From its ancient culture to its increasing status as a modern nation, Cambodia has a culture that’s intriguing, rewarding, and very welcoming to retirees. From the heavy emphasis on unity and family cohesion to the country’s large interest in the modern developments of the West, Cambodia offers a unique and friendly national culture.
Culture in Cambodia is very unlike the Western world. A very homogenous country in demographic terms, Cambodia has a shared culture that makes it one of Southeast Asia’s easiest countries to integrate into. Cambodia’s history, both ancient and fairly recent, has played a huge part in shaping the nation’s cultural leanings.
It’s important to remember that Cambodia was effectively gutted from the inside out in a cultural and economic sense just under forty years ago. Still recovering from the devastating policies of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia is a country that’s rapidly trying to modernize itself – a factor that heavily influences the local culture.
As a result, Cambodia is home to a lifestyle that’s very old fashioned and traditional, and a culture that’s growing increasingly modern. While Phnom Penh and the other major cities boast Western-style shopping malls, they’re also home to a culture that is somewhat similar to the Western world thirty to forty years ago.
Many young Cambodians aim to marry early and start family, preferring to go past the professional life that many Western retirees are accustomed to. Family plays an essential role in life in Cambodia. Many young locals will live with their parents well into their twenties and thirties, and only ever move out after they are married.
Respect for elders plays a major part in Cambodian life. Locals respect their peers and keep the concept of ‘face’ in mind when dealing with other people. It is thought of as being very vulgar and inappropriate to publicly embarrass someone, and one’s elders are given special care and attention to reduce their chances of ‘losing face.’
Civility and public social cohesion are also essential parts of life in Cambodia. Most people will avoid starting confrontations in public, preferring to subtly refer to the desired outcome through words and gestures. Cambodia is considered a very ‘high context’ society, while most Western cultures are considered to be low context.
While Cambodia’s culture may seem somewhat confusing to Western visitors, it will begin to make sense after a while. Cambodia places a large amount of importance on traditions and families, making it a comfortable and rewarding place to spend your retirement years.