Curious About Cambodian Clothing?

Daily wear, special occasions, ceremonial, and more...



Cambodian clothing has a rich history and culture.

The nation’s daily and special dresses are central to their way of life, and provide lavish artistry in many settings. Their clothing adds a paintbrush of exquisite color and design to their fertile countryside and cities.

Traditional Cambodian wear

Men and women both slip on the following typical wear: Cambodian men typically wear cotton or silk shirts with short sleeves. They wear cotton trousers as well. Cambodian women customarily wear a sarong which is embellished with silver and gold threading and a sarong. A sarong/sampot is a long fabric piece, which is commonly wrapped around the waist and worn by both men and women in South East Asia.

The sampot is Cambodia’s national clothing. In addition, it is an integral part of the nation’s soul. It has similarities with other countries in the region, but remains a unique part of Cambodian heritage. There are several variations; most of which depend on social class. The sampot measures 5-6 feet long and each end is sewn together. The sampot originated in the Funan Era. In that era, a Khmer king ordered his people to wear the sampot at the behest of Chinese diplomats.

cambodian-clothing-sampot
Cambodian Sampot
Photo by Melissa Chasse at Flickr





The sampot chang kben is primarily worn by upper and middle class women. It resembles a pant more then a skirt. The sampot chang kben is over 9 feet long and 3 feet wide. It is wrapped around the waist, and pulled from the body. Then, a knot is tied. The knot is drawn between the legs and held by a belt. Nowadays, it is worn by all woman of all classes on special occasions. 

cambodian-clothing-sampot-chang-kben
Cambodian dancer wearing sampot chang kben
Photo by Beth Kanter at Flickr


The sampot phamuong is another time-honored Cambodian textile.  There are 52 colors used in sampot phamuong. 22 needles are used to construct the fabric. Ideally, it has floral and geometrical motifs. Cambodian yellow silk, a prized regional specialty, is used with this clothing article.

cambodian-clothing-sampot-phamuong
Ladies wearing sampot phamuong for different days of the week
Photo by khmernewstoday.blogspot.com


The sampot hol is another national cloth which comes in two varieties: one is a wrapping skirt which uses a customary technique, and the other is a twill weave. A twill weave involves a different color on each side of cloth. This weave is unique to Cambodia and is celebrated for its splendor worldwide. The sampot hol dress was influenced by the Indian patola silk cloth. The sampot hol possesses more then 200 patterns using yellow, red, brown, blue, and green. Like the sampot phamuong, the sampot hol’s motifs are gemotric, floral, and animal.

cambodian-clothing-sampot-hol.jpg
Cambodian clothing sampot hol for ceremonial purpose
Photo by National Gallery of Australia


A krama scarf distinguishes Cambodian dress from surrounding countries such as Laos and Vietnam. Checkered kramas are frequently donned underneath the hats worn by farm workers. Krama’s can be used for almost anything, such as baby carriers, decorations, pillow covers, and drying a work day’s sweat. Although primarily a rural resource, urban Cambodians use them as well. You'll see lots of krama being sold at the Old Market or the Central Market.

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Colorful Krama
Photo by goodkrama.com


What should visitors wear?


Visitors to Cambodia should know of the typical dress used in different social circumstances. Just like in other countries, different occasions require appropriate clothing.

At temples no scanty clothing should be worn out of courtesy for devotees. The tourist should also not go shirtless, in shorts, hot pants, or any other offensive attire. When Cambodians attend proper proceedings, like at the temple, they wear formal Cambodian clothing. In addition, they remove their hats and shoes; so remember to do so yourself.

For practical purposes such as traveling through the country, a pair of comfortable walking shoes is necessary because the grounds are irregular in elevation. A hat is helpful in the intense sunlight that permeates the country. Drinking water should be carried as well, because the humid heat would make you suffer without it. Make sure that you get water bottles only, as tap water is not exactly safe, just yet.

So in short...

Cambodian clothing are unique, just like the country itself. It's interesting how you can see the influence of the Chinese in their clothing, which makes the whole Cambodia history interesting and fascinating.

Cambodia Holidays - Queen Monineath Sowing Rice Seed During the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Queen Monineath sowing rice seed during the Royal
Ploughing Ceremony wearing sampot

Buy at AllPosters.com


cambodian-clothing-making-sampot
A girl weaving a sampot
Photo by Ozzy C at Flickr

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