Discrimination and Racism in Cambodia

Cambodia is an extremely racist country and a foreigners will encounter discrimination on every step of their stay. How you will be treated, how much you will pay will be determined by the color of your skin. This is racism in its purest form and it is so deeply rooted within Cambodian culture, anywhere you go you will be greeted with the “us versus them” treatment.

To better understand the premise of discrimination in Cambodia, one should look at it from an opposite angle. Imagine a Cambodian comes to Canada for a visit. From the moment they set their foot on Canadian soil, they will be treated equally to everybody else. They will have the same rights and the same obligations as everybody else, regardless of their ethnic background. They will enjoy the same respect when walking down the street as everybody else with no one having the right to yell at them from across the street just because they look different. And when they go to buy something, they will pay the same price as everybody else. Regardless of the color of their skin, the treatment in all walks of life will be the same. In Canada, you are one of us. You are no different. You are a human, you are the same and you have the same rights and privileges as everybody else.

It is not like that in Cambodia. Cambodia is a country where from the moment you set your foot on their soil, you will be treated differently. In Cambodia, there are Khmer people and then there are foreigners. As a foreigner, you are not one of them – you are different. You will be treated differently and different prices will apply to you.

If you find yourself within a crowd of locals walking down the street in Cambodia, you will be singled out and subjected to abuse while all of the locals surrounding you will be left alone. You will never feel integrated into the culture, because they will always single you out and always treat you differently and will be very open about you being different. Cambodians don’t try to hide their racist tendencies. You are not one of them, you are different and that’s that. Discrimination and racism in Cambodia and very much alive and as strong as ever. When one group of people gets preferential treatment from another group of people based on their ethnic background, you get a textbook perfect example of discrimination and that’s exactly what Cambodia is all about.

16 thoughts on “Discrimination and Racism in Cambodia”

    1. It’s just your one experience. Not all Cambodians are racist against white skin. If you use the word racist, it really does not fit the article. Just because they sell a thing to a white skin with different price, you call them racist ? It’ll be too much with this case. Thus, Cambodian people give high values, respect and prior service to the white skin, especially the French. Cambodia was under the France’s rules. They know how civilized the white skin is. And Because white skin are rich in knowledge and well can’t deny that they rich. But in Cambodia society, a knowlegble person is always admired. I agree that some seller sell things to foreigner tourists at higher price than locals, but that’s not only happened in Cambodia. You can see many other poor countries where money is very important to them, and take chance to get money from foreigners. Anyway in recent, I myself see some improvement of foreign tourist service. They started to sell things the same price for foreigners as locals. For exam , buying clothes , and Tuk Tuk driver. I saw with eyes that a Tuk Tuk driver charged me 2.5$ the same foreigner at the same distance. And clothes also, they sold me 5$ for a normal T-shirt and same for forgeigners at Siem Reap. Cambodians begin to realize how it feels to sell thing at different price at different skins. They learned globalization in tourist. Back to cause of this, one problem might be about education. Cambodia is very low GDP country. Most of young souvenirs sellers dont finish secondary-schools. They may be lack of morality in business. And now Cambodia GDP grows at 7%. Cambodians will improve their preferential treatment to foreigners. And one I want to remind, be smart at buying products and services. If you think they sell at a higher price to you, negotiate with or just don’t buy. I see some foreigner, they are smarter than locals and even pay less price of service and product than locals through their speech. For example, my Korean fri, Park Sungwoo , he took moto-drive from Russian Market to Independent monument, and he only paid 1$ for this service. But me I paid 1.5$. I asked him why he paid less than me. He said “I don’t take his service if he get paid more than 1$”. So It really depends. U can’t say that Cambodia is a discriminated society as a whole. Other foreigners they really like Cambodian service. Because they treat them nicely with smile and give priority. Cambodian is nation who built the great Angkor. Yeah it’s great. But after going through civil wars for decades, everything seems not like before. Economics, structures and Human Resource were destroyed. That’s why we are in bad condition. If you learned more about Cambodia, you wouldn’t say that Cambodians are racist.

  1. Look up the post on “Rude Cambodians”, Jonesy. Mark has the most comprehensive and factual information about Cambodia found anywhere on the web. Definitely not a pleasant country to visit. I cut my stay short and only used up one day of the three day pass to Angkor because the experience was butchered by being repeatedly attacked by hustlers. You can’t take a single picture without someone bothering you. Cambodians can shove their temples up their asses. Not a positive experience at all.

  2. cambodians have no respect for other cultures they should be put on trains and taken away to camps
    right on mark

  3. I had to pay fourty goddamn dollars to go into those temples and those bloody monkeys walk in for free!!!!!!!!!! Bet you didn’t know that.

  4. cambodians, like many other asians got too haughty and neglected the hygiene aspects. that is why their culture are unattractive , no matter how lovely they may be,

  5. All the cambodians are interested is selling you things or expecting you to support in their petty war with thais(which are no angels either) or to be richer than you, or peddle their immorality. they don’t care about our foreigners unfortunate situation that led us to cambodia in the first place.

  6. Cambodians like many asian countries, such as malaysia, and singapore
    would only discriminate against westerners, if they are richer or their fellow asians are richer, but they would give preferential treatment to westerners, (with the hope that rich westerners would foolishly provide aide), if they are poorer or have internal infighting problem within themselves. Actually, they only look up to rich people, and if you are only a poor western foreigners, they would most probably disregard you or abuse you, if you can’t help them. Anyway, i noted their mixed of unpleasant asian culture will still try to nastily exploit your weakness, whether you are poor or rich.

  7. Discrimination is very prevalent in asian countries. They would discriminate against anyone for the slightest reason, if they have the power. Just look at malaysia. once a great country, but got damaged by rampant discrimination by islamics against nonislamics.

  8. Many Thanks to Mark…
    and all contributions above ….except for Mick on who must be living in a closed box…

    It;s a pleasure to see the truth coming to light from real people in the World looks like there is hope yet,, Thanks

  9. ALL WESTERNERS ARE TREATED LIKE SHIT IN CAMBODIA.. UNLESS THERE IS A
    CHANCE OF GETTING SOME MONEY FROM THEM…THIS STANDARD BEHAVIOR
    BY ALL CAMBODIANS….. IF ANYONE IS NOT ABUSING, SCAMMING OR ROBBING
    WESTERNERS… THEY WILL BE HARASSED AND ASKED WHY DO YOU
    LIKE THE FOREIGN DOG…..AND NOT WANT CHEAT THEM TO HELP CAMBODIA…

    THE WORD FOR FOREIGN DOG IN KHMER IS > CHEKAI BARANG I SPEAK KHMER
    AND HEAR IT ALL THE TIME.. THAT’S WHAT THEY CALL US….TRY TO LISTEN FOR IT;
    BUT DO NOT RESPOND…IF YOU GET INTO TROUBLE THE POLICE WILL JUST LAUGH
    AT YOU AND ASK FOR MONEY AND DO NOTHING…AND YOUR EMBASSY WILL ASK
    YOU TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY..

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