learn English.
Customs and etiquette
Cambodia is a Theravada Buddhist country in which hierarchy is important, with respect being shown to higher-ranking and older people. Visitors should be aware of the all-important concept of ‘face', which is lost when a person is criticised or embarrassed in public and gained when a person is praised or complimented.
The traditional greeting is a bow with the hands together at chest level. However, many Cambodians will greet a foreigner with a handshake. Respond with the greeting you are given and you can't go wrong. As a general rule, if you are not sure what to do, do as others do.
Public affection between the sexes is not considered correct, and dressing politely when visiting temples is essential to avoid causing offence. Shoes should be removed when entering a temple or home.
Regards tipping, it's good to tip a small amount if you have enjoyed a meal or received good service but tipping is not common in local restaurants.
The rial is Cambodia's official currency; however, the most useful currency for visitors to carry is the US dollar. Most prices are set in US dollars, unless the transaction is underUS$1. Rial should be carried to cover lesser amounts. All rial are issued as notes, from 50 rial to 100,000, with the 500 and 1,000 rial notes being the most common.
Siem Reap has a number of banks which provide ATMs and cash withdrawals using credit and debit cards, although local money-changing shops may offer better exchange rates. In the major tourist towns, credit cards are widely accepted, with a 2 to 4 percent charge added.
There are two distinct seasons in Siem Reap – wet and dry. The wet season runs from May to October, with its wettest months during July, August and September. The dry season is cooler and more comfortable with a big variation in daytime and night-time temperatures. Light clothing is worn year-round.