At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 3 meaningful project options
- Projects based just outside of the capital city, Vientiane
- Accommodation in a dormitory-style volunteer house
- Between 5 and 10 volunteers start in Laos each month
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from US$260 (approximately CA$355) for 1 week
- Uncover the authentic culture of Laos with an optional Introduction Week add-on
- Spend your weekends exploring Southeast Asia
- 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 Laos to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Laos 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 Laos with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Laos Program is based in Honkau Village just outside of the capital city, Vientiane. Volunteers are required to fly into Vientiane International Airport (VTE), which is a 13 to 16 hour flight from most major airports in Canada. Volunteer placements are located in and around Honkau Village and the wider Vientiane region. The Laos volunteer program begins every Monday. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.
Volunteers on the Teaching English project will be placed within local village schools or monasteries near Honkau Village. The school placements are in primary schools and volunteers will be teaching local Laotian children from disadvantaged family backgrounds. The students range in age from six to twelve years and teaching will follow the English curriculum set out by the local staff. Those volunteers placed at a monastery teach monks who possess varying levels of English, and range in age. Volunteers teaching in monasteries will need to prepare their own lesson plans to carry out in class and should focus on basic English language skills. The Teaching English project is ideal for volunteers who work well independently, enjoy a challenge and are eager to overcome cross-cultural teaching barriers. To see the students learn, develop and enjoy themselves is an incredibly rewarding experience. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, 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.
Construction and Renovation
As a volunteer on the Construction and Renovation project you will assist with light construction and renovation tasks such as improvements to medical centers, childcare centers and schools within the local Honkau Village community. The centers are all in great need of new infrastructure, as well as improvements and maintenance. Volunteer tasks can include but are not limited to, building, renovating, painting, restoration, carpentry and landscaping. The Construction and Renovation project is ever changing and the tasks that are assigned to you can be varied as they are frequently re-prioritized according to the specific needs of the centers at the time. Some typical tasks include repairing and making desks for schools, building fences, painting interior and exterior walls of community buildings and also assisting with water infrastructure for the community. You can expect to work on a variety of projects during your time in Laos and we ask volunteers to be open to complete the range of work that is required at the time of their placement.This project is suitable for anyone who is interested in physical work and who are not afraid to get stuck in and get their hands dirty. You do not need prior construction or renovation experience to participate on this project, as they work alongside the local staff to complete the work, although skilled workers are very welcome. The Construction and Renovation project has an extra cost of US$50 (approximately CA$68) per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
Volunteers on the Childcare project will provide care to children from childcare establishments near Honkau Village. Volunteers will be expected to arrange games and educational activities for the children, while also caring for them. While some basic resources are available, volunteers will be required to use their initiative to develop activities and bringing resources to assist with activities is strongly encouraged. Childcare work ranges from administration, cooking, cleaning, feeding, caring for children, to teaching, assisting with homework and arranging activities, such as painting, singing, and sports activities. At all placements, the children have fixed weekly activities, focusing mainly on education, such as English language classes. Topics such as morality, hygiene and Laotian traditions are also discussed with the children. Many centers also support creative activities, like painting, drawing, origami or dancing, and some centers organize visits to the river or local villages.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Wattay International Airport (VTE) in Vientiane. Canadian travelers are eligible to receive at visa on arrival for a duration of 30 days. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from date of entry and you need at least two free pages in passport reserved for immigration authorities. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation.
Volunteers need to arrive in Vientiane on the Sunday before orientation. When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Honkau Village. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Laos prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Vientiane on the day before your program orientation.
There are two options for orientation in Laos. The first option is a one-day orientation that starts on your selected start date, which all volunteers will attend. This runs for a full day and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Laos, including an introduction to the IVHQ Laos 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, arrange your sim card, and finish the day planting vegetables like a local! The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
The second option is an Introduction Week, hosted by our Laos team in Vientiane. This option is very popular among IVHQ volunteers and we recommend everyone take advantage of Introduction Week, as you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the culture of Laos, a true appreciation of local life and extra time to bond with your fellow volunteers. Plus, it’s a great way to help settle the culture shock you can face when arriving in Laos.
The Introduction Week begins on your selected start date and your volunteer program will commence the following week. Introduction Week in Laos does incur an additional US$20 surcharge to cover the additional costs.
Here’s what you can expect on an Introduction Week:
|Monday: Start off with an introduction to the Laos program, the local team, general rules and a class on the local culture and language. In the afternoon, learn about the local projects, go on a walking tour of the local area, arrange your sim card, and finish the day planting vegetables like a local!|
|Tuesday: Visit the local village in the morning to familiarize yourself with the nearby amenities and surroundings. You will them prepare a flower offering for a local temple, take part in a Laotian cooking class and enjoy a barbecue dinner at the volunteer accommodation.|
|Wednesday: Spend the day sightseeing in Vientiane, including a visit to the COPE Center to learn about the history of cluster bombs in Laos, and a visit to the morning market and local mall. Your afternoon consists of visits to the Victory Monument, Golden Pagoda, and Wat Si Saket. This is followed by a dinner on the riverside in Vientiane, along with a visit to the night market before heading back to the accommodation.|
|Thursday: After breakfast, volunteers meet to discuss their upcoming volunteer placements and receive the placement-specific orientation. In the afternoon, you will begin working at your placement.|
|Friday: Continue volunteering at your placement.|
Please note, this schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on the needs of the project, local and weather conditions, and unforeseen circumstances. If you wish to participate in the Introduction Week, you can indicate this on your application form when you apply for the program or you can let your Program Manager know once you have been accepted on the program.
Weekdays: After the initial orientation week, you will work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day and a typical schedule is as follows:
8.00AM: Breakfast at the volunteer guesthouse.
9.00AM: Volunteers travel to their placements by bicycle, tuk-tuk or walking. Start time and daily workload depends on the project that the individual volunteer is participating on.
12.00PM: Volunteers break for lunch and travel back to the volunteer guesthouse. In some cases volunteers eat lunch at their placement. After lunch, volunteers continue with their volunteer work (where applicable).
3.00PM - 4.00PM: Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to return to the volunteer guesthouse, plan for the following day’s activities or use their free time as they wish.
6.00PM: Dinner at the volunteer guesthouse. After dinner volunteers will have the remainder of the evening free to relax and use as they wish.
Please note, this schedule can vary depending on the project that the volunteer is participating in.
Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style volunteer house in Honkau Village, approximately 60 minutes outside of central Vientiane. The volunteer house can accommodate up to 30 volunteers and you should expect to share a room with up to 4 other volunteers of the same gender. All rooms are equipped with a fan and have a shared bathroom equipped with western style toilet and shower. Bedding is provided and volunteers will need to bring their own towels. There are staff who clean the accommodation throughout the week, however volunteers are required to keep their rooms tidy.
The accommodation is equipped with WiFi which volunteers are able to use during set hours of the day. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to access the internet.
Laotian food is very tasty and during your time in Laos, you will be sure to receive some delicious treats. Volunteers are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Breakfast is self-serve at the accommodation and generally includes tea, coffee, eggs, bread and fruit. Lunch and dinner are prepared in the guesthouse restaurant and will often include fresh vegetables, fish or meat, cooked with fresh herbs and spices, and served with plenty of sticky rice! Noodles are common at mealtimes too, as are local soups. Fresh tropical fruit is plentiful at roadside stalls and there are many street food vendors around Vientiane offering local treats. Bottled water is readily available in Laos and volunteers should budget approximately US$10 (CA$14) per week for this (2 liters per day).
|Length of Program||Program Fee $USD|
- All programs attract a Registration Fee (from US$299) on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your program start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- To see prices in your local currency, use this currency converter.
- The Construction and Renovation project has an extra cost of US$50 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. The Introduction Week incurs a US$20 surcharge.
- * Terms and Conditions do apply
- Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours, transport to and from placement.
- Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program
- Spending money - Volunteers in Laos generally find US$30 to be sufficient for weekly expenses
What it covers
- Most affordable program fees
- Expert support from a program specialist
- Full MyIVHQ account access
- Online volunteer training
- Comprehensive preparation tools
- Deals on flights and travel insurance
- IVHQ alumni rewards
What it covers
- 24/7 in-country support
- Airport pick-up
- Program orientation
- Volunteer placement
Volunteers have the weekends free and there is no shortage of things to do in Vientiane or further afield in Laos. Volunteers can fill their free time with local markets, adventure activities or simply exploring parts of Vientiane. Laos is a popular tourist destination, offering beautiful nature and scenery, with great biking, kayaking, climbing, caving, trekking and rafting. Volunteers who wish to take a long weekend to travel can enjoy the beautiful limestone mountains and waterfalls in Vang Vieng, visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang or even take a two-day cruise on the mighty Mekong River. Volunteers staying for longer durations, or who wish to travel before or after their program, can visit areas further afield in Laos and neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Volunteers can make travel arrangements once in Vientiane, with the advice and guidance of our local staff.
See our Laos Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Laos.
|Currency||Lao or Laotian Kip (LAK)|
Weather and climate: The climate in Laos is considered tropical monsoonal, days are typically warm and sunny all year around, with an average temperature of 29°C (84°F). The rainy season runs from May to October, and this is when humidity and temperatures can peak at 40°C (100°F). The dry season runs from November to May, and this is when the temperature is typically cooler and can get to a low of 15°C (58°F)
Volunteers who are under 18 years old will be required to provide IVHQ with parental consent and two character reference letters in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Laos.
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.