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Volunteering in Siem Reap

Volunteer Abroad Alliance - Cambodia - Siem Reap


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about Cambodia

Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia. It borders Thailand to the west and north, Laos to the northeast and Vietnam to the east and southeast. In the southwest, the country borders the Gulf of Thailand.

Cambodia's landscape is characterized by a low-lying central plain, surrounded by hills and low mountains. Due to the many floods, the Cambodian plain is very fertile and rice is widely grown in this densely populated area. The vast Tonlé Sap Lake is also centrally located, from which flows the river of the same name, which flows into the Mekong River near Phnom Penh. This river crosses the country from north to south, branching out into a wide delta in southern Vietnam.

It may be one of Southeast Asia's smallest countries, but Cambodia can compete with the big boys when it comes to must-see sights.

Away from the water, the ravages of war have become unlikely tourist attractions in Phnom Penh and other cities. Many visit the former prison camps and the infamous Killing Fields, witnessing Cambodia's darkest hour, a period of unimaginable suffering that took place under Pol Pot's brutal regime.

However, the crumbling remnants of the Khmer Empire are the biggest draw in Cambodia. After building a kingdom that stretched into neighboring Thailand, Laos and even China. The Khmers left behind an extraordinary collection of temple complexes, most notably Angkor Wat, which holds the proud right to be the largest religious monument in the world.

Then there are more quintessential Southeast Asian attractions – hectic cities filled with rickshaws, strange and exotic foods, blissful beaches, tropical jungles teeming with wildlife, and a densely forested hinterland filled with tribal villages.

Few places have experienced as much as Cambodia, but this optimistic nation has denied its tumultuous history to become one of the warmest, most welcoming destinations in Southeast Asia.

about Siem Reap

The French rediscovery of the Angkor temples played an important role in the liberation of the province and the city from Thailand. In 1901, the École Française d'Extrême Orient (EFEO) began their long relationship with Angkor by financing an expedition in Siam to the Bayon. EFEO cleared and restored the entire site and rediscovered many of the surrounding temples. In the same year, the first tourists arrived in Angkor – an unprecedented 200 in three months. Until now, what the world now knows as “Siem Reap city” was little more than a small rural village near Tonle Sap Lake. But with the French discovery, Angkor was "rescued" from the jungle and took its place in the modern world.

The historical importance of the area, and its development potential, encouraged the French to invest time and energy in Siem Reap. The popularity of Angkor Wat and the opening of the first hotel, The Grand Hotel d'Angkor in 1929, boosted tourism in the area. The French influence can still be felt in Siem Reap today in the French colonial architecture in the center of the city and the high proportion of French business investment and the sizable emigrant community.

World War II and the complicated period of the Vietnam War with the US had a destabilizing effect on the entire region, and the then King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, used this situation to gain independence from the French in 1953. A period of relative prosperity for Siem Reap and Cambodia as a whole, until Sihanouk was deposed in 1970. Lon Nol's government, however, was erratic and his control of the country declined, giving strength to the Khmer Rouge cause.

When the Khmer Rouge seized power, they closed the country off from all foreign influence and drove the urban population into the countryside to create an agrarian farming society. The majority of educated people were tortured, killed or kidnappedlucht. The Khmer Rouge destroyed the idea of ​​money and currency, causing the economy to collapse completely. It is estimated that some 2 million people have been killed under the Khmer Rouge regime as a result of their disastrous social engineering policies and mass executions.

The Khmer Rouge regime fell in 1979 when Vietnam invaded, supported by a number of disgruntled former Khmer Rouge leaders. However, peacetime was still a long way off as the Khmer Rouge forces kept the country in civil war for two more decades. Siem Reap was one of the last areas of the country to be at peace, as many areas in the north and northwest of the country were Khmer Rouge strongholds. But in 1999, after some intense fighting between the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders and the death of Pol Pot, most of the members surrendered or were captured and the party effectively ceased to exist.

Given that the peacetime is relatively recent, Siem Reap has recovered remarkably quickly and, in less than 15 years, has built its tourist numbers to over 2 million per year. Cambodia has renamed itself “The Kingdom of Wonder” with the logo Angkor Wat. As a result, Siem Reap has become a central attraction in Asia and the volume of investments is visibly increasing by the month. Some of the old French colonial buildings are still there, but most notable are the modern facilities and luxury hotels that line the small streets.

Recently, international attention has been turned to Siem Reap, with a new archaeological find in the Kulen Mountains. The huge ancient royal city of Mahendraparvata (now hailed as the world's largest pre-industrial city) has been excavated and identified. It's too early to say whether this site will eventually rival Angkor Wat's glory as a tourist attraction, but the site's historical significance is undeniable, and as such brings even more attention to the region.

Siem Reap is a true historic center, the center of significant change and development in many different stages of Cambodian history. It is now proving to be a key to Cambodia's future as tourism provides a much needed industry and further recovery of the country and population.


The project was launched in October 2015 to support a small education project set up by a Cambodian teacher in one of the poorest suburbs of Siem Reap in Cambodia.

We believe that no child should be forced to beg or work. We believe they have the right to enjoy their childhood – to learn, play, make friends and grow up in a safe and happy environment. We support the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and are also committed to contributing to the goal of quality education: ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning for all.

The project in Cambodia focuses on 3 axes:

  1. Motivate children to attend official schools and support schools and teachers to improve the quality of education. The main activity is teacher training, aimed at teachers (NGOs, and public schools). We offer them free pre-service training, in-service training and language skills training.
  2. Organize English classes as a supplement to the official schools' curriculum.
  3. An outreach program. An educational project never stands alone, it can only be sustainable if it is embedded in a broader context.


Some children at school are orphans. We help grandparents, other relatives and sometimes neighbors to care for these children. We do not believe that orphanages are a good solution. It has been proven that children are better off growing up in a normal family. In fact, orphanages are often a source of child abuse, exploitation and modern slavery.

We continuously work in close collaboration with Cambodian partners and other NGOs. No decision will be made and no project will be started without prior consultation and agreement with all local partners. More than 90% of the initiatives taken and supported are initiated by the local partners!


You will stay in our volunteer house at our training center just 10 minutes from the old town of Siem Reap.

In the volunteer house we have 3 rooms (2 x 2 persons and 1 room for 3 persons), each room has its own bathroom (toilet, shower ...), fan, air conditioning and WiFi. Rooms are cleaned weekly (clean sheets and towels).


Breakfast is included (bread, jam, eggs, coffee, tea…). Lunch and dinner can be prepared by the volunteer in the kitchen, or you can go to a local restaurant.


Volunteering in Cambodia is more than just working. You cannot compare volunteering to a full-time job. You have enough time to discover the area together with other volunteers and you also have a say in your hours.

Siem Reap offers many options for nightlife and of course there are countless tourist attractions, including the world's leading top attraction: the historic ancient city “Angkor Wat”.

The old Markt

Experience the local experience on the Oude Markt, or as the locals call it “Psar Chaa”. Built in the 1920s, this is where Siem Reap residents come to get their produce, grains, and meats for home-cooked meals.

De markt is divided into small sections that sell different goods. Go to the fruit section where you can get organic fruits like mangosteen and “dragon fruit” at local prices. Walk the dimmed alleyways of the meat department where you'll see freshly made sausages hanging on string, or walk through the rows of vendors sitting on their straw floor mats selling dried fish. Of course, there are sections that sell clothing, crafts, and condiments. These all make for great gifts to send home.
Landmine Museum

Decades have passed since both the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge regime, but life-threatening memories still remain hidden in Cambodia; 6 million memories to be exact. The “Cambodia Landmine Museum” is the best place in Siem Reap to learn about what and why there are landmines in Cambodia.

In addition to a history lesson and an up-to-date briefing on the situation of the landmines, you will get to see some active and exploded landmines up close. You will learn how it influenced the locals and see what inspannThings are being done to rid the region of these hidden dangers.

Butterfly garden

Butterfly and nature lovers, here's an experience you won't want to pass up while in Siem Reap. This butterfly sanctuary and conservation center is the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with your favorite insects. Walk around dozens of species of free-flying Cambodian butterflies in this interactive butterfly exhibit. The enclosed garden is built like a rainforest to mimic the butterflies' natural habitat.

You can take an educational tour with a guide who shows the different phases of the life cycle of the butterfly.

Kulen Nature Trails

These rainforest trails offer hidden rainforest gems such as ancient temples, monasteries, and fast-flowing waterfalls. You will walk along a beautiful river and under cool shady trees, providing a much needed escape from the heat.

What Else Is There To Do Around Siem Reap

  • Angkorian Pottery;
  • bicycle tours;
  • cooking classes;
  • Aspara dance performances;
  • And much more …


Volunteering abroad comes at a cost and it is not the intention that the community you will help have to pay for it. If there were sufficient budgets to cover these costs, we would spend it on a local employee who knows the local culture and daily customs. If you want to know more about our transparent system, take a look at the transparency page.

local costs

These costs, which you pay on site, are specific to your stay, such as your accommodation and meals. Through payable locally you are also sure that your contribution will go directly to the person who organizes it and will not be left behind at various “intermediate stations”. 

Final report: these costs are only for individual volunteer work. For group projects, different prices apply depending on various factors

  • 34 EURO for the first week;
  • 28 EURO per week from the second week.


What is included

  • Local costs and preparations for your stay;
  • Accommodation & breakfast (7/7) throughout your stay;
  • Pick up on the lucharbor in Siem Reap;

What is not included

There are probably other expenses that you would like to take into account. The list is a brief summary of the most common possible costs:
  • International transfers;
  • drinks;
  • Lunches & dinners;
  • travel insurance;
  • Costs related to your free time;
  • Visa fees (about €30/month);
  • souvenirs;
  • additional snacks;
  • Other means of transport besides your bike (and feet).

Connection fee

We want to ensure that there is sufficient influx of volunteers to keep each project viable. After all, many projects require continuity from volunteers in order for the project to succeed or to create sufficient impact. Unfortunately costs marketing and volunteers raise a lot of money. The budgets that the participating organizations collection during recruitment campaigns are used to develop projects in the south for the benefit of the local population and we therefore do not want to address them for marketingcampaigns.

The membership fee serves to cover the costs of our volunteer platform. We ask each participant for a one-time contribution of €130. This is only the first time volunteering and only after you have been accepted. After payment of this contribution, you can do unlimited volunteer work in the future at any project (if there is room and you meet the requirements of course).

As soon as you are a member, we will inform you as soon as new projects are added to our alliance.

What is your connection fee used for?

  • Annual costs for the management of our platform such as management of the registration database, website, administration…. We try to keep these costs to a minimum, but they must be covered. We have a beautiful website that needs to be maintained and on which all information regarding our programs and our organization must be kept up-to-date.
  • Promotion costs money and we want to make ourselves as visible as possible in the streets in order to find enough volunteers for each project. This contribution is therefore also used for promotions on various media, printed matter, but also the presence at trade fairs & network events.
  • We are volunteers and put a lot of energy into our projects but also into your preparation. In the past we had volunteers who did not show up. That is very annoying for our team and the local people we support. We see this contribution as a kind of guarantee that you will keep your promise.

You can read all about the possible costs on our transparency page.


We will of course not let you leave without thorough preparation and guidance. With Volunteer Abroad Allliance we have developed a system that ensures that you can sleep soundly and leave with peace of mind for your volunteer work abroad. As soon as you have been accepted and everything has been arranged, you can count on the guidance of our experts.

Once you are registered and accepted for your project, your preparation can begin. You already get a lot to read on the website, but you can also prepare for your trip in other ways. Once you have arrived, you can also count on the guidance of our local team.

Project page

Volunteering will have an impact on you and on the local population. We think it is very important to create awareness among you as a volunteer, so that you can optimally prepare for what awaits you as a volunteer. That is why you will receive the login codes for the project page after acceptance as a volunteer. Here you will find information that is important to you as a volunteer for your preparation. You can read everything about your project, accommodation, instructions for a visa application, a packing list, cultural advice for your country and much more…

Personal Mentor

Our experienced mentor will contact you and will help you with advice and answers to the questions you have. Your mentor is a member of an organization that is part of our alliance and has been working with fundraising for the project you are traveling to for years, so you can speak of a real specialist. Our mentors are members of our alliance and have years of experience in the projects. This system ensures that you receive 100% expert guidance from VAA.

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