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Tipping Customs in Cambodia

To tip or not to tip? That is the question on many travelers’ minds when they visit a new country. 

If you are traveling to Cambodia, then you should make yourself familiar with the currency and tipping etiquette. 

Whether you are in a restaurant, in a spa, in a hotel or in a taxi you might wonder if you should give the waitress, masseuse, porter or driver a tip, right? You will also likely ask yourself what is the correct amount to give?

You will have all the answers below!

Are you supposed to tip in Cambodia?

First things first, remember that tipping is never compulsory in Cambodia and that you should think of it only when you are really satisfied by someone’s service. It is an individual reward that aims at supporting high-level service, helpfulness and friendliness.

Contrary to many others Asian countries, tipping in Cambodia is not traditionally expected, but in such a poor country, a small tip can go a long way.

There are no hard and fast rules about tipping in Cambodia, and travelers who decide not to will not be frowned upon. 

Below are some guidelines regarding tipping customs in the Kingdom of Wonder as well as suitable amount to tip according to the place you are

Something to keep in mind

Before continuing further on who and how much to tip, there is something you should keep in mind.

Keep the change?

Depending on where you’re eating, the tipping culture could be vastly different. If you were to order street food and tell the vendor to keep the change, there’s a high chance that they might insist you take it back – whether through humility or confusion at a perceived overpayment – even if it’s just KHR3,000

Doing as the locals do is sound advice for any travelers, and you’re unlikely to see a local tipping a street food joint so don’t worry about it too much. If the food really was that delicious, order another one or leave a few thousand riels on the side and make your escape before they have the chance to thrust it back into your palm.

Eating in restaurants or cafes is another story. It’s worth keeping in mind that the waiting staff in such places often work long hours with little breaks for less than $10 a day.

If you order a snack and a coffee that comes to, for example, 28 thousand KHR, then it’s common to simply leave behind the remaining 2 thousand change that you’re unlikely to miss, but which could help to make all the difference for a young waitress with a family or a university course.

If you’re heading to an area for a prolonged amount of time, leaving a tip each time isn’t necessary but can see you rewarded with better service and preferential treatment as a regular.

Naturally, the pricier the restaurant, the more you’ll be expected to tip. Once you start to hit the high hundreds with your bill, you can start to think about tipping 10% and up for good service, though make sure that service charge isn’t included in your bill already.

Fair fares and the knead for tips

In any big city in Cambodia, and certainly in the touristy areas in Siem Reap, finding a taxi driver that will actually use the taxi meter can be a real pain. With that in mind, it’s worth rewarding the drivers who do, with a small tip.

There’s no need to break the bank; if it comes to 58 thousand riels for example, give him 60 thousand riels and don’t expect the change.

They’ll be grateful for it and it might convince them to continue earning an honest living and not quote $30 for a trip that’s virtually around the corner.

As anyone who has visited Cambodia will know, massage shops can be found on virtually every corner, making for fierce competition between shops and price wars that can make it easily affordable for a tourist.

Massages are personal and catered for the receiver and can be tiring work. Not only that, the competition means that more often than not the masseurs can wait around for hours without a single customer, only to receive a pittance of the massage fee once the house has taken their cut.

Again, tipping isn’t expected but it’s more than appreciated, so you may want to consider tipping the masseur perhaps 15-20 thousand riels on a bill of 100 thousand riels and giving it directly to them.

It won’t break the bank, but it can make a person’s day.

Sweet dreams and the guide price

There aren’t many things worse than not double checking your booking and arriving at your hotel weary and jet-lagged, only to discover you’re on the fourth floor and there’s no elevator.

Spare a thought for the poor bell boys and porters who’ll have to lug your luggage up there! These jobs, along with housekeeping jobs in a hotel, are quite often low paying with long hours and high standards, so a tip of 5 thousand riels per bag carried or per room cleaned can go a long way.

Tour guides can be very hit and miss in Cambodia. Some can absolutely make a trip, while others may carry a vibe that they’d rather be anywhere else. The amount you tip should vary with the service and length of time the tour guide is with you.

For great guides who have been with a group the whole day, it’s not unusual for them to be given upwards of 100 thousand riels – a large amount for someone who will only earn around 3 million riels per month.

If you’re not happy with the service, there’s no obligation to tip but keep in mind that everyone has good and bad days, and the hours can be long and exhausting.

Use your own judgement

As the locals say, it really is “up to you”. There’s no expectation of tourists to tip but it will certainly be appreciated.

It can be easy to pass through a town that you’ll never visit again without tipping, but good service and satisfaction should always be rewarded.

Keep in mind the amount of money people in restaurants and hotels earn and think twice before scooping those coins out of the change tray.

Who to tip and how much?

Below is the detailed guide of who you should tip and how much. Note that it is just the general recommendation. Who you tip and how much you give them all depends on your satisfaction of the services.

Restaurants

With the average starting salary for waiting staff sitting at about US $100 a month, with employees working six days a week, leaving a small sum of money will sure be more than welcomed.

There is no standard amount of gratuity to leave at a Cambodian restaurant, but 10% of the total bill is probably around average. Feel free to leave more if you felt that the service was excellent.

An increasing number of more upmarket establishments are already slapping a seven percent service charge onto the bill. However, how much of this makes it into employees’ pockets vastly varies.

If eating from street stalls or fast-food joints, no tip is necessary.

Tour guide & driver

Guides will accompany you throughout the entire tour, while giving you cultural and local knowledge and they will also serve as your translator if you need it.

As mentioned earlier, tipping is not compulsory but can be given at your discretion, with some guides more than others hinting towards a tip at the end of a trip.

If they have pulled off an impressive performance and made your trip informative and fun, then giving a little extra at the end will go a long way. It is good tipping etiquette to leave around 10% for your tour guide.

And if you are with a group, then a quick whip round at the end for a good guide will make that smile even wider.

Finally, leave a gratuity for the driver (if this person is separate from the tour guide) of around US $1 or 2 per day.

Hotels

If you are staying in a hotel in Cambodia, generally, give the bellman around US $1 per bag that he carries to your room and give the maid around US $1 a day. You are not obligated to tip any of the other hotel staff unless you feel led to do so. 

Remember that Cambodian workers do not make much money and rely on gratuities. A one US dollar tip may not seem like much to you, but it be almost half of a typical worker’s daily income.

And contrary to what you might think at first, tips are more welcomed in high-end establishments since staff wages are usually rather low.

Also note that many of the upmarket hotels levy a 10% service charge, but unfortunately this does not always make it to the staff.

Spas and massage

Massage parlors and spas are plentiful and affordable in Cambodia. Most of the staffs working in massage parlors are young people coming from the countryside who send most of their meager wages to support their family back home.

If you are happy with your spa services, then tip your therapists as much or as little as you like will be a great way to show your appreciation.

Taxis

Tipping your taxi driver is up to you. Do keep in mind that Cambodian taxi drivers will not necessarily expect tips, but because they do not make much money, they will appreciate them.

If you feel as though your taxi driver went out of his way to help you or was extra friendly, consider leaving him a few dollars. Another option is to let him keep the change after rounding up to the nearest dollar. 

Tuk tuk & Motorbike Drivers

For tuk-tuk and moto drivers, tips again are not expected – especially seeing as you, as a foreigner, are probably already being drastically over-charged.

Of course, you can use your own discretion, but if you have hired transport for the day to explore Angkor Wat or Phnom Penh and your driver has impressed you, then feel free to dish out an extra couple of dollars.

And if you have hired a private vehicle for the day and paid a set fee to your hotel or a tour operator, a tip at the end of the day will go a long way as the chances are they only receive a very small portion of the cost you have paid for the car.

Temples and religious sites

Wats, temples and pagodas are usually free to explore but often have contribution boxes at the entrances for the worship, the maintenance of the places, etc.

If someone shows you around or a monk blesses you, it is polite to leave a few thousand riels, the local currency, in the contribution boxes at the end of the visit.

Extra tips

It is important to not tip everywhere. If the service is poor, or if they demand for tipping and you feel like it is not worth it, keep your money for yourself.

In many Cambodian restaurants, change will be returned in some sort of bill holder. If you leave the change, there it will often be taken by the restaurant proprietor. If you want to make sure the tip goes to the staff who have served you, leave the tip on the table or give it to the individuals directly. 

Tips is also appreciated by parking watchmen, especially for parking that are “free” and not asking you ticket fees.

If a local helps you out like taking you somewhere or finds an important person for you, or allow you to take some photo, they would be looking for you to provide a small amount. It is probably wise to always have some small Riel notes for when these occasions arise.

If possible, it is nicer to give the tip in a small envelope rather than just handing the person loose cash, especially for package tour guides.

Small gifts are also appreciated, such as pens, cigarettes, t-shirts or perfumes. Cambodians are fond of western products that are usually difficult to obtain in the country. When offering presents, note that they might initially refuse it. This is just politeness.

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Cambodia is a developing economy, which means that the majority of the population is still living on an average wage. If you truly enjoy the service, a small tip will perfectly represent your gratuity for the service provided. R4000 may be less than USD1; not much for you but maybe a whole meal for the staff member that served you.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Is it customary to tip in Cambodia?

A. That said, it is not customary but highly recommended especially at the tourist sites. Do give some small tips if you satisfy with the services that you have.

Q. What is the average local salary in Cambodia?

A. The average monthly salary of a worker in Cambodia is about $250 per month; those in high paying jobs bring home around $500 per month.

Q. How much budget do I need per day to travel in Cambodia?

A. For the guided organized tour for the group of 2 pax in Cambodia, the expected budget will start from $80-90 per person per day. Depending on the accommodation, the restaurant, or the activities you will join, the budget can go up to $150-200 per person per day.

Check out the detailed Cambodia trip cost here

Q. When is the best time to visit Cambodia?

Cambodia is a year-round destination, so the best time to visit the country depending on what you’re looking for. Most travelers visit Cambodia from November to March as this is the best time for most of the activities that you may plan to do in the country.

If you prefer to dodge the crowds and go when prices are lower, the best time to visit Cambodia is from May to early October.

Check our full guide about Cambodia weather and best time to visit

Q. How to book cheap ticket to Cambodia?

This requires some simple efforts and skills. Read our full guide on how to get the cheapest ticket possible to Cambodia

NOT READY YET?

We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Cambodia, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

PLACES TO VISIT IN Cambodia
Siem Reap
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Tonle Sap Lake
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One of the most fish abundant lakes in the world and supports 360 floating villages and thousands of waterbirds.

Phnom Penh
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Battambang
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Sihanoukville
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Koh Rong Island
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Cambodia PLANS BY TRAVEL THEME
Must-see
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Check out all the must-see places and things to do & see

Luxury
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

Wellness & Leisure
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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

Cruise
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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

Cycling
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Honeymoon
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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

Unseen
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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

Family
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The combination of fun and educational activities

Cambodia PLANS BY TIME FRAME
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Cambodia BLOG ARTICLES

After nearly two years of restricting international arrivals as part of Covid-19 prevention measures, Cambodia yesterday become the first country in Southeast Asia to drop the requirements for both pre-travel PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test and on-arrival rapid antigen test for fully vaccinated travellers into the Kingdom.

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Cambodia has abolished the need for a PCR negative test obtained 72 hours before arrival and rapid test upon arrival in Cambodia. They also enable to visa-on arrival system on the strike to facilitate the reopening process of the tourism sector as reported on March 17th, 2022.

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Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who is well known to Cambodians, has returned to the Kingdom for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020.

In the past, the American film star directed the film First They Killed My Father here after starring in Tomb Raider, released in 2001, which is considered the first international movie in modern times to introduce the wonder of Angkor Wat to a wider, western audience.

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The below article is written by Reece Ferguson from Khmer Night about the experience with a visit to Siem Reap recently in the "new normal". Check it out to know what to expect if you are planning to visit Cambodia in the "new normal" in 2022.

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Siem Reap has really gone through the wars lately, with lockdown’s and “Red Zones” seriously impacting the city. The lockdown is though now over, meaning this might well be your last chance to visit a truly empty Angkor Wat.

Every now and again you get a job-perk, so when Khmer Nights were invited to test out a new tourism app in Siem Reap, we jumped at the chance. Visiting the floating village on Tonle Sap and Angkor Wat were duly picked as our personal tour choices and we got ready to embark on a mini-adventure.

When the crisis is over, you need this guide to visit Angkor Wat without the crowds

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A Sihanoukville sandbox will be initiated on November 30th, which will allow quarantine-free travel not only to the port city, but also Koh Rong Island and Dara Sakor Resort in Koh Kong province.

This will now allow for quarantine-free travel to and within the Kingdom, but what exactly is in the fine print?

Sit back while we dive into the Sihanoukville Sandbox, outlining how it will work and what to expect. 

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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian countries has taken the cautious approach to inbound travel and has had some of the strictest border restrictions and closures. At the moment, the nations of the region are in the beginning stages of reopening their borders for tourism, with every country introducing its own regulations.

The “unlocking” statuses vary widely. Travelers entering Asian countries may be required to do everything from going into quarantine, submitting negative COVID-19 test results, presenting proof of health insurance, and proof of vaccination (known a vaccine passports).

There is an understandable uncertainty with how you should travel to the Asian region if you are planning to. This is why we present you the list of 19 Asian countries, along with details on the current travel situation. As each country applies precisely defined regulations, you should always check the official websites listed in the article below for the latest government announcements.

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Vietnam
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A land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, of dynamic megacities and hill-tribe villages, Vietnam is both exotic and compelling.
Thailand
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Friendly and food-obsessed, hedonistic and historic, cultured and curious, Thailand tempts visitors with a smile as golden as the country's glittering temples and tropical beaches.
Myanmar
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It's a new era for this extraordinary and complex land, where the landscape is scattered with gilded pagodas and the traditional ways of Asia endure.
Laos
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Vivid nature, voluptuous landscapes and a vibrant culture collide with a painful past and optimistic future to make Laos an enigmatic experience for the adventurous.
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