Dating in Cambodia

Cambodian history is famous for the powerful Khmer Empire, which built the iconic Angkor Wat temple complex. The country experienced French colonization, followed by a period of political turmoil and conflict, including the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. When it comes to dating in Cambodia, the truth is that dating is not very common in the traditional western sense. Of course, some Cambodians do date in various forms but because Southeast Asia is historically conservative, most romantic encounters are specifically focused on marriage.

Southeast Asia is a region steeped in history, culture, and tradition, which is reflected in the varied and intriguing dating practices found throughout the area. The dating scene is a blend of conservative values, religious influences, and modern desires, which can differ significantly among Cambodians.

In much of Southeast Asia, traditional and religious beliefs play a crucial role in shaping the dating culture. Cambodia, like Thailand, has an overwhelming majority of Buddhists.

In traditional social circles around Cambodia, gender segregation is somewhat common, and many people adhere to strict gender roles. Men are generally expected to be providers and protectors, while women are expected to be nurturing and submissive. However, in urban areas and among the younger generation, these gender roles are becoming more flexible, allowing for more equal partnerships among the Cambodian youth.

The dating culture of Cambodia is a fascinating blend of ancient customs, religious influence, and modern desires. As Southeast Asia undergoes rapid social change, the landscape of dating and relationships continues to evolve, providing a captivating glimpse into the intricacies of love and courtship in this unique part of the world.

Interesting facts about dating in Cambodia

  1. Arranged Marriages: Traditionally, marriages in Cambodia were arranged by parents or community elders, with an emphasis on aligning families of similar social status. Although this practice is still observed in rural areas, love marriages have become more common.
  2. Role of Astrology: Astrology plays a significant role in Cambodian marriages. Families often consult astrologers to choose an auspicious date for the wedding, believed to ensure a happy and successful marriage.
  3. Bride’s Dowry: The dowry system is a key aspect of Cambodian marriage culture. The bride’s family typically offers a dowry to the groom’s family, which can include money, gold, or other valuables.
  4. Wedding Ceremonies: Cambodian wedding ceremonies are elaborate and colorful, often lasting for three days and three nights. Each day consists of different rituals and ceremonies rooted in cultural and religious traditions.
  5. Conservative Dating Practices: In Cambodia, dating practices are traditionally conservative. Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon, reflecting the society’s modest and reserved nature.
  6. Influence of Buddhism: As a predominantly Buddhist country, many Cambodian wedding rituals and practices are influenced by Buddhist teachings and ceremonies.
  7. Bridal Attire: Traditional Cambodian bridal attire is known for its elegance and intricacy. Brides often wear brightly colored dresses and elaborate headpieces during the wedding ceremonies.
  8. Groom’s Procession: A unique aspect of Cambodian weddings is the groom’s procession to the bride’s home, symbolizing the journey of a prince to his bride in folklore.
  9. Modern Urban Dating: In urban areas and among the younger generation, Western influences have led to more modern dating practices, including the use of online dating platforms and more casual dating attitudes.
  10. Parental Approval: Even in modern love marriages, obtaining parental approval remains important in Cambodian culture, signifying respect and honor for family traditions.
  11. Gender Roles: Traditional gender roles often influence marriage and family dynamics in Cambodia, with expectations for men and women to adhere to certain societal norms.
  12. Legal Age for Marriage: The legal age for marriage in Cambodia is 18 years for women and 20 years for men, reflecting an effort to ensure maturity and readiness for marriage.

These facets of Cambodian marriage and dating culture demonstrate a blend of time-honored traditions and evolving contemporary influences, highlighting the country’s cultural richness and diversity.

Most Romantic Day in Cambodia

Due to the strong influence of Buddhist culture in Cambodia holidays such as Full moon parties or New Years celebrations will often draw romantic vibes between visiting tourists as well as for local Cambodian couples.

Cambodian new year could be a romantic holiday for some

Cambodia does not officially celebrate Valentine’s Day, which is often considered the most romantic holiday in many parts of the world. However, Valentine’s Day is recognized and celebrated by some, especially in larger cities and among affluent communities and younger Cambodian tech savvy generations.

Typical First Date in Cambodia

As dating is not very popular in Cambodia, there is no way to accurately define a first date in Cambodia. Many factors such as socioeconomic, location or personal beliefs will impact what two people decide to do on a first date.

On your first date in Cambodia, the focus should be on getting to know each other in an informal setting where you can chat openly. It does not matter if you are talking over a cup of coffee, walking out in nature or a park or another original idea, the goal should be to check the vibe, see if there is a connection or potential for continuing the relationship. Here are a few ideas for first dates in Cambodia:

  • Shopping: In Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap or Sihanoukville and other cities, shopping malls or commercial centers can be great date spots. They are relatively safe, public and there is enough external stimulation to keep a good conversation going.
  • Coffee or drinks: Many first dates in Cambodia take place in a casual setting, such as a coffee shop or bar.
  • Outdoor activities: In some parts of Cambodia, there are many options for outdoor activities such as hiking/walking, picnic, biking or even a combination of activities while visiting a local park. Depending on the activity level of you and your date, these may be nice options for you.

Dating etiquette and social cues

Like social cues and other aspects of dating, dating etiquette or expectations of behavior when on a date can vary somewhat from individual to individual. That being said, if you are on a date in Cambodia, below are some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Punctuality: Being on time for a date is generally seen as a sign of respect in most cultures. However, attitudes towards punctuality can vary, with some cultures placing a high importance on it, while others might have a more relaxed attitude.
  • Dress and appearance: Dressing appropriately for the occasion and taking care of personal hygiene are often seen as signs of respect towards the other Cambodians. In Cambodia, men are expected to dress in a neat and stylish manner, while women might be expected to wear more fashionable or elegant outfits. Of course, this will vary based off of socioeconomic factors.
  • Physical contact and public displays of affection: Physical contact and especially PDA is especially not common nor accepted by mainstream Cambodian. Most physical contact is reserved for serious relationships and even marriage in most cases.
  • Paying the bill: In many cultures, the person who initiated the date is expected to pay the bill, although this is not a universal rule. Offering to split the bill can be a polite gesture, although in some cultures it might be expected for the man to pay. As more young Cambodians conform to global egalitarian values, we expect sharing the cost to be more common.
  • End of the date: How the date ends can also convey a lot. Walking the other person to their car or home, or arranging for their safe return, is often seen as a sign of care and respect. If both parties enjoyed the date, it is common to express interest in meeting again.

The Importance of language

Language is important to everyone. It is how we communicate. In addition to Khmer, used for everyday communication by Cambodians, Vietnamese, Cham, Lao and Chinese (various spoken dialects) are spoken by locals.

As the modern need for multilingualism is strong, most Cambodians are multilingual in some capacity. As Cambodia borders Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, students will often study and/or have familiarity with English since it is the most useful international language for them for practical reasons. This is especially true when Cambodians live on bordering towns and cities since the need to use the language in everyday life is tangible.

Gate of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

If you are a foreigner or tourist, we do always recommend learning language and studying local culture. Language is incredibly important form of human connection and knowing some of the local language will greatly enhance your experience. It may not be possible to learn all languages, especially if backpacking through, but relying on your English is limiting and alienating. If you can learn to speak basic or intermediate level Khmer, a few phrases will go a long way. Nothing shows your date more respect than genuinely learning about his or her culture.

While some Cambodians will also speak English or other languages, being able to communicate in any other local language can help to build stronger relationships with, facilitate communication in a variety of contexts and gain respect or trust with Cambodians. It is a win-win situation for you and Cambodian culture.

Is Cambodia gay friendly?

Southeast Asia has an inconsistent record for LGBTQ+ rights and protections. In fact, it also has some of the harshest laws and penalties. Unlike Europe, when it comes to gay friendliness and LGBTQ+ tolerance, Southeast Asia has some of the harshest laws and penalties depending on the country1. The culture of Cambodia tends to be conservative and therefore the average Cambodian likely has a very mixed view of homosexuality2. The personal beliefs among individual Cambodians may vary of course but across the region there are many cultural pressures which reinforce this belief system.

Per the ILGA, homosexuality is illegal in Cambodia. For LGBTQ+ daters, you should know that Cambodia has no protections for sexual orientation. Therefore, protections for the Cambodian LGBTQ community are typically quite weak3. It is always a good idea to check the latest regulations and reports from ILGA or other reputable organizations which focus on this area of human rights.

Gay southeast asia

If you plan on using one of the gay dating apps in Cambodia, please be EXTREMELY careful. Check the latest regulations from a reputable international organization like the ILGA and consider using apps like Grindr and Tinder, which help you to remain safe.

Gender roles

Much like the rest of the world, traditional gender roles in Cambodia are not substantially different from other conservative societies. Though it is difficult to generalize such a diverse region, Southeast Asia, as a whole, tends to be somewhat conservative. Because of this, traditional gender roles tend to dominate dating practices in Cambodia. Cambodian men are often expected to take the initiative in asking women out, planning the date, and paying for the expenses. Cambodian women, on the other hand, are often expected to be more reserved and nurturing. To a degree, religion will often play a part of this as well.

As globalization and urbanization march forward, norms around dating and gender roles are changing, especially among younger generations and in urban areas. More egalitarian dating practices are becoming more common, with some Cambodian women also taking the initiative and couples splitting the bill.

Best way to meet singles in Cambodia

The best place to meet singles in Cambodia depends a lot on where you might be. If you are in a rural area, then your options may be limited. However, if you find yourself in a large urban center like Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap or Sihanoukville, then you may have more options. Do some research on popular activities or events happening in your area and see what you find.

We believe that you can increase your chances of meeting Cambodian singles by trying out some of these methods:

  • Social events: Attending social events like festivals or cultural events even parties are great ways to meet new people and potentially find a romantic partner. Though many of these are not specifically focused on dating, they may present opportunities to strike up a conversation with someone new.
  • Through friends: If you live in a place and have a friend network, it may be easy to meet potential partners through friends or mutual acquaintances. Ask your friends to introduce you to someone they think you may hit it off with, or attend social events with them to meet new people. It is important to use this sparingly though in case a new relationship does not work out.
  • Religious centers: Mosques are a central part of community life for Cambodian Muslims. They serve not just as places of worship but also as gathering points where people can meet and socialize.
  • Joining groups or clubs: Joining a new club or group centered around a common interest such as a profession, skill, sport or even language exchange, can all be great ways to meet new people. By joining an organization based on mutual interests, conversations will be easy and it is easier to relax.
  • Go shopping at the market: In cities like Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap or Sihanoukville, shopping centers, malls and markets are great places to meet new Cambodian singles. Markets and malls are often central to daily life and people visit them frequently either out of necessity or to pass time.
  • Volunteering: There should be plenty of volunteer opportunities in Cambodia. Volunteering for a local organization or charity is not only a great way to give back to the greater human society, but it can also be a great way to meet new people who share similar values, passions and worldviews.
  • Online dating: If all else fails, there is always online dating. As you will read in the section below, the online dating scene is evolving in Cambodia. Though the amount of Cambodian singles on these platforms is still relatively small, the apps and sites can still be ways of meeting someone new who shares values and interests with you.

Is it safe to date people in Cambodia?

Regionally, Southeast Asia has a mixed track record with safety. Although, there are some safe places, personal security is inconsistent, especially for women. It does not matter if you are Cambodian, African or a foreign tourist, if you plan to date in Cambodia, it can be an interesting experience for you. However, you should take certain safety precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time meeting new people.

Dating in Cambodia
Angkor Wat Temple

Here are 10 things to keep in mind when dating in Cambodia:

  • Be Aware of Local Laws and Customs: Learning about the local culture, like you are doing now, can help you navigate dating in Cambodia and avoid cultural misunderstandings or faux pas. Further, if Cambodia is a new place for you, take some time to review local laws and customs, particularly related to dating and public behavior. This is especially crucial as laws and protections are quite weak for LGBTQ+ individuals in Cambodia. Though some dating apps, such as Grindr or Tinder, have implemented security features into their apps it cannot defend you from the law of the land.
  • Choose a Reputable Dating Platform: Online dating app may be weak in Cambodia but at least use a website that requires identity verification. This can help weed out fake profiles and scammers.
  • Use the messaging service on the dating app: It is safer to use the messaging service provided by the dating app until you are comfortable sharing your contact details.
  • Keep Personal Information Private: Do not share sensitive information like your home address, financial details, or other private information with someone you have just met online. This is generally always a bad idea.
  • Research Your Date: Do a quick online search of the profile information of your date to verify their identity. Be cautious of profiles with limited friends, photos, and interactions as these could be signs of a fake profile.
  • Tell Someone About Your Plans: Always tell a friend or family member where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you expect to return.
  • Meet in Public: On your first few dates, meet in a public place like a café or a park where there are plenty of people around. In a places like Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap or Sihanoukville, it should be somewhat easy to find a public space.
  • Stay Sober: Though alcohol is not that common in Cambodia, if alcohol is served on your first date, consider limiting your intake to ensure that you are fully aware of your surroundings. Alcohol can impair your judgment. It is safer to drink less when you first get to know someone.
  • Trust Your Gut: If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. You have instincts for a reason. Trust them and do not feel obliged to stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Remove yourself from a bad situation when it feels right to do so.
  • Safe Sex: Though casual sex is taboo and unlikely in Cambodia, if you decide and a date decide to become intimate, remember to practice safe sex. This includes using protection and getting regular check-ups for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Remember, safety first. It is important to take precautions and use common sense when dating in Cambodia, whether online or offline.

Dating scams in Cambodia

Dating scams can and do unfortunately happen across the world, even in Cambodia. Southeast Asia is no stranger to scams or deceptive practices. Particularly in the digital world, wherever there are lonely or naive people, a nefarious person can take advantage of their kindness or emotions.

While we do not know of any dating scams unique to Cambodia, we do believe you should keep in mind these online dating scams which are common in other countries and the rest of the world. While we do not believe paranoia helps, it is always a good idea to be careful and approach online dating in Cambodia with caution. Until you build trust with someone, you should not provide too many personal details. Whether you are Cambodian or a foreigner looking to date in Cambodia, please keep these common dating scams in mind when using apps and sites to meet new people:

  • Identity theft: Scammers may use dating apps or websites to steal personal information from their targets, such as credit card numbers or other personal details.
  • Romance Scams: In this scam, criminals create fake profiles on dating websites or apps. They build an online relationship with their victims and then ask for money for various reasons – a sick relative, a plane ticket to visit, or some other fabricated story. Once they receive the money, they disappear.2
  • Advanced Fee Fraud: This is one of the most common types of fraud in West Africa, in countries like Nigeria and Ghana, but could also happen in Cambodia. The scammer forms a relationship with the victim and then asks for money to help them access a large amount of money or gold they have supposedly inherited but cannot access due to bureaucratic red tape.
  • Catfishing: This involves a scammer creating a fake profile with stolen photos and false information. The scammer entices the victim into a relationship with the goal of obtaining personal information or exploiting them emotionally.
  • Military Scams: In these scams, fraudsters pose as military personnel who are serving overseas or outside of Cambodia. They form a relationship with the victim and then ask for money, often claiming that it is for a leave application, medical expenses, or other fabricated reasons.
  • Gift Scams: Scammers, after forming a relationship, might ask for expensive gifts or money to buy such gifts. Once the gifts or money are received, they break off contact.
  • Kidnapping Scams: These are extreme and less common, but there have been reports of scammers luring victims to a location under the pretense of a date and then kidnapping them for ransom.
  • Other money scams: Scammers may create fake profiles on dating apps or websites and then ask their targets for money for any number of other reasons than previously mentioned. If money is involved, it is likely a dating scam. Use good judgement.

Online dating in Cambodia

In more conservative regions of the world such as Cambodia, the state of the online dating industry can be described as a delicate blend of traditional values and modern technology. There is an increased interest in online platforms as avenues for finding partners, largely driven by the younger, more tech-savvy generation. However, the concept of dating itself, particularly online dating, often faces resistance from more traditional segments of society.

Within this context, online dating services often aim to navigate the cultural sensitivities by providing a platform that upholds the values and norms prevalent in Cambodia. Some of these platforms promote matches based on shared cultural, religious, and familial values, rather than just personal interests or physical attributes.

Online dating

Even in spite of this culturalization effort, the online dating in Cambodia has been slow to take off. This is likely due to a few aspects:

A primary and obvious reason is mainly culture. Conservative societies and indigenous groups like the Vietnamese and Cham, are quite foreign to the concept of a dating app or website. This is due to the reliance on social circles and emphasis on maintaining culture through relationships within the their respective community. Additionally, for religious Cambodians there would definitely be stigmas or perceived risk associated with online dating.

The second reason is socioeconomic. Historically, Cambodia has had a low internet penetration and limited access to smartphones. However, over the last decade with the widespread adoption of mobile technology, increased internet accessibility, and reduction in costs, Cambodians people are increasingly digitized. Even with access to technology though, dating is still seen as a luxury, even for Cambodians singles open to dating. Though there are wealthy Cambodian, many singles in Cambodia continue to struggle economically. With each passing generation, the economic situation seems to be improving, but many Cambodian have a long way to go before having a western style social life.

The third reason, would be distrust and fear of using online platforms for such personal reasons. Data privacy is a huge concern and it is likely that more single Cambodians are hesitant about their personal life living in the cloud. Companies will need to work extra hard to overturn this and build trust with locals, or be locals themselves, particularly where government involvement is a concern.

A fourth explanation for this slow growth is related to accessibility, particularly through product localization. When apps and websites do not offer your native language, it is difficult to find the product. Even for those who do find the product, product adoption can be low when you do not fully understand the user interface (UI) language of it.

Historically, most dating apps have not localized consistently localized for all languages from the region of Southeast Asia, let alone languages native to Cambodians. Though some primary languages such as Khmer are supported by large international companies or regionally specific ones, consistent support is still lagging. European and East Asian languages are much more common and make products accessible for those Cambodian singles who speak them.

Yet, despite the cultural constraints, there is still an undeniable demand for such services in Cambodia. Younger generations, influenced by global trends and the normalization of digital social interaction, are gradually shifting the dating landscape.

One of the noticeable trends in Cambodia is the emphasis on serious relationships and matrimony, as opposed to casual dating. Many online platforms cater to this trend by positioning themselves as matchmaking services for marriage, rather than dating websites or apps.

Another notable trend in the online dating scene in Southeast Asia, is the rise of niche platforms catering to specific groups. For example, culture-specific dating like dating apps for Muslims, Christians, or even specific ethnic or linguistic communities. Though it is highly unlikely any time soon, we may eventually see dating or marriage apps that cater specifically to Vietnamese and Cham singles in Cambodia, where indigenous or linguistic communities are large in number.

Keeping this in mind, we believe that the online dating industry has an interesting future in Cambodia. As a whole, has more than 16.7 million people; most interestingly, with a relatively young median age.1 Compared to regions like Europe, where the median age is over 40, it seems that in spite of major obstacles there is still a long term growth story for Cambodia and the rest of Southeast Asia. As more and more people join the digital world, we expect Cambodian singles to increasingly turn to online dating as a means for connection. However, this adoption rate may be slow especially when considering the cultural hesitations and even occasional institutional blockers in place.

With continued tech adoption and changing societal attitudes, the future of online dating in Southeast Asia looks promising yet steady and slow, growth in Cambodia will inevitably contribute to that change, even if in relatively small absolute numbers. As a youthful and digitally-connected population continues to grow, so too does the potential market for online dating services. Additionally, the ongoing shift towards homegrown and niche dating platforms suggests a future where the industry is increasingly tailored to the diverse needs and preferences of local Cambodian daters.

In conclusion, while the online dating industry in Cambodia may not mirror the more liberal approach seen in Western cultures, it is finding its own unique path that blends regionally tradition and modernity. As societal attitudes continue to evolve, the online dating scene in Cambodia is likely to grow and mature in its own distinct way.

Top dating apps in Cambodia

Much like in the rest of the world, international recognized dating apps like Badoo or Tinder, are likely to have users in nearly every country in Southeast Asia. These apps are likely to be popular with young Cambodian singles who conform to more global norms. However, since Cambodia is conservative, users count will likely be low or stigmatized.

If you plan to use a dating app in Cambodia, review the below apps in addition to any other apps you may be familiar with. Online dating is a lot about trying different platforms and sites and finding ones that works best for you and your interests. This will give you the best chances of success in meeting someone special.

Keep in mind, the dating sites and apps available and popular by country may depend on how well the apps are localized into the languages of Cambodia, particularly Khmer.


2 Romance dating scams in Africa are common:

3 Sub-Saharan views on homosexuality: