Volunteer in Laos
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 $220 for 1 week
- Special 3-day volunteer orientation
- Spend your weekends exploring South East 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, organisations 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. 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 per week (excluding the first 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. Please note that the Construction and Renovation project has a 2 week minimum duration.
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.
The program orientation begins every Monday and lasts for 3 days. Volunteers need to arrive in Vientiane on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Wattay International Airport (VTE) in Vientiane. 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 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.
Orientation is hosted by our Laos team in Vientiane and begins on the morning of your chosen start date and runs for the first 3 days of your stay. This covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Laos – Introduction to Laos, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement as well as Sightseeing and Cultural Activities. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Day 1: Introduction to Laos and the local team and a tour of the local area. In the afternoon, you will participate in language lessons and vegetable planting for 2 to 3 hours.
Day 2: Visit to the local village and preparing of a flower offering at the local temple, Laotian cooking classes and a barbecue dinner.
Day 3: Sightseeing in Vientiane, including a visit to COPE Centre to learn about the history of cluster bombs in Laos, and a visit to the morning market and victory monument (Patuxai monument) and surrounding temples. This is followed by a dinner at the riverside in Vientiane, a visit to the night market before heading back to the accommodation for a movie.
Day 4: Volunteer placement orientation before beginning your volunteer work in the afternoon.
Day 5: Work at your volunteer placement and begin planning for next week.
￼￼Please note, this schedule may change based on local weather conditions.
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 per week for this (2 liters per day).
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 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 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.