All FAQs

Cambodia is in Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand and Laos in the north and west, Vietnam to the east and south and the Gulf of Thailand to the south-west. 

Cambodia is a very safe Country for tourists. However, nowhere is perfect! Bag snatchers can be a problem in the tourist areas. As long as you exercise caution and use your common sense you should be fine.

For solo volunteers you have to be at least 18 years of age. But for group, family & school placements, we can usually accommodate people under 18. Contact us for more information.

Whilst we believe that skilled and professional volunteers are always of special value to a project, experience has shown us that if you are open-minded about other ways of doing things, patient when things do not go according to plan, enthusiastic about your work and full of initiative so you can make the best out of a bad situation, then regardless of your age, ability or level of skills, you will always make a difference for good on the project that you work.

No you do not, it is not at all essential. We simply need native speakers in the classroom. You are not required to write any lesson plans or to develop resources. This is the responsibility of our Cambodian teachers who are already fully resourced and supported by Matesabroad. Your role will be to participate in the lesson [as much as you are comfortable to do] by joining in class activities such as card games and sing-a-longs and simply speaking to the class in English so they can improve their listening and speaking skills.

You will be acting as an assistant to one of our Cambodian English teachers. Our primary school English classes all have qualified Cambodian teachers who will deliver the lesson. All resources have already been provided. You are not expected to teach the lesson. Your role is to model the correct pronunciation of English as a native speaker and to assist the children to complete tasks . This is crucial to the successful delivery of our program. Our teachers have themselves been taught English by other Cambodians, hence the program is often delivered with very strong accents and we have found that correct pronunciation is an important issue to be addressed. [For example there is no “th” sound in Khmer so pronouncing English words such as “this”, “that”, “these” and “those” is a great challenge to the teachers and students alike!].

Generally you will only be required to work in either the morning or afternoon from Monday to Friday [your timetable will depend on which school you have been assigned to]. It takes approximately 45 minutes to travel to and from the community each day [this is organised for you], and you will be required to assist with 2 one hour English classes daily. For the rest of the day and on your evenings and weekends you will be free to enjoy the many attractions that Phnom Penh has to offer.

You will need to speak good English –Phnom Penh is a tourist destination so English is commonly spoken by many of the locals. The official language is Khmer and we do encourage all volunteers to make an effort to learn some key Khmer words and phrases that will help you to get around more easily. Please click here to download a list of key Cambodian phrases. French is also commonly spoken.

Cambodia is a hot and tropical Country with four main seasons: November to February is Cool and dry. March to May is Hot and dry. June to August is Hot and wet. September to early November is Cool and wet. The climate is tropical monsoon with the rainy season from May to October, with temperatures around 35C. The dry season extends from November to April with the temperature dropping to 24C.

Our volunteer programs run weekly. You will be required to work Monday to Friday.

Please check our calendar on the on-line application form for available dates. The project runs all year round except for end of year exams and we also advise you to avoid Cambodian Public Holidays [ these are clearly marked on the website]. 

A day or two before your program start date. We recommend arriving on the Saturday before your week starts to give you some time to orientate yourself.

We recognise that we work with a wide range of volunteers from seasoned travellers to those travelling for the first time in Asia. Hence your expectations regarding accommodation can vary enormously. Phnom Penh has literally hundreds of hotels and guest - houses, all fantastic value whatever your budget – from basic 3 star hotels to grand 5 star establishments. You are welcome to make your own arrangements for the time you are with us – we know some of you will be seasoned travellers. For those of you that would like some guidance, we can suggest the following hotels – see the links below. All are personally inspected by us, competitively priced and well located.   

Silver River 
3 star rating – basic, clean and well-situated

silverriverhotel.com

Blue Lime 
4 star rating – larger rooms and pool

www.bluelime.asia 

Villa Langka
4 star rating – boutique hotel with pool

www.villalangka.com 

White Mansion
4.5 star rating – larger hotel in the old American Embassy building

www.hotelphnompenh-whitemansion.com 

Regardless of which hotel you choose, we recommend that that you stay in one that is centrally located with hot water, air conditioning, TV with cable and Wi-Fi access. A pool is also a great advantage especially if you are staying during the dry season.  Ensure that your rooms are cleaned daily and that breakfast is available.

The two main tourist areas of Phnom Penh are located either near “riverside” which is the beautiful riverside area with its spectacular view along Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers and within easy walking distance of main tourist attractions and south of the Independence monument around Street 51 [Pasteur St ]which is an upmarket and busy restaurant precinct where many ex-pats reside.

Many hotels include a full hot and cold buffet breakfast. Otherwise meals are not included, however Phnom Penh is a culinary paradise with a variety of excellent restaurants serving almost every type of international cuisine.  Food is very affordable in Phnom Penh, Meals start from about US$3 at the cheaper places, rising to more like US$10 at the smarter ones, and US$50 or more is possible if you go wild with the wine list. We recommend that you allow $10-$20 a day for food.  

We do not conduct interviews for volunteers. The vast majority of our placements do not require that individuals have any specific skills or talent, only that they are of a certain character. It is extremely difficult to judge someone accurately on the basis of one interview, and we believe that our existing application procedure more effectively weeds out inappropriate candidates than phone interviews could. We will however contact your referee to verify your application details.

It is confirmation from the police in your Country of residence that you do not have any criminal convictions. You should be able to apply for one at your local police station.

It is a requirement that all our volunteers have both health and travel insurance. We strongly advise all of our volunteers to purchase comprehensive travel insurance, including cover for medical expenses.  

We advise you to consult your doctor or physician before travelling to Cambodia, and to follow their advice. Further information can be found at   http://www.traveldoctor.com.au/

We recommend that you bring $15-25 a day for food and $5-$10 per day to cover any social activities, plus an extra $100 for the week to see the many sights & sounds of Phnom Penh. 

You can get a visa on arrival at the airport, and at most land crossings. A business visa costs $25 for one month, and can be extended indefinitely (a 3 month extension costs approximately $80).

We cater for individuals travelling alone and for small groups. Whilst you are welcome to volunteer on your own, you may find taking a like-minded friend with you is a good idea. Matesabroad have personnel in both Australia and Cambodia who will provide you with full support, however the poverty in Cambodia can at times be very confronting. You may find it helpful to have a companion to share your experiences with.

At your school, you could be the only volunteer, or you could be working with up to 3 others. It really depends on the time of year, and the volume of bookings we receive. Whilst other volunteers could be working at different schools, you will have the opportunity to meet with them during your time off. 

We will pick you up from and drop you back off to your hotel. Project Transport is included in your volunteer fee.

All the schools are similar. The only difference is the community and teaching schedule for English lessons.  When your application has been accepted you will be given a timetable and the name of the school/s where you will be working. We will do our best to accommodate preferences [morning or afternoon]. We can usually arrange for volunteers to spend time at the school of their choice, [for example if they have volunteered at that school previously] but we cannot guarantee anything.

During your weekends you are free to travel from Phnom Penh to other destinations in Cambodia. Many volunteers travel to Siem Reap, Battembong and Sihanoukville for the weekend.    

In most cases, yes, extensions can be arranged. You can extend your stay by going to the Matesabroad website and applying via your volunteer login account.

When you are accepted as a volunteer you will have access to our on-line handbook which has a kit-list.But to summarise: not much!. Light quick drying clothes for warm weather, sandals /light trainers, a wide brimmed hat, insect repellent, sunscreen, a laptop (if you have one and want to bring it) and your mobile phone - there are plenty of cafes in town where you can get WIFI and SIM cards available for about $15 locally. Clothing is also able to be purchased cheaply in the local markets. Clothes should cover the knees and shoulders. 

Prior to departing you will be provided with the contact names and numbers of your support staff in Australia and Cambodia.
One of our English speaking project managers in Cambodia will

  • Meet you at the airport
  • Take you to your hotel
  • Organise a time for an orientation tour of the city to show you around town,
  • Provide you with local guidebooks, language information and answer any questions you may have.
  • Organise your travel to and from the project
  • Drop you off at the airport for your return journey.

We are available 24 hours a day, so if you ever need help with anything, we are here to help.

You will be assisted by a teacher in the classroom and a project coordinator at all other times whilst you are volunteering on your project. For our Teaching Program, all teaching resources will be provided. Our Khmer English teachers will conduct all classes. Your role is as a native English speaking support person. We won’t just throw you into a teaching environment unprepared and unsupported, but we do expect you to be the type of person to thrive in an uncertain environment.

Far too much to summarize in a sentence or two! See our Phnom Penh Attractions section in our Volunteer Handbook for more information.

Your fee pays for your transport, airport pick-up and drop-off, in-country, and pre-departure support. We are a non-profit organization, and all funds left over after these expenses are used to fund our charitable work. Current volunteers are funding our Youth Employment Project which provides formal skills training for unemployed youth [16-25 years old] living in the slum communities where we work. Upon completion of this course they will have the opportunity for employment and will be able to support their families which are currently living below the poverty line. 

Paying to volunteer can seem like a strange concept. Why should you pay to volunteer for free?

Your payment is our way of providing essential support for the most disadvantaged within the communities where we work. All of our resources are directed at the children, their education and the programs for self-sustainability that we run within the communities. There isn’t any spare to subsidise volunteers. Your payment is divided into two parts. The first part of your payment is to cover all expenses incurred whilst you are in Cambodia [for example travel to and from work, providing a support person available to you 24/7 in Cambodia]. The second part of your payment is spent entirely on supporting one of our programs within the squatter communities where our schools are located. At present we are targeting young adults 16-25 [60% of whom are unemployed], by providing them with accredited skills training.  So, by participating in our volunteer program you will personally provide the funds for unemployed adolescents within the community to complete a trade course. [Our current intake are attending a course on the repair and maintenance of air conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators. Upon completion of the course the students have their first opportunity for employment and will have a weekly wage that will allow them to support their families] We do not operate this program to make a profit, our policy is to spend all profits on programs that aim at self-sufficiency such as our “Youth Employment Program”. The profit from each volunteer placement will ensure that an adolescent attends a trade course. Please note that all the funds we raise from our volunteer program are spent in Cambodia, our Australian personnel are volunteers who accept no payment for their work.

If you're looking for a creative gift idea for your friends and family simply choose a gift from the online store that you would like to buy in honour of your loved ones.

We send your funds to our MatesAbroad partners overseas who use the money to provide the gift you have donated to deprived children and families. You receive a gift card to give to your loved ones to show them the unique act you have performed on their behalf.

See how it works.

Yes. You will receive a tax deductible receipt for every donation over $2.

The receipt can only be sent out to the person making the donation ie the person's details that are given on the donation form.