Volunteer in Cambodia helping on a rural community project which won’t cost the earth and where you can make a real difference to the children who all come voluntarily every day to their English classes! For a once-only project contribution of £150 (excludes registering, flights and personal spending) you can stay between 2 and 12 weeks (which works out to only £12.50 a week if you are lucky to have the whole 12 weeks spare). You can also come and go flexibly during your stay because of the way the project is organised by the volunteer group and the project director, organising the sharing the classes according to who’s on site that week. Only have 2-3 weeks available to come and help? You are welcome to get involved whatever time you have.
And if you’re not coming to teach in Cambodia, there is plenty to help with at the project from organising activities, helping in the rice field, on site repairs, to new building projects and looking after the grounds and vegetable garden! Read more about this unique project, how to get there, what to do in your free time and health and safety.
Got a question about any aspect of volunteering in Cambodia from airport transfers to food and teaching to toilets? Ask us! Want to travel within the next 1-3 months? Contact us as soon as possible to check dates as this project fills fast.
What are the aims of the project?
The focus of our volunteers in Cambodia is English teaching although there is lots more to get involved with locally. The English language is a highly regarded skill and a definite necessity for gaining jobs in towns and cities.
Many new larger employers paying higher wages, expect to see English qualifications on CVs indicating a better all round education even if English is not a requirement for the job itself.
With a growing tourist industry, poorer applicants without English will lose out. Their families simply cannot afford to top up their children’s education with private English lessons and without English there will be less of the better job opportunities available.
What’s it like to be a volunteer teacher in Cambodia?
There are currently 260 children learning English aged between 3-18 years-old in two locations. The main base for our volunteers is the rural village community school where volunteers live and do their volunteering. Longer stay volunteers (staying a couple of weeks or more) tend to take a class of their own with short stay volunteers assisting.
Lessons are mostly adapted from the Oxford University Press Headway series of TEFL books which provide lesson plans to follow and additional material. This makes it easy for anyone to have a go at teaching even if you have never stepped in front of a class before or even considered teaching before.
Volunteers are welcome to bring extra art/craft/other subject resources to provide a variety of learning experiences. Take a look at our easy guide on how to teach English if you have never taught before.
Do I need experience to volunteer in Cambodia?
Volunteers do not need teaching experience to be successful volunteer teacher at the project. Most volunteers observe and assist classes for the first week or two, before taking classes or a group of their own. By week two or three nearly everyone is ready and eager to take the next step. If you have some experience or feel ready sooner, speak to one of the team about taking your own group or class.
If this will be your first time volunteering abroad or teaching let us call you back, we’ll be happy to discuss the project in more detail to give you a clearer picture and help with any questions you may have. It’s what we’re here for! Use the reserve now form and we’ll be in touch!
Are there opportunities other than teaching?
At the rural school there is always something being built or improved so any volunteer with practical skills is welcomed to help out. A vegetable garden has been started recently and some volunteers have been helping with weeding, watering and planting. Cambodia volunteers also make visits to local projects, including the local orphanage and poorer families needing a bit extra support.
With the new school at the next village being prepared, it is likely there will also be opportunities there too.
Free time in Cambodia
Cambodia volunteers generally teach Monday to Thursday or Friday so there is plenty of time to get away to explore. After a visit to the Angkor Watt temple complex at Siem Reap which featured in the Tombraider series of games and films, it is the southern beaches which draw volunteers each weekend. Your coordinator will assist you with the best way to get to places in your free time.
OV volunteers on the southern beaches, 2 hours from the project. Many volunteers spend every weekend on the beach.
Islands and sandy beaches
Price from just £40
When you’ve done the temples, head to the southern beaches and spread your towel. Uncluttered and still relatively tourist-free other than a gentle smattering of hotels, enjoy pristine white sandy beaches and bath temperature turquoise waters.
Enjoy it now because Cambodia’s beaches will not be a secret for long. Koh Rong and Koh Rongsaloem are the top 2 to visit, pre-book any guesthouse on the island and they will organise the boat across.
OV volunteers on the ruins at Angkor Watt.
Price from £150
Angkor Watt, probably the most famous temple complexes in Asia. Tourists in neighbouring countries will make length journeys just to make a day visit. Speak to your volunteer coordinator a day before you go and allow a long weekend.
Bus leaves Takeo at 6am, allow £150 for an entire weekend including bus to Phnom Penh, bus to Siem Reap, entrance, hostels and travel back to the school. Number of volunteers making a trip? Nearly everyone – cannot be missed out!
Angkor Watt temple complex. An essential trip for any visit to Cambodia. 8 in 10 volunteers make a long weekend visit at some point during their stay or before flying home. Volunteers arriving to the project overland from Thailand may find it practical to make a visit on their way as it is on route to Phnom Penh.
OV volunteers make a visit to local family, a recommended experience for a cultural insight and chance to practice your Khmer.
Live like a local
Cost of food £5
Ask your coordinator to meet a local family then buy some food in the market and spend the day cooking, sharing giggles and playing with the children.
A fantastic cheap way to have fun, meet the locals, experience the children’s homelife away from the project.
Cost? None, other than food to cook.
Inside of Phnom da Temple, a popular half day trip.
Local Temple Ruins
You don’t need to travel far to enjoy some of Cambodia’s hidden temples with ruins within 10 minutes walk of the project.
Your volunteer coordinator happily shows all volunteers aound. Just remember to cover your shoulders and knees.
Cost? Free. A 3 hour round trip up river by boat to Phnom Da (photo) is a popular excursion.
Hire a boat for approx £15 and climb the hill temple known as the nipple (!) for far reaching views across the plains as far as Vietnam.
Cost £15 for Phonm Da Temple.
OV volunteers at the rural school, after water fight with children.
Make your own entertainment! Volunteer life at the rural school is focused at the project and is fun and informal. With all meals provided on site, there is little need to head into town unless going away for the weekend.
The children have a great bond with their volunteer teachers, here volunteers pose together after a water fight with the children! A refreshing activity on a hot day!
Italian pizzeria at Kep beach.
When you’re in Kep beach, check out Pasta e Basta, set back from the beach.
Also serve caramelised shrimps and fresh fish. £3. Recommended.
Vietnam is close enough to visit easily.
Getting a visa often stops Cambodia travellers making a visit, but most travel agents and hotels can organise this for you in a few hours, just ask around.
If you want to simply get inside Vietnam and see one of the most remote beach towns and stunning caves in the region, then head to Ha Tien.
Take a moto-taxi from Kep for £4. For Ho Chi Minh city it’s easier to go up to Phnom Penh and travel across from there.
Kep National Park can be combined easily with Kep beach.
Kep National Park
Get off the beach and up into the hills for lush jungle forest trails, and great views down to the sea.
Take a tuk tuk around or hike the signposted trails for the best experience. See monkeys, tropical birds and butterflies. Take snacks and water, there are benches along the way and also a cafe with great views. Allow 3 hours. $1 entrance.
Fun day organised by volunteers. You are welcome to suggest and help organise special events.
Volunteers at the school on a tuk tuk. £6 each way but can be shared by up to 6 passengers
How can I prepare for teaching before I go?
If you are staying more than two weeks and would like to teach, take a look at the Headway course materials on the Oxford University Press website where you can find sample pages online for selected books to get an idea of what is involved in teaching English. It is also worth looking in the English teaching section of your local book shop. In the UK the larger Waterstones book shops often have a copy or two to glance through. A larger library may also have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) section. There is no need to buy any TEFL books but by looking at samples, you can give you a good idea of what the programme is like if you are new to TEFL.
If after your stay you would like to take up TEFL as a career, it is a good idea to get a qualification. The only ones worth having are the CELTA or CertTESOL and you only need one of these. The CELTA certificate is endorsed by Cambridge (having Cambridge on the certificate will look good to foreign employers!) and the CertTESOL qualification provided by Trinity College London. They both cover the same content and offer the same supervised teaching and can be studied at centres around the world.
CELTA and TESOL are genuinely the only two genuinely recognised international qualifications, despite what some other providers of TEFL may claim.
If you would like advice on teaching in Cambodia and what to expect fill in a call back request form and we’ll get right back!
What do I need to take if I am teaching in Cambodia?
Lesson plans and resources from the OUP (Oxford University Press) series are being used. The content is outstanding and widely regarded by language centres around the world but the style is more geared towards adults so if you are staying more than a couple of weeks and will be teaching you may want to bring any additional fun games suited to young learners. You may want to search online for TEFL activities and games for young learners. Here is a site which has been running a long time dedicated to teachers of young learners.
Black or coloured marker pens are a good investment for creating flashcards that the children at the back of the class can see. They can dry up quickly and run out so if you are staying a while you may want to bring a few.
Although there is usually a blackboard, it can be quicker to prepare in advance on A4 paper and avoids having to turn your back all the time to write/draw on the board. Some teachers only ever hold up A4 sheets and never use the board except for Hangman at the end of a class.
Informal clothes are acceptable for teaching although as with any teaching avoid strappy vests.
For building, repair work or working alongside local people and anyone staying longer term bring sturdy footwear/strong trainers, breathable d.i.y./gardening gloves, a super wide rimmed sun hat and breathable lightweight summer clothes which can get dirty.
Volunteers built a road to prevent muddy feet in the rainy season.
Some children don’t want to go home after classes!
What happens on arrival?
8 in 10 volunteers to Cambodia fly to Phnom Penh, are met on arrival by the regular driver or the coordinator and transferred straight to the project. As for all projects we recommend arriving on a Monday or Tuesday to settle in to the routine and make friends before your first weekend when many volunteers will explore further afield in their free time.
Arriving at the weekend can mean you miss out on a trip and things are a bit quieter whilst you wait for everyone to return. If you are coming overland from elsewhere we will put you in touch with the local support team closer to travel to make arrangements. Some volunteers make their own way from Phnom Penh by bus, taxi and even speedboat!
What is a typical day like as a volunteer in Cambodia?
08:00 – 09:00 Wake up, get ready, daily project maintenance tasks
09:00 – 11:30 Maintenance, free time, visiting the market to top up personal supplies.
11:30 – 12:30 Planning together : lessons and other activities
13:00 – 18:30 English teaching, arts, sports and social activities according to children’s abilities
19:00 – 20:00 Communal meal and informal group discussion
20:00 – 22:00 Volunteer group activities : Quiz nights, card games, movie nights etc
Are meals provided?
Cambodia volunteers can take advantage of the resident cook’s delicious evening dinners between Monday and Friday for approx. £4-£5 a day. Healthy eaters should not be concerned about the quantity of food. There are usually leftovers for a second plate if needed.
Drinking water is provided and included in the weekly dinner payment.
Breakfast and lunch is not provided but at the start of the day the cook is happy to prepare omelette or chips or something you have bought. Previous requests have included hot dogs and roast dinners!
Are there any shops?
A house close to the project maintains a little supply of cold soft drinks (Sprite etc), noodles, Cambodian crisps and cigarettes if you run short. For additional snacks morning trips into the market by tuk tuk are made to buy fresh bread, jam, milk and fruit. If you are busy in the morning, there is usually someone going to market who will be happy to pick up things for you.
There is a fridge on site but it can get quite full and fridges in Cambodia struggle in the extreme temperatures. Volunteers generally only use the fridge to store milk. Fresh food bought in the market in the morning which does not require a fridge can still struggle to stay fresh in the heat and is best eaten same day.
Tea drinkers may want to invest in bringing their favourite tea bags from home, the international brand Lipton found in Cambodia is not very strong.
Longer stay volunteers may like to bring some favourite snacks for a treat and cooking ingredients for the cook to create brunches for you. Avoid bringing anything which requires a fridge or will melt in the heat. For example, breakfast cereal bars or a tasty cooking sauce sachet which could be combined with rice/noodles.
What do I need to take to make my stay comfortable?
Volunteer accommodation is provided on site with dorm style beds divided between (mostly) single sex dormitories. Between October and Spring there are enough western soft beds for everyone. During the summer months between June and August when volunteer numbers are higher it is a good idea to bring a sleeping mat or Thermarest or similar product as Cambodians typically sleep on wooden benches which can take some getting used to.
You will need to bring your own bedding. Ideally you will want to bring a pillow and single duvet cover (not the actual duvet – too bulky and too hot!) to sleep inside which will be more comfortable and less sticky in the heat than a sleeping bag. This will also be easier to wash than a sleeping bag if you’re a long stay volunteer.
A mosquito net is essential although if you would rather not buy one, you may get lucky and find a volunteer has left one behind. If you are buying a net, take the largest single bed one you can, there is nothing worse than a small net which rips when you tuck it in. There is usually way to hook up all the different types of nets. Nets can also be bought locally cheaply if you need to get one.
A hard lockable trolley case is practical item to keep your belongings tidy as there is not enough furniture to store everything away. Longer stay volunteers may find the novelty of everything squashed in a rucksack and strewn over the floor wears off quickly.
You may also want to bring some guide or history books on Cambodia for yourself or some board or group games to do in the evenings with the other volunteers. Although the volunteer group is very sociable, sometimes it is possible to run out of conversation and there is little to do locally away from the project itself.
Not sure what to bring? Perhaps if you will be travelling around beforehand and can’t carry lots? Request a call back using the form and we’ll help you prioritise what to take.
A Cambodia volunteer visits a family. The area is one of the poorest in South east Asia with most people still living off the land. English can lift children out of poverty by winning scholarships and entering higher education.
Stay long enough and you may have an opportunity to visit a state run orphanage but the poorest and most vulnerable children will be those you work with at the rural school
Is Cambodia safe?
Considering the country’s poverty compared to it’s neighbour Thailand, Cambodia is surprisingly safe. The people are on the whole extremely friendly and genuine. Cambodia is still relatively untouched by the aggressive commercialisation of other tourist destinations. Come and enjoy the country before it gets too busy!
Like any country, capital cities attract undesirable petty crime and in Phnom Penh, a city of motorbikes it is a good idea to keep your valuables tucked away so they can’t be grabbed.
Care should be taken in your free time when visiting Sihanoukville which is a popular destination (known to backpackers as Snooky). Although it’s still a fairly tame new resort compared to other places it’s still a good idea to avoid drinking there after dark if you are a long walk from your hostel.
What support is provided?
A friendly English speaking coordinator directs the Cambodia volunteer programme and can be contacted at any time throughout your stay. They will be your first point of contact should you have any questions or queries during your trip. Local project staff and long stay volunteers also provide support from arrival and meals to help with organising your classes, free time and any additional help you may need to make your stay more comfortable.
Effective volunteering requires great support and organisation for volunteers to be able to concentrate on making a difference, without support in Cambodia, the programme simply would not be possible! In addition support comes from within the volunteer group itself, everyone supporting each other pro-actively to create the very atmosphere and experience.
Can I travel with other volunteers?
We will Buddy you up with another volunteer so you can fly out together, just let us know at the time of booking. Even if you do travel alone, and about 7 in 10 do, it is extremely unlikely you will be on your own on this popular project. There can be upwards of 30 volunteers on one day in the summer months. You can also:
Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
Join the volunteer community on Facebook and like the page to connect with other volunteers, receive recent pictures, stories and updates.
Mealtimes are a special time when everyone comes together. A resident cook provides delicious between meals Monday to Friday
Volunteers in Cambodia often share classes. In your first week it is more usual to shadow and assist until you find your feet and get to know the level of the children.
Can I choose where to volunteer in Cambodia?
All volunteers start at the rural village school which has been the main volunteer base since the start of the project. Here you are well looked after by your volunteer coordinator and the assisting staff and cook.
You may like to move to other projects which may be running at the time of your stay, these are generally only recommended after settling in and your coordinator will help you with this.
Occasionally visits are made to a local orphanage, ask your coordinator about a visit if you are interested. The emphasis of most orphanage visits is play rather than direct care and support. Contrary to the children who come to the English classes, looked-after children can be in receipt of more of the basic essentials such as food and resources due to state or private funding. Many local children’s families work in the rice fields for £2 a day which can make providing for the children a serious challenge.
What if I travel with my friend?
All friends are met on arrival and transferred to the rural school together where 9 in 10 volunteers stay. Let us know at the time of booking that you are travelling with a friend so your support team can organise schedules and plan accordingly.
Will I be safe on the project?
You will be perfectly safe whilst volunteering in Cambodia. This is an area where there are few tourists so few opportunities for people to move into the area to take advantage of their foreign visitors.
Volunteer visits are hassle-free with any incidents occurring likely to be when away on trips and to a certain degree self-inflicted; sunbathing in the heat of the day, too much alcohol or accidents on mopeds (nearly everyone has an accident story to tell – avoid mopeds to stay safe, take a tuk tuk instead!).
It is an extremely friendly and welcoming place where locals are still genuinely pleased to see you. Many families still rely on what little work they can get in the rice fields so if you are invited for a meal, take a little offering (bag of rice or other staple) with you just in case it is a poorer family or else you might inadvertently be eating tomorrow’s dinner in order that they can welcome you as their guest!
Will I need a visa?
British passport holders do not require a visa before travel with only one exception. One volunteer in 2017 flying from the UK with a Chinese airline via China was not permitted to board without their Cambodia visa in their passport. We recommend contacting your chosen airline for advice before travel. For all other travellers to date, all types of visa for all durations have been obtained on arrival at the airport or point of entry.
Will I need any jabs?
Our travel health section has all the information on jabs and keeping yourself healthy and safe abroad.
Volunteers take in local landscape from nearby hilltop.
Some of the younger children are happy simply to be creative with materials volunteers bring.
How will I get around when I’m not volunteering?
Most volunteers stay at the village school stay on site during the week. When the project is busy with volunteers there is usually a lot more happening at the school than in the local local town! You can still get into the local town if you want to by tuk tuk for approx. £6 return (this can be shared by up to 6 passengers so works out cheaper if a group travel together).
Fast facts – Project information
Project Duration: Min 1 week if not teaching – 12 weeks. 2 weeks recommended for teaching. Volunteer options: English teaching, outdoor games or hands on work at the village school. Accommodation: Shared volunteer accommodation Food: Village school: Meals provided on site due to location. Working Hours: Teaching is part time Mon to Fri only, other work may be part or full time 5 days a week. Weekends always free. Volunteers usually stay: 2 – 3 weeks or considerably longer. Two weeks is recommended for anyone wanting to have a go at teaching. Project operates: All year with short breaks during the following periods when the classes officially take a break: Friday November 9th Independence Day, November 19th – December 2nd 2018 (Water Festival, project closed), 22nd December – 7th January (Christmas and New Year), April 8th – April 19th 2019 (Cambodian Khmer New Year Celebrations), November 4th – November 15th 2019. It is sometimes possible to stay on site at the project during breaks although it may feel eerily quiet with minimal staff and the project pets for company. Usually long stay volunteers take advantage of the longer break and travel further away to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos or fly to other South East Asian destinations on cheap flights. When to apply: Contact us asap to check dates and help advise as this project fills fast. Requirements: Minimum age 18 on arrival unless travelling with a responsible adult.
How will I get back to the airport?
Your in-country support team will help you to organise the return transfer to Phnom Penh airport. For early morning flights you may like to travel to Phnom Penh the day before and stay at the volunteer guesthouse which can be pre-booked for you.
Can I leave my things at the project if I travel?
Yes you can leave your things at the project to collect before your return home but due to the high number of volunteers and coming and going by long stay volunteers you leave items at your own risk.
What are the costs after I have registered and booked my space?
After you have booked your space and registered with us,(registered volunteers travelling within 12 months of their first project abroad do not need to pay the registration fee again) there is only one one-off programme contribution of £150. This covers a visit of up to 12 weeks. This includes on-site accommodation at the school. One large hot meal is provided Monday to Friday for approx. £4 a day, payable at the project.
All volunteers purchase a return flight to Cambodia (some volunteers fly to Bangkok in Thailand followed by independent travel overland to Cambodia to save on flight costs); Phnom Penh is the nearest Cambodian airport to the project. It is approximately 2.5 hours from the project which is halfway between the capital city and the souther coast. If you are not sure how to buy a flight or what are the ones to look for get in touch.
If you fly to Phnom Penh in the morning during the week an airport pick up and transfer will be organised automatically for you for approx. £30, payable on arrival.
Travel insurance is strongly advised, make sure the one you purchase covers all medical bills. You can expect to pay between £40 – £80 for a short stay. Without insurance private medical bills for the simplest of treatments can range from £100 – £300 a day if you are required to stay in.
A visa is not needed before travel if you have a British/European passport and will stay for less than 30 days, a tourist visa is obtained on arrival. If you stay longer, a longer stay visa for approx £20 – £30 can be obtained on arrival at Phnom Penh airport on request which can then be extended regularly throughout your long stay.
Allow about £200 extra for anything you would like to do in your free time and for your weekend/day trips to the beaches. We strongly recommend taking as much as you can extra, as you may want to buy some materials for the children, the school or poorer local families.
If you have any questions regarding flights or visas, ask us! We’ll be happy to advise.
How and when do I need to pay for my project?
An invoice for the Cambodia school project contribution will be sent by email which you can pay online, this is usually sent after we have received your flights. This is the easiest way to pay.
What does the Cambodia project contribution cover?
The Cambodia programme contribution covers accommodation throughout your stay, general project bills (electricity), maintenance, and basic project management resources. A substantial part of the programme fee covers the required advertising by OV to recruit volunteers to the project. When advertising was lessened in previous years this had a dramatic impact on volunteer numbers which in turn affected the project’s growth. Although we are aware many will find this project from previous volunteers, there are not enough word of mouth referrals to make this project viable throughout the year. Many will only be able to stumble across the project through traditional forms online for which there is usually an advertising and marketing cost at some stage.
If you would like to provide additional help small donations or resources bought locally are warmly welcomed, speak to your local project manager about what is needed at the time of your visit.
UPDATE It is envisaged that the programme fee of £150 will increase shortly. Volunteers registering for the first time (or reserving a place if already registered) before the increase will not be charged extra providing they registered or reserved before the increase.
Local girl, taken by volunteer on visit to family. Volunteers often make house visits to experience everyday life and see first hand the challenges faced by the children they teach.
What happens after you have booked?
As soon as you have booked with the once-only £125 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for your trip.
Between 8 and 12 weeks before you travel we can Buddy you up with another volunteer so you should have a good chance to travel together if you wish to. They may already have their flight so it will be easy to book the same one!
Below is an example timeline for what to do next after you have booked
At anytime : As soon as you are registered with us and have received your confirmation email you can get flights to Phnom Penh, airport code PNH. An arrival between Monday and Wednesday is recommended to settle in before the weekend when the volunteer group tends to travel or head to the beaches. Skyscanner.net is the preferred search site for flights. There are not currently any direct flights from the UK to Cambodia. Flight advice: When choosing a route, try to stick to total journey times in sites like skyscanner.net of between 20 and 27 hours if you can. It is also a good idea to choose a route means you will change flights in a large international airport with a lot of English speaking travellers passing through, for example, Dubai, Doha, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur. Flight changes in China are best avoided unless you are changing in Beijing or Shanghai as there may be fewer customer service assistants with good English in the transit lounge between flights. The most common airport to change flights is Bangkok. If you are travelling overland (usually from Thailand) we will put you in touch with the local team to arrange a suitable meeting point/pick up which will usually be from a hostel of your choice in Phnom Penh.
Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
Join the volunteer community on Facebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates 3 to 4 weeks before travel: contact your travel nurse or travel clinic to make appointments for jabs and boosters (for more information on what is typically recommended please refer to the NHS website fitfortravel). For the location of the project, the risk for malaria has lowered, the project now lies in a low risk zone. You will need malaria tablets if you intend to travel to the northern jungle border regions in your own time when you leave the project. Japanese Encephalitis is optional and is sometimes recommended as the project is close to rice paddy fields, although the jab can be hard to find and opinion on the risk for foreign visitors is currently variable.
Before travel : Purchase travel insurance which will cover medical bills and repatriation.
Visas: Can be obtained on arrival in Cambodia for UK passport holders at the airport and land borders (although some Chinese airlines may request to see your visa before you board your flight from Europe). It is a good idea to take 4 passport photos with you as they are sometimes requested on arrival. Currently a tourist visa is $20 US and you can extend this once. An ‘ordinary’ visa is $25 and can be extended repeatedly for $45. The local team recommend anyone staying 1-2 months obtaining a tourist visa and for stays of 2-3 months, an ordinary visa. Business visas are recommended for longer stays although check they stamp your passport correctly. More info on visas on arrival: http://www.cambodia-airports.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=20&lang=en
As soon as you have flights: Email us your flight to Phnom Penh (even if you are flying to Bangkok and travelling overland, your flight to Asia still confirms your intention/arrival). Airport pick ups are automatically organised for all flights arriving in Phnom Penh on Monday mornings. If you will already be in Phnom Penh because you have travelled from elsewhere, a pick up from your chosen hostel or hotel can be arranged. We will put you in touch with the coordinating team.
At anytime : pay for your project – we will send you an invoice by email shortly after we receive your flight to pay online – this is the easiest way to pay – don’t worry if you forget! We’ll send a reminder.
Cambodia at a glance
Language: A Khmer phrasebook and dictionary will be a good idea whilst on your placement. Holiday/festival periods are around October 10 – 20, and Nov 26 – 30 each year but dates can change at the last minute. When the is closed volunteers usually get involved with the festivals or take time off to explore the region. The local team will try wherever possible to organise alternative volunteering opportunities with children who live close to the school or further away but this cannot be guaranteed. Climate: Cambodia has a tropical to sub tropical climate with high temperatures. The south can be warm to hot all year round. Time difference from UK: GMT +7 hrs
Other places of Interest
Cambodia’s charismatic capital, Phnom Penh, will never be too far away and is definitely worth a day or weekend visit during your free time. Explore the many markets, stalls and boutiques, delve into the nation’s ancient past at the National Museum or visit the captivating temples and Royal Palace. The city also has a legendary nightlife with many lively cocktail bars.
Sihanoukville Approximately a three hour bus journey from Phnom Penh is the stunning seaside town of Sihanoukville, perfect for a weekend break or for a short stay once you have finished volunteering. Surround yourself with white-sand beaches and undeveloped tropical islands, great for a relaxing after a weeks work and well equipped for a backpackers needs.
Choeung EK Cambodia’s history is marked by the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and many volunteers have found a visit to one of the museums interesting. Rising above the 129 mass graves in the Killing Fields is a blinding white stupa, which serves as a memorial to the approximately 17,000 men, women and children who were executed there by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Best visited after Tuol Sleng to get a full understanding of the scope of the Khmer Rouge madness.
Want to know more?
If you have any questions big or small on any aspect of our exciting Cambodia project or would like to check available dates please contact us as soon as you can as this project is in high demand.Alternatively complete an easy form with your contact details and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can!
Placement at a glance
Volunteer in Cambodia options
English teaching, playwork, art and craft, repairs, visit families and local charities and orphanage and more!
18 yrs on arrival
Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country coordinating team and 24hr emergency support
Volunteers in Cambodia all live together at this friendly project in shared volunteer accommodation with your support team alongside at all times!
Western style meals are provided for all volunteers for approx £4 a day. They even take special requests from English roasts to US style hotdogs!
Volunteers in Cambodia usually part time, 5 days a week excluding preparation time. See the Trip Info page for a full daily schedule.
Volunteers usually stay
2 -12 weeks, shorter/longer stays are possible.
All year except the following weeks: 2017: Oct 30th - 10th Nov (Water Festival), Dec 23rd - 8th Jan (Xmas New Year). 2018: April 9th - April 23rd, Cambodian New Year. Most volunteers stay long enough for these breaks to not cause any issue. It is possible to stay on site at the project during holidays but cooked meals and some facilities might not be available, most volunteers enjoy a break away.
When and how to apply
This affordable and flexible project fills up fast! Complete a 'Reserve Now' form today and we'll be in touch with you straightaway to confirm latest availability and what to do next.
Costs to volunteer in Cambodia
£150 once only for stays up to 3 months (includes simple on site dormitory accommodation) & £125 (Registration to join OV which provides a year of volunteering without registering again)
Airport pick-up service
Airport pick-up: £30 - £40 on arrival
Want to find out more?
Visit the Trip Info area (Tab above) for more on the project including the daily routine and how volunteers spend their free time.
Shop next to project
Bars in town
Chemist in town
Bus 5 minutes
Taxis in town
Cash machine in town
Bank in town
Pay phone in town
Internet in town
Laundry- £2 per kilo
Basics, what to take?
Light weight sleeping bag & pillow
Accommodation: Volunteer in Cambodia living on site altogether in one of the large (mostly) single sex shared rooms.
Facilities are basic but perfectly adequate as most of daily life is conducted outdoors in the lawned yard or in the communal patio eating and teaching areas and the weather is warm to hot all year round. Adapted Asian meals are provided for all Cambodia volunteers for approx. £4-£5 a day.
Support for Cambodia volunteers: An on-site team of project director, volunteer co-ordinators and other local staff are always nearby. Longer stay volunteers also lend a helping hand with new arrivals.
Volunteer in Cambodia with unique on-site support from your programme’s school director. He organises everything from airport pick ups and transfers to daily management, timetables and supporting our volunteers with anything you need during your stay.
It is a busy schedule but he will also always find time to show volunteers around the local area and point volunteers in the right direction for days and weekends away.
And because our volunteers stay at the school itself, help is never more than a a few metres away so if you need anything just ask or wave!
The benefits of your local in-country team
What is a volunteer coordinator?
Every project has a volunteer coordinator or support team. They are responsible for helping you settle in and looking after your welfare and needs during your stay and they are all English speaking. This is where volunteering can be different to a conventional hotel holiday, a hotel manager is rarely going to get involved with your day to day experience or take you to the dentist if you need one!
What experience do volunteer coordinators have?
All our coordinators are local people with knowledge and experience gained over many years of supporting volunteers. They have a deep knowledge of their local community, providing an invaluable source of information. Your Cambodia project director has many years experience working with international NGOs previously before starting this project where he grew up. We never hire ex-volunteers to manage projects, it takes many years experience to look after so many volunteers from diverse backgrounds and individual requirements and skills.
What do coordinators do?
Airport pick up
Your in-country coordinator will organise your pick up and make sure you get to the volunteer house as smoothly as possible. If your coordinator does not meet volunteers from the airport, their trusted regular driver will be sent to meet you.
Help organise specific placements
Coordinators will also ensure that volunteers with special preferences eg. medical/building can get involved as fully as possible in their preferred area of work.
Show you around and help you to locate things
Need a Sim card? Want to buy some paintbrushes for an art session tomorrow? Speak to your coordinator – they will advise on where, how to get there and prices.
Provide an orientation on arrival
Your coordinator or their local team will provide an orientation on arrival of what’s where and how to get started. This may take the form of a more formal meeting for all new arrivals by your coordinator or through informal advice for new arrivals from staff, long stay volunteers, handouts, information on the noticeboard as per needs dictate.
This will usually include any important cultural awareness if this may affect your stay. For example bare tummies should be covered in Ghana for example otherwise the children won’t stop giggling!
Help you when things go wrong
We are often asked what happens when things go wrong. Your local team are the experts on getting you the help you need immediately. They have seen it all before (in a nice way) and are well experienced in looking after hundreds of volunteers each year with all the usual niggles from sunburn to upset tummies. Whether you need a doctor in the night for sickness or you want to try out a new project or move bedroom or volunteer house. This is not something by contrast a hotel manager would help with but a volunteer coordinator will!
If you have remembered to print off your project contact details and leave them with family (these are sent before travel to all volunteers) – your family can also contact the coordinator directly. Or they can call us and we can put them in touch.
For any country related crises which may occur which would require volunteers to return home, your coordinator and their team will ensure everyone is safely escorted to the airport or Embassy as per the advice provided by each volunteer’s government together with any additional support that may be required.
Help you when you feel unwell
Coordinators are the first port of call if you think you may need medical assistance. They will organise an escort to the local clinic/hospital and make sure you are well treated. They can also contact home and will be happy to speak to parents to explain how you are. If you are volunteering alone, they may also stay with you in the hospital or request that a member of their staff and a volunteer keep you company as it can be quite daunting to be in a foreign hospital, even if it is only an infected mosquito bite!
Most health problems are minor and with a day or two’s bed rest either at the volunteer house or the local hospital and plenty of water, most volunteers are back to their normal selves again. Prevention before travel is also a good idea!
While on the subject of hospitals – make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover local medical bills and repatriation. In developing countries and where medical care is mostly private, it is not uncommon to be admitted into a private room for something which would be treated as an out-patient back home. Without insurance, hospital fees can be as much as £200 per day.
For doctors appointments when you only need a prescription, your coordinator will help you to locate the nearest doctor/clinic. For these it is often easier to pay on the spot and not claim on the insurance. Expect to pay approx. £5 – £15 per consultation and £5 – £20 for basic medication.
Cambodia volunteers can make use of their coordinator for all the best trips and best prices which volunteers over the years have participated on and recommended. If the options are not posted on a notice board ask what is available and how to book. Typical prices across all destinations as a very rough guide: £30 – £40 for a day’s activity, £200 – £400 for a trek/budget safari for 3 – 5 days. Most volunteers go together in a group for more fun and get discounts. Additional trip discounts for volunteers are available in Ghana and Tanzania.
Return transfer back to the airport
Your coordinator can organise the return trip back to the airport for you, simply ask a few days before your flight. This is not automatically organised as many volunteers will have made friends and may leave the project a day or two earlier to sightsee before flying home, want to go shopping right up to the last minute or forget that the transfer was booked and have already jumped in a taxi!
Do I need experience to volunteer in Cambodia? Volunteers heading to the Cambodia volunteer programme do not require any experience. Teaching is fairly straightforward following the lesson plans in the course books and volunteers often share classes. Most volunteers find after a day or two they are settled in well after watching other volunteers and are ready to get going. Most of the approach is repetition of new words and phrases followed by writing or drawing and labelling. Some of the children have been learning English for some time now and be learning harder sentences and grammar but you will soon pick it up watching other volunteers classes who have arrived before you. Younger children sometimes attend and may require more art/craft activities than solely English. Sometimes classes are organised for the local mums who will be complete beginners but these classes are generally on an ad-hoc basis according to how busy the mums are at home or in the fields.
Each month there will be volunteers who opt not to teach at all, working in other areas from hands-on maintenance, tending the vegetable garden, working and helping local people in the rice fields, visiting other local projects in need to developing their own project activities. One volunteer for example started the idea of taking children for swimming lessons to a local pool. This is now an activity which is organised every so often, great fun with a mini-bus hired and everyone squeezed in!
Do I need a TEFL qualification? No. It is rare that anyone joining the project has any experience or knowledge of TEFL. You will pick up everything you need to know through observations of the other volunteers teaching their groups.
What other jobs can I do? Yes. There are other jobs to help with from building work, developing new projects and initiatives and helping with general organisation or working alongside local people. Although most people at some point will have a go at teaching, it is not a requirement to do so.
Is there an age requirement? This project welcomes volunteers of all ages. The youngest volunteers are 17 travelling with older siblings or parents, the oldest volunteer was 72 years young. If you are looking for a larger and younger crowd aged between 18 – 22 best book your visit between June and September. Between October and May ages vary enormously with volunteers of all ages 18 upwards.
Can I volunteer on my own? More than 75% come on their own. Of the longest staying volunteers (12 weeks or longer), 95% – 100% arrived alone. So if there are 40 in your group when you visit, 30 of you on average (or more) will have travelled alone. As soon as you have confirmed your date of arrival we can start putting you in touch with others arriving around the same time, you may even get lucky and find others on the same flight. Most people arrive already knowing 2-3 others from messages back and forth before travel, so you won’t have to start completely from scratch and this project has a nice large group of people all year round so you will never be on your own, not here! It’s also super easy to make friends even if you are shy as everyone sits together to share the evening meal and there are often social activities organised for everyone in the evenings.
Are couples welcome? Yes.
Is private accommodation available for couples? It may be possible to organise your own accommodation in the local village/towns and travel in to the project each day by tuk-tuk or private driver. No one will be offended if you live off-site and travel in each day although you may miss out on some of the social aspects and spontaneity of every day life at this busy project. Unlike most larger towns and cities across Asia, most guesthouses and smaller hotels in the immediate area of the project do not have websites so it will be a challenge to try to book in advance. Those which do may require more expensive transport to get to the project, £6 – £10 on top of the additional accommodation costs. We recommend starting with the accommodation provided by the project which allows you to get to know the typical daily routine and make friends more easily before you start popping in only for your volunteering (which is likely to start being the case if you live away). It also gives you time to organise where you will be staying and explore other options. Due to the already affordable programme costs, regrettably no discount can be offered for living off-site.
Are meals provided? Due to the location of the village a main dinner of the day is provided in the evening by a resident cook, for approx. £4 – £5 a day, payable locally.
I am vegetarian – will this be a problem? Most of the meals consist of vegetables or salad with rice so it is easier than some other destinations. Some volunteers also have specific dietary requirements which the cook tries her best to work around.
After registering for £125, project costs £150, flights and travel insurance, how much extra will I need to budget for? We would recommend having at least £7 a day midweek to cover your main meal of the day and a snack/fruit/bread for lunch. The mornings are a popular time for volunteers not busy to buy fruit and bread for snacks. For a tuk tuk into town allow $6 each way. It may be possible to give a shopping list if you are busy to another volunteer.
Are visas required for Cambodia? Cambodia immigration rules are a little more relaxed than its neighbour Thailand but do change from time to time. As of October 2017, visas for UK passport holders can be obtained on arrival at the airport or at border crossings if travelling overland. For more information on visas on arrival please visit the Cambodia airport website: http://www.cambodia-airports.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=20&lang=en For volunteers requiring a visa before travel please consult your nearestCambodia Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.
What are the start dates? Monday and Tuesday mornings are the start days for this project, subject to availability and this project fills fast. We often receive applications 18 months in advance. Contact us to check availability at the earliest opportunity.
Can I stay with my friend? Everyone arriving together will be placed together either at the village school. Sometimes additional satellite projects are running and you may be invited to move across when you are settled in. Very occasionally volunteers may have an opportunity to live in another location though this tends to be longer stay volunteers who are ready for a new challenge.
Can I volunteer for just one week? Two weeks is the recommended minimum. From volunteer feedback, many do not feel they are settled enough until the second or third weeks to feel that they are making a contribution. Volunteers who opted for one week have often admitted that it was not long enough. If you would prefer one week because you are unsure and this is your first time volunteering, two weeks would definitely be our strongest recommendation! It’s hard to make friends and build relationships at the start of the week if you are leaving again at the weekend! If you have only two weeks available in Asia, one for tourism and one for volunteering and you are happy to ‘experience life on a volunteer project helping where I can’, you are very welcome to apply! The start day for a one week stay would still be a Monday or Tuesday morning, departing any day at the end of the visit on day 6/7/8 as preferred.
I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone? We can help you find someone to travel together – use our Buddy List or pop us a message on the main Facebook Group and we’ll add you to our weekly round up of travel buddies.
Will I need any jabs? Unlike Africa, fewer jabs are needed which is great news! British NHS advice on malaria tablets has recently changed from essential for the whole country to medium to low risk. Japanese encephalitis is sometimes recommended. We advise to consult your trained travel health nurse a few weeks before travel for up to date advice.
Do I need to bring anything for the children? The focus of this programme is English, so any TEFL materials (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) for age 8 – young adult will be especially appreciated. Some ideas: Khmer/English dictionary, picture books, flashcards, mini whiteboard and whiteboard markers. If you have not taught before, it may also be useful to watch some TEFL class examples on You Tube to get an idea. It is also a good idea to brush up on simple nursery songs with actions which again can be found on You Tube. Some volunteers have also recommended taking a few postcards from home to pass around the class as an icebreaker or magazines for young children and teenagers which can stimulate interest in English.
What clothes are best? Short shorts and strappy vests are not recommended when teaching but ordinary summer casual clothes are fine, for example, normal length shorts and regular T-shirts. For visiting temples, the orphanage and when parents and local officials visit for presentations it is a good idea to have one smarter summer outfit so you won’t be embarrassed if presenting certificates to children in front of a crowd of 100 dressed-up parents. Female volunteers may find a long crease-proof summer dress will suffice, for guys smarter long shorts and a plain coloured T-shirt/Polo shirt will be fine. This will help to maintain a good reputation in the local community. The Cambodians also love their public presentations and awards ceremonies. You might need at least a couple of sets of beachwear if you plan to spend your weekends at the coast, especially if you will be stay a long time.
What is security like at the project? You could not be in a better safer place. This is rural southern Cambodia, life is sleepy and laid back and all the locals know each other. You will be in the safest place in the whole of Cambodia, far from the cities with their usual hustle and bustle. There are few large towns close by so there are no passing strangers other than the volunteers on the project and no local bars or places for strangers to hang out. If this project was in England it would be described as ‘rural Cornwall, down track from a sleepy village, hour from coast’. Whilst at the project you will be usually living and working in a group of between 10 and 40+ volunteers depending on the time of year alongside project staff and super long stay volunteers who may have been here for many many months, even years in some cases.
I have heard about orphanage tourism, how can I be sure that children are not being exploited? The aim of this project is to teach English and improve the level of spoken English for poor children in the area to enable them to have an opportunity to get out of the rice fields for a better standard of living. This can be achieved with English through winning scholarships into higher education or by gaining work later in the growing tourism industry in the coastal resorts nearby. The focus of this project is not to work in or closely with orphanages. However, there is an orphanage not far away which occasionally a couple of volunteers request to visit in their free time as a very personal and individual side-activity.
How can I keep in touch with home? Internet access is available in town which can be easily reached by tuk-tuk or bike (40 min). There is an office on site which volunteers can occasionally request to use at quieter times.
What else can I do in my free time? After you’ve done the beaches along the southern coast between Kep and ‘Snooky’ and the famous Angkor Watt temple in the North West there is much more! The website Jen Reviews has prepared a list of 100 Things To Do In Cambodia so you won’t be short of ideas!
Contact us for specific questions
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on 01603 280702 Option 1 or email us [email protected] to get the answers you need!
Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to visit Asia and many of the other companies were too expensive. I found this project online by accident whilst searching online.Do you feel you made a difference, how?
The work done by the volunteers is truly astonishing. There are not a lot of resources but the books you...
I have recently come back from the Cambodian project through original Volunteers and wanted to take the time out to say how fantastic it was.
After arrival in the capital, we drove for about 2 hours into the Cambodian countryside until we arrived at hope school. As we drove through the gates I noticed the 3 classrooms...
My name is Daisy and I travelled to Cambodia with Original Volunteers this summer; and I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve ever made! I will never forget the fantastic, life changing trip I had.When we first arrived it was quite a shock as me and my friend Tabby sat in silence as the taxi driver drov...