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Volunteering in Cambodia

Cambodia shares borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Here you will find the fascinating Khmer temples and of course a lot of exciting EXIS projects!

Volunteering in Cambodia

EXIS organizes volunteer work in Cambodia in cooperation with a local NGO which has connections to schools, orphanages, hospitals and nongovernmental organizations in Cambodia. The aim of our partner in Cambodia is to strengthen democracy by strengthening civil society.

Volunteering in Cambodia is a unique way to discover the country, its culture and people while doing a meaningful job. You must be at least 18 years old, for some projects 20, independent and outgoing. This is an international program with volunteers from different countries.

Internships in Cambodia are also possible

The Projects

Below you can learn more about the different EXIS projects in Cambodia. On all projects you will have a local coordinator and mentor who will supervise you throughout your stay.

Start dates

Start dates are 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month – except Monday April 11th, and Monday September 19th (national holidays) – with arrival and pick-up at Phnom Penh International Airport, Sunday prior to program start.

If you arrive earlier, you can still be picked-up and accommodated. The additional costs can be paid directly to local coordinator (20 US per day including 3 meals). After arrival you will be transferred to accommodation. Depending on the number of volunteers arriving the same day, a welcome dinner in town is organized.

The first days

On Monday and Tuesday you will follow a two-day orientation with information about the program, project sites, types of work, language lessons, local food, climate, safety issues, health issues, market rally and a city tour in Phnom Penh. Accommodation depends on your location. You may stay with a host family in single or shared room with a fan, shared bathroom with cold water and full board or in a guest house with similar conditions.

Work in orphanage

Taking care of children in schools or orphanages. Cambodia has a vast number of orphans and parents who are not able to support their children or provide them with food and education. The parents died either of poverty or AIDS or are through disability or illness not able to take care of them.

Volunteers work in orphanages on the outskirts of Phnom Penh or in the city center. We have contact with orphanages all over the country, so that we can find a suitable placement for every volunteer and almost every idea.
Alongside teaching, volunteers working in orphanages help with general work and daily issues, ranging from cooking, cleaning and caring for children to duties related to administration, assistance with homework, etc.
If you work here you have the chance to educate a growing number of very poor and sometimes abused children.

Very often volunteers help the staff and teach, as well as care for the children, who are between 2 months and 18 years old. You can support the children with any of the following activities:

  • Teach English 3-4 hours a day
  • Help with homework
  • Singing and music
  • Draw pictures and play games
  • Help the children with personal hygiene
  • Help them clean their rooms and prepare daily meals
  • Helping with general work which comes up (building a fence, working in a local shop, improve the center facilities and building (painting, renovating etc.)
  • Teach them to plant fruits and vegetables and tend a garden
  • Strengthen the center’s organizational capacity and fundraising skills.
  • Sleep during the lunch break in the orphanage/village/school, join trips with them, organize small events, clean them or just organize some games
  • Be part of the orphanages daily life!

In most of our orphanages the children are attending public schools. They also have fixed activities, such as learning about the Khmer language, culture, and health; playing games and sports; reading, practicing traditional Khmer dance and sometimes discussing topics like morality.

Accommodation depends on your location. You may stay with a host family or in a Guest House in single or shared room with a fan, shared bathroom with cold water and half board, or in a guest house with similar conditions. Some volunteers have lunch at the orphanage. You will work 30-40 hours per week, with weekends free.
Minimum stay is 4 weeks.


Not everybody has access to education in Cambodia. Everybody would love to develop their English skills as education very often is the only way out of poverty. There is a great demand for English in Cambodia as it is needed in all jobs related to tourism. Therefore we need teachers who can help out with specific skills like English and IT.

Sometimes other skills (like mathematics, arts etc.) are required. Volunteers are placed in Phnom Penh or smaller cities. Teachers are needed all over the country, so your help will be appreciated wherever you work. You will sometimes work on your own, teaching a whole class, small groups or in a community.

Sometimes you will also teach the staff. At other times you will work together with teachers to support the children or adults. In some schools you would prepare tests and exams, as well as correct the exams.

The longer you stay the more responsibilities you will get. You would have to prepare the daily lessons the day/evening before.

Bring along good ideas from your own time at school and maybe some books.

Teaching English in Cambodia gives you the unique opportunity to implement your own ideas and teaching methods. You can play games, play music or whatever you think might be good for the children or adults to pick up the language.

A typical school year depends on the type of school. Community Schools and NGO schools run throughout the year and only have holidays during public holidays.

However, we work with a combination of schools, orphanage and NGO’s therefore you will be able to work during school terms without being affected by any holiday. Volunteers do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers. EXIS can send you some tips and good advice about teaching English, before you travel.

Furthermore there are hundreds of NGOs working in Cambodia and almost all of them need the support of teachers to help staff learn and improve their English. Minimum stay is 3 weeks.

Daycare center at the dump

Every day at the “Cheung Ek” dump in Phnom Penh, hundreds of families wake up and go out to make a living. Sometimes over 1000 adults, youth, and even young children walk around the dump with long metal hooks, searching the piles of trash for plastics, glass, and aluminum cans which can then be sold to be recycled in order to earn a meager salary, usually less than a dollar a day.

While their families and older siblings go out to pick through the garbage, the smallest children of these families play in the dump while they wait for their parents to return with some food. These children suffer from malnutrition and diseases which flourish in such toxic environments.

A Canadian Christian organization has opened a day care center for the smaller children. Here they are fed, their clothes are washed, they are taught English and Khmer alphabet, and they play like kids do. Currently the center provides help to around 40 children (both boys and girls).

Main tasks for a volunteer are:

  • Assist and lead one of the four classes of Khmer/English
  • Prepare meals
  • Sing and play with the kids
  • Teach and practice memory verses, the English alphabet, songs, poems etc.
  • Help to pick the kids up and bring them back home

    PADV- Women and children rights (Domestic Violence) and defense of Humans rights

    Cambodia depends heavily on international aid. It comprises approximately one-third of the national budget. The genocidal Khmer Rouge regime from murdered many of Cambodia’s most educated and skilled people, leaving its capacity to resurrect itself very low. There are thousands of poor people who are forgotten by the government.

    Thousands of people who have no rights and there is no real equality in Cambodia yet. We have many contacts to local non-government organization that works to prevent, reduce and eliminate domestic violence and help it victims. They are located in the centre of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kratie and Battambang. This is a research, resource, training and advocacy organization, whose work is based on a belief in fundamental human rights, particularly the equality of all people and their right to live free from violence.

    Volunteers would have to deal with the following issues: abused children, HIV infected Cambodians, disabled children or work on projects to help to decrease domestic violence. Furthermore you could help with family planning or health education. You will always try to help its victims directly and will be part of all public forums or workshops your NGO organizes. You will join the field visits regularly and talk directly to the NGOs target group. The longer you stay the more independently you can work.

    Volunteer’s task can be:

    • Public Awareness Program (school and community presentations, radio hotline, roundtable, TV and radio spot production)
    • Education Program (presentation at universities, trainings to local authorities, home visits in the community)
    • Information and Support Program
    • Men Against Violence Toward Women (group discussions, home visits)
    • Anti-child Trafficking program (organizing campaigns, workshops with teachers)
    • Life skill support
    • Consulting
    • Emergency assistance funds
    • Lobbying and advocacy
    • Implementation of methods and techniques
    • Psychosocial support (problem solving skills, crisis intervention, violence reduction techniques.)
    • Management skills
    • Computer safety and back up policies
    • Developing workshops and public forums
    • Proposal and report writing

    Working hours are from 8:00am to 12:00pm and 1:30pm – 5:00pm. Minimum stay is 3 months.

    Community development

    The main goals are income generation, micro-credit programs, land reform, agriculture and human rights. Many NGOs or orphanages have special programs to provide knowledge and job possibilities to Cambodians.

    Depending on their skills the volunteer would work in the following fields:

    • A mechanic will work in a mechanic training projects to provide the knowledge to poor people or orphans.
    • IT experts will fix computers and networks, develop websites or teach the students of schools or orphanages. The Volunteer may develop a new training program or would teach the teachers of a school how to train and work.
    • An electrician will teach poor people or orphans how to work with electronics (job not always available).
    • A hairdresser will join a hairdressing school for orphans and poor people to train them.
    • A construction worker may help to build toilets or a library or fences. Beside this he would teach English and play with the children.
    • A waiter, receptionist, cook or manager would help to train orphans or poor people in a restaurant and guest house which belongs to a NGO. Right now one of our partners is about to open one. Support is urgently needed.

    You will get an overview of the organization and its activities before starting the project and will participate in all activities of the organization.

    Working hours are 30 – 40 per week.

    You will be in direct contact with the target groups your NGO works for. Here’s where Cambodians can get training for free. Minimum volunteer work stay is 12 weeks.

    Law/ Human rights in Cambodia

    The situation with the human rights is getting worse. The Government is facing more and more criticisms within the country and a now an alarmed international community. After many of obvious violation against basic human rights, the population is feeling scared.

    Volunteers support communities who have to face evictions, help with the Investigation/ Monitoring on human rights violation, protect the rights of factory workers and minorities, support women and children and strengthen their rights, help to organize advocacy workshops and forums and always be sure, that you can join all field visits.

    You will come directly in contact with the target groups, your NGO works for like people connected and affected by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal like the Khmer Kampuchea Krom (or other minorities), HIV infected or disabled Cambodians or even Cambodians who just experienced an eviction.

    Depending on the volunteer’s skills he/she can help with:

    • Help increasing the understanding of human rights and democracy
    • Assisting in arranging public forums/ workshops/ trainings throughout Cambodia, where the NGO educates participants and initiates discussion on human rights and democracy in Cambodia
    • Help to develop alternative laws for provincial politicians
    • Assisting in implementing new structures and Human Rights Projects
    • Researching and report writing on human rights in Cambodia and the success of the projects
    • Developing ideas for new initiatives, in terms of programs, projects (including campaigns), and fundraising
    • Developing internal structures, strategy and communication methods

    We also need volunteers in Cambodia to work with our partners in order to assist the work in the field of report and proposal writing, legal service (working like consultant), human rights and democracy. Miminum stay is 12 weeks.

    Health Projects

    If you wish to work for social care and health projects there are possibilities in various establishments such as orphanages, health education projects, HIV projects and Health care projects in villages.

    Depending on the placement a nurse or doctor or volunteer will help with:

    • Proposal and report writing
    • Implementation of new ideas
    • To teach English to the staff and children
    • To assist seeking ways to improve management
    • To technically assist in supervising the staff
    • To do research for helpful documents concerning diseases like HIV/AIDS in order to publish it to the community
    • To technically assist in communication with other institutions
    • To visit patients
    • To help ill and HIV infected patients (feeding, dressing, teaching, playing games)
    • To organize education workshops
    • Health care
    • Health Education

    Experience is required.

    Restaurant for street children

    The initiative for openingen the restaurant for street children in Phnom Penn was taken by some Italian families with Cambodian adopted children.The restaurant opened in February 2010 and has served more than 250.000 since then (until february 2015). The purpose of the restaurant is to give children from poor families or street children a place where they can be during the day, can play, get something to eat and feel at home and have access to a shower. They can even get a hair cut.

    Many of these children are working hard every day, either to help provide for their families or for themselves. The children often work as street vendors, beggars or scavenging for something that can be sold or eaten. Most children are under 14 years old but even babies can get something to eat in the restaurant. There are coming 150 to 200 children every day and it cost about 0.70 dollar a day to keep a child fed and clean. The place is run by sponsor money.

    Volunteers can help with the following tasks:

    • Helping in the kitchen
    • Teaching English
    • Showing the children kids some of Phnom Penh historical sights
    • Organizing activities/trips (e.g. a trip to a water park/beach)
    • Helping/teaching the children daily hygiene, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower
    • But most importantly: to give them love and hope.

      Environmental issues

      Support communities who have environmental problems or educate the local population. Raise awareness. Help with investigation and monitoring on environment violation. Protect the rights of the fishers and farmers. You will come directly in contact with the target groups, your NGO works for.

      The volunteer will share the experience with the staff and villagers. Volunteers will help to organize public trainings and forums or even help to fiend new sponsors.

      Depending on the placement you may have the change in assisting in arranging public forums/workshops/trainings throughout Cambodia, where the NGO educates participants and initiates discussion.

      We need Volunteers in Cambodia to work with our partners in order to assist the work in different fields such as:

      • Community Eco-tourism
      • Natural Resource Management
      • Report Writing on Research and providing ideas for improvement
      • Professional Needs and Problems Analyses of communities
      • Impact of Project Monitoring and Evaluation
      • Providing training material
      • Environmental Advocacy or media Projects
      • Community Forest Project
      • Green Garden Projects
      • Natural Resource Management
      • Community Forest Protection
      • Buddhism & Environment

      Some NGOs also need help developing ideas for new initiatives, in terms of programs, projects, campaigns and fundraising, developing internal structures, strategy and communication methods. This placement is suitable for volunteers who have a high interest in environmental protection and democracy.

      The volunteers should have some experience from university or work and good English skills. The volunteer should be at least 20 years old. Minimum stay is 12 weeks.

      Architecture, social engineering and town planning

      Cambodia is suffering from bad town planning, evictions and bad water supplies. You may work directly in the province with architecture or engineering projects in villages.

      You may organize public trainings and forums or even help to develop alternative ideas for provincial politicians.

      We also need volunteers to work with our partners in order to assist the work in the field of report and proposal writing, legal service, working as a consultant, human rights and democracy, etc.

      The Volunteers may help to:

      • Develop water supply projects
      • Review existing policies on water and related environmental issues
      • Review government policies and guidelines
      • Determine audiences for policies
      • Write appropriate guidelines
      • Use and/or adapt guidelines assessment tools
      • Solve housing rights
      • Train students or staff
      • Research
      • Do town planning (new towns for the evicted Cambodians)
      • Assist in arranging public forums/workshops/trainings
      • Develop ideas for new initiatives
      • Fundraising
      • Develop internal structures, strategy and communication methods

      The volunteer should have some experience (University or work) and good English skills. The volunteer should be at least 20 years old. Minimum stay is 12 weeks.


      Nurses are needed in Cambodia.

      There is a high demand for qualified nurses to volunteer in Cambodia. We offer placements in health centres, hospitals health education programs in Schools, Communities and Universities, general health care Programs in communities and in orphanages.

      Depending on the placement a Nurse/doctor will help with:

      • Implementation of new ideas
      • To develop reports
      • Technical assistance
      • To assist seeking ways to improve management
      • To technically assist in supervising the staff
      • To do research for helpful documents concerning diseases HIV/AIDS in order to publish it to the community
      • To technically assist in communication with other institutions
      • To visit patients
      • To assist in counselling the patients

      Volunteers should be at least 19 years old and should have some experience in the field of health. It does not matter if you have not yet finished your studies or training. We need a full application form and proof of the degree of studies.
      Minimum stay is 1 month.

      Health Projects

      Weeks Fees
      4 €1 241
      5 €1 482
      6 €1 627
      7 €1 771
      8 €1 916
      9 €2 157
      10 €2 302
      11 €2 447
      12 €2 592

      All other Projects

      Weeks Fees
      3 €903
      4 €1 048
      5 €1 193
      6 €1 337
      7 €1 482
      8 €1 627
      9 €1 771
      10 €1 916
      11 €2 061
      12 €2 206

      Inkluderet i prisen

      Voluntary Work in Cambodia

      Accommodation as described and 3 meals a day during your entire stay

      Help from coordinator and emergency support

      2 days introduction as described

      Wifi connection in the guest house


      2 bottles of mineral water per day

      Pre-departure handbook

      The following is not included in the fee:

      • Airfare to and from Cambodia
      • Compulsory insurance
      • Optional tours organised by our local partner during your stay, like Khmer Rouge Trial or boat tours
      • Any entrance fee during sightseeing and travelling
      • Transport to and from working place (costs typically $3-4/day; at certain working places, up to $7-8/day. Bike rental is also an option)
      • Laundry
      • Visa fee

      EXIS in Cambodia

      Our partner organization works Cambodian wide but mainly in Phnom Penh. You could also work for example in Pursat which is a medium sized cities and situated by a river, or Battambang which offers basic tourist facilities, such as internet cafés and travel agencies.

      It is the second biggest city in Cambodia. Pursat offers life in the slow lane. If you are looking for a rural placement, this is even better for our local partner as the small organization outside of the urban areas need urgently some support.


      The official language in Cambodia is Khmer.

      The Country

      Cambodia is a country of contrasts and magic, with the 9th- to 13th-century Khmer temples and tropical islands, full of charm despite a violent Khmer Rouge past and poverty.

      The colorful capital Phnom Penh, the impressive temple monasteries known as wats, and not least the hospitality of the people, have helped bring Cambodia to the attention of a new generation of visitors. You can explore this fascinating country while working as a volunteer.

      In 2001 Cambodian National Assembly passed a law to create a court to charge serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime 1975-79. This new Cambodian court is designed to provide fair public trials according to international standards. The chief goal is to provide justice to the Cambodian people. The Khmer Rouge Trial is right now ongoing and you may have the chance to visit it with our partner organization.


      Cambodia has a tropical climate. The dry season begins with fairly agreeable temperatures between 21 and 32 degrees Celsius. During April maximum temperatures stay around 38 degrees. For more information: http://www.wunderground.com/global/KH.html


      Cambodia’s population is homogenous, Khmer 90%, Vietnamese 5%, Chinese 1%, other 4%. 95% practice Theravada Buddhism as their religion. The remaining 5 percent are Christian or Muslim.

      Cambodia borders the Gulf of Thailand and shares a border with Thailand to the west-northwest, Laos to the northeast and Vietnam to the east- southeast. Cambodian geography is dominated by the Mekong River and the Tonlé Sap, a river called the “freshwater lake”.

      Phnom Penh is a rapidly developing city situated at the confluence of three great rivers: the Mekong, Tonlé Sap and Bassac.

      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.

      Enrolment procedure
      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 [email protected], 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.

      General information

      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.

      Credits cards
      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.

      Land mines
      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.

      Ready to go?

      Reserve a spot for one of our projects in Cambodia