Volunteer in Cambodia
Volunteers should be 18+ and able to speak advanced or fluent English. All volunteers must submit a brief CV or resume outlining any qualifications and work experience. In addition a police background check is also required. Several programs require a minimum stay which is outlined in the program descriptions. Specialized programs require some experience in the field, while childcare and teaching programs are open to volunteers with a responsible, enthusiastic and compassionate attitude.
Start & Duration
The start dates for all of the Cambodia projects are the first and third Monday of each month. A weekend arrival is therefore necessary. All of the placements offered have a maximum possible duration of six months.
Food and Accommodation
Volunteers are accommodated either with a host family or in a guesthouse. In either case, one can expect to share a room and bathroom. Three meals are provided daily.
The cuisine of Cambodia contains wonderfully subtle flavours. While breakfast might comprise a fairly un-exotic baguette with pate, sardines or egg, served with coffee, other meals feature several staple components, including rice and noodles, kroeung – Cambodian curry paste, not dissimilar to the Thai version, prahok (a type of fish paste) tropical fruits, chilli peppers, pork and chicken. Seafood is fairly abundant, too. The bread most often eaten is, perhaps oddly, the French baguette. Popular dishes include: Samlor (the local version of chicken curry); Flavoursome Bai cha – the Khmer take on fried rice incorporating Chinese sausages and seasoned with soy sauce, garlic and herbs; Amok trey - Fish covered with kroeung and coconut milk, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed; Bok L’hong, a unique salad containing green papayas and a host of ingredients such as crab and smoked fish; and Caw, a dish of braised pork or chicken in caramelized palm sugar. Among the many distinctive desserts is a pumpkin and coconut flan.
A typical week
The working week lasts from Monday to Friday with the number of hours per day varying between three and six. There is some flexibility for volunteers to arrange time off, if negotiated in advance.
The evenings are free and provide an opportunity for socialising and getting immersed in the culture. A visit to Meta House, the innovative arts, communication and media centre close to Phnom Penh’s riverbank in the heart of the city is an idea in the evening when its rooftop cinema is open. In the same part of the capital is the Royal Palace.
For relaxation, beaches can rival the tropical sandy stretches found in the southern provinces of Sihanouk Ville and Kep (or Kep-sur-Mer as it was called during the French colonial period).
Program fees are a necessary part of volunteering abroad. They help to cover costs associated with your stay, as well as supporting the local organization and projects. Below is an approximate cost breakdown to show you how your program fees are used when you choose to join a volunteer program in Cambodia.
NOTE: The above graph is intended to be used as a guide only. Actual cost allocations may vary slightly depending on the program selected and the length of stay.
About the Country
Cambodia falls within several well-defined geographic regions. The largest part of the country, about 75 percent, consists of the Tonle Sap Basin and the Mekong Lowlands. To the southeast of this great basin is the Mekong Delta, which extends through Vietnam to the South China Sea. The basin and delta regions are rimmed with mountain ranges to the southwest by the Cardamom Mountains and the Elephant Range and to the north by the Dangrek Mountains. Higher land to the northeast and to the east merges into the Central Highlands of southern Vietnam.
Bordered by Thailand to the west and northwest, Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the south, Cambodia is home to over 14 million Khmer citizens. Cambodia suffered greatly during the Vietnam War and later during Khmer Rouge rule, which ended in 1991.
One of the poorest countries in Asia, Cambodia has some stunning sights, among them being the regenerated city of Siem Reap with a stunning riverside position, a cultural revitalization, and a dining and bar experience as lively as any in the region. There is also the sleepy seaside town of Kampot to visit, the Bokor National Park; elephant rides in Mondulkiri Province; freshwater dolphins to see in the country’s famous Mekong River.
In the south lie the Cardamom Mountains, with fascinating wildlife; here, the beginnings of ecotourism are appearing. Almost certainly the most alluring of Cambodia’s attractions is the Angkorian monument Prasat Preah Vihear. With its exceptionally distant view across the plain below, Prasat Preah Vihear, located atop a1500ft cliff, is one of many temples originating from the Khmer Empire, which lasted six centuries.
Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate with high humidity. The good news is that temperatures rarely drop below 21°C. The cool wet season runs from May to October, while the hotter dry season lasts from November to April.
Volunteers will be met at the airport on arrival, and will receive a two-day orientation course which covers aspects of Cambodia’s history and culture and includes a city tour, an introduction to the Khmer Language and pointers regarding safety.
Meet the Local Team
Sreng - Volunteer Coordinator, Cambodia
Love Volunteers has been working with Sreng and the rest of the team in Cambodia since right at the bigginning in early 2010! Together we have placed hundreds of Love Volunteers from all over the world in worthy community-based projects throughout this amazing country.
“Despite its beautiful people and landscape, Cambodia’s history has not been easy for our people. Known as pearl of Asia in the 60s, Cambodia experienced civil war and genocide which killed millions of intellectuals and artists. This has left many uneducated, and creating a cycle of poverty which has resulted in Cambodia being one of the poorest countries in the world. For this reason we need Love Volunteers to help rebuild our once prosperous country.
Volunteers who come to Cambodia can help the local people by bringing knowledge, experience and new cultures to share. Volunteers also provide the local people an opportunity to practice their English, which is one of the most important skills for Cambodian’s seeking jobs. In return, volunteers can expect to gain knowledge about Cambodian culture, and to visit many of the historic sites and locations of this country, all while creating wonderful memories. We hope to have you join us in Cambodia soon!” ~ Sreng