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Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City

Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City

Provide care & connection for disabled people
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Choose from 1-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 6 hours a day
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Dormitory-style within a tourism college
Program fees
From CA$576 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

This program is ideal for:

Caring and compassionate volunteers who want to support people with disabilities. You’ll be working closely with placement staff so no experience or training is required. Volunteers with training or qualifications in physiotherapy are in high demand on this project.

Project details

Want to be a Special Needs Care volunteer in Vietnam? International Volunteer HQ’s Special Needs Care project gives volunteers the chance to assist people with disabilities in Ho Chi Minh City. Some of these people have been affected by Agent Orange, a debilitating toxin used in the Vietnam war, which has had lasting effects on multiple generations. Volunteers gain special needs care experience at hospitals and community clinics while helping increase access to care for people with a range of physical and mental disabilities.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The nature of special needs care in Vietnam is unique, due mainly to the nature of disabilities thought to be caused by a herbicide known as Agent Orange. The debilitating toxin was sprayed all over the country during the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people were exposed and the chemical’s harmful effects now span generations.

As a Special Needs Care volunteer in Vietnam, you will be working in hospitals and community clinics in Ho Chi Minh City, providing support to children and young people, some of whom have disabilities and birth defects attributed to Agent Orange. Your tasks will vary based on your volunteer placement, but can include:

  • Assisting with rehabilitation exercises and therapeutic treatments
  • Helping with meals and washing up
  • Playing games
  • Arranging music and arts activities
  • Supporting renovation work like painting murals
  • Helping with fundraising initiatives
  • Teaching English to local staff
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

Why do Special Needs Care volunteering in Ho Chi Minh with IVHQ?

When you volunteer in Special Needs Care in Vietnam you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving access to care for people with disabilities
  • Helping students develop life skills in a safe place
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining experience supporting people with disabilities
  • Immersing yourself in Vietnamese culture
  • Learning about the effects of the Vietnam War

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16 or 17 on their program start date are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional document to the local team.
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • To respect the local culture and customs in Vietnam, volunteers should be aware that they’re unable to have anything obstructing their face while at their volunteer placement.
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

Not sure which program to join?

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Joseph Hee
30 Apr 2024

I feel like I've gained a deeper insight into Vietnam than I could ever have had just traveling. I also think that being a part of a group of people from around the world who have similar ideals really felt like home. The volunteer programme was intense but so meaningful, giving us the opportunity to work with those with special needs and to keep them active and entertained, and show them care in a world that largely ignores them. I would definitely encourage someone who is thinking about volunteering in Vietnam to take a leap of faith and sign up, because they'd be in really good hands and meet people in their life they grow to love and care about.

Angela Liu
16 Apr 2024

I feel that this experience has made me grow as a person. I got to immerse myself in another culture and learn about its history and customs. It has also made me more appreciative of the life I live back in my own home country. I also feel rewarded with the feeling of giving to less fortunate communities. I feel that I have made some lifelong friends in this program and met many people from different cultural backgrounds which has helped me have a more open-minded view of the world. I would encourage anyone hesitant to join the program to just give it a go and stay for just a week to try it out first. It will be the best decision you will have made in your life. Truly a life-changing experience with memories I will continue to treasure long after the conclusion of the program.

Karen Pearce
05 Mar 2024

I am so pleased I did this. It was so nice to work with the local staff and people. Working with the locals was so much more satisfying then just being a tourist and looking at things. I felt like I actually connected with other people and learnt so much about the local culture. Was also lovely to meet other volunteers from all over the world.

Nicole Glover
12 Oct 2023

My IVHQ Program Manager was prompt in replying to all my emails & was very thorough in providing all information pertaining to my enquires.

The local team went over & above in every aspect with every volunteer member. They were extremely professional & encouraged a family environment. They communicated with everyone via a WhatsApp group and were very informative in keeping everyone up to day. Monday night family dinner night was a fabulous way to meet the new recruits. They surpassed every expectation. I can’t praise them highly enough.

I went into the program hoping to make a positive impact on the participants however it was them that left a lasting impression & impact on me. The onsite staff at the daycare program do a wonderful job & appreciated the job all the volunteers did.

The cleanliness of the accommodation surpassed my expectations and the meals catered for all dietary requirements.

As a mature aged woman on her first solo volunteer program, I couldn’t rate IVHQ & the local team highly enough. They were professional in every aspect, Catered to all needs & nothing was ever a problem. My purpose was to make a difference to those less fortunate however they gave me more than I could have ever imagined. I’ll certainly be an advocate for more mature aged volunteers. Age has no boundaries with like minded people. I can’t wait to sign up for my next program.

Isabelle Fairhurst
23 Aug 2023

Just go for it! I was hesitant at first about what it was going to be like. However, I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome by both the coordinators and other volunteers. One of the best experiences of my life.

Josie Day
21 Jun 2022

The local team were incredible throughout the entire duration! They are so friendly, caring and considerate of their volunteers and made my experience that much more amazing! I cannot speak highly enough about any of this team! They are an absolute credit to Vietnam and IVHQ. The volunteering was an amazing experience, from getting to know and interacting with the children and young people, to be able to help and support them and the local staff. A favourite moment was going out for dinner with the local team and my volunteer friends! We gelled together as a small family very quickly and I cherished every moment with them. Do not hesitate! Just book it! You will not regret it, and it will open your eyes to the rest of the world and change you for the best in an indescribable way!


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Vietnam with IVHQ


Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is home to IVHQ’s Vietnam program. With high-tech industry, upmarket hotels, skyscrapers, shopping malls and buzzing nightlife, the city has a modern, dynamic atmosphere tempered by reminders of its history under French colonial rule and of its fall during the Vietnam War. While Vietnam has made great economic strides since then, the country is still recovering from the war and many people, especially ethnic minorities and those in rural areas, live without the basic necessities of life or find them difficult to access. Volunteers are needed to support efforts that help to further reduce poverty and hunger for these vulnerable people.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins every Monday, and 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.

There are two options for orientation in Vietnam, a One-day Orientation and the Introduction Week Orientation.

One-day Orientation: This begins on your selected start date and all volunteers will attend. It covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Vietnam, including an introduction to the Vietnam program, the local team, general rules and a class on the local culture and language. In the afternoon, you’ll learn about the local projects, go on a walking tour of the local area, and arrange your SIM card. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Introduction Week Orientation: The Introduction Week begins on your selected start date and runs for five days. This option is very popular among IVHQ volunteers as you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the Vietnamese culture, a true appreciation of local life and have extra time to bond with your fellow volunteers. You’ll also get to see some of Ho Chi Minh’s notable landmarks, visit markets and take a Vietnamese cooking class. Plus, it’s a great way to help settle the culture shock you can face when arriving in Vietnam.

Introduction Week does incur an additional Add on for US$360 (approximately CA$519) to cover the additional costs. If you wish to participate in the Introduction Week, you can indicate this on your application form or let your Program Manager know once you have been accepted.

Volunteer schedule example


After the initial orientation day or week, you will work for approximately 4 to 6 hours per day. A typical schedule:

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 CA$2 - CA$5.
2:00 - 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.


During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Ho Chi Minh City or Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh itself boasts an incredible number of things to see and do. You could find yourself gazing up at the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, or down at the lights of the city below from a bar on the rooftop of a towering skyscraper. You might pick your way through the local morning markets, sample the city’s mind-blowingly delicious street food, squeeze through the underground Cu Chi tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war or admire a selection of ornate temples and pagodas.

Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to engage in tourist activities, such as trekking, joining Vietnamese history tours and visiting the Mekong Delta.

Accommodation and WiFi

You’ll stay in an IVHQ volunteer dormitory at ​a tourism college which is a 30-minute drive from the tourist area of Ho Chi Minh City.

You can expect to share a room ​with up to 8 other volunteers, all sleeping in bunk beds. Living conditions are basic; however, there is air conditioning and fans for the hotter months. The showers are with cold running water (nice and refreshing in the hot weather!) 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 this during your program orientation.

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 during the week.

Breakfast is usually toast, cereal, fruit, tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner are typically traditional Vietnamese fare and include a wide variety of rice, noodle and soup dishes with plenty of vegetables, meats and fresh herbs. On the weekends volunteers are only served brunch and dinner.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately CA$474) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $400 Equivalent to $57/day
2 weeks $550 Equivalent to $39/day
3 weeks $740 Equivalent to $35/day
4 weeks $910 Equivalent to $33/day
5 weeks $1,080 Equivalent to $31/day
6 weeks $1,250 Equivalent to $30/day
8 weeks $1,590 Equivalent to $28/day
10 weeks $1,930 Equivalent to $28/day
12 weeks $2,270 Equivalent to $27/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$474) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
  • Meals
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Return to the airport when your program finishes and transport to and from your volunteer placement each day
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in Ho Chi Minh

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Ho Chi Minh! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Ho Chi Minh program.

Cu Chi Tunnel
Cu Chi Tunnel

Embark on a captivating journey through history with our Cu Chi Tunnels Half Day Tour. Delve into the wartime significance of this underground network, crawl through tunnels once used by guerrilla fighters, and soak in the lush green scenery en route. Departing from Ho Chi Minh City, our luxury transport takes you on a scenic 1.5-hour ride to the tunnels. Explore the intricate passageways and even witness remnants of battle. With all-inclusive amenities and expert guides, it’s a memorable adventure back in time. Please note that the Cu Chi tunnels tour is included in the introduction week so you will not need to add this to your itinerary if you are already joining the introduction week.

Food Tour
Food Tour

A Vietnam Food Tour for the food lovers! Eat like a Vietnamese for a night! We will take you to the most popular street stalls and hidden alleyways in the city, showing you where the locals truly love to eat! So, save your appetite, delight your palate, and let us fill your tummy with delicious and authentic Vietnamese food!

Vietnam Introduction Week
Vietnam Introduction Week

Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Vietnamese culture.


Check what's required to visit Vietnam

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Hanoi
Population 96 million
Languages Vietnamese
Currency Vietnamese Dong (VND)
Time zone (UTC+7)

Weather and climate

Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate, with humidity averaging 84 per cent throughout the year. However, because of differences in latitude and diverse geography, the climate tends to vary considerably from place to place.

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