Cambodia is a safe and friendly country, with the usual exception for large cities late at night, particularly Phnom Penh, and unobserved luggage or wallets. Bag snatching, even from those on bicycles and motorcycles, is a problem in Phnom Penh. Be discreet with your possessions, especially cash and cameras, and as always, take extra care in all poorly lit or more remote areas.
See also: Khmer phrasebook
Cambodians primarily speak Khmer, which unlike most languages in the region is not tonal, but makes up for it with a large assortment of consonant and vowel clusters. Young Khmer prefer to learn English over other foreign languages and you will find people who speak anywhere from basic to fluent English in major towns and cities. In tourist market situations, most Khmer will know enough English to complete a basic transaction, though many vendors carry calculators into which they punch numbers and show you the screen to demonstrate the price.
Some elder Khmer speak French from the Sangkum Reastr Niyum period. French is still an official language in Cambodia, and used in government communications, but partly because of the Khmer Rouge era in which those speaking foreign languages were targeted for extermination, actually encountering anyone fluent in French is rare outside of Phnom Penh. German and other European tongues can be found in the tourist centres but are even rarer than French and Japanese is also a popular language for tourist industry workers.
Chinese dialects, Thai and Vietnamese are spoken in Phnom Penh. Thai is more prevalent in northwestern provinces, whereas Vietnamese dominates southeastern provinces.
Cambodia is a country at a crossroads. While the more heavily touristed places like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are well adjusted to tourist behaviour, people in places such as Stung Treng or Banlung are less so. Always ask permission before you take somebody's picture, as many in the more remote areas do not like to be photographed, and some in the urban areas will ask for payment.
Dress for women is more conservative in Cambodia. While shorts are now acceptable in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, it is more respectful to wear knee length shorts or trousers when outside of these areas.
Groups of young children can be found everywhere in Cambodia and many travellers feel 'pestered' by them to purchase their friendship bracelets and other wares. However, it's often the case that children enjoy the chance to practice their English on you- and by asking them their names and ages a conversation is likely to develop where the 'hard sell' is forgotten. Children and adults alike enjoy looking at photographs of your family and home country.
The Khmer Rouge issue is a very delicate one, and one which Cambodians generally prefer not to talk about. However, if you approach it with politeness, they'll gladly respond. People, in general, hold no qualms when talking about the Vietnamese; in fact, they have been widely perceived as liberators when they intervened in Cambodia in 1979 to overthrow the aforementioned brutal regime. The pro-Vietnamese regime gradually rebuilt all the infrastructure that was severely damaged by the Khmer Rouge's policy of de-urbanising the country leading to economic prosperity in the 1980s, with sporadic uprisings.
As Cambodia continues to grow, so does its connection to the world. These days there are numerous places you can go to use your own laptop to connect to the internet. Not just in coffee shops but in fast food restaurants, bars, and even gas stations. The cost to locals for home use has dropped tremendously. For various speeds and bandwidths the prices range from $29.95 to $89.00. Always remember vat is added to all prices, and even the locals pay vat.
Fast wireless 3G/4G internet 3.5G or 7.2MBpS 3G/4G Modem usb stick, unlocked 3G/4G modem costs 30$ is now available in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville/Kampot/Kep with slower Edge coverage in almost all other areas. Tourists can add 3G/4G mobile internet to their SIM for as little as $3/month 0.8GB max, LT3 packageMetfone or 1c/MB with Qbmore or unlimited data package for $25/monthMetfone,equiping another 3G router can form a wifi hotspot to share internet in your house/neighborhood.
Because of the literacy rate in Cambodia, an issue arises of whether Cambodia focused sites need be in English or Khmer. English is the predominate language of the internet and is taught in the major universities in Cambodia. The majority of internet users in Cambodia are able to understand English, but with the use of Khmer unicode more sites are able to become bilingual. Still Khmer has a long journey to be included in the internet with the same status as other South East Asian languages such as Thai and Vietnamese, but as more Cambodians get online, the better outlook Khmer has for lasting internet success.
Cambodia suffers from a legacy of millions of land mines left during the war years. However, to tourists, land mines present a minimal to nonexistent threat, as most areas near touristed areas have been thoroughly de-mined. Many tourists mistake electric or sewage warning signs along national highways for land mine signs. HALO Trust, a leading mine removal organization in Cambodia asserts that you would have to drive through the jungle for at least an hour north of Angkor Wat to come across any mines. The threat is to locals in extremely rural areas who rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
All that said, in remote areas such as Preah Vihear near the border and Pailin a former Khmer Rouge stronghold, exercise caution: ask for local advice and heed warning signs, red paint and red rope, which may indicate mined areas. Do not venture beyond well established roads and paths.
The age of consent in Cambodia is 15. Prostitution is theoretically illegal but widespread, although generally not overtly aimed at tourists there are no go-go bars and such. Many bars and clubs, however, do have taxi-girls wandering the premises, especially in Phnom Penh. Bear in mind that Southeast Asia has a fast-growing HIV infection rate, so safe sex is a must in all cases. Cambodia has gained some notoriety as a destination for pedophiles, but under Cambodian law the penalty for sex with minors can be up to 30 years in prison, and such tourists may be prosecuted by their home countries as well.