Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in Cambodia

Video and Photos

Conservation and Diving in Cambodia with Projects Abroad
Conservation and Diving in Cambodia with Projects Abroad
volunteer with kids to teach sports
volunteer with kids to teach sports
Ancient ruins in Cambodia
Ancient ruins in Cambodia
Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in Cambodia
Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in Cambodia
Volunteer at an orphanage in Cambodia with Projects Abroad
Volunteer at an orphanage in Cambodia with Projects Abroad
Volunteer teaching in Cambodia with Projects Abroad
Volunteer teaching in Cambodia with Projects Abroad

About

Projects Abroad has been sending volunteers abroad since 1992. This is your chance to have a direct impact on the lives of the less fortunate. As a Projects Abroad volunteer, you can get involved in Teaching English, Community Development, and Conservation & Environment projects, or Medicine & Healthcare and Microfinance internships.

Cambodia is an exciting place to volunteer abroad. Visit our website to apply online and discover how easy it is to make a positive impact in your world.

Highlights
  • Choose a project you are passionate about that fits your interests
  • Choose your own start date and duration
  • Get 24/7 support from our local staff
  • Have fun exploring the country and its culture over the weekends
  • Gain practical international experience and build up your credentials for your resume

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

84%
based on 27 reviews
  • Impact 7.7
  • Support 8.3
  • Fun 7.5
  • Value 8
  • Safety 8.1
Showing 16 - 27 of 27
Default avatar
Molly
6/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Needs to step it up.

I volunteered in Cambodia for physical therapy, I'm not a qualified PT so that meant I was supposed to go to the hospital but on my first day there we find out that they promoted that wrong, you go to the orphanage... which is fine i loved the children, and the father who runs the organization and his staff are so nice and friendly....LOVED the house moms at the apartments.

CONS: For how much this volunteering costs the living conditions are very poor, and hardly any money went to the orphanage. the administrative management will never let you know how much of your donation goes to the charity.

before volunteering i traveled for two months in cambodia and vietnam staying in hostels that were 5-10$ a night that came with breakfast, AC and Hot water & never got sick.... and the crazy thing is that out of 20 rooms at projects abroad only 3 had AC, and 0 warm water... which isn't that bad unless your sick... i got food poisoning from the food, 103 fever & my coordinator wouldn't respond to my messages for help. I missed 1 and a half weeks of volunteering. :( A lot of people got sick due to the fans blowing in there face because its so hot its the only way to cool down.

Rats/ rat poop and mosquitos dominate the living room and kitchen. I hope they improve the living conditions for the volunteers, and I hope that the organization finally listens to all of the complaints, GOOD LUCK!

Default avatar
Kyra
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Way To Travel and Make An Impact

For the past two years I have been researching for the perfect program and organization to volunteer abroad. I finally made the decision to travel to Cambodia as it is one of the poorest countries in Asia in need of English speaking volunteers. This trip turned out to be everything I expected it to be. The Projects Abroad staff was helpful and available every step of the way, the volunteer apartments were comfortable and very clean, the food was delicious, and every individual I met while volunteering was grateful for the work I and other volunteers were doing. In just two weeks it felt as if I completed a month’s worth of things on the Khmer Project. I not only was able to help a family in the rice fields and teach English in a school; but, I also learned about Cambodian culture through making a traditional Khmer puppet, cooking traditional Cambodian food, learning traditional Khmer dancing, learning the basics of the Khmer language, visiting the national museum, visiting the ancient temples in Siem Reap, visiting a floating village, meditating in a Buddhist temple in Phnom Penh, and visiting the areas of Cambodia that were used during the devastating Khmer Rouge. All of which was covered in my expenses. The experience was life changing in the way I was able to make friends with volunteers from all over the world, learn about Cambodia first-hand from my Cambodian coordinator who was with me every day, and most importantly how I was immediately exposed to the unfortunate circumstances of this very poor country by teaching young children and simply travelling around the country.
Volunteering is the best way to travel and the only way to truly understand and empathize with the inequalities of this world. As a student studying to become a social worker, this experience gives me an advantage on my resume, as well as the confidence to broaden my career goals to a global level. I left Cambodia an even greater advocate for change and I am already planning my next volunteer trip with Projects Abroad as my trip would not have been what it was without them!

Default avatar
Anonymous
2/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Diving In Cambodia

Getting to the island was so scary. I was put on a bus with no other English speakers and told my trip would be 3 hours long, 8 hours later with no food we got to a beach where I was told to get out and ushered onto a small wooden boat that looked like it would sink. Luckily I survived the trip to the island.
The accommodation and bathrooms were so unhygienic I got sick almost immediately. There's no septic system so you have to put all of your used toilet paper in a opened bin beside the toilet which is in the same room as the shower facilities. There's nowhere to wash your hands and to flush the toilet your pour water down the bowl.
I also have a pre-existing medical condition that I was told I would be able to manage over there until I arrived and found the medical facilities on the island were very basic and almost non existent. I was apparently not the first person worried about this as diving is a dangerous activity and can require medical attention. I was also worried when I found out not one staff member knew first aid.
The staff are very friendly at first then become immediately standoffish on the second day. The only time they lighten up is when they are drinking which is most nights.
I'm a young person and enjoy a drink or few but not every night. I also felt very out of place because some of the people in charge were younger than I was and were almost only interested in sleeping with the volunteers. Even though most of the volunteers were already sleeping together or had done in the past.
There are posters all over the accommodation that state no drugs on the program. This couldn't be further from the truth. Almost every volunteer was smoking marijuana and taking pills every day and would come back to the house out of their brains. Not to mention certain staff felt it okay to supply the volunteers with drugs and were happy to do it with them.
There was also very little conservation work happening at all. Volunteers could work on their "own projects" which mostly consisted of us watching movies or reading each other's books. Only a few volunteers had actually collected any relevant data while most of them had not even researched anything, we just tagged along on the dives.
I also didn't even see a seahorse in my time on the island. I was told they'd seen 4 seahorses but I find that hard to believe.
The food was very mediocre to poor quality. If you don't like rice, don't go. That's what I survived on and occasionally ate fish. The chicken was disgusting and pork often still had skin and hair attached as well as parts of bones. There were so many times when no one even knew what the meat was. There are so restaurants on the island that do amazing food though so I recommend those.
There is no interaction with the community other than the children saying hello every time you walk by. I was advertised that we would be teaching and interacting with children as well as teaching them about conservation only to find this was never a part of the program.
When I left not one person from projects abroad contacted me or even saw me to the airport. I was simply put in a taxi and dropped off.
Two weeks after I returned home the project manager emailed me and asked how I was as they hadn't heard from me, they weren't even aware that I had returned home.
For the amount of money you pay it's definitely not worth it. Apparently a girl left before I got there, she changed her flights home. I wish I was fortunate enough to do that because I would have gotten out of there in the first week.

On the plus side:
I made some amazing friends who were equally as disgusted as I was at the organisation and overall let down of the program.
I also enjoyed the experience of seeing another country and culture.

I would not however recommend this to anyone unless they are into 'cheap drugs and alcohol' and watching movies every day and going for the occasional dive.

Response from Projects Abroad

This review has astonished our community in Cambodia and overseas. We have received nothing but positive feedback through all of our official channels, and we have been working to identify the authenticity of this review. Our project is run by qualified professionals whose primary focus is marine conservation and dive training. Health and safety are a top priority and illegal activity of any kind is absolutely not tolerated by our team or by the community on the island. We are happy to provide evidence of our qualifications, impact and health and safety procedures to anyone concerned. We would like to connect with the author of this review, as these allegations are being taken very seriously, and do not represent the feedback from any volunteer on the project to date.

Jessica Warner

Operations Manager (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam)
& Head of Programme Development
__________________________________
Projects Abroad

Default avatar
Charlotte
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Marine Conservation Cambodia with Projects Abroad

I attended the Marine Conservation Cambodia project this summer and had a really terrible time with it. Diving courses take place very infrequently: I had to wait over a week for my first dive, and other volunteers I met had to wait significantly longer. There is essentially no interaction with the villagers living on the island, and, unlike advertised on the website, no "training programs on sustainable fishing" take place. Since diving courses are very badly organised and take place infrequently, most volunteers do not reach sufficient proficiency to actually take place in marine surveys.

Additionally, accommodation is really basic and unhygienic, with mold covering the walls and rats living in the bungalows where the volunteers are sleeping. The food is of really low quality, which is completely unacceptable because in general even cheap food in Cambodia is really good. The staff is very unapproachable and generally gives you the impression that they do not want to be bothered by any problems the volunteers might have. While I was there, two of the volunteers ended up in a hospital because the staff did not take action when they first were injured/became ill. Some of the lack of organisation/responsibility of the staff may be explained by the fact that binge drinking is one of the main ways to pass time on the island (for both staff and some of the volunteers).

I had originally paid for four weeks on the project, but left after a week and a half, after a very upsetting incident with the diving instructor. I have written at length to Projects Abroad about this incident, the shortcomings of the project, the fact that the project description on the website is misleading, and that some of the staff are treating the volunteers is completely inappropriate. However, most of my emails were ignored, and even when I did receive a reply Projects Abroad refused to refund any of my money.

In conclusion, the project is badly organised, falsely advertised, completely overpriced and health and safety is non-existent. Do yourself a favour and save yourself this negative experience. If you want to experience Cambodia, go travelling instead. If you want to do volunteering, pick another organisation!

Response from Projects Abroad

The Marine Conservation Project in Cambodia has relocated to Koh Kong province and is now independently run by our team of trained local and expat staff. This project is running incredibly well and regular updates can be found on our website. Health and Safety is always a priority and all of our dives meet or exceed PADI standards. Our project site is an alcohol-free zone and we work in close collaboration with local authorities, including schools and temples on the new island in Koh Kong. We are happy to provide more information on the new project to anyone interested.

Jessica Warner

Operations Manager (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam)
& Head of Programme Development
__________________________________
Projects Abroad

Default avatar
Fran
4/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Pro Human Rights Volunteer in Phnom Penh

I spent 6 weeks in Phnom Penh as a Pro volunteer - this is the part of Projects Abroad that is marketed to experienced professionals in mid or late career, or those who are retired. I am a lawyer with decades of experience; I made the most of the opportunity in PP to assist a coalition with human/land rights. Most of that was due to my own efforts, with little support from Projects Abroad (PA).
My overall impression of PA is that is focused on young gap year volunteers, and that it is ill equipped to understand or support experienced professionals. When I was introduced to my placement, the coordinator asked no questions, and appeared unaware of the coaltion's work. This continued through the 6 weeks that I was there; the checking in was perfunctory and superficial. Fortunately, I understood not to rely on PA, and to deal with various issues at the placement on my own. I was quite comfortable doing this - but seriously question the value PA offered to me. I also observed that PA did little, if no vetting of at least one other volunteer at my placement. This person was clearly in over their head, creating a difficult situation.

At the accommodation, my experience was the same. Requests for a lock box for my and other volunteers' rooms, to repair a flooding shower were met with indifference, and delays. I asked PA to organize a trip for volunteers to the ECCC; although I sent PA all relevant info to make this easy for them, many texts were required. Essentially, I organized it. I would have preferred to use this time contributing my professional expertise, not doing PA's administrative work.

Again, if I had organized this volunteer placement on my own, I would accept the incompetence, but I paid a significant amount to PA, and it was not clear to me what value they offered.

Default avatar
Lynn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine conservation

The staff on the island were nothing but friendly and welcoming. On my very first dive I had a bad panic attack and wasn't sure if I could continue. I was very close to switch to an english teaching position at the school there. The staff were very understanding and allowed me to continue my dive lessons at my own pace. I had the best time on the island and discovered a new found love of diving and marine conservation. I met other volunteers from all across the globe. A day on the island consisted of breakfast at 7am followed by a beach clean up and a dive before lunch at 12 then if possible another dive after lunch. You have the weekends off so you can go to sihanoukville if you choose or stay on the island and relax. Other days we played games with the local childern followed by a jump off the pier or hung out at Hua's bar or One's. The local fishing village is a small tight knit community and they will welcome you with open arms.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing wrong about this project is the lack of goggles for small faces, which is very easily fixed by bringing your own.
Default avatar
Chelseykirin22
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Physical Therapy in Cambodia with Projects Abroad

I can honestly say this was the best experience of my entire life. Projects Abroad made it so easy for me to feel comfortable and confident with my decision to go through their program. They answered every question and concern I had right away and were happy to do so. While in Cambodia, the Projects Abroad team made sure that everyone was happy and comfortable not only with their accommodation but also with their food, placement, driver, etc. I genuinely felt like they cared about me and even more so about their purpose as being a Projects Abroad staff member.
I volunteered doing physical therapy at an orphanage with all disabled children. It was the most rewarding experience and I truly fell in love with the kids. They were the happiest/ cutest kids I have ever met and their appreciation for my help was astonishing. I had a member of the Projects Abroad staff drive me to and from the orphanage everyday and had an in-home cook that made us the best meals. Projects Abroad member Seang planned group events for the volunteers every week and made the experience outside of the orphanage fun as well.
I am so grateful for choosing Projects Abroad and can't wait to go back to Cambodia next year!

What would you improve about this program?
Include one weekend trip
Default avatar
Anne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Kingdom of Wonder

My time in Cambodia was amazing. The 6 months I spend there are ones that I will never forget. Soon I will post a complete story on the Projects Abroad website.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing, it would be the cost. Don't get me wrong, every penny was worth it, but the lower the cost, the longer I would stay.
Default avatar
eswyny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A worthwhile cause that helps a country in need

Cambodia is a place in great need of volunteers from the West to bring it into the forefront of people's minds.Volunteering with Projects Abroad allows you to have a direct impact on the local people, by helping them, employing them, and supporting them in their endeavours. Just one example of this is volunteer transport to placement, which is provided by local university students, who in return receive money from the charity to help with their studies. These are the future doctors, lawyers and teachers Cambodia so greatly needs. It is not possible to have enough care volunteers in Cambodia, with the capital city housing over 800 orphanages alone. It is also not possible to work at one and not fall in love with the children, their carers, and the Cambodian people as a whole. All are friendly, helpful, and honest, and truly deserve the success of their nation. I would volunteer with Projects Abroad again in a heartbeat; they allow you to truly experience a country, safe in the knowledge that your presence and your money is making a real difference.

Default avatar
Christinafeilden
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Island life

My time in cambodia was unlike anyother. I really enjoyed it. More so infact.
Worthwhile, enjoyable and amazing fun!

Please look at my blog for more details, posts september 2010 to december 2010.
Dinastravels.wordpress.com

Default avatar
aab
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-Changing Experience

Volunteering with Projects Abroad was a whim of mine. I had always wanted to volunteer abroad, and PA was the first somewhat-affordable company I could find that met all of my needs as a first-time volunteer. I don't even know why I initially chose Cambodia...I suppose it just seemed like a good fit. I have never been more right about anything in my life! Cambodia found its way into my heart and now it's stuck there. PA hooked me up with an amazing school to volunteer with, and I met some of the most amazing children in the world. The accommodations aren't luxurious, but they were better than I thought they would be! Some of them even had air con! Just go into the whole experience with an open mind, and you'll be find! Bottom line: leaving Cambodia after 2 months was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I DEFINITELY recommend spending some time volunteering there, and Projects Abroad provides a good platform on which to do so, especially for inexperienced travelers and/or people who don't want to have to worry about planning their food/accommodation/etc.

Default avatar
niknakcola
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Take me back to the 'Bodge!

Cambodia, or once you see some of the t-shirts 'Cambodge' was by far the best place I have ever been in my life. Not the first place to crop up on many peoples 'Places to visit' list, I recommend you re-think where you want to go, because this place, trust me, is somewhere you want to go. Although I say this, I almost selfishly want to keep it to myself and my friends and recommend you find somewhere else. Wishful thinking, because there is nowhere else in the world where you will see as many smiles in one day.

Projects Abroad, for a first time traveller was perfect for me. Save your pennies! I was there for a month, and it was expensive to go, but cost of living over there is next to nothing. PA costs include; accomodation, two meals per day, some food in the appartment (bread, water, peanut butter, fruit), once per month there is a Social dinner which all food and drink is covered, they take you to and from work, and provide a support and social scene that is priceless. Although, now feeling more comfortable in the country, I am not sure I would use them again as it was expensive, and I feel confident I could provide accomodation and still be involved with other volunteers socially.

Cambodia is a simple place. The people don't have much, but don't want for much either. What we would see as a daily struggle is their way of life, and they smile on through it. As it grows and adapts to the new throngs of tourists that come its way, it doesn't seem to have lost any of its charm.

Day one, you will be met at the airport by a thick wall of heat, and through it a mob of tuk tuk drivers who all want to take you to where you need to be (most of which will have to make a pit stop to look at a map, or by a friends house to ask for directions, but they will get you there!) The sites and smells of Phnom Pehn will leave you feeling like your head is in a spin. As you drive past slums, and new buildings, side by side, you will start to get a grip of the place you are now calling home for the next month, or however long you are staying. The past and the future side by side. Third world poverty next to western bank buildings, what is it they say about irony?

The projects abroad staff were wonderful. From day one they made us feel comfortable and at home, and from the minute we walked into the apartment it really did feel like home! A strange feeling to be thrust into a new culture, with strangers from all over the world, but the PA staff seem to allow you to do the transition seemlessly...well that and the already standing tradition of volunteers watching Glee every tuesday made it easy to feel at home.

Day to day life for us was fun. We would wake up and have breakfast, cram as many water bottles into our bags as we could for the hot day ahead of us, and get into our tuk tuk and pray to Buddah that we would make it safely to work by 8 (Cambodian traffic is an exhilarating experience, and it wakes you up in the morning more than any cup of coffee will be able to) We were Physiotherapy volunteers at an orphanage specifically for children with disabilities. We would work with the children, play with the children, and succumb to doing whatever the little smilers wanted us to do until 11. Then we would be back in the tuk tuk heading back to the appartment for our deliciously cooked lunch. Sitting at the lunch table with 10 other volunteers day in day out, you all quickly feel like one big family. Then maybe after a quick nap, and stocking up on water, we would leave and head back to the orphanage for 2. Here we are once again greeted by the children that just make the whole trip worthwhile (Not that it already isn't) and spend another 2 hours with them until it is their dinner time, and time for us to go home. Another thrilling tuk tuk ride and we are home for the evening. Another cooked meal, that will bound to have something everyone likes, as there are several plates served (all with rice) and its time to unwind with the other volunteers. Tell eachother about your day, perhaps go out for icecream (a projects abroad favourite) Maybe for some drinks on the riverfont, or even bowling! There are no curfews, but most weeknight we would be home by 12, and into bed ready to do it all again the next day.

Weekends are free time, and although projects arrange for certain activities, often everyone splits up and does their own thing. Some people will spend the weekend at one of the many hotel pools in and around the area, some people will get a group together and go to the beach, or visit the magnificent temples, you could even go to neighboring Vietnam for a whirlwind few days in Saigon. There is always something to do, and always someone who will be there with you. I never expected to make such close friends with people that I would be travelling with them, even after our time in Cambodia was over, but when in that sort of environment, a few days of knowing someone and it feels like a lifetime. It was definately one of the highlights of the trip.

I wish I could say there were difficulties, but none really stick out in my mind as they were overshadowed by the good times. The language barrier can be difficult at work, so make sure you can communicate with gestures! Also, depending on the time of year you are there the head can be stifling, and with little airconditioning around the place, it might be handy to bring a hand held fan for when you are walking around.

The people of Cambodia will always be very special to me, and I hope that as their popularity grows, they don't lose what makes their country so inexplicably amazing, somewhere you just have to go and see for yourself!

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About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad is a global organization formed around the need for gap year programs abroad designed for students taking a break from studying. Since its inception, Projects Abroad has expanded to offer high school volunteer programs, and a vast...