Whenever traveling to a country, the first thing that you should learn is how to give a proper greeting. The traditional way to say hello and goodbye in Cambodia is to press the palms together and slightly bow the head. Cambodian called this is Sampeah, which is the formal way that people greet each other. If you are planning to Cambodia vacation packages, firstly, why don’t you learn how to greet the Cambodian in their land?
Cambodia Greetings in Different Situations
In each situation, Cambodians have different ways of greeting. Sharing similarity to the Thai way, Cambodian traditional greeting manner is called the Sampeah, and it is how Cambodians warmly welcome one another, especially for the first time. For example, in a casual situation, you can greet by saying “Susaday” and do not need to perform Sampeah. In important meetings, however, “Choum reap sor” should be said while you are holding Sampeah. In case you want to say goodbye in a formal way, you can say “Choum reap lear”.
Normally, the higher you place your hands when sampeahing and the lower you bow, the more respect you are showing. Although it’s totally acceptable to shake hands if you are a foreigner, greetings in the traditional way will be highly appreciated to show the knowledge and respect to Cambodians. There are five situations that you should remember to give the right sampeah.
Firstly, when you greet people of the same age or equal social status, put your hand at chest level and bow your head. In case you greet your boss, older people, or to the one you respect, your sampeah should put below your mouth. Nose level will be right for greeting parents, older relatives, and teachers. As you know, Cambodians are those who always spend great respect for monks and the king, therefore they often sampeah at eyebrow level.
Lastly, the highest position for sampeah, which Cambodians place their both palms together, is for God or sacred places like the temple. Many people in an attempt to be polite have shown too much by giving monk-level sampeah to the waiter in the restaurants. These acts are considered silly and embarrassed.
Hence, you should keep in mind these five ways of greetings to make sure you are doing an appropriate sampeah. Sampeah is not just simply a form of saying hello or goodbye, it’s also used when you want to say thank you or apologize. Doing Sampeah is a way of expressing respect and politeness, so it would be impolite to not a response to a Sampeah.
Greeting Tips for Travelers before Visiting Cambodia
Cambodian social communications are governed by century-old traditions of respect and formation that may not be immediately apparent to most foreign travelers. Normally, the higher you place your hands and the lower you bow when giving Sampeah, the more respect you are showing.
Although it’s totally acceptable to shake hands if you are a foreigner, greetings in a traditional way will be highly appreciated if you want to show respect to Cambodians and express your understanding of the country’s customs. The following are five situations that you should remember in order to give a right Sampeah:
1. When you greet people of the same age or equal social status, put your hand at chest level and bow your head.
2. If you greet your boss, older people, or to the one you respect, your hands should be pressed together below your mouth.
3. Nose-level Sampeahs are used when greeting parents, older relatives, and teachers.
4. To pay great respect for the monks and the king, as many Cambodians do, you should give a Sampeah at eyebrow-level.
5. Lastly, the highest position of Sampeah is when Cambodians press both of their palms together at the forehead-level. This is for God or when you enter sacred places like temples and pagodas.
Additionally, in Cambodian tradition, street vendors, children and, beggars do not receive Sampeah. If you want to be polite in these special cases, simply nod and smile a little to reply to a greeting.
On the other hand, many people in an attempt to be polite have shown too much by giving monk-level Sampeahs to waiters in the restaurants. It looks as silly as it is embarrassing. Hence, you should keep in mind five ways of greetings that are mentioned above to make sure you are giving an appropriate Sampeah.
Sampeah is more than a form of saying hello or goodbye, it’s also used when you want to say thank you or apologize. Doing Sampeah is also a way of expressing your respect and politeness, so whenever you receive a Sampeah, remember to be polite and return the favor.