Need inspiration? Take our gap year quiz
| +44 1672 519 922|
Book

Cambodia Gap Year Program

Community + culture

Depart

Itinerary Options

Let's go

Looking for more flexible dates?See our current dates

Let us know your details below and we'll be in touch with options?

Cambodia, but not as you know it...

Step off the backpacking trail

Instead discover Cambodia's beautiful ancient history combined with modern day sustainable projects. This adventure showcases the best of Cambodia, from the must-see tourist hot spots to hidden gems away from the hustle and bustle.

Over the course of this dynamic four week journey which starts off in Siem Reap, exploring the famous Angkor Wat before being whisked off grid into the beautiful area of Kampot where you will spend your time with NGO The Red Road Foundation. This is not just any charitable project, this is genius, fun, exciting and immensely rewarding. You will spend time improving the community space in Kampot - from building eco bricks made from rubbish to make buildings and schools, teaching the children how to swim, getting involved with arts, crafts, dancing...you name it.

Winding up on the coast at Sunset Beach to relax and reflect after an epic four-week adventure. The perfect place to plan your onward travels around Asia.

This is how it rolls...


Venture out to Cambodia to get stuck into an mix of community development, exploration and volunteering across this historic country.


Cambodia's Program Itinerary

Embark on a journey that will take you from the vibrant city of Siem Reap to Sunset Beach. Integrating with local communities where you will help with sustainable community development, conservation - exploring Cambodia's hidden treasures

Days 1-4

Siem Reap Settle in + Angkor Wat + Kulen Elephant Forest

East Meets West

Siem Reap is a town rich in history, where east fuses with west in spectacular style, situated at the foot of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat Temple complex. This old French colonial capital echoes European influences, with shuttered windows and delicate ironwork, but now interspersed with a buzzing nightlife, street food on tap, night markets and cafes. People come here for the temples of course, but stay for the world class dining, the buzz of city life and the backpacker routes to explore.

Your first 3 days will be a gentle introduction to the hustle and bustle of Asian life, whilst we show you some of the city’s highlights, such as Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building. Spend the whole day tuk tuking your way around the incredible complex.

Phnom Kulen – the Mountain of the Lychees, which is about 2 hours outside Siem Reap. The main attraction being the waterfalls cascading down the mountain. You will also get to experience Kulen Elephant Forest. The elephants here have spent most of their lives working in the tourism industry and are enjoying a long-awaited and well-deserved retirement. Here in the forest, they can finally roam free and unburdened. They will rediscover relationships, natural foods they haven’t eaten in years, and receive the best of care.

The rest of your time will be spent exploring the markets and the famous pub street.

Accommodation

Local, centrally located hostel, single sexed dorms.

Food

3 meals a day are provided.

Expect: authentic Cambodian food with rice and noodle dishes forming the basis of most meals.

Cambodia Gap Year Program
Days 5-6

Phnom Penh Cultural Exploration

Explore Phnom Penh

Arriving in Phnom Penh, the city will assault your senses and that’s a guarantee. Traffic everywhere, tuk tuks and motos whizzing around with no regard for anything or anyone. The city is big and bustling, with markets selling everything from chickens to microwaves.

Rising from the ashes of the war and the Khmer Rouge it has plenty to offer with a great selection of bars, restaurants and cafes - you will visit Nesat Seafood House in Phnom Penh which is a very fun dining experience. If time we will get you to the killing fields, as we feel it will really help you understand their culture. Tickets not included (budget $10).

Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
About 20,000 defenceless men, women, children and infants from S-21 were taken to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek between 1975 to 1978 where they were mercilessly killed. More than 8000 skulls can be viewed behind a glass screen at the Memorial Stupa which was erected in 1988.

Accommodation

Local hostel, single sexed dorms.

Food

All meals included.

Cambodia Gap Year Program
Days 7-22

Kampot Community development with Red Road

Red Road Foundation

This is the meaty phase of the program and we are really excited to have teamed up with the Red Road Foundation who focus on village-led social enterprises while addressing critical global issues, such as waste and education.

For the next couple of weeks you’ll be working on ECO building projects and sustainable development. You’ll help and learn about organic farming, harvesting and learning to craft handmade products to help sustain the school. Building projects include plastic bottle brick-making and working with the plastic bricks machine, using these for ongoing building projects.

Other activities you can join in with are yoga, meditation and personal well being activities, Khmer cooking classes, swimming in the local spring and trekking to the waterfall with a picnic, paddle board through the mangrove forest and help run field trips with the local children to the river or waterfall.

Honestly - this is an exciting and dynamic NGO run by the gorgeous Rachel who will be leading the whole program.

Accommodation

Here you‘ll be staying in volunteer accommodation house close to the project. Rustic but comfy and clean.

Food

3 meals provided of local fresh food.

Cambodia Gap Year Program
Days 23-28

Sunset Beach Downtime

Time to kick back

After all your hard work you’ll be ready for some R&R. You’ll transfer from Red Road to Sunset Beach by road and then ferry, where you’ll have the perfect chance to unwind and relax, or for those wanting adventure there is a great opportunity to go rock climbing, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Why not enjoy some yoga, My Thai and snorkeling trips to the reef while you are here?

Think white sand, tropical - need we say any more.

On day 28, you'll ravel back to Phnom Penh to fly home.

Accommodation

Hostel on the beach.

Food

3 meals included.

Cambodia Gap Year Program
Cambodia Gap Year Program

Add on Independent Travel

Combine with Vietnam and Thailand

What we are finding is that our teams never want to come home post program and choose to add on a phase of independent travel with their new found friends - certainly making the most of their gap year. We can easily support this through our Leap VIP travel resource which every leaper has access to.

Cambodia is perfectly placed to add on Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. Borders are open and it is easy to move about. Want to get the most out of your gap year? Call us and chat through your ideas.



Children playing with water in Cambodia.
A man cycling through the rice fields in Cambodia.
Angkor Wat at sunset in Cambodia.
Children playing in Cambodia.
Sunset view from the beach with palm trees in Cambodia.

Cambodia's Details & Costs

Our teams are a maximum of 12 per departure so please don't dilly dally for 2023.

You need to be 18 years old, or over to join this program.

Options and costs


Whats included?

Budget

Flights: £1000 (depending on time of year and availability)

Spending Money: £100 per week approximately for extra bits and bobs.

Social Life

Guaranteed. You will travel and live with a tight team of volunteers throughout, so always someone to hang out with.

Cultural Exchange

Through living and working beside rural communities who will welcome you into their world.

Contrast

From Angkor Wat to the rural villages to the white sandy beaches.

The Bigger Picture

All our projects are long term and you are part of the flow of volunteers needed to keep progress in motion.

Time in - Time out

While you are at the Red Road Foundation you will have days off (not neccessarily at the weekend as this is a busy time for working with the local kids). There are lots of local activities and Rachel will help arrange and advise. Please note however that will be an extra cost. Please ensure you have adequate medical insurance before you do any activity.


Cambodia Gap Year Program

Red Road Foundation

We are really excited to have teamed up with the Red Road Foundation in Kampot who focus on village-led social enterprises while addressing critical global issues, such as waste and education. They bring people from all over the world together in cross-cultural collaborations and experiential learning that raises the quality of living for all involved.

Rachel Riggio is the dynamic back bone of the Red Road - she moved from the states 8 years ago and settled in Kampot to make a difference - promoting student leadership & fostering immersive travel for our volunteers, many young minds have the opportunity to grow into sustainability-focused, philanthropic innovators.

She is amazing - skilled in mindfulness and fluent in the local khmer - you are in for a treat.

Cambodia Gap Year Program

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Leapers have been getting up to...

First week in the jungle, elephant time Sophie Rumble

The next two weeks would be spent in a remote jungle in Mondulkiri volunteering at the Elephant Valley Project. Our day was divided into two parts; elephant observation, where we learnt all about the different elephants, and secondly volunteering. The jungle took us a while to get used to, in the first few days it was a frequent occurrence to hear screams during the evening when people went to the toilet and were faced with huge spiders/ scorpions/ frogs!

The project had around 8 elephants, this included Sambo, who is considered to be the most famous elephant in Cambodia. We learnt a lot about her cruel history where she spent the majority of her life begging along the river in Phomn Penh. Here she was fed all sorts of foods that elephants shouldn’t eat- including birthday cake! Sadly, one day she stepped on a nail which went straight through her foot and subsequently resulted in a bad infection which was never properly treated until she came to EVP.

Over the week we all learnt loads about elephants and the mahouts. For example, elephants typically spend 20 hours a day eating – not a bad life. Also, that the bond between the mahout and the elephant is as strong as the bond between family as they spend all day, everyday together.

For the volunteering part, we spent most of the week clearing a part of the jungle so that we can create a banana field to feed the elephants. This involved the use machetes which the boys were definitely excited about

Cambodia Gap Year Program

The raw beauty of Cambodia Georgia Ling

Hey guys! I’m writing to you from Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where the Leapers have spent a week working at a school and exploring the exotic beaches that the province has to offer! Sihanoukville certainly felt different to the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap. Driving through the shantytowns of Siem Reap was a shocking eye-opener to the poverty of the countryside, but the fishing towns of Sihanoukville was an overwhelming picture of desolation. To think that locations such as these exist for a percentage of the world’s children to grow up in presents a terrifyingly real problem. The sad reality is that some only ponder upon the real issues in the world without having any inclination to do something about it. I think governmental and non-governmental programmes such as the one I am participating in should be advertised with much more fervour as an opportunity to help the plight of the less fortunate whilst also being able to experience different cultures in the world, which will undoubtedly contribute to a person’s worldview and their attitude towards multiculturalism.

The school at Sihanoukville tells us of much the same story. With leaking roofs and a lack of fans, the classrooms are by no means a comfortable and convenient space for learning. The Leapers contributed to tidying up the school by picking up rubbish around the site, as well as painting the walls to make the school look more presentable. Whilst doing so, we had the opportunity to talk to many of the children who could speak English and learn about their lives. Since the school was located in a fishing village, their parents tended to work in the fish-market community, which meant that their income was irregular and the family vulnerable. Despite the school’s condition, their ambitions were not dampened.

Cambodia Gap Year Program

Sunrise at Angkor Wat Victoria Price

This past week in Siem Reap has been pretty great, we have gotten into the routine of manual labour in the morning and teaching English in the afternoons during the week.

The students at the schools are very cheeky so to begin with a lot of us struggled to get them engaged during lessons but practice makes perfect and now we leave school each day with pictures and an uncountable number of high fives! They really are very adorable. Today we went to Spitler school and took part in a cultural exchange, we got shown some traditional Cambodian dance which was really beautiful.

We have started work on the toilet which is much harder than I expected, I don’t think brick laying is a career I should pursue but it’s fun to learn a new skill and to play with the children we are helping during our breaks. Although it is hard to communicate most of the time we have realised they really enjoy piggy backs and rock-paper-scissors!

This weekend we visited Angkor Wat, we woke up at 4:00 to try and see the sun rise but missed it by about half an hour but it was still insanely beautiful, possibly the most photogenic building ever. We also saw two other temples, one of them being where tomb raider was filmed, there where trees growing on top and the buildings and roots wrapped round all of the ruins, it felt like we were in the heart of a rain forest.

We also all received a water blessing so we now have incredibly good luck, it was an interesting experience, not as spiritual as I thought it would be as the man before us brought his new motor cycle to be blessed and the monk just drenched us all with water as we tried to hold in giggles, but if it means nothing bad will happen to us now so it was definitely worth it.

We are adjusting to the extreme heat, and I am looking forward to finishing the toilet this week as we have all worked so hard on it. I am also looking forward to some more Fro-yos and a $4 massage as well as taking part in the legendary pub crawl in order to make the most of our final week in Siem Reap.

Cambodia Gap Year Program

Watch our videos

Cambodia

Community and Adventure

Cambodia

Community and Conservation

"How fantastic you all are"

We really can’t thank you enough for everything you have done to make this amazing adventure happen, and for all the hand holding for Mimi and us along the way! It’s incredible that they have managed to have as close to normal a gap year as it must be possible to have right now and we are enormously enormously grateful to you and everyone at The Leap who has helped make this happen. Thank you. We have been spreading the good word about how fantastic you all are!

- Selina ( mum )

"Thank you for the best month of my life and for all the memories I will cherish forever!​​"

I miss waking up at camp every morning surrounded by an incredibly special group of people, knowing that each day would start with a new adventure and end watching the insane Namibian sunset. Red and Dre are two of the most inspiring people and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn so much from them, and help in a range of ways with their conservation work.

It is strange how quickly you adjust to bush life and nothing will compare once you leave. I cannot wait to visit Kum Kum in the future and see how much has changed.

- Freya

"​I highly recommend first time travellers to use the Leap"

The trip to Madagascar is incredible as you get to experience such a diverse, beautiful island. The locals are super friendly and life on camp is great as you start to feel like a family. As the leap is one of three volunteering schemes on the same camp it’s easy to make lots of friends. Scuba diving was the most amazing experience.

Teaching was very very rewarding and made it easier to make friends with the local community. As I was ill whilst out there I can honestly say that The Leap was definitely worth the price as I was cared for very well and had someone come to hospital with me and translate everything as well as being very kind and caring. Overall, Madagascar was an amazing trip and I will definitely go back.

- Lucy Newman

"THANK YOU"

My Leaper is just having the BEST BEST BEST time. She was so anxious about going as it is the first time she has been abroad on her own. The lovely friends she has made and the fantastic team leaders that are there, combined with the incredible experiences that you are giving the team meant that worry very soon dissipated.

Everything sounds perfect, from the location of their "houses", the delicious food, the stimulating and varied activities, the fun evenings, in fact from dawn to dusk (and well beyond) is just so brilliant.

Thank you.

- Sara

Cambodia Gap Year Program

"Easy Peasy with The Leap"

You guys always answered questions so fast! Zoe is outstanding!! Made travelling during a pandemic easy peasy

- Hanna

"An experience not to be missed!​​"

The Leap took all the responsibility and stress out of the gap year experience. Would advise that all teenagers do this part of their gap year before they 'free' travel. The Leap are highly professional and inclusive of parents.

- Sara

"Well done Team Leap!!"

Thank you so much for all the hard work in getting them there! You have all been amazing. I do not underestimate how much work and pressure there has been in making this happen during such challenging times. They are now able to do something positive and rewarding during their gap year which is only possible because of The Leap.


- Paula & Lloyd

"Five star all the way"

Incredible service, five star all the way, informative, professional and friendly, highly recommend, second daughter that has travelled with them

- Araminta

"Very professional service"

I am super impressed that The Leap have been in contact at the beginning of my daughters’ trip to tell me she had arrived arrived safely. Very professional service - thanks very much!

- Abi Crampton

"Hand on my heart it's been the experience of a life time"

I've just been having THE best time here! It's gone so quickly, but I feel like I've been here forever at the same time.

We've done a lot of work already, so I feel like we've made a big difference. Through this work we've all learnt a lot, but it's mostly given us a good sense of liberation and generally put a lot of things in perspective. And of course, we now understand how difficult it is for these communities to get just essential amenities!

But the main thing is that I am very happy with the programme, and I can put my hand on my heart when I say it's been the experience of a life time, and I can't wait to continue for the 2nd half of it!

- Peter Blake

Follow us on Instagram

Get in contact

With the covid travel experts

Worried about how to travel and plan your gap year through this pandemic?

We can help. We have sent lots of gappers away through the last 12 months and can confidently call ourselves Covid Travel Experts. Get in contact to start the ball rolling.


Or give us a call on +44 1672 519 922

And chat with one of our friendly and knowledgeable team

Opt in below to help us keep track of your planning, so each time you talk to us you can pick up where you left off.

Yes please, let's keep life simple.