Volunteer in Cambodia
Answer your calling by Volunteering in Cambodia!
- Indulge your passion for travel and find yourself in a vibrant and colorful new culture
- Join program trusted by thousands of volunteers since 2006 embark
- Volunteer abroad in Cambodia projects start as low as $400
- Choose from a variety of service project like teaching English or healthcare
Do you want travel to a lush and exotic country where you will have the opportunity to experience a new culture while giving back to the local community?
While Cambodia is breathtakingly beautiful and rich in history and culture, it is also a country that is desperately struggling to prosper in our modern day. Volunteering in Cambodia is an opportunity to truly touch the lives of the local people who are in need of assistance, while also having the time to discover some of the intriguing wonders of this exotic country.
Our Cambodian volunteer opportunities for those with a medical background (professional or educational), include general healthcare placements as well as HIV/AIDS awareness programs. If you are more interested in supporting the advancement of the younger generations of Cambodians, there are volunteer projects in Cambodia where you can teach English or help out in an orphanage. There is also a great need for volunteers to join a community improvement project, where you will have the chance to improve the community and quality of life for those who are residing there.
Answer the call to revitalize your soul while giving back to a country with an immeasurable need through your volunteer efforts. Request more information on volunteering overseas in Cambodia today!
Volunteer Work Projects and Locations
IFRE's volunteer program in Cambodia offers several projects, which support local orphanages, local schools, community development efforts and non-government organizations (NGOs) working on various social issues. Volunteer projects in Cambodia are established in the Phnom Penh, Pursat and Kampot provinces. Volunteers can work in any of these volunteer projects in Cambodia while sharing their enthusiasm, experience and compassion with local children, student groups and/or communities.
- Work in an Orphanage (Phnom Penh, Battambarg, Siem Reap, and Pursat)
- Teach English in Rural Schools (Phnom Penh, Battambarg, Siem Reap, and Pursat)
- Work with a Community Development Project (Phnom Penh)
- Work with Local NGO Projects (Phnom Penh)
- Health/Medical Project (Phnom Penh, Pursat)
- HIV/AIDS awareness project (Phnom Penh, Pursat)
Volunteer Program Dates:
Most programs are available year-round. We recommend volunteers begin their placements on a Monday, scheduling their arrival and departure on the weekends. However, due to flight availability, particularly traveling internationally, start dates are flexible. We ask that all volunteers ensure to communicate their arrival and departure plans clearly to their country coordinator to ensure transportation and accommodations are properly arranged.
IFRE Volunteers strives to provide the lowest fees along with transparency to all of their volunteers!
- Affordable fees
- Registered non-profit for tax deductible fees
- Transparent transactions ensures volunteers they know where their money goes
- Proven quality and safety
IFRE Volunteers is proud to offer the world’s most affordable fee for international volunteering and as a 501(c)3 organization, your program fee will be tax deductible.
We are proud to focus on the humanitarian aspect of our business, not on profit. We strive to maintain affordable cost, particularly for volunteers; we recognize the value of your donated time and efforts. We remain devoted to maintaining both the quality of the program and the safety of all volunteers involved.
IFRE fees comprise of two separate fees:
- Application fee of $299 USD (covers advertising, staff/office expenses, etc.)
- Weekly program fee paid directly to your project (covers room/board, field support, etc).
You will pay your fee directly to host families and projects. In this way, what you pay will go directly from you to the people who deserve it (not for profit).
|Weeks||All Other Projects||Medical project|
- Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day
Additional costs for volunteers: International flights, visa application/extension, daily personal expenses on beverages/entertainment daily transportation, laundry, telephone, immunizations.
IFRE arranges room, meals and supervision for volunteer for the entire duration of the program. Depending upon the location of the project, volunteers will either stay in our guesthouse or with a host family. Our main guesthouse is located in the center of Phnom Penh City (a notable Cambodian tourist city) near the Olympic Stadium and the Orussey Market. The staff is made up of English and French speaking people and they are very kind. There is a large roof terrace with hammocks, a TV and internet access. Nearby there is a restaurant and more services to help make your stay in Cambodia a pleasurable one.
Our host families are very friendly and hospitable. They look forward to learning more about a volunteer's home-country culture and life. Whether you stay in our guesthouse or with host family, IFRE manages clean but simple accommodations with a separate room (occasionally shared with other volunteers), shared bathroom with cold water (no hot available) and a fan.
IFRE also manages three local meals a day. Usually, volunteers have breakfast in either a small restaurant, with host families or at work. IFRE manages volunteers' food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some volunteers have lunch at their project. If a volunteer having special eating requirements (e.g. as a vegetarian or vegan), we recommend staying in our guesthouse and not with a host family, as meat is the basis of most daily Cambodian meals.
Occasionally, volunteers will receive rural placements. These will usually be in the provincial capitals, which are mostly quiet, medium sized cities with necessary resources like traditional Cambodian restaurants, markets and laundries. Unfortunately, communication (internet and international phone calls) is limited with a rural provincial placement and very expensive. Provincial placements are well positioned for weekend travel. Volunteers should try to visit the main attractions of Cambodia – the majestic temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province and the tropical coconut palm beaches of Sihanoukville. These excursions are best over a minimum of 3-4 days.
Volunteer Program Free Time
Volunteers have free time for the duration of their volunteer project in the evenings and on weekends. While IFRE does not arrange activities during this time off, our local staff, members and coordinators can provide priceless assistance in making appropriate arrangements for travel in this lovely ancient country. Free time is an opportunity for self-discovery, learning and exploration.
Phnom Penh City was once known as the "Pearl of Asia", it was said to be one of the most beautiful French-built cities as the French colonized Cambodia (then Indo-China). It is a charming, rapidly developing city positioned where three large rivers intercede: The Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac. The city is known for its many tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, National Museum and Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. There are a few of surviving French colonial buildings, such as the Royal Palace and Phsar Thmei, as well as other French style buildings along the grand boulevards. The town offers and is a perfect base from which to take daily or weekend trips to the provinces and the coast. Phnom Penh has a wide range of restaurants (all nationalities), markets, internet cafés and a wealth of other interesting places away from the tourist track.
There are a number of interesting sites to discover throughout Cambodia. The plethora of tourist attractions includes Angkor Wat, a great wonder of the world. Tours of Angkor Wat include legends and symbolism to truly enrich this unique experience. Beautiful Phnom Penh City also offers numerous and ancient temples, monasteries ("wats"). All major tourist attractions provide an amazing glimpse into this region's mystical past. There are also natural wonders. Kratie is home to fresh water dolphins and many white sand beaches hug the Gulf of Thailand. Throughout Cambodia, there are numerous natural landscapes and environments in which to relax and take in the tranquil atmosphere. Our IFRE local coordinators/staff are available to give you free advice, travel tips and helps to book your travel.
Major FAQ Cambodia
- Food and Accommodation
- Arrival Information
- Visa Information
- Climate of Cambodia
- Health and safety
- General Questions
Where would I be staying while volunteering in Cambodia?
That will entirely depend on the location of the volunteer project you will be participating in. You will be accommodated in our Volunteer House (also called the guesthouse) if your project is within or nearby Phonm Penh, the capital of Cambodia. However, you will stay with a host family if you are volunteering in the rural areas of the country. The Volunteer House is located in the center of Phnom Penh and has a large roof terrace with hammocks, a TV and internet access to make your stay comfortable as well as pleasurable.
What are the food arrangements like at the Volunteer House?
You will be provided with three local meals a day, which usually consist of rice, vegetables, soup and fish. Volunteers usually have breakfast in a small and clean restaurant, with host families or at the place where they are volunteering itself. Lunch and dinner are also managed by IFRE. It is important to know that rice and fish are staple food for Cambodians, and are prepared with variety of herbs, vegetables, fermented sauces and condiments. You will surely enjoy the exotic tastes of Cambodia while you engage in the noble act of volunteering.
Does the Volunteer House you run have internet and electricity?
Yes. Accommodations – Volunteer House and home stays - located in the urban areas of Cambodia will have both electricity and internet. However, home stays in the province may not have internet due to the rural location. Therefore, it will always be better if you can buy locally available mobile internet data packs and access the internet in your own mobile phone or laptop.
Do we get hot showers in our accommodation?
Hot showers are available in the Volunteer House. However, they should not be expected if you are living in a home stay. However, Cambodia being a hot and humid country, you will most likely opt for a cold shower. It should also be remembered that bathrooms at the Volunteer House are shared.
Are my belongings safe in the home of my host family?
Yes. We select our host families very carefully and diligently and make sure their homes are secure and family members are trust worthy. You need not worry about the safety of your belongings and valuable items in the home of your host family. However, you should always follow some sensible approach to keep your belongings safe while travelling.
Can you safely drink tap water in Cambodia or do we need to buy bottled water?
No, you can’t safely drink tap water in Cambodia, although water coming out of tap in capital Phnom Penh is generally considered safe for drinking. Always be careful of water and ice while in the country. Therefore, it is advisable that you buy reputable brands of bottled water if you are not so sure that the water given to you is safe.
Would it be a problem to my host family if I am a vegetarian?
If you are a vegetarian, vegan or have any special eating requirements, we suggest you to stay in our Volunteer House and not with a host family. At our Volunteer House we can serve you vegetarian or vegan dish and take care of special dietary needs, while the same cannot be said if you live with a host family, as fish and meat is the basis of most Cambodian meals. Also, please let us know in advance of any dietary restrictions so that we may plan accordingly.
Do I get my own room or do I have to share it with other volunteers?
It usually depends on your placement. But whether you stay in our Volunteer House or with a host family, you will most likely share your room with other volunteers of the same gender. The accommodations are simple with shared bathroom and a fan to beat the Cambodian heat.
Do the members of the host family or the project speak English?
Yes. Although all members may not speak English, there will be at least one member of the family or the project where you are assigned who does. In fact, English is widely spoken and understood in Cambodia. It goes without saying that our host families and members of the project are very friendly and hospitable, and look forward to make your stay as comfortable as possible while trying to learning more about your life and culture and giving a glimpse into their own, too.
If I arrive with my friend, or girlfriend/boyfriend, can we stay together?
Yes, double occupancy can be arranged with advanced notification. No problem with that.
What are the bathrooms and toilet facilities like?
Again, this will depend on your placement. Except in the home of few host families in rural areas, there will be a good shower with a western style toilet in our hostel and the home of the host family. The same is true in economy hotels as well.
What are the laundry arrangements like?
You have to wash your own clothes or opt for Laundromats available in the community where you live for a small fee.
Can I use appliances if I bring them from my home country?
Yes you can use your appliances. No problem with that. But you may need an international all-in-one travel plug adaptor as the plugs and sockes in use in Cambodia can be different than you are used to in your country.
Tell us what are the bedding materials like at the Volunteer House or the home of the host family? Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?
Volunteers are provided a bed with pillows, blankets and linens that are basic but comfortable and clean. Therefore, a sleeping bag is not necessary. But if you do bring one, it could come in handy when you go travelling in rural areas of the country.
What airport I need to fly into for Cambodia?
You need to fly into Phnom Penh International Airport in the capital Phnom Penh. Some 25 airlines are served by the international airport connecting Cambodia directly with 20 international destinations.
Do you organize airport pick up for newly-arrived volunteers?
Yes we organize airport pickups, details of which will be included in your Volunteer Placement Sheet emailed to you prior to your arrival. Please provide your flight information to us prior to your arrival so that we will be able to arrange for your airport pickup accordingly.
Where would I be taken from the airport?
You will be transported straight to our Volunteer House from the airport. After giving you a short orientation where you will be briefed about the Cambodia volunteer program and the local do’s and don’ts, you will either stay at the House or transported to your host family depending on what you have chosen.
What happens if my flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather?
In such an event, please contact your local coordinator as soon as possible (all contact information will be included in your volunteer placement details). Any delays or changes in flight plants must be conveyed so that we can arrange a new pickup time for you.
Who will come to pick up me at the airport? How do I recognize the person at the airport?
One of our drivers will be at the arrival gate holding a plate with your or our office’s name on it on the time and date you arrive in Cambodia to volunteer. If you don’t see anyone, you should contact your country coordinator immediately.
Can you give us direction for the meeting point?
You should head straight towards the exit gate after clearing your baggage with customs. You will be greeted by our driver displaying your name card.
If my volunteer project begins on Monday, by when should I arrive in Cambodia?
Most volunteers arrive the Sunday before their volunteering assignment starts to allow for them to rest up and be acquainted with their surroundings.
If I arrive few days earlier than the day my volunteer assignments begins in Cambodia, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations? Do I have to pay extra for that?
Accommodations for any volunteers who arrive earlier than the time their volunteer assignment begins can be organized throughout the country for a small fee. You can also find economy hotels in Phnom Penh and other cities and stay there to get the feel of the country before actually starting your volunteering work.
Who will drop me to the airport in time for my flight?
You will be responsible for arranging your own transportation to the airport.
Is there any possibility that you may help us arrange our flights? Do you recommend any cheap flights to fly to Cambodia?
We do not assist volunteers with arranging their flights to Cambodia. As for cheap flights to this South East Asian country, you can do a quick google search to book any cheap flights to Phnom Penh.
Volunteers staying for less than 8 weeks can apply for a tourist Visa. Those who are staying longer will have to apply for a regular visa.
How do I apply for the visa?
Volunteers can apply for their visa in the immigration office at the airport upon arrival.
How much does it cost for the visa application?
$30 USD for the tourist visa and $35 for an ordinary visa.
Do I need any documents to apply for the visa? Can IFRE provide us official papers for the visa?
How long does it take to get the visa approval?
Immediately at the airport.
Can I extend my visa while I am in the country? Can you help me on this?
Yes and your country coordinator can assist you.
Is it safe to travel to Cambodia?
What are safety measures you take for the volunteers? How can you guarantee volunteers’ safety?
Cambodia is safe, as with traveling anywhere, volunteers are urged to take basic precautions such as not staying out late. Bag snatching is a common petty crime. As we cannot guarantee a volunteers safety entirely while in the public, we can guarantee our placements and accommodations are safe as they are all screened prior to being accepted to our program.
How can you help volunteers in case of emergency? Is there someone we can reach for immediate assistance?
Volunteers will be provided with 24 hours contact information for their country coordinator.
Is it safe to travel alone?
Traveling alone in the daytime is extremely safe; it is recommended that individuals do not travel alone at night.
Are ATMs easily available?
Where should I exchange my money?
The best exchange rate is generally at the local banks, you can also exchange your money for local currency at the local market.
How much money should I bring with me?
It depends on your spending habits, generally $50 USD per week will suffice for most volunteers.
What does the weekly program fee covers?
Transportation from the airport to your amenities upon arrival, 3 meals daily, accommodations and general support for the duration of your stay.
Is it safe to carry cash with me?
Yes, but not large amounts. We recommend all volunteers are cognizant of where and how they handle their money.
How do I contact to the local coordinator?
You will be provided direct contact information for your coordinator within your placement details.
How do I contact my family and friends once I arrive in Cambodia? How can my family members contact me?
You will have access to the internet therefore you will be able to communicate with your family and friends via email or Skype.
Can I bring my mobile from my home country? Does it work?
Yes, if you have an unlocked phone you can purchase a sim card for it upon your arrival here.
Please provide detailed information on year round climate in the country which consists season you have, average temperature and average rainfall in each month.
Climate year round in Cambodia
|Average high °C (°F)|| 31.3
|Average low °C (°F)|| 23.9
|Precipitation mm (inches)|| 0.0
What are the principle health risks in Cambodia? Is there any mandatory vaccination we need to take?
Dengue Fever and Malaria are both high risk in Cambodia. While both are contracted by mosquitos, Malaria is more common in rural areas. The best way to avoid both is to protect yourself from mosquitos and be certain to utilize bug repellants, which have Deet.
Where can I use internet? Is there a place where I can use phone to make a call to my family and friend?
Internet is available within your accommodations or at local internet café’s as well as phones.
What kind of gifts would be appropriate to bring for the host family and the project?
Anything representative of your country or perhaps something they can remember you by following your departure. Of course candy and sweets are always favored as well.
Could you please provide me the packing list?
- Mobile phone (+ Recharger) [if you don't want to bring your own mobile phone you can get a cheap one starting from 20 US $]
- Mosquito repellents [also available in Phnom Penh and major tourist cities]
- Insect repellents [also available in Phnom Penh and major tourist cities]
- Sunscreen [also available in Phnom Penh and major tourist cities]
- Map of Cambodia
- 2 pairs of shoes (for work and travel) , 1 pair of slippers, 5- 8 T- shirts and a raincoat for the rainy season
- work clothes if necessary (e.g. for the office some blouses/ shirts and good trouser/ skirt for special occasions)
- Laptop, USB Stick if possible for work
- small amount of US $ in cash (at least 50 US $)
- some passport photos
Volunteer in Cambodia: The Free Step by Step Guidebook
This ebook offers a practical guide to everything you need to know for a smooth, rewarding and fun volunteer experience in Cambodia. In this ebook, you will be guided step by step through all aspects of the volunteering process, from identifying the reasons to volunteer in Cambodia, choosing the right program and getting started on your project, key things to do in Cambodia, and what to do when your volunteer placement in Cambodia is finished.
The mix of tips, advice, and information included in this ebook will help make sure you're prepared to both make a difference during your volunteering experience in Cambodia, and have the most rewarding experience of your life.
- Chapter 1: Volunteer in Cambodia – Getting Started
- Chapter 2: Choosing your Cambodia Volunteer Program
- Chapter 3: Getting Ready to Volunteer in Cambodia
- Chapter 4: Information About Your Volunteer in Cambodia Program
- Chapter 5: Arriving and Volunteering in Cambodia
- Chapter 6: Completion of Project and Follow Up
- Chapter 7: Most Frequently Asked Questions by Volunteers
Chapter 1: Volunteer in Cambodia - Getting Started
Cambodia is a small, yet beautiful country located in Southeast Asia, bordering Thailand on the West, Laos to the North, and Vietnam on the East. Cambodia is also home to Angkor Wat, the largest religious building in the world.
There are many impressive sites to see in Cambodia, some of which are linked to Cambodia's horrific past. In the late 1970’s the Khmer Rouge, a communist-backed party, overthrew the government and set out to eradicate the intellectual class by any means necessary.
In the following four years the Khmer Rouge committed many acts of genocide, and around 20% of the population died as a result. Despite Cambodia's rough past the people are warm, welcoming, and optimistic about the bright future they see ahead.
Volunteering in Cambodia can be challenging at times, but it will definitely make for an unforgettable learning experience. High levels of poverty and malnutrition and low literacy rates, combined with a lack of government support, means many Cambodians struggle to make any major changes in their daily circumstances.
However, due to tourism and the volunteering community Cambodia is once more on track to improve the lives of all citizens. Cambodia is now emerging as a leader in the volunteer programs stakes in Southeast Asia, hosting dozens of new and exciting volunteering organizations.
Why you should volunteer in Cambodia
Volunteering in a developing country like Cambodia will be a challenging and eye opening experience, but also an incredibly positive one. Cambodia has so much to offer volunteers; here are just a few of the many reasons to make it your choice for an unforgettable and heart touching volunteer abroad experience.
You will be living among amazing landscapes
As a volunteer in Cambodia, you will have easy access to a variety of rich, diverse, and natural surroundings. From pristine beaches and untouched jungles, to stunning architecture feats, Cambodia is filled with exciting sights to experience.
You will contribute to community development
Millions of Cambodians live in extreme levels of poverty. When you volunteer on community development projects your work directly helps to develop strong and healthy communities. Many volunteers are needed to help transform the local environment by building new schools, improving sanitary conditions, and serving as leaders in action for the people of Cambodia.
You will make a difference
When you volunteer in Cambodia, you will make a difference in the lives of families who are living in underserved communities, and in turn change and enrich your own life. You will come to a deeper understanding of the needs of the poor, and how you can partner with volunteer programs to make an impact on a great number of people.
You will experience rich history and architecture
Cambodia is a country with an ancient historical past. When you volunteer in Cambodia, you will get to visit Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument - said to be one of the greatest archeological sites in the world.
You will explore floating markets
You must check out the floating markets during your volunteering experience in Cambodia. You'll marvel at the impressive sight of dozens of boats floating on narrow rivers, piled high with fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, and other edible assortments that are ready to be sold to locals and tourists alike.
You will help by teaching in local schools
A popular volunteer in Cambodia program involves working alongside a native Cambodian to teach children in local schools. Participants have the opportunity to plan and prepare appropriate lessons with the local teachers, and make a huge impact on the lives of the children.
What are some popular volunteer projects available in Cambodia?
From working with children through to animal conservation, there are many impressive volunteer projects in Cambodia. This section looks at several of the most popular types of program available.
Work in health care
Healthcare volunteer projects serve people in Cambodia who cannot afford formal medical treatment. Volunteer projects aim to reduce HIV rates, and provide children with basic medical attention and checkups. Volunteers will assist and shadow doctors, conduct observations, and take blood samples from patients. Some experience in the field may be required.
Volunteer in community development
Volunteer projects in the area of community development focus on constructing and sustaining healthy communities in poor, rural areas of Cambodia. The goal is for people living in countryside areas to become self-sufficient. Volunteers will be expected to build toilets, houses, and local schools in small villages.
Volunteer in wildlife conservation
Due to illegal poaching, native animal species in Cambodia have become endangered. Wildlife volunteer projects are there to help protect, nurse, and preserve native animal species. Volunteers will feed, clean, and play with animals at the volunteer location site.
Work in local orphanages
Due to limited family and community resources millions of Cambodian children don’t have enough water, food, shelter or adequate clothing. In many cases they have no choice but to send their children to live in an orphanage for a while.
Local orphanage volunteer projects provide a safe and caring environment for children. Volunteers will interact, take care of, and play games with the disadvantaged children who are staying there.
Teaching English projects
Volunteer teaching projects in schools provide children with English lessons to improve their future prospects. Volunteers will create daily lessons plans and teach children English alongside native Cambodian teachers.
Where are some popular places to volunteer in Cambodia?
Cambodia is a wonderful country, and home to many exciting volunteer projects. With so many amazing places to volunteer in Cambodia choosing just one location isn't easy...
Here is a list of some popular places to volunteer in Cambodia:
Phnom Penh (Hill of Penh) is the chaotic yet charismatic capital city of Cambodia. A charming blend of dusty roads, offbeat cafes and amazing architecture, the rich history Phnom Penh has to offer makes it an interesting place to spend time in.
Pursat is the capital city of the fourth largest province in Cambodia and a popular destination for volunteers. The Cardamon Mountains - considered an ecological wonder - are located in this beautiful region which is a haven for nature lovers.
Siem Reap has developed itself as the center of modern Cambodia. The city contains beautiful temples, old French shops, tree-lined boulevards and of course, Angkor Wat. The town has a laid back feel, and offers a well balanced mix of Cambodian culture and modern services and entertainment.
Battambang is the second largest town in Cambodia and a popular destination for volunteers looking to make a difference. Battambang is famous for its ancient temples, Buddhist shrines and the bamboo railway. The city itself is developing fast and volunteer projects are keeping pace.
What is the best season to volunteer in Cambodia?
The best season for volunteering in Cambodia depends on both the location of your volunteer project and your personal preferences. Cambodia has a tropical climate, with warm temperatures throughout the year and a mix of rain and humidity in the summer and fall. November through March is high season for tourists due to the moderate heat and cool winds.
Chapter 2: Getting Ready to Volunteer in Cambodia
Choosing, applying and being accepted onto a volunteer program in Cambodia may have taken some time and research, but it was just the start of your volunteer process. The next step is to prepare yourself for the volunteer journey and arrival.
This can be split into two general sections, one concerning the preparation of documents and the other dealing with preparing yourself. This section has some handy hints, advice, checklists and prompts to guide you through this stage quite smoothly, leaving you almost ready to start your volunteer experience in Cambodia.
Visas valid for one month are available at major airports and some borders, and also may be ordered online in advance for citizens of many countries. Try to bring passport sized pictures with you to avoid the extra charge they will make for providing you with one on the day. Payment is expected in US dollars. (Always check the current visa situation on an official website prior to making travel arrangement as things can change suddenly.)
To begin your volunteering experience in Cambodia, you will need a passport with a minimum period of 6 months validity remaining and at least one blank page, two would be safer.
Vaccinations are essential for your volunteering experience in Cambodia and must be set up 2-3 months in advance to allow time for the vaccines to take effect. Hepatitis A and typhoid are the most common vaccinations people have but it's best to check beforehand.
To get good prices and deals on airline tickets, you must search and check online daily. Save time by registering with some flight comparison websites such as Cheap Tickets. You can easily set up alerts so you'll be emailed every time a price on your route drops, or a special offer comes up.
Other money saving tips include to always book as far in advance as possible, and be flexible with your travel dates if you can. If you are able to cope with less space, in flight freebies and luggage keep an eye out for the budget airline deals.
Airlines with service to Phnom Penh include:
- Air Asia (discount)
- Jetstar Asia (discount)
Once you have decided to volunteer in Cambodia, you may need to think of raising funds, either to help cover your costs or to donate to your project. There are two routes possible when it comes to fundraising.
The old fashioned way of fundraising involves either selling your things at a tabletop sale or flea market, making something to sell to others (cakes are always good), or doing some kind of sponsored event.
However, these days more and more people are making use of the Internet to get cash for their volunteer abroad experience. Crowdfunding sites let you set up a profile and create a campaign for your cause. They are simple to navigate, and a popular way of attracting attention from people you know, as well as strangers.
Two popular sites on raising funds for your volunteer experience are:
Suggested Books to Read
Before flying off to Cambodia for your volunteering experience, it’s a good idea to get yourself a guidebook and read up on things like the culture and history of Cambodia, map out fascinating sights to see and do and get tips to enhance your travel experience.
It’s also worth getting a good Khmer phrasebook so you can study up on the language before you go.
- Khmer-English/ English-Khmer (Cambodian) Dictionary & Phrasebook (Khmer Edition) Paperback – 2013 by Soksan Ngoun
- Cambodian for Beginners - Second Edition 2nd Edition by Richard Gilbert
- Colloquial Cambodian: The Complete Course for Beginners (2nd Ed.) by Chhany Sak-
Some recommended literary readings are:
Packing advice and tipsWhat you pack will really depend on when you are traveling, where your volunteer project is located, and how much you want to carry around with you if you plan to travel around the country or area before or after your placement.
Ask your contact at the volunteer organization you booked with about the typical weather conditions you can expect during your time on the project, and contact the in-country support team to check on how easily daily used items such as toiletries are to find close by.
Whatever else you decide to take with you, it's wise to definitely pack the following:
- Laptop and charger
- Clothes for work (business casual) and leisure
- Adapter (European continental plug)
- Flash light (occasionally there are power cuts/outages at night)
- First aid kit
- Mosquito repellents
- Sunscreen (very expensive in country)
- Rain gear
- Some pairs of shoes (and sandals if you wear them)
- Passport and travel documentation (travel insurance, itineraries, important contact details)
- Waterproof bag or Ziploc bags to keep your small items protected from rainy conditions
- Comfortable, waterproof walking shoes
- Bathing suit and towel
- Snorkeling equipment
- Light weight, easy to breath and quick dry clothing suitable for hot weather
- Rain jackets
- Sunscreen and insect repellant, Band-Aids, antiseptic
- Any required medications
Gifts for Projects
It is always recommended that you bring a small gift for your volunteer project and host family in Cambodia. Giving a gift is a thoughtful way to show your appreciation, and when you leave those people will always have a special reminder of you.
Chapter 3: Information You Must Know About Your Volunteer in Cambodia Experience
Make sure your volunteer experience starts off well and continues smoothly by being ultra prepared before leaving your home country. This may feel a little tiresome if you have a laid back approach to travel and going abroad, but for your safety, comfort and happiness it is crucial to know about the following things.
Before you leave for your volunteering experience in Cambodia, it’s important that you communicate with your project coordinator. You need to have the following information on a printed copy, just in case of an emergency situation.
- Name and address of the project
- Address and telephone number of the in-county support team's office
- A contact name/personal number for both the project and a local support worker.
- The name of your project supervisor
- Number of other volunteers
What to expect when volunteering in Cambodia
Travelling to a foreign country, adapting to a new culture, weather conditions, food and then a volunteer placement too – it is a lot to process at one time. Knowing what your roles and responsibilities are while on the project will make the adjustment period a lot easier.
Check with your volunteer organization and find out:
- Exactly what task/jobs/duties you will be required to undertake
- Details of your volunteer work responsibilities
- What your daily schedule will look like
- How many hours a day you are required to work.
- Who you will need to report to
Get to know your host family
The chances are that your host family has lots of experience of welcoming volunteers into their home for weeks or even months at a time, but for you it may all feel a little strange at first.
Avoid feeling awkward by finding out as much as you can about your host family – before you meet them. This will help you settle in quicker and get the most out of this aspect of your volunteer in Cambodia experience. Ask your volunteer program coordinator for more details on them.
Things you could ask about:
- How many family members live in the house
- The names, ages and genders of members
- Religious beliefs
- Housing arrangements (private or shared room)
- Kitchen and laundry availability
- If they have hosted volunteers before
- What meals will be provided and at what times
- If cultural immersion or language lessons are offered
Get connected with local support
Make sure you have all types of contact details for the in-country support team, including names, phone numbers and a physical address for the project office. Get in touch before you leave and establish a connection, so you know you can rely on their support in the future.
Before you actually leave to volunteer in Cambodia make a note of any last minute questions you have or things you want to clarify. You can ask your volunteer organization contact about those when you call to confirm there have been no last minute changes, and ask for the details of who will collect you at the airport in Cambodia.
Chapter 4: Volunteer in Cambodia - Pre-Volunteer Planning
Alongside organizing paperwork and health checks, or making lists of things to pack and questions to ask your volunteer organization, take some time to do some emotional preparation too.
There's no doubt that your volunteer experience in Cambodia will be filled with lots of exciting adventures, but also there will be challenges to face along the way. In this section you will find some great information and tips on the emotional aspects of volunteering abroad.
How to make your volunteering experience rewarding
Volunteering in Cambodia will be a life changing experience and you should make the most of every moment. Here are a few tips below to make sure your volunteering trip is unforgettable for all the right reasons.
Be prepared and stay positive
There are times when things may seem frustrating and annoying, and this can't generally be avoided, but do try to keep things in perspective and stay positive. In the long term it's about enjoying the overall opportunity you have to help change lives for the better.
You will be volunteering in a new environment, living within a new culture, and experiencing a new language during your volunteer experience. You will often feel outside of your comfort zone, so embrace the unfamiliar environment and culture as a learning opportunity.
Setting goals will help to keep you focused on exactly why you are volunteering in Cambodia. Try to make a few short term, midterm and longer term goals and review them frequently. You'll really notice how much you have achieved this way.
Be passionate and dedicated to your project
Remember why you are volunteering in Cambodia. Your project deserves 100% of your attention and effort, so it's best to avoid lots of late nights and long distance travelling until you are finished and free to travel.
Taste new food
One of the best things about volunteering in Cambodia is the chance to taste unusual and delicious food. You will be volunteering in a country, where food is a way of life. Exotic food markets offer sweet tropical fruit for you to try, and Cambodia is famous for having great rice fruit, and seafood. While you are in Cambodia be sure to check out all the local food vendors.
Interact with the locals
Interacting with the locals during your volunteering experience is the best way to earn respect and learn about the local culture. You will always learn more and learn faster by spending time with them.
When you interact with the local people you will gain a totally different perspective and experience Cambodia the way few other visitors will. It takes courage, but once you start communicating with locals you will grow in confidence.
Learn the language
Learning the Khmer language is not always easy but it is a good way to make sure you get the most out of your volunteering experience in Cambodia. Speaking the native language with the local people could be one of the most rewarding and enriching lessons of your volunteering trip. You should take this opportunity and practice with as many locals as possible.
Safety while volunteering in Cambodia
Staying safe when in a foreign country is an obvious priority, and Cambodia is not without problems. The political situation can be unpredictable, which sparks pockets of civil unrest, but by following the precautions listed below you should have a safe and fun volunteering experience.
Before you go:
- Purchase a good travel insurance policy from a reputable company offering 24/7 support
- Check news sites and embassy pages for any safety or travel warnings
- Make sure that you are volunteering in a safe area
- Make sure that you have had all required vaccinations
- Stock up on essential medications as they may not be available in Cambodia
- Send all itinerary details and copies of important documents to family or close friends
- Advise your local bank of international travel
- Register your travel details with your embassy. At some embassies you can register your details online.
- Obtain all contact details for emergency services in Cambodia
- Know where you closest embassy is
- Talk to your mobile phone network provider about international roaming options, or plan to buy a local/international SIM card on arrival.
Do's and Don'ts while volunteering in Cambodia
- dress appropriately and conservatively, especially if female
- respect the culture
- try to learn the language and talk to the locals
- be positive about and dedicated to your volunteer work and coworkers
- keep a good supply of clean one USD bills and small notes with you for tips and tuk tuk fares
- remain alert to what is going on around you and where your belongings are
- carry around toilet paper or tissues
- give money to beggars or buy baby milk for women with infants, you are undermining official efforts to provide social care
- wander around alone at night
- take photos of people before asking permission
- expect to find the same things you do in your home town
- disrespect the nature or culture of the people
- provoke any one or create any situations
- lose sight of why you are volunteering
- be surprised to see garbage being left in the streets
At some point on your volunteering project you will most likely experience some feelings of culture shock. This is a totally normal part of volunteering in a foreign country, and it always passes, but there are things you can do to prepare yourself and lessen the impact if it does hit.
Do some research before you go: look at blog entries from those who have volunteered in Cambodia before, and read about experiences on volunteer websites. Or buy a book that looks at this topic.
CultureShock! Cambodia: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette by Peter North is a good read. Finding out as much as you can about the economic situation, living conditions, issues and problems which exist in the country will give you a glimpse into what you can expect, and help you to prepare mentally and emotionally.
It is important that when you are volunteering in Cambodia you have an open mind, as you are likely to witness and experience things that you are not used to. These situations may make you feel uncomfortable, but accepting them as part of the whole package will make for a happier overall volunteering experience.
Observe the local scene
To help you to learn about and understand your environment and the Cambodian people spend time observing how they go about their daily lives and communicate with each other. Over time you will come to adopt similar behavior patterns quite naturally, and fit well into the local community.
Network with volunteers and locals
When volunteering in Cambodia there will be times when you feel like you don’t know or understand what is going on around you. This is a common feeling for many volunteers, especially when in a completely unfamiliar culture, but bear in mind that most other volunteers have experienced the very same thing. Make the most of your volunteering experience by organizing social activities with other volunteers, as this makes everyday life much easier.
Things to do in Cambodia
Cambodia is a country offering adventure, beauty, history, and excitement. Whether you want to visit world famous temples in Siem Reap, relax on the beach in Battambang, or enjoy the vibrant nature of the capital, Phnom Penh, you'll find it in Cambodia.
Here are a few things not to miss while in Cambodia:
- Angkor Wat
- Koh Ker
- Bayon Temple
- Floating markets
- Bokor Hill Station
- Rice fields
- Tonlé Sap
- Royal Palace
Chapter 5:Completion of Volunteer Project and Follow Up
When you arrive back from volunteering in Cambodia, you will want to share your journey and experiences with friends and family. Many people will be interested in hearing about your project, the people you worked with, the friendships you made, and the challenges you faced during your time volunteering in Cambodia.
Share your experiences
A great way to share your volunteer experience is by posting pictures on your Facebook page with details about the project. You could also set up a blog with photos and write stories about your volunteer project and traveling adventures in Cambodia.
Share your lessons learned on your volunteer project with your local community to raise awareness of global problems, and how change can happen with a determined and passionate team. You can also set up a blog on wordpress. It’s free to do and an easy way to share your volunteer travels with others doing the same around the world.
It’s a great idea to help your host family and organization by leaving a review on their Facebook page or website. It’s a small token which shows your appreciation of them, and will also help other future volunteers to make their decision.
If you feel passionate enough about your volunteering experience, and the time you spent with the volunteer organization, then you can continue to support them in various ways, including: liking their posts and pictures on Facebook, or sharing their official Facebook page Or you could organize some fundraising activities to raise cash to fund their future work.
Chapter 6: Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering in Cambodia
There are lots of things to think about when planning an organizing a volunteering experience in Cambodia, including documentation, itinerary, volunteer project details and host family information. This section looks at the most popular last minute questions volunteers tend to have, and provides brief answers for each one.
How will I get from the airport to my host family/volunteer house?
Depending on the arrangements you made with your volunteer organization typically someone will pick you up at the airport and drive you to either your project or host family house. Make sure that you have provided your volunteer organization with all your flight details, and that you confirm who will collect you and where you will meet a few days before you fly out.
Will there be support from staff in country?
Yes. Your organization will either have a dedicated staff and office in Cambodia, or be partnered with a local volunteer organization whose staff will play the same role. Get the relevant contact details from your volunteer organization before you leave.
How many other volunteers will be on the same project as me?
There is no definite answer to this question as some projects need lots of volunteers while others operate on a much smaller scale. It may also depend on the season you choose to volunteer in, as summer tends to be the most popular time to join a program.
If I volunteer with my friend can we be placed in the project and housed together?
You should not have any trouble arranging this, but it is best to confirm it is okay before making your final payment for a program.
Are meals and housing provided?
Most volunteer programs include accommodation and some meals in your program fees. Accommodation is usually with a host family, which includes 2-3 meals a day, but in some places accommodation will be in a hostel and involve self catering. If this information is not included on their website it's best to ask someone at your volunteer organization what is actually included on your placement.
Will my host family be able to speak English?
Not all host families in Cambodia will speak English. If you think this will be a problem than please notify your organization so that they can find a more suitable accommodation option for you.
Can I travel to other cities during my days off?
Yes, on your days off you are encouraged to make the most of your volunteering experience and enjoy the many things your destination country has to offer. Cambodia has a regular and reliable long distance bus service, which makes it quite easy to travel to nearby cities in your free time.
Do I have to bring my own bedding?
If you are placed in accommodation at a hostel or with a host family than bedding will be supplied.
How will I get to my project every day?
Getting to and from your volunteer project each day may involve a short walk or perhaps a bus ride; it really depends on where your project is located. Some projects may expect you to make your own arrangements where others may provide a transportation service for you. Check with your organization for full details on your particular situation.
Can I speak with a volunteer who has worked on this project in the past?
Many organizations now have volunteer communities or forums on their websites where you can communicate with project alumni. If there is no opportunity to ask questions in a place like this you could ask for a couple of email addresses, and make direct contact with people yourself.
What kind of food will I eat while I'm there?
If you are staying with a host family in Cambodia then it is likely that you will be served traditional Cambodian food. Breakfast is usually scrambled eggs with rice. Rice and beans with grilled meat or fish is a common choice for lunch and dinner in Cambodia.
How many hours per day will I be volunteering?
In general most volunteers work around 4-6 hours a day, however this will depend on the project you are participating in. Check the exact details of your placement with your organization.
How much money do I need to bring?
Transportation, groceries, and eating out are very cheap in Cambodia. You can get a delicious plate of Cambodian food for a couple of dollars, and if you are living with a host family you will not need to buy many meals. So really you just need to bring enough money to fund your social activities, basic daily expenses such as bottled water and any travel plans you may have pre or post project.
This free eBook is just written to help volunteers. So please use this book just as a general reference or source of information. We cannot guarantee the validity of information as changes in the field can be sudden. As it is impossible to provide a definite or authoritative guide it is vital you verify information directly with a relevant and up to date source. We cannot be held liable in any way for damages caused should you choose to overlook this advice.
- Chapter 1: Volunteer in Cambodia – Getting Started
- Chapter 2: Choosing your Cambodia Volunteer Program
- Chapter 3: Getting Ready to Volunteer in Cambodia
- Chapter 4: Information About Your Volunteer in Cambodia Program
- Chapter 5: Arriving and Volunteering in Cambodia
- Chapter 6: Completion of Project and Follow Up
- Chapter 7: Most Frequently Asked Questions by Volunteers