Sampeah (in Khmer: សំពះ)is the Cambodian way to greet and has five different steps to show the respect to another person.  In this article, we show you how to perform Sampeah.

Sampeah is either used when you want to greet (in Khmer: ជំរាបសួរ -> joom reab sour) somebody or when you want to say goodbye (in Khmer: ជំរាបលា -> joom reab lea). First of all, we need to place our both palms together like a lotus flower in front of our chest. Both are the formal way to greet and to say goodbye.

Five versions of Sampeah

Performing Sampeah in Cambodia

First Sampeah:


When Cambodian greet their friends who have the same age, they place their both palms together at the chest level.


Performing Sampeah in CambodiaPerforming Sampeah in CambodiaSecond Sampeah:


When Cambodian greet their bosses, older person or higher ranking people, they place their both palms together at the mouth level.


 Performing Sampeah to parents, grandparents or teacherThird Sampeah:


When Cambodian greet their parents, grandparents or teacher, they place their both palm together at the nose level.


Performing Sampeah to salute the king or monksFourth Sampeah:


When Cambodian greet the king or monks, they place their both palm together at the eyebrows level.


Performing Sampeah to God or secret statuesFifth Sampeah:


When Cambodian pray to the God or sacred statues, they place their both palm together at the forehead level.


Sampeah is an important part of the Khmer culture. It´s not only a form of greeting but also used to say thank you or apologize.  Presenting Sampeah is a sign of respect and politeness and it is considered impolite not to return Sampeah.

Children explain Sampeah

A very nice video with Khmer children who explain the performing of Sampeah in English.

Sourm sva kum: Welcome

Sourm sva kum means welcome in Khmer language. You can listen here, how sourm sva kum is pronounced.

(Idea for this article by: Bun Theoun)

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