Volunteer in Cambodia

Volunteer in Cambodia

What to Know Before Volunteering in Cambodia

Before starting Volunteer in Cambodia, let’s know some facts about the country and how beneficial will be the Volunteer in Cambodia journey. Cambodia, officially called the Kingdom of Cambodia, is one of the countries situated in Southeast Asia. Its capital city is Phnom Penh. With its unique geographical location, Cambodia hardly ever faces any natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, volcanoes eruptions etc. 

In the past, when you heard the word “Cambodia”, you might have thought of the Khmer Rouge Genocide which killed around 2 million Cambodians from 1975 to 1979. However, these days, Cambodia is no longer just known for that but for its Fine Arts and Culture, impressive Natural and Cultural tourism sites, different species of flora and fauna, and most importantly, its friendly people. 

Cambodia is considered as the fourth friendliest country in the world by Expat Insider Survey in 2017. Foreigners feel the local people are welcoming and gentle; moreover, the country is very easy to settle down which makes them feel at home instantly. If you ever have a problem, like your bicycle gets a flat tire, or you do not know what to order at a restaurant, the majority of the Cambodian people will be willing to help you out.  If you want to stay long term, it is extremely easy to get an extended visa. 

Cambodia has just graduated from being a least developed country (LDC) status in 2016 and becoming a lower-middle income country with GDP per capita around $1,510 USD. The Royal government of Cambodia aims to transform Cambodia to be an upper-middle income country by 2030. The main industries that Cambodia is currently relying on are textiles, construction, agriculture, and tourism. 

Volunteer in Cambodia

 

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As previously mentioned, Cambodia was torn out by many decades of civil wars and genocide. Though Cambodia has achieved full peace and stability since 1993, its development sectors such as health and education are poor. In the rural areas, there are limited supplies of water, electricity, jobs and any forms of entertainment. Therefore, there are many opportunities in many fields for you to offer help. If you would like to volunteer in Cambodia, there are many local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for you to join and contribute to their causes. Volunteer in Cambodia is inspiring and full of a fun journey to begin

LANGUAGE

The official language of Cambodia is Khmer. You will often hear Chinese being spoken in the cities as Cambodia becomes more and more globalized. Also many urban Cambodians speak at least a little bit of English. Cambodians love it when foreigners try to speak their language, and the majority of them will be more than willing to help you practice your Khmer language skills with them. 

 

Many Cambodians in the city have at least a small knowledge of basic English, particularly servers at restaurants, hotel workers, and sellers at the bigger markets. You should take up a few useful expressions for your daily life in Cambodia. You may want to learn the following Khmer phrases just in case.

Sursdey=  Hello

Orkun = Thank you

Somtus=  Sorry

Thlai pun man?= how much is it? 

Juoy knhom ban te? = Can you help me?

WEATHER

Cambodia is a tropical country with 2 seasons: dry and rainy seasons. The hottest month is April. The weather can get up to 40 degree Celsius in the dry season. Be sure to use sunscreen and protection. During the rainy season, it typically rains very, very hard at around 4:30 or 5:00 pm for about 30 minutes.  If you get stuck in the rain, you can buy a cheap poncho at one of many small shops along the road. For many volunteers, till now their Volunteer in Cambodia journey was refreshing and meditative. Which give them a Chance to Live a New Life

 

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Currency

The Cambodian official currency is Riel, or KHR for short. However,  you can use USD  anywhere and anytime in Cambodia as well. 1 USD equals roughly 4000 KHR. You can find a currency exchange office at the airport, banks, or any currency exchange booths or stalls in the streets. There are plenty of ATMs available in cities; some shops and restaurants accept Visa Card and Mastercard as well.  However, It is good to carry Cambodian Riel in provinces because you may want to buy stuff for less than a dollar USD. It is often better to have small bills. If you try to buy a can of soda with a 20 dollar bill, some of the smaller street shops will not be able to give you change. 

 

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Timings and Weekends

Cambodia is located in the Indochina Time Zone: 7 hours  ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+7). In general, working time is from 7 am to 5pm. Working days are from Monday to Friday; the weekends are from Saturday to Sunday. Most banks are closed on weekends. There are many nearby resorts and tourist destinations that you can visit during the weekend.  Nightlife in the cities such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is quite lively. 

 

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Markets and bargaining

You should learn to bargain in Cambodia especially when you go to traditional markets. You will be surprisingly able to get half price cheaper than the first price.  There are also many marts and supermarkets around with set prices. Cambodia is also building many malls. These malls are often more expensive but they have higher quality goods than you would find at a traditional market. 

 

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Religious Diversity

With a population of around 16 million people, 90 percent of Cambodians are Khmer who believe in Buddhism. However, you still can find churches, mosques and other religious institutions here. Cambodia allows full freedom of religion and worship and there are no religious conflicts happening in the country. You will likely see monks walking on the streets so please be respectful and do not try to touch them.  

 

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FOOD

Do you like to eat rice? The average Cambodian eats about 300 pounds of rice per year. In fact, one of the first questions most Cambodians will ask you is, ‘’Have you eaten rice yet?” Cambodian food has a variety of dishes to eat and it is often quite affordable. Of course, it is all served with a side of rice! Cambodia has a wide variety of local dishes, fruits, and desserts.

 

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Some tasty traditional dishes are Chha Kdao (stir fried chicken with lemongrass, basil and other herbs), Samlaw Korko (mixed vegetable stew) and many more.  The fruit in Cambodia is particularly delicious, and you are sure to find a fruit you have never heard of, or seen before, within your first few days in the country. The bigger cities in Cambodia also have a variety of foreign restaurants. You can afford to eat out at a nice restaurant a few times a week without being broke. 

 

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Clothing

Wearing appropriate clothes in Cambodia is important, or you may get some unwanted attention. Short shorts, tank tops, and other revealing clothing items are often looked down upon by the local population.  Because of the hot weather, you may opt for thin clothes or T-shirts. You can leave your winter coats back in your home country. 

 

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TRANSPORT

Getting around in Cambodia can be done by buses, cars or planes. There are 3 international airports in the country, one in Phnom Penh, one in Siem Reap, and one in the coastal town of Sihanoukville.  To get around in Phnom Penh, the easiest approach is by motorbike or tuk tuk because the traffic is bad in the city. There are a few tuk tuk companies such as Grab and Passapps which are cheap and can pick you up with just one click on their app. 

 

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HEALTHCARE

The Cambodian healthcare system has a lot to improve. In extreme situations, you may be sent to a hospital in Vietnam or Thailand, where the medical facilities are a bit more advanced. You can buy most medicines at a number of pharmacies along the road without a prescription.  

 

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Safety precautions

In general, Cambodia is safe. Violent crime is extremely low.  However, petty crime is still common. Beware of snatching, pickpocketing, and opportunistic stealing. When you are on the streets, do not wear expensive jewelry or talk on the phone. Someone on a motorbike could easily snatch it from you and drive off. If you just use basic common sense, you should be fine. Do not walk around very late at night, do not use sketchy looking ATMs, do not carry around a purse precariously looped around one shoulder, etc. 

 

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You may find many beggars, or street children walking on the roads asking for money or selling stuff. Giving a bit of money to the old men and old ladies is probably okay, but it is advisable not to offer any cash to the child beggars. These children should be at school or safe at home, not walking around the streets. Giving them money would only encourage this behavior.

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