Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia, Cambodia beckons with its rich history, vibrant culture, and unique service-learning opportunities. As a DMC dedicated to positively impacting disadvantaged communities, we are excited to introduce you to Vuttha Dam, an exceptional Cambodian tour guide who has been instrumental in crafting authentic service-learning experiences for our educational travel groups.
Get to know Vuttha, whose commitment to education, cultural understanding, and community engagement has helped make Cambodia a prime destination for meaningful service-learning adventures.
Vuttha has been an English-speaking tour guide in Siem Reap, his hometown, since 2000. He joined Discova (then Buffalo Tours in Asia) in 2010, and began leading educational tours from 2012 onwards. Since then, he has led hundreds of student groups from all over the world and has become an incredibly popular choice with many of our educational travel partners.
No stranger to the struggles of poverty in Cambodia, Vuttha has worked hard to be where he is today. He is determined to share the incredible spirit of his country with students, but also to be part of the positive development of some of the poorest communities surrounding Siem Reap.
“I don’t have a degree from a university. From 1999 to 2005, l was also a Buddhist temple boy, and my dream was to be a lawyer. Poverty and starvation drove me to be a tour guide, which later on l became very passionate about. I love to support, share and facilitate both local communities and student groups. I love sharing our beautiful country’s rich culture and friendly people to the outside world and also bringing the groups to see and learn about the real Cambodia. This is a great opportunity for students to see, to learn, to understand, to experience, to gain their personal growth.”
Vuttha guides student groups through every step of the journey throughout their service learning trips, acting as both a linguistic and cultural translator between the students and the communities they visit. His personal history and awareness of life in rural Siem Reap, as well as his long-time educational travel experience and knowledge, make him a perfect cultural ambassador and trip companion.
“Most of the groups spend some of their time at the homestay in the communities, where students and locals have opportunities to interact, to learn and understand from each other culture and way of life. The students also help to build schools, libraries, restrooms, play grounds, water pumps, water filter stations, incinerators and many other things. So these charity works were not only helping the communities, but it also was one of the best experiences for students to learn about kindness, love and sharing to others.
One of my main responsibilities in facilitating the interaction is by helping in translation, as the majority of locals don’t speak English. There were so many interesting activities including rice planting, making baskets, brooms, rice milling, cooking local cake, cooking classes, and dancing around the camp fire with our traditional music instruments…those are my favourite activities to share. I love to help share these traditions when I translate.”
Vuttha has been a part of and led student groups to many of our community development projects around Siem Reap, more recently including the build of a learning hub for the Knapor community, and infrastructure development in the Trei Nhoar Commune.
Vuttha has said that for many visiting students groups, getting involved with a service learning project in rural Cambodia has incredibly positive effects, often hearing students refer to these experiences as “life-changing”. Most have never come face to face with the harsh challenges of poverty, and through these educational trips are not only able to support the development of the communities who need it most, but grow their empathy as they learn about the contrasting realities of others’ lives.
“I love showing people the real Cambodia, this country has its own diverse culture and history. l have chance to represent Cambodians to the world, and guiding educational groups is the greatest opportunity to share our culture. I also love being me, enthusiastic, keep smiling most of the time, willing to fulfill the needs of the groups, patient and treating everyone like l treat my most beloved family and friends.
For students to see the real thing with their eyes and hearts is the best way. Also to be introduced to what they have never encountered before, is an eye opening experience for many. Their lifestyles are very different to that of people in the Cambodian countryside, and these trips give students the chance to learn and understand a different of way of life, and other people’s struggles.”
“Best tour guide ever”. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve received reviews with this exact phrase about Vuttha Dam. His guidance on tours (both educational and leisure) have had such lasting impressions on clients over the years, that many have also described their trips to Cambodia as the best they’ve ever experienced. In our industry we often say that tour guides “make or break” trips, and Vuttha has proven just how often he has made a trip. With the right attitude, on-the-ground destination knowledge and personal cultural insights, he, along with many of our exceptional Cambodia tour guides, have facilitated unforgettable journeys.
Here are just a few of the outstanding reviews Vuttha has received in the past year alone:
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