Volunteer in an orphanage
. Vulnerable children need stability, and a revolving door of unqualified, unchecked, short-term volunteers is definitely not in their best interests. Furthermore, where there’s money there’s exploitation, and many orphanages have been created by unscrupulous owners with many of the “orphans” being handed over by misguided parents. The number of “orphanages” in Siem Reap (population: 100,000) has risen to 35 – not in line with the number of true orphans, but with the number of tourists. Worse still, research has revealed that conditions may be kept deliberately pitiful to encourage higher donations.
Rush through it all
. It really helps to pace yourself at Angkor to avoid getting some kind of temple burn out. Visiting at different times of the day, hiring a bike to get around or reading about a specific site prior to setting off are all good ideas to keep things fresh, and following a knowledgeable guide is definitely the best way to make the most of your time.
. We could say this about any destination, but Angkor Wat has a very pressing problem with overuse of water. Two million tourists visit Siem Reap every year which takes its toll on the water supply. Increased pumping of groundwater is damaging the temples, and it’s up to travelers to act responsibly by opting for accommodation that has an active water policy, and only using water when absolutely necessary.
. The thought of riding an elephant around Bayon temple may seem glamourous at first, but once you have researched what went into “training” that elephant you may feel differently. Riding elephants damages their spines – and the animals have been beaten or prodded into submission so that they allow riders on their backs. Read more in our Elephant Trekking