Cities & Sanctuaries

This program welcomes participants to the fascinating country of Cambodia where big bustling cities and sacred spaces comingle. From the metropolis of Phnom Penh to the rural countryside of Banteay Chhmar, participants will have the opportunity to explore Cambodia’s turbulent past and see how communities, big and small, are building for the future. We’ll study the genocide in great detail at the Killing Fields and S-21 Prison, immerse in Khmer culture and journey to Banteay Chhmar where communities are working to repair rural livelihoods, and venture through Angkor Wat, the largest religious complex in the world, in Siem Reap. We’ll interact with innovative community initiatives that exemplify the resilience of a population that has struggled for peace and now strives for prosperity. 

Hands-on experiential learning and cultural immersion provide a unique classroom where participants can challenge themselves while reflecting on the links between memory and justice, as well as tourism and sustainable development.

Program Highlights:

  • Embrace the complexity of modern Phnom Penh, from the beautiful temples and the royal palace, to the harsh realities of the Killing Fields.
  • Venture out to the stunning island paradise of Koh Rong Sanloem to learn about island life, the ecosystem, and sustainability while taking in pristine white beaches, clear turquoise waters, and the tropical jungle wilderness.
  • Learn about preservation and restoration efforts in a small Khmer village surrounding an 800-year old temple complex destroyed during war in Banteay Chhmar.
  • Get your hands dirty in the rice fields while volunteering at a permaculture education center designed to support local farmers promoting best practices in sustainable agriculture.
  • Travel back in time to explore the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat, a world famous UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest religious complex in the world.
  • Explore what life is like on the floating villages of the Tonle Sap.

Program Details

Program Itinerary

Day 1 (Monday, May 20, 2024): Departure from Nazareth to Toronto by bus at 8am. 

  • Arrival at YYZ around 11AM. 

  • Overnight flight to Dubai.


Day 2 (Tuesday, May 21, 2024): Arrival at first layover

  • Full day of travel


Day 3 (Wednesday, May 22, 2024): Arrival in Singapore

  • Extended layover in Singapore

  • Lunch at Chinatown Street Market

  • Afternoon walking tour of nearby temples - Thian Hock Keng Temple (Chinese Daoist), Sri Mariamman Temple (Hindu), and Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (Buddhist)


Day 4 (Thursday, May 23, 2024): Explore Singapore

  • Breakfast on your own at nearby Chinatown Street Market

  • Visits to the National Botanic Gardens and/or Singapore Zoo (lunch at or around the zoo)

  • Afternoon tour of the Gardens by the Bay

  • Dinner at Marina Bay; free time after dinner to walk around Marina Bay, go back to Gardens by the Bay, shop, etc.

  • Overnight in Singapore


Day 5 (Friday, May 24, 2024): Arrival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

  • Breakfast on your own at nearby Chinatown Street Market

  • Free time to explore other sites in Singapore

  • Afternoon flight to Cambodia from Singapore

  • Arrival in Phnom Penh in the evening

  • Meet our guide at Phnom Penh airport. Tuk-Tuks from airport to Hotel

  • Dinner at accommodation


Day 6 (Saturday, May 25, 2024): Orientation to Phnom Penh

  • Guided tour of Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

  • Visit National Museum of Cambodia

  • Lunch at Central Market

  • Afternoon visit to Tiny Toones (NGO serving youth of the city); travel via tuk-tuk

  • Tuk-tuk back to Sisowath Riverside Park (pathway where the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers meet); group dinner along the river


Day 7 (Sunday, May 26, 2024): Cambodian Genocide Memorial Sites

  • Full morning visit to Choeung Ek Genocide Memorial Site (commonly known as “the Killing Fields”); travel by tuk-tuk/audio guided

  • Lunch around Sangkat/Tuol area of Phnom Penh

  • Afternoon visit to Tuol Sleng (S-21) Prison Museum/ audio guided

  • Group reflection before dinner

  • Group dinner at sustainable restaurant


Day 8 (Monday, May 27, 2024): Phnom Penh to Koh Rong Sanloem

  • Morning bus to Sihanoukville Ferry Terminal (~2 hours 30 minutes); ferry to Koh Rong Sanloem (~ 45 minutes)

  • Check into Beach Resort (bungalows right on the water); lunch at accommodation after check-in

  • Relax at beach and free time to explore Saracen Bay

  • Dinner at accommodation

  • Free time in evening

Day 9 (Tuesday, May 28. 2024): Koh Rong Sanloem

  • Hike to Lazy Beach (30-45 minutes through jungle on other side of the island)

  • Afternoon free to explore island

  • Night tour to see bioluminescent plankton

Day 10 (Wednesday, May 29, 2024): Koh Rong Sanloem

  • Optional snorkeling tour in the morning

  • Lunch at island restaurant

  • Free time in afternoon to walk around Saracen Bay

  • Evening at Bamboo Jam/or relax at accommodation


Day 11 (Thursday, May 30, 2024): Koh Rong Sanloem to Battambang

  • Ferry back to Sihanoukville (~45 minutes); bus from Sihanoukville to Battambang (~ 6 hours 30 minutes)

  • Arrival at hotel in Battambang; check-in and dinner at accommodation

  • Free time to relax in evening


Day 12 (Friday, May 31, 2024): Peace Museum & Temple Ruins

  • Morning visit to the Romcheik 5 Artspace and Cambodia Peace Gallery (travel by tuk-tuk; use DJ the tuk-tuk driver)

  • Visit to Banan Temple Ruins (hilltop temple partially destroyed by Thailand and the Khmer Rouge)

  • Lunch by the Banan Temple at waterside covered decks 

  • Afternoon hike to visit to the “Killing Cave” and Phnom Sampov (hilltop temples currently in use)

  • Visit to Buddha Statue carved into the cliffs and wait until dusk at the Bat Caves to see the bats come out

  • Back to hotel via tuk-tuk for dinner


Day 13 (Saturday, June 1, 2024): Temples & Tourism

  • 9:00 am departure from Battambang to Banteay Chhmar (~ 2 hours)

  • Arrive at our homestay accommodations organized by Community Based Tourism (CBT); 2 to 3 people to a home minimum

  • Settle into homestays and meet for group lunch at CBT or one of the family homes

  • Afternoon visit to learn about CBT and visit to Banteay Chhmar temple complex (learn about the temple preservation process)

  • Dinner at one larger family homestay and free time at homestays in the evening


Day 14 (Sunday, June 2, 2024): Sokha Organic Farm

  • Breakfast in the morning at local restaurant

  • Morning visit to Soieries Du Mekong, a local silk producer that weaves traditional Cambodian scarves

  • Group lunch

  • Afternoon visit to Sokha Organic Farm to learn about organic farming process and how to build a “mud house”

  • Dinner and evening spent at homestay


Day 15 (Monday, June 3, 2024): Sokha Organic Farm

  • Group breakfast

  • Full day of work at Sokha Organic Farm (working in rice and lemongrass fields, planting pineapples and other fruits, working on the mud house, etc.)

  • Community bonfire and BBQ to celebrate our time in Banteay Chhmar (karaoke included)

  • Overnight on Sokha Organic Farm (options for sleeping inside, in a tent, or in a hammock)


Day 16 (Tuesday, June 4, 2024): Siem Reap Orientation

  •  9:00 am departure from Banteay Chhmar to Siem Reap (~ 2 hour 45 minutes) 

  • Arrival to hotel and group lunch at WILD Spring Roll Restaurant

  • Afternoon walking tour and orientation to Siem Reap (Night Market, Old Market, Pub Street, Wat Preah Prom Rath, and Made in Cambodia Market (handmade market)

  • Dinner at accommodation or local restaurant; free time in evening to explore Siem Reap


Day 17 (Wednesday, June 5, 2024): Angkor Wat Day #1

  • Breakfast at accommodation; travel via tuk-tuk to Angkor Wat

  • Full day Angkor Wat tour with a registered guide (Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Tonle Om Gate, etc.)

  • Lunch at restaurant within Angkor Wat complex

  • Group dinner at a local restaurant in Siem Reap; Free time in the evening to relax at hotel, shop at night market, explore Pub Street, etc.


Day 18 (Thursday, June 6, 2024): Angkor Wat Day #2

  • Full morning tour of Angkor Wat (Ta Prohm, Pre Rup Temple, etc.)

  • Lunch within Angkor Wat complex or near Tonle Sap

  • Afternoon boat tour of the Tonle Sap Floating Villages

  • Group dinner and free time in Siem Reap


Day 19 (Friday, June 7, 2024): Siem Reap to Bangkok

  • Early morning bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok, Thailand (~ 6 hour drive)

  • Lunch on the way after crossing land border

  • Arrival and check-in to hotel

  • Walking tour of the city: The Grand Palace, Wat Arun Ratchawararam, Wat Thra Chetuphon Wimon, The Temples of the Emerald Buddha, etc.

  • Dinner at accommodation or famous street vendor area

  • Free time to explore in evening


Day 20 (Saturday, June 8, 2024): Day to Explore Thailand

  • Breakfast at accommodation

  • Morning group tour to Ayutthaya, Samnoen Saduak Floating Market, and/or Maeklong Railway

  • Late afternoon/evening free (dinner on your own - find a good Thai place!)


Day 21 (Sunday, June 9, 2024): Day to Explore Thailand and Departure Back Home

  • Breakfast at accommodation

  • Full free-day to explore Bangkok on your own; will meet at hotel lobby in the afternoon to depart for the airport (lunch and dinner are on your own today)

  • Flight back to Toronto

Day 22 (Monday, June 10, 2024): Full Day of Travel

  • Flight from Bangkok to Toronto; bus from Toronto back to Nazareth

Critical Focus Areas
  • Public History & Memory
  • Religious Studies
  • Peace & Conflict Studies
  • Urban & Rural Comparative Studies
  • Sustainable Development & Agriculture
  • Cambodian & Southeast Asian History, Culture, & Politics
Program Dates

This program will run during Summer A from May 20 through June 10, 2024.


This program includes all housing costs, which range from hotels, hostels, and homestays!

Program Costs

Program Fee: $3,600

Funding Sources:

For SPARK eligible students, you will receive the $1,500 SPARK Grant from the Center for Life's Work.

$3,600 - $1,500 = $2,100 final cost for SPARK students

For non-SPARK eligible students, you will be awarded a $600 scholarship from the Center for International Education.

$3,600 - $600 = $3,000 final cost for non-SPARK and graduate students

Program Fee Includes:

  • Round trip airfare
  • All hotels and accommodation
  • All meals part of the itinerary
  • All in-country transportation
  • All projects, activities, workshops, etc.
  • Bus to and from Toronto (YYZ) airport
  • Travel Insurance
  • Cambodian visa fee

Not Included:

  • Passport (must be valid at least 6 months past the return date of the program). Contact Josh Fess as soon as possible for assistance with applying for or renewing your passport.
  • Additional meals (meals not in the itinerary)
  • Miscellaneous expenses (such as souvenirs, personal care items, etc.)


Qualifying freshman, sophomore, and transfer students can use their SPARK Grant for this short-term study abroad program.

Reflections from Abroad:

Reflections from Abroad:

"This trip has allowed me to broaden my cultural lens and learn about what it truly means to be a global citizen. I will carry what I have learned on this trip with me as I continue to travel and create international relationships. This program has shown me the resilience of human beings. Genocide has happened all across the globe; Cambodia isn't the first place, and unfortunately not the last either. However, I've learned that it doesn't matter where you are in the world - love and joy is everywhere, despite tragedy. I've learned to see the kindness and love in people's hearts. The past doesn't define or limit the possibilities of the future." - Jamie Hogancamp '23 

Views from Abroad:

    Angkor Wat Temple Complex
    Rice Fields in Battambang
    Ta Prohm Temple
    Phnom Penh Royal Palace

    At A Glance

    Term: Summer A 2024

    Program Level: Undergraduate & Graduate

    Program Types: Experiential Learning

    Major(s): Open to all majors, and of particular interest to the following majors:

    • Anthropology
    • Art History
    • Global Sustainability
    • International & Global Studies
    • History
    • Legal Studies
    • Museums, Archives & Public History
    • Political Science
    • Public Health
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology

    Language Requirement: None

    Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.5

    Views from Cambodia: