Ultimate Guide to Volunteering in Cambodia

If you or your loved ones have ever considered volunteering in Cambodia, then this blog is for you! Below, in this ultimate guide to volunteering in Cambodia, I will outline the different programmes available in Cambodia, who is eligible to volunteer, the things to do and see in Cambodia, and more.

From volunteering with children and elephants, to seeing Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, choosing to volunteer in Cambodia can be a beneficial experience for you, your loved ones, the communities we work in, and the animals that we help.

Volunteer with children in Cambodia"
Volunteer with rescued dogs in Cambodia"

Who can volunteer and how long can you volunteer?

Just like at Globalteer's projects in Peru, volunteering with Globalteer in Cambodia is open to both locals and people from all over the world. Similarly, there is also, strictly speaking, no minimum or maximum age range to volunteer. Those under 18 are welcome to volunteer, and this year, we’ve had people over 70 years volunteering with us.

Those looking to volunteer with Globalteer in Cambodia can volunteer between 1 and 12 weeks, depending on the programme. Globalteer is able to accommodate those looking to volunteer alone, in groups, or as a family.

Bear at bear sanctuary in Cambodia"
Children having access to clean water in Cambodia"

Volunteer Programmes

There are a variety of programmes for you to choose from in Cambodia, from teaching children to volunteering with elephants, These will be discussed in greater detail below. You are free to dedicate your time to one project or you can volunteer at multiple projects during your volunteership.

Bears: If you want to volunteer at a bear sanctuary with over 100 bears, then this is the programme for you. Here, you would work with bears rescued from Bear Bile Farms, the illegal wildlife trade, the tourism and entertainment industry, or those who were kept as domestic pets. This programme aims to rehabilitate the bears in order to returned them to the wild. Your duties would include preparing food for the bears, maintaining the enclosures, and creating puzzles for the bears in order to give them treats.

Children: Those looking to work with children can volunteer at the Helping Hands School. Here, you would assist local staff in English classes, arts, games, sports, and the breakfast programme. Your duties would include helping teachers in English class, helping in arts and crafts, and helping local teachers prepare classes.

Clean Water Project: This programme is ideal for those who want to help rural communities gain access to clean and safe drinking water. This project aims to build water filters and distribute them to rural communities in and around Siem Reap. In this programme, you would build the filters and then distribute and install them in local communities.

Community Farming: The Food and Farming Project aims to produce nutritious food for children at Helping Hands and the local community. The duties of this programme center around the maintenance of the gardens, farms, and fish farms. Your duties would include preparing the ground for planting, planting seeds, and harvesting crops.

A volunteer with children in a classroom in Cambodia"
Volunteers with an elephant in Cambodia"

Elephants: Those looking to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary should consider this programme. This programme aims to help rescued elephants who were previously exploited in logging and elephants-ride tourism. Your duties would include walking with elephants into the forest to forage for food, watching elephants bathing themselves in the river or help at a washing station, and maintaining the elephant sanctuary.

Indigenous People: Those looking to help a Cambodian community preserve their culture and traditional ways of life should consider this programme. The aim of this programme is to help the Bunong people preserve traditions which are under threat due to modernization. Bunong youth are eager to practice and document their way of life. Your duties would include cataloguing information, conducting interviews, and helping to develop local computer skills.

Rescued Cats and Dogs: If you want to help end the suffering of stray animals in Cambodia, then consider this programme. This programme feeds, cleans, and cares for cats, dogs, and chickens with the ultimate aim of improving local animal rights. Your duties include preparing food and feeding the animals, providing basic medical care, and socializing and playing with the animals.

Sports: If you want to help children grow through sports, then this is the programme for you. This programme seeks to bring sports to those who would otherwise not have access to it, and uses sports to teach children wider lessons such as human rights, leadership and teamwork. Here, your duties would include assisting local staff with coaching sessions, organizing sports days, and helping with general project tasks.

Children playing sports in Cambodia"
Volunteer at garden in Cambodia"

Important information to know pre-arrival

Before you embark on your trip to Cambodia, there are a few things to know prior to your arrival. The most important will be discussed below.

Vaccinations: It is important to consult a medical professional to ensure that your routine vaccinations are up to date. Additionally, it is recommended that volunteers are up to date with basic vaccinations before they travel. Additional vaccination information can be found here. Please note that Globalteer does not pay for vaccinations.

Visa: It is recommended you obtain the e-visa (not the tourist visa) as this allows you to extend depending on the length of your stay. The current rate for the initial e-visa is $42. You can apply for the e-visa here.

Weather: Cambodia can be very hot, even during the rainy season. The weather is important for numerous reasons: first, some programmes may require manual labour. It is important to consult a medical professional to ensure that you are physically capable of performing the duties of that role. Second, it is important to remember to buy items such as sunscreen, sunglasses and hats. We have a great guide on when is the best time to volunteer in Cambodia.

Volunteers at waterfall in Cambodia"
Volunteers in Cambodia"

Arrival in Cambodia

Having chosen a volunteership and dealt with the required administration, you are now ready to come to Cambodia. You would fly into either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap International Airport depending upon which programme you choose.

Volunteer House in Siem Reap: The Volunteer House in Siem Reap is located in a peaceful neighbourhood away from the busy town. The house contains a water filter which is changed regularly, eliminating the need to buy bottled water. The guesthouse also contains a hob, microwave, rice cooker, toaster and other basic cooking equipment. Basic food supplies are provided at the house.

Amenities: Within walking distance of the guesthouse is a laundromat which charges $1 per kilogram of laundry. There is also a gym within walking distance from the guesthouse and numerous restaurants. Finally, a 5-minute walk from the guesthouse will take you to the Angkor supermarket, the biggest supermarket in Siem Reap. Here, you will be able to find all essentials that you need during your volunteership.

Transport: Public transport is available, and the Pass app for Cambodia’s taxi service is the most recommended method of travel. It costs approximately $1 to travel from the guesthouse to the center of town.

Other Accommodations in Siem Reap: We understand that not all volunteers want to stay in shared accommodation so we also have options for gusethouses and upgrade hotels which is great for couples, families and older volunteers.

Volunteers in Cambodia"
Volunteers in Cambodia"

Things to do in Cambodia

As fulfilling as the work is that you’ll be doing, you won’t be working all the time. You will have free time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Cambodia. Below, I will outline a few things to see and do should you choose to volunteer in Cambodia.

Temples and Ancient Sites: Siem Reap has around 100 temples, the most iconic being Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although Angkor Wat dominates the headlines, the other temples are also stunning and are worth the visit.

City Sights: Siem Reap as a city does not just offer ancient sights, there are restaurants, bars, and ‘Pub Street’ which is famous for its nightlife. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and has many places to visit for tourists such as temples, S21 museum and the infamous killing fields.

Other Activities in Siem Reap: other activities worthy of mention are the botanical gardens and the Apopo Centre where they train rats to detect land mines. Finally, for those looking for live entertainment, they can go to the circus, or they can take in an Apsara dance show.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia"
Pub Street in Siem Reap, Cambodia"

We look forward to welcoming you to one of our volunteer programmes and showing you how wonderful Cambodia can be.