Cambodian costume has a rich culture and history. The country’s special dresses and daily wear are crucial to their day-to-day life. Many of the costumes add a distinctive touch of design and colour to the cities and fertile countryside and easily admired on the Cambodia tours.
Fashion in Cambodia is determined by the different social classes and castes of the local people. A common piece of costume includes the krama which is a chequered style of scarf. By wearing the Krama it is possible to easily separate the local Khmer (Cambodian people) and those from neighbouring countries like Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
The scarf has a variety of practical purposes beyond its style or fashion qualities, such as using as towel, a hammock for infants, an aid when climbing a tree, or protection from the sun. During the period of Khmer Rouge rule, the krama formed a part of traditional clothing and came in several different patterns.
The traditional and time-honoured costume referred to as the sampot has started to lose its popularity. This is a costume with Indian influence that the Cambodian people have worn dating back to the Funan era. The clothing for the Khmer people has seen a lot of changes which take place in relation to the local religion and the time period. Over the years, Hinduism has had an influence on the fashion in Cambodia; this was mostly noticed throughout the Funan era back to the Angkor Era.
When the popularity of Hinduism started to dwindle in the country, the Buddhism religion started to take hold and this lead to a change in fashion with Khmer people looking for a style of clothing much closer to wearing trousers, shirt or blouses.
Also, the royal and common Khmer people took a further step and no longer wore the Hindu-style collars. Instead, the tradition changed to wearing a Sbai or similar shawls that come in plenty of attractive and distinctive colours. This change in fashion took place throughout the Chaktomok region to Udong period.
Today, there are still local people that continue to wear the more traditional style of religious clothing which is likely to be noticed on the Cambodia tour packages. A common item includes a necklace with a Buddha pendant. The actual meaning of the pendant can vary, with some intended to help bring good luck while others are meant to help with warding off evil spirits.
In the royalty circle the sampot is still a recognised costume. The sampot has several different variations of the costume, including:
The preferred style of sampot is the Sampot Phamuong which is a style of costume that was adapted in the 17th century by the Thai people. From the Udong period onward, the dressing habit of the royalty has been quite consistent. The most striking and attractive items were created by the female members of royalty. The most impressive textiles used up to 52 colours to create the unique designs and include geometrical and floral motifs. A prized regional specialty like Cambodian yellow silk is common with the creation of this article of clothing.
Sampot chang kben
The sampot chang kben is mostly worn by women of the middle and upper class – but can be worn by any women on the special events or occasions. It is styled to look much like a pair of pants than a skirt. A typical sampot chang kben is in the region of 9 ft in length by 3 ft in width.
A further national cloth is the sampot hol which is created with a choice of styles: one is made with a twill weave and the other is a wrapping skirt that makes use of a customary technique. The twill weave is unique to Cambodia with different colours appearing on each side of the cloth. It is styled with geometric and motif design and includes up to 200 patterns with popular colours including green, blue, brown, red and yellow.
Many of the outfits included a traditional style of cape (rabai kanorng or sbai) that was designed to drape over the shoulder (mostly left shoulder). This type of shawl was heavily fashioned and included threads of silver or gold.
A special type of collar is worn by the dancer that is known as a Sarong Kor. Plus, the style of skirt is referred to as a Sampot sara-bhap (lamé) and includes an intricate design with silver or gold threads that shimmer with the dancers' movements. A bejewelled belt is applied to hold the skirt in place. Also, for the female dancer, a varied range of jewellery (armlet, anklets, bracelets, bangles and earrings) is worn. Other decorative features include a chain styled sash and a diamond or circular shaped pendant.
For female royalty, they are seen to wear a few styles of mokot (headpiece) which are quite similar in design to the ones worn by the male royalty. The style can range from those that look quite similar to a tiara while others include more features with extra pieces that sit over the ear. A common style featured is flowers such as the hanging garlands
What should visitors wear?
Visitors on the Cambodia private tour should wear the type of clothes that match the social occasion. For instance the clothing worn on a sightseeing tour of the temples should be respectful and show courtesy to the devotees. The attire that may be found offensive includes hot pants, shorts, or going shirtless. The locals visiting a temple or similar religious building are likely to wear formal Cambodian clothing. Also, it is necessary to remove shoes and hats before entering the temple.
For the holiday that includes a lot of walking and sightseeing, it benefits to pack comfy walking shoes with a lot of the ground rough and uneven. Plus, with Cambodia being a hot country, a hat is certain to help give some protection from the intense heat. A readily available supply of bottled water is necessary to cope with the heat and humid weather. Make sure to avoid drinking tap water because this is not seen as safe.
Overall, the clothing worn in Cambodia is quite unique, which is much-like the country itself. It is really possible to see Chinese influence in the clothing when visiting the country on the Cambodia holiday, and this really makes the country fascinating and interest to explore.