From exploring ancient temple complexes to tracing the somber history of the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia offers a captivating experience for first-time visitors. We’ve listed below some of the popular sites and cities that past IVHQ volunteers have experienced while on the IVHQ Cambodia program.
In and Around Phnom Penh
The IVHQ Cambodia program is based in the capital, Phnom Penh, with volunteer placements also located in the tourist hub of Siem Reap and the beautiful Cambodian provinces of Campong Speu and Persat.
Lined with a collection of international style restaurants and bars, this riverside promenade is a popular retreat for visitors to Phnom Penh and lies in close proximity to many of the city’s major attractions, including the Royal Palace, National Museum and Wat Phnom.
The official residence of King Sihamoni, the Royal Palace is an eye-catching display of classic Khmer architecture with a striking Silver Pagoda, housing a 17th-century Buddha made of crystal and another made almost entirely of gold.
Home to ancient Khmer art including Angkorian era sculptures, artifacts and statues, this stunning sand-stone museum is a must-see for visitors to the city, especially those who have already visited Siem Reap’s Angkor Archaeological Park.
Psar Thmei (Central Market)
Spreading over four wings and housed in the heart of Phnom Penh, this giant dome shaped landmark is one of the most popular markets in the city. Try your hand at bargaining to secure the best deals on goods ranging from electronic equipment, to cheap t-shirts, to fresh Khmer cuisine.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields
Trace Cambodia’s horrific past at the Tuol Seul Genocide Museum, the former high school turned notorious Security Prison (S-21) used during the murderous Khmer Rouge regime. Visitors are exposed to stained cells, instruments of torture and cabinets filled with victim’s skulls – a chilling reminder of the suffering and torture endured by the Khmer people less than half a century ago.
Located 17 kilometers south of Phnom Penh, the Killing Fields present a collection of pits of mass graves and a Buddhist stupa, packed full of over 8,000 human skulls.
Although a harrowing experience, a visit to the Genocide Museum and Killing Fields allows visitors to Cambodia to come to grips with what happened during one of the most enduring human tragedies of all time.
While volunteering in Cambodia, many volunteers choose to travel further afield together to gain a greater appreciation for the country and culture as a whole. We’ve highlighted a couple of popular weekend destinations, but our local staff are always willing to share with you the many other locations well worth exploring when you arrive in country.
Attracting over one million tourists every year, the ancient temples of Siem Reap are a big draw card for visitors to the city, which serves as a gateway to the Angkor Archaeological Park. Journey through the park to discover dozens of temple ruins, including the magnificent Angkor Wat and if you’re up for an early start, show up at sunrise for the best photo-taking opportunities. In terms of non-temple related activities, roaming through the Old Market, grabbing a drink down Pub Street, or taking a boat tour through the Chong Kneas Floating Village are all popular must-dos when in Siem Reap.
After a five hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, imagine yourself kicking back on the beach, scuba diving in uncharted waters, feasting on local seafood, getting amongst the vibrant night life, trekking through the Ream National Park, or exporting yourself to one of the more isolated surrounding islands.
If you would like more details on any of these locations or activities, our local team in Cambodia can assist you once you are registered onto the IVHQ Cambodia program.
To apply for the program or explore the volunteering opportunities available in Cambodia, visit our Volunteer in Cambodia page.