Borneo & Cambodia Community & Culture Experience
– Duration: 2 months –
Can’t choose between Borneo and Cambodia? You don’t have to. Experience both of these gems of Southeast Asia on our two month programme.
You’ll make a measurable impact in both countries and be immersed in their vibrant cultures as you help to support rural communities through sustainable project work that helps to improve the standard of living and opportunities for local people.
You’ll gain a deep understanding of the rich culture and history of these two amazing countries as you learn about Cambodia’s tragic recent past at S21 prison and the killing fields, explore the magical temples of Angkor Wat and sample delicious street food in the buzzing towns of Siem Reap and Kota Kinabalu. There’s plenty of time for just relaxing and taking in your unbelievable surroundings too – grab a kayak, a snorkel or just enjoy a chilled beach BBQ with friends.
This programme is designed to impact the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:
The impact that you'll make
Developing Community Ammenities & Marine Conservation (Mantanani)
The community of Mantanani is now struggling with sudden influx of foreign tourists and development that comes with it. Like most coastal villages, Mantanani faces challenges in trash accumulating on the beaches, threatening the marine life and environment. You’ll help through beach clean-ups and sustainable waste management solutions alongside an NGO, as well as working to improve buildings in the village using up-cycled materials. We are also helping the school to build a block to accommodate 2 classrooms and a row of stalls in front of the school to encourage entrepreneurship.
Community Infrastructure Improvements & Food Security (Bongkud)
Bongkud village has been established for over 90 years and its population is rapidly increasing. Projects here help to improve community facilities and include building a youth centre, improving the drainage system to ensure cleaner and healthier living and establishing a community farming programme that will re-introduce native trees, improving the air temperature and water quality in the area.
Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods (Beng Mealea)
Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Seasonal food shortages and lack of employment opportunities leave rural people very vulnerable to continued and increasing poverty. Our projects here focus on food sustainability initiatives such as building chicken houses and water pots and working on a jungle garden. You may also get involved in improving the infrastructure at the local school.
Housing and Sanitation (Beng Pae)
In the village surrounding Camp Beng Mealea, many people live below the poverty line and homes do not have basic facilities which are vital for health and sanitation. You’ll help to improve living conditions by building wells to provide water access to the village and constructing toilets for local families.
For those who love white sand beaches, crystal blue waters and their own remote tropical island (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), Mantanani might just be the perfect location.
The island lies about 80km north of Kota Kinabalu and is home to around 800 permanent residents. The surrounding coral reef and lagoon are home to juvenile turtles, rays, a variety of tropical fish and even the occasional dolphin passes by.
The camp itself is set right on the beach a little way from the main village where many of our community projects are based, allowing you to feel part of this amazing community for the time that you’re here.
Location: 80 km north of Kota Kinabalu. (around 1.5 hrs drive from KK to Kuala Abai Jetty, then 1 hr boat ride to Mantanani Island)
Accommodation style: Beautiful open sided driftwood bunk houses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Asian style toilets, cold water showers & sinks
Power: Generator (between 18:00 – 06:00). British 3 pin power sockets
Social area: Beach, campfire, volleyball courts
Signature dish: Stewed beef in soy sauce & pumpkin in coconut milk
Set in the shadows of the mighty Mount Kinabalu, Camp Bongkud is surrounded on all sides by lush picturesque scenery. It’s hillside location gives it a pleasant breezy climate which makes it the ideal hillside retreat after a hard day’s project work.
Being in the heart of the village also has its advantages; all your project sites are only a short walk away and you can challenge the locals to a friendly game of volleyball on the community court during your downtime.
Location: 140 km (3-4 hours drive) from Kota Kinabalu Airport & 30 km from Kudat
Accommodation style: Traditional longhouses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Flushing toilets, cold water showers & sinks
Power: Mains electricity backed up by generator (between 18:00 – 22:00). British 3 pin power sockets
Social area: Chilling hut, volleyball court, badminton & board games
Signature dish: Banana fritters & steamed banana cake
Camp Beng Mealea
This delightful rural camp is set on the outskirts of Teuk Lich village within Beng Mealea commune. Accommodation is in the form of traditional Khmer stilted longhouses positioned in the shade of large banana and papaya trees. The camp is surrounded by paddy fields and pretty amazing views on all sides. On a clear day you can see the impressive ridge line of the Kulen National Park from your longhouse. And if that isn’t enough, there is the ancient ruined temple of Beng Mealea to explore only a short walk away, as well as a large ornate pagoda where the Buddhist monks live. You’d be hard pushed to find a more authentic Cambodian experience!
Location: 75 km (1.5 hours drive) from Siem Reap International Airport
Accommodation style: Traditional longhouses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Composting toilets, cold water showers & wash basins
Power: Generator (06:00-07:00 & 18:00-22:00). British 3 pin power sockets
Social area: Chill out zone, camp fire, hammocks
Signature dish: Amok – Mild curry usually eaten with chicken or fish
Camp Beng Pae
Beng Pae is a lovely woodland retreat located in the village of Ta Lek and within the Beng Pae Wildlife Reserve. Surrounded on three sides by a very impressive pine forest, the camp is designed and built in the local hill tribe house style.
The camp is set at the edge of the village and so all your project sites are only a short walk away, allowing you to become a local in no time!
Location: 220 km (3 hours drive) from Siem Reap International Airport
Accommodation style: Traditional longhouses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Composting toilets, bucket showers & wash basins
Power: Generator (06:00-07:00 & 18:00-22:00). British 3 pin power socket
Social area: Chill out zone, camp fire, hammocks
Signature dish: Beef Loklak
Day to Day
Welcome to Borneo
Arrive in Kota Kinabalu, where you will be met at the airport by a member of our Camp Borneo team and transferred to your accommodation in the city. Here you will meet our Country Manager who will run an arrival briefing for you and your group before your welcome dinner.
Environmental work with PACOS Trust
Today will be spent with PACOS Trust, a local community-based organisation dedicated to supporting indigenous communities in the Sabah region of Borneo. Here we’ll have a cultural orientation and get involved in some volunteering at the Kivatu Nature Farm, before transferring back to KK for the night.
Welcome to Camp Mantanani
After a much-needed sleep and a good breakfast, you will be transferred to the beautiful island of Mantanani by boat. Meet the Camp Mantanani team, including your Camp Manager, who will give you a tour of the island and a briefing on what your time here will involve. Then it’s time to choose your bed in your new beach longhouse home.
Marine conservation and community projects
Enjoy waking up in your new island home before we get stuck into a project orientation where we will explain the work you will be getting involved with. Underneath its picture-perfect surface, Mantanani faces challenges with poor waste management and trash accumulating on the beaches, which threatens marine life. The local people also struggle with a lack of funding for community and education facilities. You will be helping to support them on these key issues throughout your time here.
Soak up island living
What better place to spend a relaxing weekend? Kayak, snorkel or sunbathe on the beaches and watch the most amazing sunrise and sunsets you’ve ever seen.
Project work begins
Spend the next few days volunteering alongside the island communities and a local NGO on valuable initiatives such as beach clean ups, sustainable waste management solutions and constructing new buildings for the school.
Chill weekend at the beach
Enjoy some well-earned free time this weekend as you make the most of your amazing surroundings.
Last day at project work
Spend your last day helping the community on the island before your transfer to Kota Kinabalu.
Transfer to Kota Kinabalu
Say your goodbyes to the community in the morning then depart by boat back to the mainland and on to the vibrant city of Kota Kinabalu (known locally as KK). You’ll spend a night in a hostel here before we head to our next camp in the morning.
Head to Camp Bongkud
After breakfast, we’ll hit the road and travel to Camp Bongkud, a traditional longhouse camp located just next to the Poring Hot Spring in Ranau. You’ll be greeted by your Camp Manager who will show you around your new home before you settle into your accommodation for the night.
Community project work begins
Today you’ll meet the local community and gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which we are helping to support them. You’ll be helping to improve the infrastructure for the rapidly increasing population here, providing much-needed community facilities.
The weekend is the perfect time to relax and experience some of the beautiful sights that Ranau has to offer.
Continue community projects
Continue working on projects at Bongkud, working alongside the local community to improve facilities in the area.
Explore more of the incredible Sabah region on your final few days in Borneo. Take a trip to Ranau town, visit Kundasang War Memorial to learn more about the local history and experience the tree top canopy walk at Poring Hot Springs.
Back to Kota Kinabalu
We’ll take you back to KK where you’ll spend the night before transferring to the airport in the morning to start your independent travel between Borneo and Cambodia.
Independent travel days
Whilst you are travelling between these two amazing destinations, you have the choice to either travel directly to Cambodia or spend a couple of additional days exploring on route. Our team will be able to advise you on potential routes and any additional pit stops you could add in to your journey. As it’s your choice which route you take, please note this transfer and couple of days is at your own expense.
Welcome to Cambodia
Arrive into Siem Reap where you will be met by one of the Camps crew who will take you to your accommodation in the city. Here you’ll have an arrival briefing and enjoy a welcome dinner with your group.
Head to Camp Beng Mealea
You’ll be transferred to beautiful Beng Mealea where you will meet the team for an overview of what your time here will involve. Then it’s time to choose your bed in your new traditional longhouse home.
Sustainable livelihoods projects
Spend the next few days volunteering alongside the local community, helping to support sustainable livelihoods. Your work could include building a chicken house or water storage pot for a local family or improving infrastructure at the local school.
Welcome to Camp Beng Pae
Say your goodbyes to the community in Beng Mealea this morning as we head to our next home, the charming Camp Beng Pae, stopping at lake side restaurant for lunch on the way. You’ll be greeted by the Camp Manager who will give you a tour of the camp and brief you on the projects you’ll be getting involved in here.
Community development projects
You will spend the next few days working on local project initiatives such as building wells and constructing sanitation facilities for local families. You will also have plenty of time to spend with the local children and community.
Discover Cambodia’s past in Phnom Penh
Today we’ll hit the road and head to the bustling city of Phnom Penh. Enjoy a group dinner on your first night and spend the next day exploring the city and surrounding area. We will take you to visit the Royal Palace in the heart of the city. You will then visit the S21 museum and Killing Fields, Choeung Ek, an opportunity to learn about the Khmer Rouge regime – a significant legacy from Cambodia’s past.
Explore Siem Reap
Head to Siem Reap and take a visit to the nearby floating village on the Ton Le Sap Lake. There’s dinner in the city before the Cambodia Circus Show that evening – an awesome performance that brings to life Cambodia’s rich culture.
Ancient temples and Angkor Wat
Learn more about Cambodia’s ancient past as you explore the fascinating and iconic temples of Angkor Wat Temple and Ta Prohm (where Tomb Raider was filmed!).
Return to Camp Beng Mealea
After an action-packed few days in Cambodia’s cities, we’ll return to Beng Mealea today to continue with our project work.
Complete project work
Spend another few days working on the community projects before handing these back to the community and saying your final goodbyes to the locals.
Spend your final couple of days exploring the vibrant city of Siem Reap. There’s lots to do here, with plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy on the famous ‘pub street’ and bustling markets where you can pick up some souvenirs.
Say your final farewells before we transfer you back to the airport in time for your flight home.
Top up your trip
If you’d like to add in some extra adventure, we offer the opportunity to book some exciting add-ons which can be included within your trip duration or added on to the start or end of your journey. Speak to our team to find out more about how to add these awesome adventures to your programme.
Trek Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu (or Mt K as the locals call it) stands at an impressive 4096 metres above sea level and is the highest point in South East Asia. The views from the summit are utterly...Find Out More
Tropical PADI Scuba
If you’re interested in exploring life under the water and gaining your PADI dive qualification, why not consider adding one of our diving add-ons to your programme? Run through our awesome dive partners at PADI...Find Out More
Don’t forget… flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations. Please note, you must be over 18 years old at time of departure.