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 five 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.
Short Term Volunteering - If you wish to experience a taste of volunteering in Vietnam, you can register for a special 1 week volunteer program. You will spend the first part of your week with the other volunteers on orientation, gaining a cultural insight into Vietnam. This will be followed by 2 days visiting a volunteer placement to get an idea of what it is like to volunteer.
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 and/or nurse who guides them in different tasks and activities at their placement. It is important to note that as a volunteer, you will not be allowed to partake in major procedures and your role will be more job shadowing. Depending on your level of experience, 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. Volunteers are able to work within the fields of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy with children and adults who suffer from cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, congenital motor system deformity and other disabilities.
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 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 in training or qualified in a relevant medical field, therefore, volunteers are required to present a copy of their qualifications and certificates to our partner organization on arrival in Vietnam.
The majority of volunteers on the Teaching English project teach students at a tourism college in Ho Chi Minh. 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. Volunteers follow a syllabus and help students to improve their vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation and general knowledge of the English language. There is also a limited amount of Teaching English work available in local Vietnamese schools, kindergartens, hospitals and community centers, assisting staff and students with their English language skills. Many schools in Vietnam lack teachers with sufficient English competencies to extend the students’ level of English beyond basic writing and speaking skills. Volunteers help to improve the student’s pronunciation, listening and speaking skills, in addition to assisting local teachers in managing their classes, organizing games and other activities within the classroom. Teaching English volunteers must be fluent in English. 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.
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.
Orientation Week is mandatory for all volunteers and is taken by our Vietnamese team at the volunteer offices in Ho Chi Minh City. Orientation Week begins on the morning of your chosen start date and runs for the first 5 days of your stay. Orientation Week 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 Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace and the famed Cu Chi tunnels. The Orientation Week will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering (after your Orientation Week), you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: A typical volunteer day may be 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 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 air conditioning and fans for the hotter months. While bedding is provided, it is recommended that volunteers bring their own sleeping bag/silk liner (these can be purchased in Vietnam) and a mosquito net if they wish to travel during the weekends. Some volunteer placements are located relatively handy to the accommodation, however in some instances, volunteers may need to travel by public bus for 30-40 minutes to their placements. If this is the case, volunteers will be escorted by a member of staff for the first 2 or 3 days to ensure they know where to go and can find their 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.