CAMBODIA is exasperated by the spate of tourists dressed “immodestly” in the sacred temple grounds of Angkor Wat.
Apsara Authority, the agency that oversees the site, explained that clothes considered to be revealing would be “too short so they reveal buttocks, or [tourists] not wearing bras, or T-shirts that show the back and upper body”.
From August 4 onwards, tourists are required to wear pants or skirts below the knees and tops that cover their shoulders. Those who don’t adhere by these guidelines will be asked to change their clothes before being permitted entry into the temple grounds.
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The agency has issued a warning that tourists could be denied entry into Angkor Wat if they fail to follow the rules on clothing.
Long Kosal of the Apsara Authority said, ““The [revealing] clothes show disrespect to our beautiful culture and tradition.”
“Wearing revealing clothes offends Cambodian custom, tradition, and women’s dignity.”
He added that the new rule will enhance the value of the archaeological park, which is a “sacred place of national and cultural soul” for the Cambodian people.
The new ruling comes after a code of conduct was released by the agency in December last year, warning tourists against wearing revealing clothes, touching carvings, sitting on fragile structures, smoking, and entering restricted areas of the temple.
The code also advises tourists to avoid giving money or candy to children or taking selfies with monks.
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Last year, several tourists were arrested for taking photos in the nude inside the Angkor complex. They received suspended sentences and were deported.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said she approved of the new ruling but cautioned that the tourism industry would need to be given ample notice before the rules are set into place.
She said: “I don’t think it’s a problem for tourists… I don’t think they [would be] upset if they are informed.”
Addressing the spate of nude photos, she added: “Those kinds of activities, we are very upset about those, so this rule will help to minimize the impact. In this country, you cannot do something crazy. You have to respect the rules.”
In the first six months of the year, Angkor Wat earned US$31.2 million from ticket sales to foreign tourists.