Cambodia

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I can not recommend IVHQ enough! They are absolutely amazing! They even waited well past midnight to pick me up from the airport when my flight arrived way later than expected. On top of that, I felt like I was making a true difference whilst I was there. I completely fell in love with the people and culture of Cambodia (which wasn’t difficult at all!) I had weekends off and fully reserved those days for allowing myself to experience everything Siem Reap had to offer. My kids that I taught in Cambodia were unlike anyone I had ever met. They were driven, eager, loving and so willing to learn! I leave you with this to avoid writing a whole novel: volunteer with IVHQ I felt safe, valued and like I was making a real difference. Get out there and see our big beautiful world!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Apr 17, 2020
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I have a lot to say on frontier, mostly because I bought a 30week program with them... Southeast Asia trail 10 weeks, Fiji marine 10 weeks and central America trail 10 weeks (which turned out much less if you continue reading). The whole 30 weeks cost around 13k plus additional $1700 for open water and advanced diver certifications. So we can average out around $4400 per 10 weeks. I'll be working in US dollars for this review. I'm going to round and estimate but I think it's pretty accurate still.
First off I just want to say, let me be your lesson on this... Avoid Frontier at all costs. I made the terrible decision to go with frontier so hopefully I can at least pass on some knowledge to prevent others from being swindled. I truly believe they are a fradulant scam. This is only a highlight of some of the more major issues as I would have to write a whole book on all the complete failings.
Southeast Asia (Sea) trail: Oct to Dec 2017.
If going on your own for 10 weeks and you spend 5k, you're probably only going to spend that much if staying in nice/private hotels, eating out a lot or doing expensive activities. With frontier you get none of that, with is fine because thats not how I prefer to travel however, what you get is a whole lot less than what is promised and fasley advertised. First off, I've been to many hostels good and bad. The ones frontier goes to are largely in the not good category (though I admit some were fine or good). The budget is for $10 a night. Even at 10 weeks that's ($10/night x 70 nights)=$700 . Okay that's a major expense for any traveler. Next their website claims meals are provided. When arrived, find out some meals aren't provided, no drinking water is provided, the budget is roughly $3 a day minus weekends so $3/day x 5days/week x 10 weeks)= $150. Also the guide wouldn't pay for your meal if you got "western" food. This was not a real rule but one imposed by this guide (as were many other rules she made up in her head). Investment in the project which in this case was teaching English in Cambodia by frontier =$0! It was extremely awkward on the first day of meeting the school administrator when she told us this. Many in the group immediately wrote emails to frontier demanded an explanation. It was ambiguous and completely non transparent business practices. Basically they state that they never promise to spend the money on your project but they can choose to spend on anything such as other projects, "administration costs" and lawyer fees. If you actually want your money to support the cause you choose, stay away from frontier. The school has since dropped frontier after for their deceitful practices, both to us as volunteers /consumers and themselves. Website claimed several activities included, guide denied this. Eventually the group persisted and indeed the guide was forced to give us a refund for certain activities. Other things the guide made up... Can't jump in waterfall because too dangerous (as 10 year boys were jumping), limiting alcohol... She made up random rules like 2 drinks per evening, no more then 2 times a week. This was also protested and guide was told that's not a rule. Curfews... Couldnt go out after 6pm without signing out or having a buddy. I'm 30 years old, and getting treated like a children. Not to mention this guide could not speak any local language, had no experience leading group travel and had only lightly traveled that region before so was more or less useless thus minimal. I can't remember all the travel fees but it's safe to say they weren't in the $3000 range, probably like $500. So you're getting possibly the value of $1000 but getting charged $5000. That is straight awful. A couple folks dropped out (one for medical issue, another due to complete disappoint with frontier), most on the trip agreed it was terrible value and would never use frontier again but nothing we can do about it. Several sued or tried but it's prohibitively expensive trying to go against on your own (remember all those lawyer fees??) so I don't think anything came about. That being said I did get to meet some cool people and see some cool places. My advice... SEA is pretty well traveled so it's simple to go it alone as you'll meet plenty of people at hostels. Or travel with a reputable and reliable company (definitely not frontier) for a short time until comfortable to go alone or meet some friends and travel. Or find a local NGO to work with and know your cause is actually getting your money. There was a girl at the school that just did this and volunteered for free, even got free room to stay for teaching meanwhile we shuffled thousands of dollars to a corrupt company instead of a well deserving school for impoverished children.
Fiji marine: Jan to mar 2018.
So another ten weeks here, 4.4k paid. Additional $1700 for padi courses. So the situation here was different than SEA, which was more travel based. While Fiji was a more permanent camp, not really any travel included. The living conditions were pretty bad here. It was quite remote and self sustained living a lot which personally I do kjnda enjoy. However, if you're paying for a suite and get a dump you'd be upset, rightfully so, this is kinda like that. Obviously I didn't expect a suite, but the water would constantly break, camp was falling apart. Barely a workable shower when I got there. The solar panel was broken so nearly zero electricity. We had one light in the camp that worked. Everything else was personally brought by volunteers /staff such as mini solar lights and panels for charging phones /cameras etc. Obviously no wifi (again knew that and didn't really care) though can occasionally get signal on local Sim card. The kitchen and all equipment was in pretty rough shape. The living conditions in general were disagreeable. Beds were a one inch foam mattress, my back was agony the whole time and extremely difficult to get anything resembling good rest on. The food was cooked by staff and volunteers on camp, typically. The food that came out was surprisingly good most of the time but that's because I suppose we had some good cooks. Meals were typically rice, canned beans/veg. Once a week we'd get fresh fruit, veg, bread, eggs but that would always run out quick before next supply. As far as the diving goes... Fiji has superb diving BUT getting certified was a nightmare. Ideally open water and advanced can be finished in a week. Sure there were lots of additional challenges so they even say maybe 2 or 3 weeks. It took me 8 weeks! You're basically paying for the diving here since as we discussed you're not getting much value from the lodging or meals. So to be low balled on diving was a major issue. Essentially I got 11 dives outside the training dives, which could be seen as the most expensive dives in the world compared to how much the project cost. There were many issues some directly frontiers fault, some indirectly, only one reason was neither (evacuated for hurricane, which at this point shouldn't be surprising to hear that we were forced out of camp and off the island to the mainland at our own expense and actually charged by frontier for using their mainland lodging! That is some reprehensible behavior!). FYI the other reasons were frontier failing to pay for their dive insurance, constant boat and air compressor failures, dive instructor getting sick and requiring surgery on the mainland (I say this is indirectly frontiers responsibility because they should have had a backup plan rather than delaying training for another week). All that said the staff in general here were better, more experienced, and they were quite a few of them. Also the people I met here were mostly cool.
Again I enjoyed Fiji and locals and most of the other volunteers but again it is not even close to being worth going with Frontier. Fiji is very easy to travel solo or find an NGO that won't rip you off.
Central America trail: Jan to Mar 2019.
This was more travel based like SEA trail but again was a disaster. It was so bad it was aggressively canceled by frontier (since we were exposing their lies) and they refused to provide any refund at all. If you thought the other trips above were bad, this time I had enough. Arrive in Mexico on day one, our guide (again someone with limited knowledge /experience but could at least speak Spanish), states frontier won't let us go through Nicaragua due to potential conflict. Okay we were never given any indication of this issue even though it was clearly known ( they pulled this same stunt the previous year) and states in their terms and conditions that they are required to notify us of any major changes and we can choose to agree with those changes or receive refund. This never happened. Guide says frontier will provide transport from Honduras to Costa Rica to avoid Nicaragua (via flight). Volunteers say okay, not ideal but we're already here and can't do anything about it. A week before this flight this guide says actually what he meant that first day was that we have to pay the flights completely out of pocket (about $400 at this point). Volunteers say no that's not what you said, frontier and guide both lied about the origins of this "no going through Nicaragua rule," claimed they told us before which is most certainly false ( they even said yeh we have an email we sent you, we said where, they said ohh we can't find it... That email was sent the week we were moving servers and it doesn't show up now. Well that's not how email works,) and that they have the right to cancel without refunds because of this immient danger situation. It's almost hard to argue the stupidity that comes out of the frontier office as the danger has been known about for over a year, they are required to notify us and give us options, well yeah none of that happened. They canceled around the 4 week mark effectively scamming us out of over the trip. Also this guide frequently lied to us, failed miserably to communicate what we were saying since they wouldn't answer our direct emails, and kept saying "oh well I'm not English native speaker so maybe you didn't understand me" which he used as a cover for the lies. Again also no experience leading group travel and was quite terrible at it in all regards. He also made frequent creepy and unwanted advances towards one of the other volunteers to the point she wouldn't feel safe near him or if alone with him. He also made frequent "jokes" in very poor taste (jokes about things like teen prostitution, indicating he might have taken part on other trips he's done). It was embarrassing, creepy and offensive, even to me, and I'm not one to get offended easily. I was looking up legal documents and talking to lawyers while on this trip to find out if they are acting illegally. Could you imagine doing that when you're supposed to be traveling and exploring the world? In the end, the fight of one versus an international corporation based in another country was too much for me but I really hope they are exposed and taken down, it won't be soon enough. In the meantime I hope to warn as many people as possible of this company.

All in all, I cannot overstate how bad frontier is, and I don't think I'm exaggerating at all. I have dealt with them over the course of 2 years, actively spending about 24 weeks with frontier. Please learn from me and never book with frontier. They are dishonest and misleading, possibly fradulant. Be careful because they spend a lot of money on advertising and If you want to take the chance like I did then good luck but you'll likely regret it.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Cambodia, Central America, Fiji, Thailand, Vietnam
Posted: Jun 27, 2019
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Projects Abroad

I went hoping for simply something to set me apart for my pre-med application and resume, but was not prepared for the amount of learning I experienced and the drastic personal change that occurred.
The raw experience was something to behold. As a first time traveller going through Projects Abroad was comforting. I was able to gain confidence to go on weekend excursions and experience enough to definitely set me apart from other graduates.
I wish I had had enough time to stay for an extra week and also travel independently after my project as by that time I felt I had enough knowledge to stay safe, have knowledge about the local culture, and have a good time.
Would 10/10 recommend to any pre-med student or a newbie traveller!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Sep 25, 2018
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Globalteer

This was a great experience for me in Cambodia. It was my first time in Asia, so I was a little nervous. The project was really cool, it exceeded my expectations. It was really rewarding work and I hope I made a difference to the wonderful animals. Cambodia was a truly fantastic experience for me, I definitely want to travel more having experienced such a wonderful country.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Aug 28, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Globalteer

Volunteering with Globalteer was an experience that will never leave me. The enthusiasm of the kids was infectious, they loved being at the Helping Hands project. I was so lucky to be with an amazing group of other volunteers from all around the world. We had so much fun together, both at the school and socially. Siem Reap is a wonderful little town, my kind of place, lots to do and laid back. I look forward to the day I go back, I know I will one day.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Aug 28, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

I had an amazing experience with Projects Abroad in Cambodia!!! I joined one of Projects Abroad's High School Special projects for Care & Community in Cambodia for the duration of 2 weeks and I enjoyed every moment and aspect of the journey. Before departing I received ample amounts of information and support from the staff at Projects Abroad, they organised every little detail and provided me with many resources to prepare for my trip. Whilst in Cambodia my High School aged group was accompanied by several project coordinators that joined us in our placement teaching at local schools as well as at our accommodation in the hotel where they were available 24/7 if needed. These staff were beyond professional and enabled us to further immerse ourselves in the culture and activities that we partook in.

Due to our large group at the time our placement happened at two different disadvantaged schools on Silk Island. We were given plenty of resources in order to teach the young students basic English including shapes, colours, fruits and introducing themselves. Although there was a language barrier between the students and volunteers we were able to utilise our local coordinators to translate and used songs and educational games to enhance the learning environment. In the afternoons all the volunteers spent a few hours renovating the run down school facilities by plastering, sanding and painting the walls inside and outside the classrooms as well as concreting paths and painting the surrounding school fences and fun games on the front path. The kids were always so happy to see us and welcomed us into their school with giant smiles across all of their faces.

On this trip I met many new people from all around the world and made long lasting friendships with each and every volunteer on my project. Our weekend visit to the temples and other cultural activities such as visiting the Genocide Museum, Killing Fields and many Cambodian markets enabled me to understand and learn more about the country as well as getting to spend more time getting to know each volunteer. Overall this was a once in a lifetime trip that allowed me to visit an amazing country whilst feeling organised, supported and safe as I travelled through Cambodia with Projects Abroad.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Aug 7, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Globalteer

I thought this was a great programme. Really nice people doing great work. I would highly recommend.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Aug 1, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

I went on the High School Special offered by Projects Abroad in Cambodia in January 2018. This was a care and community placement offered to high school students aged 16-18. One of the great things about this trip is that I was able to share it with people of a similar age to myself. This made the entire trip more enjoyable and it meant I made some great friends that I still keep in contact with.
On top of meeting a great bunch of people, the support offered by the staff both in country and prior to departure was extremely helpful. I felt prepared for the trip before I left and I felt as though I could really trust the organisation. As a result I had a fantastic experience as the in country staff were supportive and lots of fun an they listened to our concerns.
Finally the entire experience was life changing. We spent most of our days doing volunteer work such as painting and teaching at a children's centre near Phnom Penh. The children we spent our time with were so happy and excited to see us and it made me realise that this trip was worthwhile and the work we were doing was well received by locals. I believe there is no better thing to experience in the world than how your generosity can change a persons life.
I highly recommend the projects offered by Projects Abroad as they are handled in a professional matter and provide you with an amazing life changing experience

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Mar 31, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
8

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

Program:
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Mar 27, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Comments

Projects Abroad

1. After spending 2 months in Cambodia volunteering with Projects Abroad (cost $4400 Australian not including flights) I came away asking where has the money gone. Apparently PA allocated $4.50 US each day for each volunteer to eat. The organization gave the school that I was working at $100 US for my placement and allocated a further $40 for me to buy resources for the school. The accommodation was worse than any basic hostel I have seen. The mattress I slept on looked like it had been dragged out of a rubbish tip. So where did the money go In fact where did the $18 million profit that this company made in 2016 go? Well according to PA (as per an email they sent me) "In Cambodia we make considerate donations to an NGO called Khemera for their 8 daycare centres..." Interesting (if not incorrect) use of the word "considerate" when Khemera's 2016 financial statement indicates that Projects Abroad donated a mere $42,469.00 some of which was made up of the $100 per volunteer placement contribution made to 8 childcare facilities operated by Khemera.
2. Further investigation uncovered the mother company of Projects Abroad....Beech View Holdings Ltd. The company's financial statement 2016 makes for an interesting read: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/03286143/filing-history.
3. If you're not fully convinced about the profit making focus of this company, here's another article: https://www.incomediary.com/peter-slowe-interview-running-the-worlds-lar....
4. Also have a read of what Australia's consumer rights website (Choice) has to say about the expensive fees PA charges for Spanish lessons that can sourced much cheaper from other avenues: https://www.choice.com.au/travel/on-holidays/advice/articles/volunteerin....
5. If you do chose PA and want the company to make travel arrangements for you be aware that Beech View Holdings also has a travel agency. You need to ask if your booking will be channeled through this business as this information may not be disclosed to you. It is a profit making business by the way!
5. The mission statement on the Projects Abroad website states that: "Our mission is to encourage young people to volunteer for worthwhile work in developing countries." I find this statement discriminatory in the extreme. At age 58 I clearly don't fit the "young" profile and my attention was crudely drawn to this by a PA staff who referred me to the mission statement when I questioned the efficacy of Projects Abroad practices.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Cambodia
Posted: Mar 21, 2018
Overall:
1
Support:
3
Value:
1

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