Volunteer in Laos
Looking to make a difference? Laos is slightly off the beaten track but ask anyone who has been here and most will have loved the experience of visiting and volunteering here. NGO's and charities have been working for years with the long term aim of helping people, communities, wildlife and the environment. Search programs and apply today.
Volunteer Programs in Laos
Search structured, free and low cost projects in Laos.
Guide to Volunteering in Laos
Laos is an easily accessible country, you can cross from numerous countries or fly into Vientienne from a SE-Asian city like Bangkok. Participating on an international volunteer program here is a great way to see how local people live, its a beautiful country and there will be lots of time for you to travel and experience the highlights.
If you would like to volunteer in Asia and visit a really beautiful destination which is more challenging than other more touristy destinations then you will really enjoy being in Laos. This is not a country to take a relaxing beach break for example, for a start there are no beaches but this country offers great value and more local experiences away from globalisation.
You can join educational and community based programs help friendly local people have a better future or you might like to teach Monks or help at orphanages. If you are passionate about helping wildlife there are several meaningful of conservation projects available.
We recommend learning some basic Lao phrases, this will really make the experience more enjoyable and easier. A lot of local people also speak French so if you know some great, if you don't pick up a guide/phrase book.
Location of Projects
Placements can be found in cities like Vang Vien and Luang Prabang which are popular tourist spots and great places to visit. You can join projects in more rural areas where you will see how locals live integrating into the society. There are lots of places of interest to visit in Laos including Luang Pra Bang which is a spectacular. The capital city Vientiane has interesting architecture but is a quite quiet city for a capital, there aren't any places which will take your breath away.
Types of Volunteer Programs in Laos
International charities and local NGO's have years of experience helping place volunteers on projects in Laos, there is a population of around 6 million people and a lot of people especially in rural areas live in poverty or need help. On community based projects you can really help people and provide much needed assistance, this will be one of the most rewarding challenges you can face in your life. If you would like to have a hands on experience consider teaching or coaching sports, you will get to work at schools and community centres.
There are also work experience available with business development and English teaching placements. Try to learn from the more experienced leaders, you will be impressed by their knowledge and past experiences - some will have been living in Laos for a long time. Some of the most popular placements include teaching English to monks and also helping out at local orphanages. When teaching English to Monks you can expect a really fun learning exchange, they are very keen to learn English and will be fascinated by you and where you come from. No previous experience is needed to apply for most non-skilled placements.
Help to rejuvenate a community in beautiful areas of Laos. Opt to work at a day care centre or a school and assist with a range of tasks from teaching English to helping decorate the buildings. As a volunteer you can choose to help at government run primary schools, working with underprivileged local children or assist at day care centres for pre-school children looking after the young ones and ensuring they are cared for and healthy. Volunteers working in primary schools will play a significant role in providing the children with a better standard of education. Teaching and activities at the school may include:
- Teaching basic English at various levels; including conversational English
- Organising creative exercises such as drawing, painting, music and dance
- Creating low cost teaching material from locally available resources
- Encouraging regular attendance of children by motivating their families through regular visits etc
- Promoting basic hygiene awareness amongst children.
- Decorating and painting the schools
There are some wildlife rescue and rehabilition centres which accept international participants to help out. You’ll be able to get hands-on with the daily care and preservation of local animals, with some days free each week which you can use to explore the local area. Tasks can include:
- Washing animals
- Daily walks
- Create elephant enrichment games
- Cleaning enclosures
- Getting food
- Helping eco gardens
- Make fertilizer using elephant dung
- Inspect and repair enclosures
- Go to town for food shopping
- Provide clean water
- Learn more about animals like elephants
- Upkeep and maintenance of project site
- Promote the project on internet
- Contribute to keeping the accommodation clean
- Help educate locals
Working Hours & Start Dates
When participating on volunteer programs in Laos you will usually work around 4-6 hours per day (this can depend on the placement though). You will also get 2 days off a week so you will get lots of time to explore, you could go kayaking, rafting, search out waterfalls or visit some of the spectacular temples dotted around the country. Dates are totally flexible and can be booked over a year in advance, you can start every month of the year and there is no best time to start. Please note living conditions in Laos might not be what you are used to, be open to the culture and friendly to local people, a smile goes a long way. Check recommend vaccinations before departing and any medication which might be needed for rural placements.
Food, Drink & Accommodation
Food and drink is very tasty and cheap in this country. Be sure to try the local sticky rice and also Beer Lao - this is the National beer. Sometimes especially during summer it gets very hot and humid so be sure to buy lots of bottled water. Hotels are very cheap in Laos but generally you will be provided with shared accommodation with other participants. Sometimes there are also home stays available which are a great way to live like a local.
Currency & Cost of Living
The local currency is 'Lao Kip' and you will get really good value in the country. Be sure to spend any local currency before departing the country as it will be really difficult to exchange outside of Laos. Don't exchange money on the border, this will be more expensive. Also try not to get left with lots of Kip, the Cambodian currency is very difficult to exchange once outside of Laos
How to Apply
You can apply by searching the organisations, NGO's and charities we have listed. Some placements come part of structured packages which include transport, meals and accommodation - these will require you to pay a fee to join. If you need any help applying people get in touch. To join most organisations will require you to be in good health and have a positive attitude to working in a new culture. A minimum of 2 weeks is usually required to join a placement but shorter and longer placements can be booked.
Volunteer for Free in Laos
There are also free and cheap volunteering opportunities available where you might only need to cover the costs of meals and lodging. We recommend:
Useful Words & Phrases for Volunteering in Laos
- Hello - Sába̖ai-di̖i
- How are you - Sába̖ai-di̖i baw
- Goodbye - Sôhk dii der
- Do you speak English - Jâo páak pháasaa a̖ngkít dâi baw
- Thank you - Khàwp ja̖i
Laos Volunteering Reviews
If you have ever been to volunteer in Laos and would like to share your experiences, write a review or give advice please contact us.