Off the Map: Cambodia
Travel through some of the most remote places in Southeast Asia and give from your heart while doing rewarding service
From its remote villages to its tranquil coast, Cambodia offers an abundance of service opportunities for students. Play volleyball, paint with orphans, teach English in local schools, and gain an appreciation for rural Cambodian life by working alongside local farmers. This Off the Map adventure will allow you to explore Cambodia's rich history and spectacular sights while visiting some of its most hidden places and assisting some of the poorest people in all of Southeast Asia.
Exploring Cambodia's Complex Past
Begin your trip with the bustle of Phnom Penh for a day exploring Cambodia's turbulent recent history. You'll have the chance to check out the S-21 Genocide Museum, the Killing Fields, and the Royal Palace. Only after visiting these places can you really understand life in Cambodia today. Then lighten things up in the afternoon with shopping at the Russian Market, where you'll find an amazing assortment of goods at great prices.
A Rustic Retreat
Heading south from Phnom Penh, you will travel to the cool Cambodian Coast and the sleepy town of Kampot. Located along the river beneath the beautiful Elephant Mountains, this peaceful town will be an oasis after the bustle of city life. Here you can ramble along the riverside or duck into the local market for a fruit shake. You'll spend the next couple of days exploring the rural communities in the area, working with children at an orphanage, and sampling delicious seafood.
Life in Rural Cambodia
Next your trip will take you on rough roads through Northeastern Cambodia on your way to the village of our sponsored school project in Mondulkiri province. Explore this indigenous Phnong village before heading off to school, where you'll help the local kids practice their English. The next morning you'll wake up with the villagers and head off to the ricefields. A trip to rural Cambodia is not complete without wading into the paddies and trying your hand at nurturing the country's staple crop - rice!
Life's a Boat
A wooden vessel will carry you on the next leg of your trip down the amazing Mekong River. Keep your camera out as you sail past the unforgettable floating villages and be on the lookout for endangered fresh water dolphins. After an epic boat trip, you'll arrive in Kampong Cham, your home for the next couple nights. Once a sleepy riverside town, Kampong Cham is growing up fast. Here you will spend some time working at a centre for displaced and abandoned children. Join the Rustic Pathways students who are doing the Cambodia Orphanage Project as they work to improve the lives of the 45 children who depend on this centre. You will never forget your time here!
Leaving Kampong Cham, you'll travel through dozens of small hamlets before reaching Siem Reap, Cambodia's fastest growing city and the gateway to the Angkor temples. You'll watch Angkor Wat emerge from darkness as the sun rises and explore some of the other ancient temples in the area, including Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm (also known as the Tomb Raider temple). You'll also have the chance to catch up on the Internet, enjoy some great food, and shop at funky markets before departing Cambodia or connecting to your next trip.
You'll Never Forget It!
This program is a nonstop service adventure that explores undiscovered, rural Cambodia while also allowing you to visit some of the country's most famous sites. Get to know Cambodia and the kind-hearted Khmer people who call it home on this exciting Off the Map journey.
Off the Map: Cambodia
Day 1 (Thursday)
Welcome to Asia! Your day will begin early as you arrive in Bangkok, Thailand. Here, you'll meet up with the rest of your group who are connecting to this trip from elsewhere in Asia or from around the world. After meeting up with your group and staff you will head out overland to the border with Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. Here you will cross the border into Cambodia and meet your local Khmer staff members who will be your guides for the duration of your journey. You will travel from the border through the island of Koh Kong and along the coast to the city of Sihanoukville. We will check in to our hotel in Sihanoukville and gather for a torch lit beachside dinner where we will discuss the program and review the guidelines for the trip.
Days 2 - 3 (Friday - Saturday)
This morning you will rise early to catch the boat to a remote and exotic island where you will get a chance to visit a small fishing village and the one room school that provides education for over two hundred children. We will spend the morning playing with the children and donating school supplies and after lunch at the only restaurant on the island you will have the rest of day to explore the island and go for a swim before returning to the mainland. We will return to the hotel to grab a shower before meeting up for dinner.
Day 4 (Sunday)
This morning we will gather our things and load up the vans as we work to head further afield in Cambodia, we will pass through the small town of Kampot and stop by the local zoo where you will be able to get within inches of Asian Tigers, African Lions, and Leopards, making for some great photo opportunities. We should expect to have lunch in Kampot, but will continue our journey through Cambodia. We will arrive in the capital of Phnom Penh in the late afternoon and get checked into our hotel where everyone will have a chance to relax for an hour or so before we head out for dinner and a bit of exploring of this wonderful city.
Day 5 (Monday)
We will start the day with a full tour of Cambodia's capital. Our first stop is Tuol Sleng, a former prison that has been converted into a museum to educate visitors about the genocide that occurred here. We then head across the street for an amazing lunch at the Boddhi Tree restaurant. Here, while enjoying the amazing collection of delicious (and healthy!) foods from around the world, we collect our thoughts before heading out to our next destination, the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek where you walk through the quite and peaceful fields that were once the site of mass killings and burials during the genocide. While difficult at times, these sites are important landmarks in Cambodian history and allow you to put the contemporary Cambodia in perspective. It is important to keep in mind that many Cambodians do not dwell on past atrocities but instead look to the future. We will also have a chance to do some shopping at a number of the massive markets in the city. A full day of Phnom Penh will be enough to wear you out and will return to the hotel around 5pm to relax for a while before dinner.
Days 6 to 9 (Tuesday - Friday)
Early to rise we will begin our trip into the real wilds of Cambodia today, we will depart Phnom Penh and head North East as we work our way to Mondulkiri, we will stop over and have lunch along the Mekong in Kampong Cham and continue into the mountains and jungle to our destination. You will notice that Mondulkiri is nothing like the Cambodia that came before. Surrounded by misty mountains and jungle, this will be our home for the next few days as we begin work on our first real service project. Depending on what time we arrive, we will head over to the local elementary school where we will be working with the children for the next few days. We will be teaching English, sports, and games to the children and deliver much needed school supplies to the kids here.
Day 10 (Saturday)
Today we will spend some time in the morning investigating some massive waterfalls, chewing on some local fruit and meeting some very large elephants that will be our guides through the jungle. We will spend most of the day trekking through the wilds on our elephants. Lunch will be made by our guides in the jungle using freshly caught fish and jungle herbs. In the late afternoon we head back to civilisation and explore the town a little bit before heading back to the hotel for a well-earned sleep.
Day 11 (Sunday)
We will say goodbye to Mondulkiri and the jungles of the North as we begin to work our way back West, coming down the mountains to the town of Kratie. Walk around this French-Colonial town and stretch your legs. As the sun begins to set we'll hop on a boat and look for some endangered fresh water dolphins that live in this part of the Mekong River. On our way back to town we'll stop at a mountain top temple and check out some crazy wall and ceiling paintings unique to this pagoda.
Days 12 to 13 (Monday - Tuesday)
Back on the boat for our trip down the Mekong to the town of Kampong Cham, home of Rustic Pathways' popular Orphanage Project. Spend the your time here playing with these amazing children and get a good game of volleyball or syke going.
Day 14 (Wednesday)
We will spend the last full day in Cambodia visiting the world famous temples around Angkor Wat. Be prepared to feel like Indiana Jones as you climb over the amazing crumbling ruins overtaken by jungle that make this place one of the must see destinations of the world. Tonight we will be treated to traditional Khmer dancing at a large dinner buffet and spend some time browsing the night market.
Day 15 (Thursday)
Wake up early and have a large breakfast before heading to the airport where you will have a quick hop over to Bangkok to head home or onto your next Rustic adventure.
Off the Map: Cambodia
A quick note: Many students over-pack and sometimes have to pay for overweight bags on domestic flights. The weight limit is 15 kilograms. You’ll have frequent access to laundry on this program, so you won’t need that many clothes. We won’t tell on you if you wear the same t-shirt twice!
Carry-on Luggage: A small backpack works best
- Passport and Wallet
- A photocopy of your passport
- A durable camera, smaller is better for this program
- A good book
- A pen
A duffle bag, suitcase, or large backpack. Wheeled suitcases are fun, but may not roll so well in rice paddies. All items listed with “Plastic Bag” should be packed inside a plastic bag in case bottles leak or break.
- 2 Photocopies of your passport
- Long pants - one lightweight pair and one heavier pair
- Pants that have zip-off legs to convert to shorts are great
- Shorts - two or three pairs
- Underwear - 5 pairs
- Socks - 5 pairs lightweight fast drying synthetic athletic socks are best
- Shirts - t’s, tank tops, and athletic shirts
- A collared shirt for visiting the schools
- One long sleeve shirt
- Materials such as polypropylene dry fast and help you stay cool
- Sweatshirt or jacket - lightweight and breathable
- Rain jacket - lightweight, vented is nice
- One casual, but nice-looking outfit for going out to dinner and visiting temples. If you’re thoughtful, you can accomplish this without packing any clothing in addition to what’s listed above
- Sneakers - light, breathable, fast-drying
- Thongs are the old standby for Thai footwear. Sandals that strap to your heel work great and are adequate for many of our activities
- Water bottle
- Personal first aid kit
- Several band aids of assorted sizes
- Double antibiotic ointment
- Medical Tape
- Preferred mild pain reliever
- Sterile bandages - 4-6
- Ace bandage
- Antiseptic wipes 10
- Sunscreen - PLASTIC BAG
- Insect repellent with DEET, one small bottle - PLASTIC BAG
- Hand sanitiser - 2 small bottles - PLASTIC BAG
- Medications-don’t forget to let the staff know which meds you take
- Travel toothbrush, toothpaste
- Travel soap container and soap
- Contact lens care supplies if needed
- Pictures of home, family to share with the Khmer people you’ll meet
- A Deck of Cards
- Khmer / English phrasebook
- Travel pillow
- A bag for dirty clothes-this can be a mesh bag, a pillowcase or even a rubbish bag
$150-$300 The Lotus Market in central Battambang has an amazing variety of crafts, clothing, and unbelievable miscellaneous trinkets and shopping there is a real treat, so budget more if you’re a big time shopper and less if you’re a go light, less is more, bring home only the memories kind of traveller
Frequently Asked Questions
Off the Map: Cambodia
So, how far Off The Map does Off The Map Go?
This trip takes us through a variety of locations in Cambodia and, as a result, we will be staying in a variety of comfortable accommodations. In both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, we stay in two modern and upscale hotels in very safe sections of each city. Parts of the trip will be through areas that are just off the beaten tourist trail while others may be off any kind of beaten trail such as riding elephants through the jungles of Mondulkiri or visiting remote fishing villages on the islands off the coast of Cambodia.
Is Cambodia dangerous? Should I be worried about land mines?
Granted, Cambodia has had a rough past but the country is experiencing a booming recovery thanks in large part to tourism. Phnom Penh has earned a bad reputation as a city with many pickpockets. However, while our students should be mindful of their belongings they will never be placed in any unsafe areas. Our stay in the village might sound a bit scary, the rural areas have incredibly low crime rates. The village where we will be staying is one where we have many friends and safety has never been cause for concern. Also, both Sen Monorom and Siem Reap are incredibly tourist friendly. As far as the danger due to land mines, the areas where we will be have been thoroughly cleared and very safe. That being said, we always take precautions like walking only on well-traveled paths to ensure our safety.
Will I be able to talk to my child?
All our staff members in Cambodia have cell phones and are in constant contact with the main Rustic Pathways office. In the case of an emergency, we will be notified by our main office and pass any necessary information on to your child. Our students, however, are not permitted to have cell phones because these tend to interfere with group dynamics. You will be notified by our staff members by email within 24 hours of your child's safe arrival in Cambodia.
Should I be taking Malaria medication in Cambodia?
This decision is best made by you, your child, and your family physician. For up to date information to help your decision please visit the World Health Organisation website (http://www.who.int/en) and consult your physician.
Do I need a mosquito net?
We provide mosquito nets when necessary so no need to bring your own!
What should I bring?
Check out the packing list but please pack lightly! Remember that you are in charge of carrying your bag so the lighter your bag the easier on your shoulders!
What kind of service will Off The Map be doing?
One of the great features of our program in Cambodia is that while we do have set locations you play a large role in choosing what service we do. In the villages, we will be teaching English at the local school and playing soccer with the villagers. In Sen Monorom, we work in a local school and also at an Orphanage in Kampong Cham with young, bright Khmer kids. Our service here could include art classes, volleyball matches, or even re-painting some of the classrooms. It all depends on what needs to be done when we get there!
Are there still spots available on Off The Map: Cambodia this year?
Yes! Please contact the main office at 1800 321 435 to find out about availability so you can come join us this year!