Volunteer in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 4 meaningful project options
- Projects based in and around Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam
- Accommodation in a volunteer dormitory
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Affordable program fees
- Special 3-day volunteer orientation
- Between 15 and 30 volunteers start in Ho Chi Minh City each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Vietnam to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Vietnam will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Vietnam with your new-found friends.
IVHQ has volunteer placements located in and around Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam. Volunteers are required to fly into Ho Chi Minh, which is a 6 to 9 hour flight from most major airports in Australia.
Volunteers begin the IVHQ Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh program on each Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks.
As a volunteer on the Special Needs/Childcare project in Vietnam, you will provide support within establishments in Ho Chi Minh City caring for children and young people affected by Agent Orange, or in schools, hospitals and community clinics looking after mentally disabled children. There are also placements available in local orphanages where you can support the day-to-day operations of the centers.
If you are someone who is caring, hard-working and able to understand and adapt to the differing needs of children with various special needs, you will be a great asset to this project.
Volunteer work on this project varies depending on the establishment where you are placed, however typical examples of tasks include assisting local staff in providing rehabilitation exercises and therapeutic treatments for children, playing with children and entertaining/educating them with games, music and arts, renovation work, such as painting murals, helping to develop fundraising initiatives to ensure on-going funding for these institution, and teaching English to local staff.
As you will be volunteering alongside our local placement staff, you are not required to have experience in Special Needs care to participate on this project.
As a volunteer on our Medical project in Vietnam, you will have the opportunity to experience a new culture and healthcare environment, while developing your specialized medical knowledge. This is an unique opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the differences between medical systems in Vietnam and your home country.
This project is well suited to medical students and professionals who are looking to gain experience in international healthcare systems. You can expect to be placed in a local orthopedic and rehabilitation hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, where you will work alongside local doctors, nurses and medical professionals who will guide you in different tasks and activities at your placement. Due to registration requirements, it is important to note that you should expect to be shadowing the local staff. Depending on your level of qualifications and expertise, you may observe operations, provide assistance in basic procedures, as well as in any other tasks offered or required by the local staff. While volunteers are always encouraged to observe and learn as much as possible, the local staff are also interested in gaining a better understanding of healthcare in your country and learning about the similarities and differences. It is important to keep in mind that the English level of the placement staff does differ, however you will always be supported by a English-speaking coordinator from the local team.
This project is open to individuals who are 18 years or over and studying on a pre-medical track, in training, or qualified in a relevant medical field. You will need to email your CV/resume, a copy of your medical study transcript and a copy of your passport at least 2 weeks before your chosen program start date.
Volunteers are asked to bring closed-toed shoes and preferably blue scrubs (any shade or style is fine). You can purchase tailor-made scrubs during orientation for approximately US$25, however please note these will take a week to arrive. There are also scrubs available to be rented for approximately US$3 per week but these are subject to availability.
Please note that this project has a minimum duration requirement of 2 weeks (which includes Orientation) and there is also a surcharge of US$25 per week (excluding the first week) which covers training and resources used on the project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
The aim of this project is to provide assistance to college students in Ho Chi Minh City who are needing to increase their English fluency so they can further their studies in Business Communication, Nursing and Public Relations. These students are typically aged between 18 and 25 and many have a beginner to intermediate level of English, so you will have the opportunity to assist in developing their English language skills while engaging in a cross-cultural exchange.
This project is well suited to volunteers who are passionate about education and are motivated by the opportunity to use the English language to help enhance the career prospects for students in Vietnam.
Your tasks may include helping students to improve their vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation and general knowledge of the English language. Volunteers are required to follow a syllabus which will guide you in the tasks you are required to assist with while on this project.
You are not required to have teaching experience or hold a qualification to participate on this project, however you need to be fluent in English and also confident to take lead of the class with the help of the other Teaching English volunteers. We encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
Poverty is still widespread throughout Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City has a large population of people who are unable to afford regular nutritional meals. Your role on the Food Outreach project is to provide assistance within a local soup kitchen to enable the provision of over 500 lunches per day to people from various backgrounds, including poor elderly, low-income earners, people living with disabilities, students and children.
Through the soup kitchen, meals are offered at very low cost to patrons and volunteers’ assistance is greatly appreciated as it enables the project to further spread its reach and ensure the ongoing success of its operation. Your tasks on the Food Outreach project can include food preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning the area after meal times.
If you are someone who is willing to work hard and is passionate about playing a hands-on role in supporting and interacting with local people, this will be a great project for you.
As you will be volunteering alongside our local team and placement staff, you do not need to have prior food preparation or hospitality experience to participate on this project.
The program orientation begins every Monday and last for 3 days. Volunteers need to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Vietnam prior to your volunteer program, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is mandatory for all volunteers and is taken by our Vietnamese team at the volunteer offices in Ho Chi Minh City. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and runs for the first 3 days of your stay. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Vietnam – Introduction to Vietnam, Vietnamese Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Vietnam, Introduction to your Project and Placement. This week also includes Vietnamese language lessons, a cooking class, a visit to the War Museum and the famed Cu Chi tunnels. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Weekdays: After the initial orientation week, you will work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day and a typical schedule is as follows:
7.30 AM Breakfast at the college restaurant.
8.00 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at.
12.00 PM Lunch break. Lunch is served at the college restaurant or at the placement. However; volunteers are free to buy their own lunch at their expense, which will usually cost between US$2-4.
2.00 PM - 5.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, prepare for the next day or do some shopping and sightseeing.
6.00 PM Dinner at the volunteer accommodation.
Volunteers are accommodated in a volunteer dormitory with other IVHQ volunteers at a Tourism College approximately 30 minutes by taxi from the tourist area of Ho Chi Minh City. Rooms are comprised of bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with approximately 20 other volunteers. Living conditions are basic, however there is electricity, running water, air conditioning and fans for the hotter months. While bedding is provided, it is recommended that you bring your own sleeping bag/silk liner (these can be purchased in Vietnam) and a mosquito net if you wish to travel during the weekends.
WiFi is available in the volunteer dormitory, however the connection can be slow so we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Vietnam. The local team can assist you with purchasing a SIM card during your program orientation so you can keep connected.
Some placements are located relatively close to the volunteer accommodation, however in some instances, volunteers may need to travel by public bus for 30 to 40 minutes to their placements. If this is the case, you will be accompanied by a member of the local team for the first 2 or 3 days to ensure that you know where to go and can find your way around easily.
Volunteers in Ho Chi Minh City are served three meals per day (two on weekends) at the college, which are typically traditional Vietnamese and includes a wide variety of rice, noodle and soup dishes with plenty of vegetables, meats and fresh herbs. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
“Thank you so much for all of your help throughout the whole process. I’m sure you hear this all the time but I really did have a wonderful time. Volunteering is so rewarding and having the chance to combine that with travel makes it a once in a lifetime experience.” - Allegra Boccabella (Special Needs/Childcare Volunteer in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh)
During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Vietnam. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to engage in tourist activities, such as trekking, joining Vietnamese history tours and visits to temples and visiting the Mekong Delta.
See our Vietnam Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Vietnam!
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Weather and climate: Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate, with humidity averaging 84% throughout the year. However, because of differences in latitude and the marked variety of topographical relief, the climate tends to vary considerably from place to place.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Ho Chi Minh City. Additional requirements apply for Teaching English and Medical volunteers, please read the projects descriptions below.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.