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
- Program fees from $245 for 1 week
- 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 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.
Although Vietnam has now been at peace for many years, the effects of war continue to haunt not only the adult population of this country, but also its children. Volunteers on this project have the opportunity to work in institutions 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. Work is somewhat varied depending on the institution where the volunteer is 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.
The Medical project in Ho Chi Minh provides skilled medical professionals and students with the opportunity to experience a new culture and working environment, while simultaneously developing their specialized medical knowledge. Volunteers are given the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of differences between medical systems in developed and developing countries. Volunteers are placed in a local Orthopedic and Rehabilitation hospital in Ho Chi Minh, where they work alongside a local doctor, nurse or other medical professionals who guide them in different tasks and activities at their placement. Due to registration requirements, it is important to note that you should expect to be shadowing the local staff; however, depending on your level of qualifications and expertise, you may observe operations, provide assistance in basic procedures and visit patients before and after surgery, as well as any other tasks offered or required by the local staff. While volunteers are always encouraged by local staff to see and learn as much as possible, the local staff are also very interested in gaining a better understanding of medical work in your country and learning about the similarities and differences.
Please note, there is a minimum duration requirement of 2 weeks for this project (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. Volunteers need to be at least 18 years of age and studying on a pre-medical track, in training or qualified in a relevant medical field. Volunteers will need to submit their CV/Resume to the local team at least 2 weeks before their start date and present a copy of their qualifications and certificates to the local team on arrival in Vietnam.
Volunteers on the Teaching English project assist local teachers at a tourism college in Ho Chi Minh. Students at the college are aged between 18-25 and many students at the college have a beginner to intermediate level of English and this project offers international volunteers the opportunity to assist these students in developing their English language skills. The students attend the college to learn all things hospitality which gives them a greater chance of securing employment in the booming tourism industry in Vietnam. The teachers are required to follow a syllabus and volunteers assist the teacher by helping students to improve their vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation and general knowledge of the English language. During holiday times, you may be required to plan and run informal English lessons run by the local team and a project coordinator will assist you during these lessons. As you will work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, you will not need to be qualified or have teaching experience 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.
Poverty is still widespread throughout Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh has a large population of people who are unable to afford regular nutritional meals. Our Food Outreach project is aimed at providing assistance to a local ‘Soup Kitchen’ to enable them to provide over 500 lunches daily to people from various backgrounds including poor elderly, low-income earners, disabled, students and children. Meals are offered at very low cost to patrons and volunteers’ assistance is greatly appreciated as it enables the program to further spread its reach and ensure the ongoing success of its operation. Tasks include food preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning the area after meal times. This project is perfect for those volunteers wanting to work hard and interact with locals while having a very authentic and rewarding experience.
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!
|Currency||Vietnamese Dong (VND)|
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.