Cambodia is home to some of the world’s most beautiful temples, some dating back to over 1000 years old! During our travels through Cambodia we decided to journey to an ancient temple complex to restore culturally and historically significant temples at Go Eco’s Cambodia Temple Preservation project.
Why not? This diverse country filled with tasty food, friendly locals and beautiful temples should be right up there on your bucket list. Whether you want to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat or plan to do a 10 day trip through the country, we now have so many fond memories of this country that we hope you can have too.
Here is just a few of the beautiful sights we saw in Cambodia:
The area of Cambodia that you will be visiting is the very small village of Banteay Chhmar. If you are looking for a real and local experience in Cambodia – it’s all here waiting for you. Besides the main temple you will be preserving, a Buddhist temple and a marketplace there is nothing but real Cambodians living their lives out here. The only tourists you will see is the one in the mirror when you brush your teeth.
Living with a Local at a Homestay
This was the second time we had done a homestay in Cambodia and both times have been one of the many highlights we had in this country. Here you live and eat with a local family, have no access to WiFi and no hot showers but an experience you will never forget.
We noticed around 8 twin share rooms, each with their own mosquito net and powered fan. This isn’t a boutique retreat but instead a way of truly understanding how the locals live every single day. The meals were diverse and free bottled water as well as cola and coffee meant there were a few home luxuries to hang onto.
During your downtime we recommend you go for a stroll around the very safe (and very small) town to see the local marketplace and buddhist temple. Combine a good book or a podcast series and you are one step away from bliss.
Preserving Temples: What to Expect
The Bantaeay Chhmar temple was one of the most fascinating temples we had seen in our entire trip to Cambodia. The eerie silence that came with no tourists mixed in with the overgrown trees keeping parts of the walls together was a beautiful sight to see. We spent hours walking across the stones and even opted in to watch both the sunset and early morning sunrise – both totally worth it.
In terms of your daily tasks this is unfortunately where the project falls flat. Your 8am to 5pm day (with a 2 hour lunch break) consists of picking up rubbish from around the temple and cutting back grass and overgrown trees in the surrounding area.
Sometimes we are guilty of personally not looking deeper into the projects details enough and can instead paint a picture that we did not receive. We went in with the expectations of preserving and renovating the project, not picking up rubbish and cutting grass.
A Project With Potential
We always want to be real and honest with you when it comes to sharing our thoughts on all our volunteer projects that we do, otherwise why would you be here?
At this current stage it is hard to recommend this project due to the lack of variety offered as daily tasks. For some people, this may be their first foray into volunteering abroad and for some it may be what they are after but there are so many more amazing volunteer projects out there that is worth your time.
We were informed that once this historical temple reaches world heritage status it will receive the funding and support boost it so desperately needs for construction and rehabilitation to commence. This is when I would love to revisit and I believe this is when this project will have the potential worth your time and your money.
Organising Your Cambodia Volunteer Project
This was our 10th project with GoEco and we will continue to partner with them to share with you their nearly 150 projects from around the world. To this date we still cannot recommend them enough. They work around the clock to help prospective people like yourself to pick and organise a volunteer project abroad.
> No Wifi at the project: Buy a local sim card at the airport before you leave. We paid $5USD for 4GB – best purchase
> No ATMs: Did we mention no tourists? Get cash out before you go if you want to buy ice cream or more sunblock from the locals.
> One time entrance fee: You will need to pay $5USD when you arrive to volunteer at the temple. You can have the equivalent in Cambodian Riel but you will need to pay it so make sure you read the previous tip before you arrive.
> Mosquito Repellent – lots of it: There are mosquitos everywhere in Cambodia and being a country where Malaria is present means you shouldn’t be shy in smothering it on. Buy two cans of tropical strength just to be sure.
You can book your volunteer experience in Cambodia for $620USD per person, per week.
Have you ever volunteered abroad? We would love to read about your experience below.
Thank you to Go Eco for allowing us to experience this volunteer project in Cambodia. Our opinion is, as always, our own.