How to Volunteer in Vietnam

Volunteering Programs Vietnam

Vietnam might be less touristy than going to volunteer in Thailand but this isn't a bad thing, less tourists mean a more natural experience where you can mix with local people, eat the local food and also help worthwhile causes.

The Vietnam War ravaged this country from 1955 to 1975 and split Vietnam in two. Years after peace, Vietnam struggled to progress economically but this has improved due to international assistance and investment boosting the local economy and creating jobs. Large international charities, non-profits and also local NGO's have been working to help and international participants have been working on the ground to help with education, community development, healthcare and construction/building projects.

Vietnam is a very safe and politically stable country with around 4 million tourists visiting annually. Thousands of people volunteer abroad in Vietnam every year, this is a very interesting country to visit but one which has widespread poverty which is where the need for help comes in.

Most volunteer programs are found in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and Hanoi in the North of the country. There are so many ways you can give back and help and participants are needed all year round. If you need any specific help please contact us and hopefully we can match your interests with a suitable area. 


Why the Need for Assistance

  • Population: 83 million 
  • Life expectancy at birth: 70.8 years 
  • Adult literacy rate: 90.3% 
  • Access to improved water source: 85% 
  • Under 5 mortality rate: 23 per 1,000 live births 
  • Maternal mortality rate: 130 per 100,000 live births 
  • HIV prevalence: 0.5%

Source: UN Human Development Report 


Location of Projects

We list volunteer organisations, non profits and NGO's which are based in various locations like Da Nang, Tam Ky, Tuy Hoa, Hue, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Programs are not restricted just to the large cities though, you can find programs in rural areas and its up to you where you would like to go. Vietnamese people are very friendly and you will experience a new culture, tasty cuisine and a totally new experience on volunteering projects in Vietnam. You might also want to combine experience and view our volunteer programs in Laos too.


Conservation & Volunteer with Animals in Vietnam

This country might not strike you as a possible destination to help conservation programs but there are some really great opportunities which operate under the radar. There are various beautiful locations in Vietnam with flora, fauna and animal species which need to be preserved. Due to the population in Vietnam and also the rise in the number tourists visiting every year there are eco tourism projects which have been set up to help.

You could find yourself helping in a spectacular location like the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay or somewhere like the river delta. One placement we have on our website is a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre which is accepting new participants and where you can help animals. Wildlife is not treated the same as in Western countries and education is a big part of programs, you can either work directly with animals or join initiatives with the aim of getting communities involved in conservation efforts.


Community Development Programs in Vietnam

Vietnam’s economic growth is among the fastest in the world and the country is improving all the time but still around 35% of the population live in poverty. There are various initiatives where you can work on the ground to help build infrastructure in remote regions on the country. You might want to learn Vietnamese words and phrases for these roles especially when working with local people.


Childcare & Orphanage Work in Vietnam

People are needed to help at outreach centres and at orphanages in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Working at an orphanage or community centre is a very emotional but rewarding experience and local people will make you feel very welcomed. These institutions need caring and compassionate people all year round. 

Sometimes you might get to help disabled, ill and abandoned children which can be very eye opening, please research these types of projects to see if they are right for you. Tasks can include preparing food, helping with daily routines, making fun arts, crafts and music. If you are going to apply we recommend you stay at least 2 weeks, it can have a negative impact volunteers just staying for a week or two then departing. 


Education & Teaching Volunteer Programs in Vietnam

Schools are state run in Vietnam and parents need to pay for their children to attend higher education. This creates problems for poorer members of society who do not have the money available for structured education at colleges and universities. There are though locally run programs available which help local disadvantaged children and these places recruit and accept volunteer English teachers all year round. Most placements are voluntary but there are paid placements available if you have specific qualifications e.g. a TEFL course and teaching experience.


Human Rights Programs in Vietnam

In 2000 a law was passed in Vietnam which granted women have the same rights as men, but there is still a lot of work to be done helping victims of discrimination and abuse. In rural areas women face many problems like being forced into marriages at an early age and also not being given the same chances of a proper education than boys.

As a human rights volunteer in Vietnam you will get to help both women, girls and other members of society overcome the hardships they face in daily life. There is lots of really inspiring work being done by local NGOs working on women's right and you can do your part too. If you have any previous law or human rights skills you might be able to offer advice to people and help poorer members of society get legal representation.


Medicine & Healthcare Volunteer Programs in Vietnam

Vietnam has a good public health system compared to other countries in Asia and the average life expectancy for Vietnam is around 70-80 years of age which is very good. There are applications accepted for international participants to work in hospitals, clinics and outreach centres. There are options for all skill levels and abilities - you could help local doctors, nurses and other staff with admin, patient help and also directly working with people. You might also get to work in rural communities proving information on hygiene, giving talks and distributing medication. HIV and AIDS are also an issue in this country and you can help stop the spread of the disease.



Depending on your nationality and visa eligibility you should be able to volunteer in Vietnam. This is an extremely safe country to live and volunteer in and so don't be put off by images of war in the past. Most organisations in Vietnam will require you to be aged 18+ and don't worry if you don't have any previous experience in the volunteers field of work, you should receive help from local staff and training will be provided on arrival. 


Start Dates & How to Apply

Programs are operated throughout the year and you can sign up to volunteer today and join projects at a later date. If you apply through a large sending organisation you might need to pay a fee which includes a structure placement with accommodation, meals, transfers and support. If you apply direct to a local NGO you will get need to be independent booking travel and everything by yourself, sometimes you might need to pay a donation to participate too.

There are also summer and group projects which are popular especially with people on gap years in Vietnam but you will need to apply early to avoid places filling up. Experiences can last anything from a few days to a few months, its best to stay around a month at least to give you time to settle into a placement so you can get to know the people and really help. You might also like to view our Asia volunteering programs.