City of Siem Reap + Coastal Sihanoukville + Elephant Sanctuary
- Live alongside ancient temples
- Help Mahouts at an elephant sanctuary.
- Community income generating schemes.
- Work with Monks in a Buddist pagoda.
- Teach art to orphans in a drop-in centre.
- Give basic medical care to local children.
- Build wells in remote villages.
In your spare time
- Visit the capital of Phonm Penh.
- Explore the temples of Angkor Wat.
- Jungle Trekking.
- Beach life.
Soak up spell-binding ancient culture, surround yourself with elephants and sample tongue tingling exotic flavours (NB. deep fried tarantulas are optional) whilst helping Cambodia to recover from a turbulent past.
The brutal Khmer Rouge communist regime of the 1970s led to the massacre of millions of innocent people, starvation of those that remained and plunged the country into deep poverty with a two decade civil war. Miraculously what has emerged is a peaceful, verdant land with arms outstretched to welcome visitors.
Discover this unique South East Asian gem as we take you beneath the surface of picturesque beaches and the all-new neon-tinted raves of ‘Pub Street’ to experience a complex country of unrivalled beauty.
Ascend to the realm of the Gods at the Angkor Wat temples and allow yourself to be taken back in time, on a descent into hell at Phnom Penh’s war crime sites.
Over the course of this Leap you’ll live in the backyard of the Eighth Wonder of the World, paddle in crystal clear seas and walk with the largest mammals on Earth, but we guarantee that it will be the unbreakable spirit and inspiring optimism of Cambodia’s people, not just it’s many natural wonders, that stay with you.
In Siem Reap work with Cambodia’s orphans, build much needed wells and work with local monks helping to improve the quality of life for the local community.
In contrast experience the rustic charm of rural rice paddies outside Siem Reap where villagers still live in jungle-bound houses on stilts. Here you'll help reduce water bourne diseases and bring fresh water to the community.
In Sihanoukville you’ll work with street kids at a drop-in arts project, helping them to create fantastic art and learn to express themselves in a safe and fun environment as well as supporting their education and helping to deliver basic medical care.
In Mondulkuri Elephant Sanctuary (if you are staying for 10 weeks) where you will spend 2 weeks helping the Mahouts to protect these amazing creatures.
At weekends you’re free to travel and explore, the choice is endless: visit the famous temples of Angkor Wat, trek through ancient jungles or just kick back and relax with a bottle of locally brewed ‘Angkor Beer’ on those fabulous palm-fringed beaches!
How You Help
Communities and orphans in and around Siem Reap and Sihanoukville and the elephants and people of Mondulkuri.
Phase 1: Community Projects (3 weeks) in Siem Reap
Mornings: Build a Pumping Well and a Functioning, Hygenic Toilet
Many of the communities in and around Siem Reap have limited access to water, and even then the water will be dirty from the lake. By building a pumping well you will make the lives of an entire community significantly easier. Similarly, building a hygenic toilet will greatly reduce the risk of disease and illness in an area where they may struggle to get to a hospital quickly enough should someone fall ill. It's quite physically demanding work but hugely rewarding, particularly as you'll be able to see the direct effect that your presence has had on the community.
65% of the population are affected by water borne diseases, a real killer of children especially. By building wells and improving water you reduce the risk of disease, the distance people have to walk to get water and communities can use the water for irrigation allowing them to grow more crops and earn more income.
Afternoons: Teaching Cambodian orphans and children and renovation
Help teach English, art, dance, sport and handy crafts to children in one of the two CDO orphanages in Siem Reap - amazingly 41% of the population are children due to the vast numbers of adult deaths during the genocide and 3/4 are classified as living in poverty.
The classrooms are very informal and run like kindergartens, with an emphasis on play and creative expression. Learning English provides children with the opportunity to break out of the poverty cycle and ensure themselves a brighter future and our mission is help provide them with love, stability, food, shelter and a good education. The children are sweet and adorable with the biggest smiles. In addition you will usually help with basic maintenance of the facilities to help make their homes as comfortable as possible.
Phase 2: Conservation and Community Projects (3 weeks) in Siem Reap
Mornings: Eco-Agriculture at Samrong Village
Work with farmers near the Angkor temple complex. It’s a picturesque Cambodian rural village, with people living in wooden houses on stilts and farming rice in the paddy fields, which surround the village. Assist the community in establishing basic facilities and trade skills, such as basket weaving and making incense sticks - new ideas are always welcome, which increases their income. Also don your gardening gloves and channel your inner Worzel Gummidge and help farmers with their daily activities in the fields, assisting them with improvements to their irrigation system, so they get more regular crop harvests.
Afternoons: Life and Hope Association (Wat Damnak Pagoda)
Work with the Life and Hope Association (LHA), an organisation run by Buddhist monks that focuses on education as a means of breaking the poverty cycle in the area. Help them to provide care and support as well as access to education for the poorest and most vulnerable in Cambodia. They have a variety of incredible projects that volunteers can get involved with from teaching to building and assisting with food programmes, helping to provide them with the necessary skills to better their lifestyles in anyway possible. Here are some examples of projects, what you do is dependent on what the monks most need at the time.
Helping to teach girls and advance their education and life chances (70% of women are functionally illiterate). Children's development village is home to the poorest children in the area, so helping to love, play, teach and care for these children will really help.
Food for Education provides food to the most needy families in villages around Siem Reap, in return the families send their children to school rather than working them in the fields. You will help distribute food and teach the children. Lastly you will teach English and foreign languages to kids and adults so they can communicate better with tourists and businesses.
Phase 3: Community Projects (2 weeks) in Sihanoukville
All day: Let us Create Project
Here you'll work with this fantastic drop in centre called "Let Us Create" specifically set up to help street kids earn money and attend school. It does this by encouraging the kids to come in and express themselves through painting, drawing and other creative outlets. The centre then helps by selling their paintings for about $4: $2 of which goes to the child’s family, and $2 goes into the communal education fund which pays for these kids to attend the Khmer school; paying the school fees and providing uniforms, bags, books and pens etc.
However, as important, is the centre's medical room where you can help apply basic first aid - for example checking the mosquito bites, cuts and scrapes for infections. However your involvement can go further - many of these children are malnourished, suffer from abuse and have low self esteem. Working alongside the social workers helping in anyway possible will be greatly appreciated and hugely rewarding.
Phase 4: Conservation Projects (2 weeks) in Mondulkuri Elephant Sanctuary (E.L.I.E.)
The elephant valley project is Cambodia's only sanctuary dedicated to the care and conservation of elephants in their natural habitat, in partnership with local people. An influx of logging is seriously affecting the elephant population and the livelihoods of the Pnong people where elephants hold great cultural and emotional significance.
Your help and donations (from what we pay on your behalf) help fund legal, technical and free medical support to nearby villagers, ELIE aim to employ 1 adult in 50% of the families, in addition the project pays for vetinerian work and Mahouts (carers) for the elephants, which otherwise would not exist.
Your funding also helps pay for education and for the staff to care for the elephants. You will spend each week day out with the elephants and Mahouts watching them interact with each other, perhaps washing them and giving them as much TLC as you can. Other project work may include digging, trenches, water towers, guesthouses, weeding - sweaty work but all helps the conservation of these magnificent gentle grey giants.
Maximum of 14 volunteers per team, minimum team size 4.
Accommodation and Meals
In Siem Reap you will live in a comfortable houses with the other volunteers, next door to the project leader and his family. The house is a short walk or cycle from the town centre and bars. In Sihanoukville the accommodation is a guesthouse. Rooms can sleep 2 to 3 volunteers with showers, western style lavatories and electricity. In Mondulkuri you live in the Hefalump House, the bungalow is made from recycled materials an has great views. 4 beds per room with shared bathrooms and 2 chill areas.
Cambodian food is delicious and make sure you try the fish Amok! Breakfast is usually French bread or toast, omelette (ham or cheese) coffee or tea and plenty of exotic fruit.
Lunch and dinner is typical Cambodia food: fried rice and noodles with vegetables or with chicken, fish, fried vegetables, soup and sometimes chips.
There are masses of places to go out for dinner if you choose - you can find restaurants offering great local food of rice, fish, chicken, pork and noodles, but also some great western food. Volunteers will have to wash their own clothes or you can pay to have it done at one of the local laundry shops.
Cranes, monkeys, snakes, crocodiles, turtles, woodpeckers, kingfishers, elephants and many more variety of birds.
From November to end of May it will be hot and tropical, 38 degrees in the sun and dry and between June and October - normally it rains in the afternoon and lasts for just a few hours but this is a lovely time of year to visit as it is very lush and green and sunny and warm in the mornings.
Transport to the projects is by tuk tuk or mountain bike but mostly by van and you have your own driver. You'll have your own bike, safety helmet and lock, which you can also use during the weekend.
You will be able to communicate with the project leader in English. In the communities most people do not speak English, but Socheat or the project coordinator will help to translate. It would be useful to learn some Khmer, basic language tuition will be given on arrival.
Generally activities on the projects will take place 5 days per week for 5 - 8 hours each day with weekends free but please remain flexible.
- Siem Reap: A great place to stay and very social, lots of tourists visit the famous temples at Angkor Wat $20 for a day pass. It has excellent bars, clubs, internet cafes, banks, shops, markets cafes, karaoke bars, and restaurants. It is cheap to eat out a good meal costs about $3 and a beer $1, massage 1 hour $5.
- Phonm Penh: The capital of Cambodia. Many cultural and historical attractions including: Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda (ticket $3), National Museum (ticket $3), the Killing Fields (ticket $2) and Toul Sleng Geoncide Museum (ticket $2). Phnom Penh has excellent bars, clubs, discos, internet cafes, banks, shops, markets, karaoke bars and restaurants. The meals costs about $3 and a beer $1, massage 1 hour $5.
- Sihanoukville: Cambodia’s most famous beach resort, a beautiful fishing town on the white sandy shores of the gulf of Thailand. It’s on the South coast and accessible in just a few hours by road from Phonm Penh. Enjoy the laid back atmosphere and spectacular scenery, swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling and scuba diving if you’re feeling adventurous. Accommodation ranges from backpacker hostels at $2 per night, up to a luxury Island retreat costing thousands!
- Exploring the floating village on Tonle Sap lake, trek through luscious rainforests, fishing, swimming, mountain biking and visiting museums.
2014 for 10 or 6 weeks
January 6th, April 1st, July 1st (6 weeks only), September 1st
2015 for 10 or 6 weeks
January 5th, April 1st, July 1st (6 weeks only), September 1st
Once on the placement it is possible to extend from 6 to 10 weeks.
Enjoy these extra benefits only available if you stay 10 weeks (Jan, Apr, Sept)
We appreciate that many choose the six week option for financial or other reasons but would highly encourage leapers, if they can, to stay for the full ten weeks – most do.
We are also very flexible and allow people the choice to extend from six weeks to ten weeks either pre departure, when you know how your fundraising is going or once overseas. The flights booked through STA travel are deliberately flexible to allow you to change your plans.
- swap the heat of the city for the sea breeze and white sandy beaches of Sihanoukville. Fast becoming a rival to Thailand’s more famous backpacker haunts, be among the first to explore the sun-drenched South coast, fringed by tropical islands and barely a beach hut in sight.
- Spend 2 weeks at Mondulkuri Elephant Sanctuary helping the Mahouts protect these amazing creatures
- help street kids discover their artistic side, working on a painting project which funds their families and education.
- bring out the day-glow war paint at a full moon party!
- the opportunity to have another weekend exploring the capital Phnom Penh, delve into the ancient past at the National Museum and Royal Palace or struggle to make sense of the recent trauma at Tuol Sleng Museum and Killing Fields.
- spend more time with the orange-robed monks in Siem Reap.
- more time to experience the culture and understand the complexities of Cambodia’s troubled past.
- maximise the value of the international flight, especially if you tag on some independent travel to Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.
Up until 31st August 2014
6 weeks £1989
10 Weeks £3242
Up until 31st August 2015
6 weeks £1989
10 Weeks £3242
Donation to the project currently £80 and you choose how you want this spent. About £12 of this sum will automatically go to the orphanages as they rely on volunteer donations to feed the kids.
Selection and briefing on all aspects of the scheme.
24 hour emergency back-up, management and support by UK team and in-country Placement Manager, with reliable communications and infrastructure.
Safety and induction course on arrival.
Airport pick up and transfer to and from the placement.
Transport to and from the phases and to the project work each day.
Food and accommodation throughout.
International flights, internal flights (if applicable), travel insurance, visas, medical expenses, (reclaimable through travel insurance), departure taxes $25, soft drinks/beer etc. Volunteers will be responsible for any independent/weekend travel expenses e.g. food and accommodation whilst away from the placement location and any excursions not listed above. We are happy to arrange flights through STA Travel who are well known for offering good value.
Donation To The Community
A donation of £80 per person is included in the cost of the scheme. We have agreed with the Project Leader that you can choose how, as a group or possible even individually, you want this to be spent ensuring you leave a lasting legacy. As mentioned above, £12 of this donation will automatically go to the Cambodia Orphan Fund, as the orphanages rely entirely on charitable donations to feed and the cloth kids in it’s care. Given the average monthly wage is approximately £30 per month the donations do actually go far and in the past Leapers have paid for a child’s school fees, bought materials to build medical clinics, houses and playground equipment.
Unfortunately prices have risen due to the weak pound against the US dollar. Please note that as we are paying the project host in US Dollars to cover all in-country costs, and the cost of the placement is set so far ahead, if there is a big change in the exchange rate then we reserve the right to increase the cost of the scheme, as per our Booking Conditions, but will absorb any minor fluctuations, and will give plenty of warning if we have to raise prices slightly.
You can view and print the details of this destination in pdf format by clicking the link below: