Cambodians Are Extremely Rude Towards Tourists

The very first thing you notice upon your initial encounter with native Cambodians is that they are extremely pushy and aggressive. The very second thing you notice is that Cambodians are extremely rude and take great joy at making tourists feel uncomfortable. They take great joy at other people’s misfortune and/or suffering regardless of whether they are foreigners or fellow Cambodians, but the joy of laughing at foreigners and making them feel uncomfortable with purposefully loud remarks aimed at their person is a double score.

You know the “10 points” joke we make in western countries? It refers to the GTA style computer games and you use it while driving. If you’re on an open road with no other vehicles ahead of you and an elderly person comes grinding slowly across the road, you make an inappropriate remark that you have “10 points” right ahead of you. It implies that if you floored the gas pedal and pancaked the elderly, you’d earn yourself sweet-arsed 10 points. As it goes, if it’s an elderly person with a walker that crosses the street, then you’re looking at scoring mighty “15”.

Something of that sort happens as a daily routine among Cambodians. Locals of this country are the laziest people in the world who refuse to go to work and instead spend their entire days bored out of their minds, sitting on their motorcycles, killing time by entertaining themselves any way they can. But by just sitting outside with nothing to do, their only source of entertainment are people who come into view.

Photo: Groups of Lazy, Bored Out Of Their Minds Canbodians Can Be Found on Every Corner
Photo: Groups of Lazy, Bored Out Of Their Minds Canbodians Can Be Found on Every Corner

If something you’d normally consider a “not a big deal” happens to you – for example if you were pulling smokes out of your pocket and the box fell on the ground so you’d have to bend over to pick it up – you’d hear those locals laugh out loud like they’re watching Tom and Jerry. It was nothing worthy of mentioning that happened to you and in all other countries you would just pick it up and go without anyone ever winking an eye, but that’s not the case of Cambodia. Cambodians are extremely malicious and any chance to laugh at another that offers itself is taken a complete and thorough advantage of.

Now, if something more noteworthy happens to you – you slip and fall, for example – then the bored-out-of-their-minds Cambodians will explode with laughter. In any civilized country people would either try to help you or if you can help yourself, they would pretend that they didn’t see your misfortune so as not to make you feel uncomfortable, but that’s not the case of Cambodia. Locals here take great joy at making everyone and everything feel uncomfortable and will not miss out on any opportunity to show how rude and spiteful they are.

But it doesn’t end there. Cambodians will also laugh at you when they should be the ones to be laughed at. For example if you come to a store and there is nobody to serve you. Or imagine you are riding a bicycle, you get to a gate you need to get through in order to get somewhere but you can’t get across because lazy Cambodians who are killing time have their motorcycles parked there. They will loudly laugh at you for their own stupidity, for not realizing that they are blocking a passage by unqualified parking.

And as mentioned with the “10 points” example above, just as you get 15 points for running over an elderly with a walker, they feel extra entertained when they see a foreigner in a tight situation.

But scoring up foreigners doesn’t end with the lazy types who sit around whole day. This principle also applies to road crossing itself and since Cambodia is known for having the worst drivers in the world with sidewalks blocked up with motorcycles forcing you to walk on busy streets, you will have thousands of bikes and cars to dodge each time you decide to take a walk. And if you take into account the traffic rules of Cambodia, as a pedestrian, you are on a complete end of the traffic food chain with absolutely nobody paying any respect to you. It will be your responsibility to watch out for the traffic which will come at you from all sides, including the sidewalks. Yet as a foreigner, if you fail to keep a keen eye on traffic to safely dodge the vehicles, it will be like scoring mighty 15 for running over an elderly with a walker. In Cambodia, hitting a foreigner is like hitting a jackpot on a VLT.

Yet this is all still something you can avoid. What you can’t avoid in Cambodia is being continuously and uninterruptedly harassed by the Tuk Tuk drivers, touts and other scam artists. They are all extremely aggressive and don’t take “No” for an answer. I’ve been all over South-East Asia but no other country has scam artists who are this much in your face and this ruthless. You will have to deal with hundreds of them every day, oftentimes approaching you with deliberate intentions to make you feel pressured. If there is a group of a dozen Tuk Tuk drivers one right next to another, even though they will all hear you say “No, thank you!” to the first one, they will still each get in your face as though this will ever make you reconsider not riding with any of them.

But this is only the beginning. After politely responding that you were OK and didn’t need anything today, you will have them say something to each other in their native tongue loud enough to ensure that you can hear it and will have themselves one hell of a laugh to make you feel as uncomfortable as possible. If this discomfort results in you tipping over a curb or anything of sorts, this will be again like scoring the mighty 15.

If you make a local friend of opposite sex with whom you will go somewhere, hostile Cambodians will continue making extremely rude remarks both at you and at her (or him, if you’re a girl with a local male). Then you will know clearly how rude they really are because your companion will be targeted as well and they will tell you what remarks were used.

Of course, rudeness of Cambodians doesn’t end there. You will be stared down on every step of your stay in Cambodia. The more dangerous an individual, the more they will stare you down, laugh at you in front of your face and otherwise look for (provoke) trouble. Cambodians do not care about being friendly. They are only falsely friendly when there is a chance to easily make money off of you. Discrimination in Cambodia is prevalent and the locals will do anything to make you feel out of place. As sad as it is, it’s time that someone called a spade a spade.

102 thoughts on “Cambodians Are Extremely Rude Towards Tourists”

  1. Sorry mistake previous type below..
    According to the law: 1.”Any foreigners over the age of 50 cannot marry a Cambodian women, even
    if they were both consenting adults” 2.”Foreigners who make less than $2,500 a month are forbidden
    from getting MARRIED with Cambodian women. Could be this discrimination prejudice or jealousy against foreigners..

  2. yes this is all absolutely true. I have been living here for 6 years. These people really have mental issues, its really sad and sick how far these people go to make you feel uncomfortable. People in India and Pakistan are super polite compared to cambodians. I have no idea why there is no more info about this. In Siem Reap its like a fake bubble where the tourists walk in. Its all a lie and scam. They only think about money, and only want to cut corners to get it. They really don’t want good deals or something sustainable.
    I have been to Africa a lot as well, but the people are so straight compared to cambodians. Please people don’t waste your life in Cambodia. I mean Scambodia

    1. We recently moved to Cambodia from Africa. Having lived in Africa, when I read your comments, couldn’t agree more. And being an Asian who has spend more time in the Middle East and India, I can totally agree. In India, in the markets, people might fleece you, but in general, people are happy. They smile. Same goes with Africa. People are genuinely happy and they are straight forward. They don’t fake. They try to work things out though you have to continuously follow up. The vibe here is very strange.

  3. I agree with part of what you’re saying. I’ve had local women point and laugh at my body. These women are often stick thin and sick looking, but many of them are fat. There’s not much common sense in regards to social etiquette. However, I do have some wonderful Cambodian friends. There are hard working men and women who are educated and who care about their children’s education, as opposed to forcing them to beg. No respectful parent would do that. I have friends whose children are very smart. I’ve watched them flourish, and it’s remarkable! True, I have seen both sides of the coin, and there are ignorant and lazy people as well, because both my husband and myself have seen it. We’ve seen lazy men on motorbikes with nothing to do except stare in dumbfounded fascination at foreigners. One guy always brings us our 5 gallon bottle of water, and since he is providing us a service, we tip him. Cambodia has a high level of poverty, yet there are children who want to learn English, and they are not lazy at all. I volunteer to teach them English, and they are very grateful. Volunteering really can make a difference, because many kids clearly don’t want to end up as dogs chasing their tails; they want a better life, and they ultimately step up to the plate and take charge. They are impressive. As for the rudeness in Cambodia? Well, I pity those who have no ambition. The same goes for women who have mocked me. I’m not skinny like them, nor would I want to be. I have an athletic build, and happen to be well endowed and have a figure, and sometimes it draws attention. I guess they consider that fat, and I feel sorry for them and their ignorance. Overall, Cambodia is a great place to visit with beautiful scenery.

  4. I find some of it true..but I think people who are looking for tourist friendly place need to understand its one of the poorest country with a very dark past,if you keep that in mind while you travel you wouldn’t be very disappointed. I strongly agree that in phnom penh its all about money and very little hospitality is offered. Especially woman in phnom penh as soon as you look at them they turn their heads in gesture that they are not interested when you were just passing a smile. Its just me, I don’t find khmer or combodian women attractive at all.While you find a path to walk on a footpath which in combodia is parking all you hear is
    ‘tuk tuk tuk tuk’ . Combodians are rude and pushy but they are ok and not scammers or thieves like what the westerners believe.I walked everywhere in phom penh at night time and not once I felt unsafe. Yes I got scammed but not by combodian but by a white Australian who asked for change for 20$ and gave me fake 20$ bill. If you eat at a restaurant and sit there for 1 hour using free wifi,at least you should show the courtesy of leaving 1$ tip.But european trend of backpackers want to travel across the globe for as little as 5$ a day ..comeon you got to be real this is year 2018 and world is different than what it used to be, everyone in phnom penh has access to free wifi and they know how much it cost for a draught in western country.They have set up a bussiness for reason. Siem reap is a lot better as its country side and therefore people have different mentality.If you are a sex tourist or may be someone who is looking for a one night stand its definitely not the place for you.Khmer won’t date a tourist, the ones you find in night club’s are free lancer who after few drinks would open up and ask 100$ for a short time.Massage parlors mainly are for massues to sit and chat over three phone, as soon as you enter for a massage they all look unhappy.The massage parlour where they invite you are the happy ending massage parlors and the one who invites you is not that one who would massage, while you change you clothes they call some one else from the neighboring massage parlour who is trained but old .In a nutshell if you seek a different experience or adventure, travel to cambodia and do your research before you go.

  5. Yep, I’ve read much of your posts about Cambodia and now I know why I’m starting to hate this place. Been here for 2 weeks… it’s just a huge disappointment. I was actually planning on living here, but I might be leaving as soon as next week.

    First, Siem Reap. Terrible, terrible, terrible. Nothing to do, and those tuk tuk drivers… oh god.

    Then, Phnom Penh. Got my phone stolen on the riverside. Same annoying tuk tuk drivers, they are a living hell, and the laziest of them all in this lazy country. I havent seen anything from this so called “Cambodian hospitality”. In restaurants, I got used to get served by a waitress dragging their feet, eager to go back sitting watching at some dumb youtube video on her phone. I am still looking for where this country is cheap, yet even cheaper than Thailand. The food is nothing to compare with Thailand, I had many from so-so to plain bad meals. The city is noisy, dusty, filthy, and I dont even feel secure here anymore, I don’t feel comfortable, I simply don’t feel welcomed. Oh, and the police, what a joke. Yep, definitely, Scambodia is the right word, and it’s about time that people get informed about it.

  6. I work with a Cambodian and he is strange, always he tries to make you feel bad at job for any reason, no matter how minimum it is.
    Those people really suck.

  7. Completely agree. So shady and dishonest. I’ve been to countries all over Asia, some very poor and I’ve never felt so unsafe and uncomfortable. If they’re not screwing over tourists, they’re screwing over each other. The land of outstretched hands. And I don’t buy the excuse that it’s because of the tragic events that happened here. Tragic events and poverty have happened in other countries in recent history yet they don’t act this way. I’ve never seen so many people just sitting around doing nothing while on their phones. Bone idle laziness and demanding money simply because they want it not because they earned it. Land of hypocrisy and self pity. Scambodia indeed.

  8. wow it’s actually reassuring to read this as I totally expect a more Thailand-like approach to tourists and that etiquette.

    I’ve not even been here a week and the scams are none stop. They’ll go to extreme lengths and act their asses off (some of them are Oscar worthy).

    Constantly getting laughed at as an adult solo traveller, age 35, stocky athletic build.. but I look like I’m in my late 20s. I have no idea if they find me amusing or disgusting…

    The girls giggle, the men make comments and take turns laughing but the young guys yell when my backs turned – the last time it happened (tonight) I pivoted on the spot and stared them down for a 2 seconds… that sorted it out as I continued walking their entire tone changed and they talked normally between one another and I felt like I wasn’t imaging things.

    I am a self conscious person so it’s quite the adaption process getting my thick skin in the process. Tuk tuk drivers I find the easiest, just one hand out and a shake of the head, no. It’s the general public and the weird vibes, making me feel like an extreme outsider which I know I am as a white male tourist but fking hell, im heading to Thailand asap to be honest!

  9. This is really old, but I’ll bite. First of all, did you go to Vietnam? It’s about ten times worse than Cambodia.
    Second, experiences in Cambodia will vary widely. In tourist spots like Siem Reap, you’re basically an ATM machine and will pay dual-pricing for virtually everything, leaving you feeling like an idiot and sad inside that people would treat guests in their country in such a way. Battambang, in contrast, felt more authentic, fewer tourists, fewer scams.
    One thing I find strange about Siem Reap is how, as you describe, Cambodians there go out of their way to make you feel uncomfortable, and can even be occasionally down right rude. For a Buddhist people, it seems very petty and unbecoming to make a game out of trying to give people a bad day, even if they are stupid tourists.
    As one might expect, the poor in Cambodia tend to be the kindest and most likely to give you a fair deal. But sadly, there is ruthlessly corrupt culture of patriarchal, entitled, aristocratic elites at the top who own everything and seem to look down on everyone, especially poor foreigners, while they cruise around their broken country in $200k Mercedes G-wagons probably paid for with stolen NGO money that was intended to buy medicine for hill tribe people. In many cases, the elites are the descendants of the Khmer rouge genocidal maniacs who stole all the property and wealth after murdering a quarter of their people and still control the country today. Personally, I get the impression that Khmer elites are inbred for elitism and arrogance.
    In conclusion, it’s easy to see in today’s Cambodia that this is still the same culture that went nuts in the 70s and murdered a quarter of their own people. For all their talk about remembering the genocide, there’s really been no reconciliation or consequences, and the genocide sites are treated primarily as a tourist attraction. Khmer elites really deserve to be knocked off their high horses as they have nothing to be proud of, just a legacy of begging and corruption. Most of the poor folks in Cambodia, however, are just along for the ride and are exceedingly friendly and honest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *