Gap Year in Cambodia


Capital City Phnom Penh
Population: 15,000,000
Currency: Riel (៛)
Language: Khmer
Calling Code +855

Nestled between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam and a South East Asian destination not to be missed, you’ll want to spend some of your gap year in Cambodia. From breath-taking, ancient temples to the horrific legacy left behind by the all-too-recent Khmer Rouge, Cambodia sings of a beauty and sadness that is not to be passed by. With architecture that dates back almost a millennium, echoes of colonial times and memorials to those lost in the last century, you’ll be in a place where history speaks from every corner while bicycles usher in modernity.

You’ll need at least a few days to explore the temples of Angkor, some barely more than ruins, some the size of towns and magnificent at sunrise. Nearby Siem Reap is a popular gap year hub due to its cheap hostels, bars and cafes. Cambodia is fast becoming an eco-tourist destination, so look out for locally produced items at the markets, and organisations that put locals at the core to run sustainable businesses, such as restaurants and beauty parlours.

Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh is home to plenty of French colonial architecture, and the harrowing sites of Tuol Sleng, a former Khmer Rouge prison, and the Killing Fields, which now serve as a memorial to those who lost their lives under Pol Pot. Further afield, the beaches of Sihanoukville beckon, and if you’re after adventures off the beaten track on your gap year in Cambodia, Battambang is a less-visited former colonial town where lush bamboo train rides through the jungle can be found.

Working in Cambodia

As it is still one of the poorest countries in the world, Cambodia is not the easiest place to look for work during your gap year. However, there are many NGOs operating in the country, and they do have some opportunities for more professional work, as well as some opportunities for volunteering. It is certainly possible to volunteer to teach English, with organisations advertised online as well as locally, and there may some positions available to work in local hostels and bars

Where Next?

Whilst you might not want to spend your whole gap year in Cambodia, its location in the centre of South East Asia makes it ideal as the middle destination for a gap year taking in several Asian countries. Travelling east to Vietnam, northwest to Thailand or northeast to Laos couldn’t be simpler, with dirt-cheap buses running regularly, as well as more exciting options such as by boat. International flights are also available if you’re looking to travel further away, perhaps to Australia or China, which are within reach.

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