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Smiling Cambodian children. Image courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism Cambodia.

Cambodians find happiness to be a capital virtue, to be cultivated even in the teeth of the gravest difficulties. So the Cambodian smile has prevailed over the years: from the mysterious closed-mouth smiles of the royal heads carved on Bayon, to the effervescent grins you’ll find greeting you everywhere you turn throughout the country.

Cambodia citizens smile at everyone for many reasons. To start get-togethers on the right foot. To smooth over rough relations. To greet strangers. To welcome old friends.

Smiles also provide a service to Cambodia locals’ tight-knit communities: they propagate good feelings, while insulating others from one’s own troubles. It’s a social lubricant, an act of cohesion, and a marker for community harmony.

When next you visit Cambodia, watch out for the locals’ famous smile: it’s an experience that doesn’t just stay in the country, but one you’ll take back with you when you go home.


Smiling Cambodian children. Image courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism Cambodia

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Watch the Cambodia smile in action when you watch an Angkor temple sunrise; visit Koh Rong for the diving; and check out the local communities around the Mekong River dolphins and the birding territories around Tonle Sap.