Rustic Pathways first began running programs in Cambodia in 1999. Since then, our operations have grown to include local headquarters in Phnom Penh, year-round operations, a Base in Kampong Cham, and eight full-time Cambodian staff members.
We custom design our Journeys to meet your school’s requirements, so please contact us to discuss the type of experience you are looking for. As a general guide, here are some of the potential elements of your Journey through Cambodia:
Cambodia is an enthralling country that expanded my thoughts on human strength and suffering. I learned about the history and people of a whole new country. I also got to engage with a community vastly different from my own, and for that, I believe I am a more understanding and compassionate person.
Rustic Pathways has developed various long-term partnerships with communities and local organisations in Cambodia.
Some of our service projects that you could support include:
Ricefields Kids Village: Social, education and infrastructure projects at an educational facility in rural Cambodia.
Youth Centre: Help develop the facilities and run cross-cultural engagement programs at a youth centre.
Primary Schools: Supporting children with their English literacy and numeracy, and improving the grounds/facilities at the school.
Floating Villages: Travel by boat to floating villages and support education initiatives and repair houses.
Cambodia’s turbulent past has left a country that is rich in history yet disadvantaged in many other ways. Travelling with our local staff will provide students with first-hand insights into life in this country. You may like to incorporate some of the following experiences into your Journey:
Discover The History Of The Khmer Rouge: Learn about the shocking genocide that occurred during the ‘70’s, which resulted in millions of deaths. Visit the historic war and genocide museums, and the infamous killing fields.
Live-Aboard Rustic’s Private Boat!: Voyage aboard our private boat on Tonle Sap lake to visit remote floating villages.
Explore The Ancient Temples Of Angkor: Angkor was the capital of the ancient Khmer Empire, where visitors can now walk through temples such as Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm.
Village Life: Spend time in the home villages of our local staff to experience rural village life with water buffaloes and rice paddies.
Adventure and challenge is inherent to every Journey, however, if you are looking to physically challenge your students through a specific activity, you may opt to include:
Elephant Ride: Ride an elephant through the temples of Bayon
Trek: Throw on the backpack and hike for one or more days
Cycling: Spend a day or more travelling between villages using pedal power
There are various accommodation options that we can offer in Cambodia; it depends on how “rustic” you would like your Journey to be.
Hotels: A variety of 3, 4 & 5 star hotels in cities and towns
Homestays: Students can homestay with local families in the Floating Villages
Base House: A traditional Cambodian house for groups up to 30 people
Journey through remote Cambodia to explore the country’s rich cultural tapestry
As you exit airport customs, your Rustic Pathways Program Leaders will be waiting just outside in the arrival area. Climb into a private van to the hotel, enjoying your first glimpse of Cambodia’s capital. Nestled on the banks of three great Southeast Asian rivers – the Mekong, Tonle Sap, and Bassac rivers – the frenetic streets of Phnom Penh provide a fascinating window into Cambodian culture. According to legend, this vibrant city was founded by a nun, Lady Penh, in the 14th century and became the country’s capital some 100 years later. From its power as a prominent market hub for European traders and eventual French colonization, to Khmer independence, to domination by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, Phnom Penh has seen its fair share of turbulence and unrest. As you ride through the motorcycle-choked streets and catch glimpses of busy marketplaces, know that you are witnessing a new era of growth and change for this beautiful and special country.
Freshen up and head out to explore the city and try your first taste of delicious Cambodian food. Your Program Leaders will also hold an orientation so that you can get a real grasp of what you’ll be seeing and experiencing in the next two weeks.
Over the next two days, you will get a full tour of Cambodia’s busy capital. Your first destination is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school that was used as a torture and interrogation prison under the Khmer Rouge. The building has now been converted into a museum to educate visitors about the genocide that occurred here. Visit the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek where you walk through the quiet and peaceful fields that were once the site of mass killings and burials during the genocide. While difficult to process at times, these sites are important landmarks in Cambodian history and allow you to put the contemporary Cambodia in perspective.
Head to famous Russian market and do a little shopping before exploring the grounds of the extravagant Royal Palace. Cool off with a sunset cruise out to Koh Dach Island, known for its silk farms and handmade goods and visit an amazing city landmark, Olympic Stadium, to see where all of the locals congregate after work to get some exercise.
Today hop in the vans and it’s on to the next province we go. The heart of the program will be set in the town of Kampong Cham, home of Buddhism for Social Development Action, a non-governmental organization. The BDSA, founded locally by a small group of monks in response to the vast needs of their community, works to empower and help women, children, and marginalized members of the Kampong Cham community in areas of education, health, and income generation. Rustic Pathways supports the BSDA by improving facilities at their education centers and providing youth enrichment activities to the children at those centers. The BSDA currently has a vocational training center, and two drop in centers where over 200 children are receiving support. Lead educational games and activities, and participate in any infrastructure projects that the organization needs at that time to improve their facilities.
Nights will be spent at the base house as you lesson plan and prep for the next day of service, participate in a ping pong match against one of your Program Leaders, or even take part in a cornhole tournament! You will also have time to explore some highlights of Kampong Cham, a quaint riverside town. Grab an ice cream, walk along the river, and pay your respects with a visit to the local Pre-Angkor temple.
Have your final breakfast at Smile Restaurant, the culinary training restaurant where vocational students at the BSDA can learn the necessary skills for working in the service industry. After a delicious buffet and of course a fruit shake, it’s time to bid farewell to your newfound friends here in Kampong Cham and depart for Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat! Grab some lunch and have a relaxing afternoon on the town. Fish massages anyone?
Tonight head back into town where you will visit Phare, The Cambodian Circus. This inspiring acrobat show is performed by students from Phare Ponleu Selpak, an organization that educates disadvantaged youth through the power of the arts. It is truly a sight to see and something you will remember from your time here in Cambodia.
Head to the beautiful, refreshing, and historically important Phnom Kulen Mountain and waterfall amid the ruins of the Angkor civilization. This scenic mountain isn’t just a great place to swim and enjoy nature; it is also the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire that developed Angkor Wat. King Jayayarma II proclaimed independence here and many of the area’s ancient rock carvings are present. This is an amazing place to visit and learn about Cambodian culture.
Set out in the early morning to see the amazing architecture of Angkor Wat, the largest religious complex in the world. Grab a good spot and get your camera ready for this incredible once-in-a-lifetime view! As you enter the complex to explore the structure, check out the intricate carvings of Angkor’s historical battle scenes. If you’re brave enough to climb the steep steps, the view atop the highest tower is well worth it!
Travel next to see the huge, carved faces of Bayon. After lunch, make your way to the shady and cool tree temple, Ta Prohm. Massive trees have grown up through these ruins making for a spectacular site.
Tonight, you will be treated to a delicious Khmer dinner and spend some time browsing the night market. Be sure to make a shopping list for all of the souvenirs for your loved ones back home!
After two incredible and eye-opening weeks, it’s time to same goodbye to the Kingdom of Wonder and journey onward. Spend the morning soaking up some last bits of culture and shopping for some souvenirs. This afternoon you’ll head to Siem Reap International Airport where you will catch your flight home. Cambodia will miss you! Som Lee-hai!
Please chat to us if you have any special requests that you would like included in your Journey.
There is nothing too big, small, or out-of-the-box that we can’t handle.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start designing your Journey!
We would be delighted to partner with your school to support the global education of your students.