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Volunteer in Laos

Volunteer in Laos and discover a country that truly stands out from its Southeast Asian neighbors...

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Volunteer work in Laos

Volunteer work in Laos

Before you start your big journey and become a volunteer in Laos, you need to think about one of the projects that fits best for you! Furthermore, it is most important for you to think about what you expect from being a volunteer in a different country. In Laos, you have the possibility to volunteer in different fields such as:

  • volunteering as an English teacher
  • general educational assistance
  • working in childcare
  • supporting renovation projects in communities

Of course, it is a hard decision to choose the right volunteer work in Laos. In order to help you make the right decision, the following overviews about the different project types will give you more detailed information on what to expect as a volunteer in Laos.

Work as a childcare volunteer

Despite its economic changes over the last decades, Laos is still one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. The truth is that almost a quarter of the overall 6.8 million citizens of Laos live beneath the poverty line. As a consequence, families living in the poor areas do not have the time to take care of their youngest children when they have the chance to work. And this is where volunteers' helping hands are needed! The children you will be taking care of as a volunteer in Laos are typically between two and four years old. As an education volunteer in laos, you will have a variety of different tasks such as:

  • interacting with the children
  • teaching basic English words
  • teaching life skills and basic hygiene to the children
  • supervising (feeding, washing, dressing)
  • keeping the kindergarten organized and cleaned

You see that there are also different tasks that you need to take care of besides from interacting with the children.

Teaching English in Laos

Another amazing project focus for volunteers to think about is teaching English to less privileged children. The aim of this project is not only to improve the children's language skills but furthermore to develop their overall interests and ambitions. If you decide to volunteer in Laos as a teacher, you will have different tasks such as:

  • teaching basic English grammar, vocabulary and conversational phrases
  • creating practical, real-life situations in class
  • organizing and teaching extra-curricular classes
  • playing games, sports, singing, arts-and-craft projects

Support Community Services

Another way to give back during your time in Laos is to be part of a community project. Here the focus lies on construction work and the renovation of different facilities in local Laotian communities in order to create a positive, sustainable impact. So if you consider yourself as a more hands-on person, working in one of these local community volunteer opportunities in Laos is perfect for you. The community projects take place in different facilities, such as:

  • local medical centers
  • temples
  • schools
  • other community facilities that require construction assistance

Now you probably ask yourself what your tasks will be. The volunteer work in Laos will range from painting to more complex work such as constructing new buildings:

  • painting walls and buildings
  • restoration/ upgrading of existing facilities
  • building walls
  • upgrading and restoration of sanitation facilities
  • upgrading and restoration of used furniture
  • construction of new facilities and small buildings

You can see that volunteering in such a project demands physical strength from you. But being part of a construction and renovation project will also be a chance for you to interact with Laotian people from different communities and get to know their culture and way of living.

Cost of living

The suggested daily budget for living as a volunteer in Laos is between 10 US$ and 34 US$. This is an estimate made considering the average price of some of the services you might need and things you might want to buy. It gives you a general overview of how much things cost in this country, so you can be prepared and save the money you will need.

Additional costs you should consider as a future volunteer in Laos:

An exemplary overview of living costs in Laos (in US$, for one person) is:

Things to know before you volunteer in Laos

Before starting your volunteer work in Laos, it's important to think about the cultural norms you'll need to adjust to. In addition, learn about the precautions you might need to take. The following list might help you with that:

Safety & Precautions

Even though Laos is a safe country for travelers with rather few crime reports, you need to keep in mind that you are in a foreign country. The following are a few tips and precautions in order for you to travel Laos safely:

  • Pay extra attention when carrying valuables with you and consider leaving them in the hotel safe if you don't necessarily need them.
  • If you need to carry valuables, make sure to put them into a concealed money belt.
  • Do not carry large amounts of money with you. Take only what you need on that day.
  • When traveling the country, only stick to marked paths and do not consider to take off-road routes.

Culture and religion

Laos is officially Buddhist but has a count of over 47 different ethnic groups that are divided into 149 sub-groups with 80 different languages. You are more than welcome to visit one of the amazing temples all over Laos to learn about the Lao culture. If you do so, please keep in mind to act respectfully and appropriately in these places.

Health Advice

In order for you to have a great time volunteering in Laos, there are a few tips concerning health and disease prevention. Before you start your adventure and volunteer work in Laos, make sure to have valid standard vaccinations such as:

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
  • Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Polio
  • Flu shot
  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid

Besides these standard vaccinations, the US-based health protection agency CDC also recommends getting further vaccinations. This, of course, depends on the length of your time abroad and your actual volunteer tasks. If you will be doing a volunteer job with animals and if you will spend most of your time outdoors, these additional vaccinations are recommended:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Malaria
  • Rabies
  • Yellow Fever

Packing essentials

Before you start packing, it is of great importance to know in which season you will volunteer in Laos. The following list you will tell you some essentials we recommend bringing when traveling to Laos:

  • Light and comfortable clothes as the climate is most of the time tropical with high temperatures.
  • Warm and rainproof clothes as there can be major temperature changes depending on the area you are staying at.
  • A hat and sunscreen.
  • A flashlight, binoculars and good hiking/walking shoes for outdoor adventures.
  • Copies of all your important documents to store in your accommodation in case of emergency.
  • A basic first aid kit and insect repellent.

Who can volunteer in Laos?

As you will have noticed by now, there is a great number of different volunteer opportunities in Laos that expect different skills and abilities from their volunteers. While you can find out the specific requirements for each project on their program page, here are some general requirements that apply to most volunteer programs in Laos:

  • You need to be at least 18 years old for most of the volunteer opportunities in Laos. When in doubt, we advise you to get in contact with the local project manager, as in some projects you can also volunteer when you're 16 years old.
  • You need to have basic English skills to join volunteer work in Laos. Please note that some teaching projects might ask for more advanced skills though.
  • Depending on the project you're interested in, you might need to provide a criminal background check and a health declaration before becoming a volunteer in Laos.

What visa do I need for volunteering in Laos?

You have made it to the last section of this guide, which is another really important aspect while planning your trip as a volunteer in Laos: getting your volunteer visa for Laos.

Please consider that the following information is based on a best practice approach, which has been made according to the best of our knowledge and in cooperation with several volunteer organizations. That's why you should please make sure to discuss your visa requirements with your contact person on Volunteer World. If in doubt, we also recommend getting in touch with the Laotian embassy or consulate in your country.

General immigration information

Before you start your time volunteering abroad, there are some requirements that you should comply upon your arrival in Laos:

  • Your passport must have at least 6 months of remaining validity
  • Your passport needs to have at least 2 blank pages

Best practice for short-term volunteers

If you do not spend more time than 30 days in Laos you need to apply for a tourist visa. Please remember that the tourist visa cannot be extended. Please note that you can also apply for the tourist visa directly upon your arrival in Laos. Nevertheless, we advise you to take care of your visa beforehand. Make sure to submit the filled out application form to the Laotian Embassy in your country. They will provide you with all further information and give you a checklist of documents that need to be submitted.

Best practice for long-term volunteers

If you will stay longer than 30 days in Laos you should apply for the visitor visa. With this visa you are able to stay as long as 30 days, but in contrast to the tourist visa you are able to apply for a visa extension.