Before you go
Living and working in a poor country is a real challenge. It demands courage, some experience and the ability to adapt. It can be overwhelming, especially at first, to have to adjust to completely new conditions, communicate in a foreign language etc. It is nothing like home. The climate, the food, the atmosphere – everything is different. You will be faced with a harsh social reality every day of your volunteer work and experience things a tourist never sees. Independence, maturity, flexibility and the desire to do social work are required if you want to take part in the volunteer work program.
You enrol by submitting the enrolment form in which you inform us about which program you prefer, as well as how long you wish to work. Afther that please email us a letter of motivation in English to firstname.lastname@example.org, in which you describe yourself and explain why you wish to work as a volunteer. When we receive your enrolment, we will send a confirmation and a manual. Please note that Cambodian law requires that you submit a unmarked criminal record.
Penh Pochentong Airport is the major international airport in Cambodia, so all international flights arrive and depart from there.
Change of volunteer placement after arrival
If you are not satisfied with your placement, we will offer you a maximum of two alternatives. However, we cannot change positions frequently without sufficient reason.
Most credit cards e.g. Visa, Master Card, American Express etc. are accepted in most hotels and shops, and you can withdraw cash from ATM machines as well. When traveling around the country you will find a wide variation in prices. Guest house rooms vary from around $5 a night to $30 and above, and for a meal in a restaurant you will pay anything between .5 US$ and 10 US$.
There are now quite a number of ATMs in Phnom Penh run by ANZ (Australia and NZ Banking Group) that accept international credit cards, as of 2006. Some hotels will take Visa for a small surcharge, but for the most part the country runs on cash, including the departure tax. The currency of choice seems to be US dollars or Thai Baht. Change on purchases is given in a combination of dollars and Cambodian Riel notes instead of coins.
Cambodia is one of the world’s poorest countries. You can buy almost everything in Cambodia, cheap. It is advisable to bring personal medicines, a first-aid kit, mosquito repellant, extra sun protection, and tampons.
230V 50HzHz, European plugs with 2 holes. Power blackouts or power surges are not uncommon so bring a flashlight.
A mix of many influences, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian and French. The basic food is rice, together with meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. Noodle soups or fried noodles are also common. The food is often spicy, but not as hot as Thai food. Baguettes available all over Cambodia, a relic from French colonial times, and exotic fruits.
How to dress
Cambodia is quite conservative. Volunteers are expected to respect local custom and traditional rules and maintain a proper dress code. Women should not wear shorts, mini-skirts, halter tops or tank tops. T-shirts, cotton shirts, long skirts or pants are suitable. It is also necessary to cover your shoulders and knees. The most practical clothing items for men are T-shirts and long pants.
Access to internet in Phnom Penh. In provinces limited and expensive.
Cambodia still has many land mines, especially in rural areas. Concentration is highest in the northern and western parts of the country. Travelers should be careful and stay on the main roads. You will not always see a warning sign, but if you do, take it seriously.
Visitors to the temples of Angkor Wat should only visit the official temple areas due to the risk of land mines.
95% Theravada Buddhism, other Christian or Muslim.
Access to international telephone in Phnom Penh. In provinces limited and expensive. International phone calls can be made from most hotels and post offices. Call charges are quite high. Email and internet connections are widely available in Cambodia. International (tri-band) cell phones can be used in Cambodia. Internet cafes in Phnom Penh are quite cheap.It is a good idea to buy a local SIM card.
Cambodia local time is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (UK).
You should take some time to visit the main attractions in the country, especially the majestic temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province, and the beautiful coconut beaches of Sihanoukville. For any trip, a minimum of 3-4 days should be planned. It is sometimes possible to take the Friday off! Some of our volunteers add some holidays at the end of their volunteering. This is a good idea, worth considering.
There is no volunteer visa, so apply only for a TOURIST visa (20 US$).
The visa can be obtained at the Cambodian embassy in London by email.
See: http://evisa.mfaic.gov.kh/ or at the Pochentong International Airport in Phnom Penh upon arrival.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has launched e-Visa, which enables you to apply for a Cambodia tourist visa online. Instead of applying through Cambodian Embassy, all you need to do is to complete the online application form and pay with your credit card. After receiving your Visa through email, print it out and bring it along when you travel to Cambodia. Detailed information will follow in the handbook.
It is not advisable to drink the water – except the bottled variety – unless it has been thoroughly boiled.
What to bring
It is a good idea to bring pictures of your family, friends and home country. One of the easiest ways for host families to start a conversation is to ask about your family at home. A small gift – for example specialties or typical souvenirs from your home town or country – for your host family will be a thoughtful surprise. You can also bring gifts like toys, pens or other small objects for children. Photos of your family and relatives, your home town and other important places in your country would be a good attraction for everyone you will meet in Cambodia.
We advise our volunteers to consult a doctor a few months before traveling to Cambodia to assess which vaccinations you will need. We recommend that volunteers be up to date with tetanus, polio, Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations. Malaria is not a concern in Phnom Penh, but if you stay or travel to other areas of Cambodia, you may want to bring some anti-malaria medication.
EXIS represents local NGO’s and therefore cannot be held responsible for possible changes made by our partner after editing this information.