Travel to southeast Asia and the country of Laos, where French and Asian influences collide in the town of Luang Prabang, a unique location to volunteer abroad on community construction initiatives.
You will assist in the construction and/or renovation of predominantly educational facilities, topping your volunteer holiday off with 4-day adventure trip in the surrounding villages, trekking and cycling through picturesque vistas as you take in the local and rural life of the Lao people.
Fully immerse yourself in Lao community life; experience and learn about the fascinating Lao culture, history, food, religion and language; feel safe in the knowledge you will be making a serious and measurable impact in the community; experience a fusion of French and Asian cultures in Luang Prabang; discover Buddhist monasteries and gold domed temples; cruise along the famous Mekong River as you explore a country still relatively untarnished by tourism; all in all, enjoy everything a holiday should be, but make a meaningful contribution at the same time.
GVI is real volunteering
Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.
So what does Life on the Project actually involve? See below for an idea of what to expect on a day to day basis…
Monday to Friday
On arrival in Laos and Luang Prabang, you will have an orientation and introduction to your new surroundings.
You will tend to work Monday through Friday, becoming fully immersed in the project at hand. With early starts your days can be long and the weather hot, which you should prepare for. Your day may be spent digging, planting, bricklaying and other physical activities related to the project.
Experience the local culture every day, with the streets packed with local cafes and Buddhist shrines, reminding you of your incredible location. At the end of each day, your evenings are free to relax and get to know your fellow volunteers.
Saturday and Sunday
Weekends are yours to spend as you wish. Luang Prabang is an interesting town in a fascinating region of the world, so make the most of it! For more information on your time off project and side trip details, see the Free Time section above.
Accommodation can vary depending on the project site. On remote sites you will reside in simple tents or huts within a traditional rural community, but if based in town you will have a private but basic room in a conveniently located guest house.
Laos ranks as one of the poorest countries in southeast Asia, where the problems faced related to a lack of investment in educational systems and facilities, right down to basic human needs. Many people live without clean water, sufficient nourishment or basic sanitation facilities.
Whole communities can be denied the assistance they require, and as such the country relies on external aid, that you will aim to provide.
How this project makes a difference
This project focuses on providing basic infrastructure by improving educational facilities for novice monks, students and the wider community.
With your help and contribution we can successfully look to improve some of these basic needs for the people of Luang Prabang and assist them in aiming to improve their future prospects.
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Luang Prabang field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Laos!
Included Side Trips
On completion of your project work, you will then embark on your adventure portion of the holiday!
Over 4 days you will depart from the regular tourist trail and deep into everyday Lao life, serving as a perfect reminder of your time volunteering abroad in Laos. Enjoying a mix of cycling, trekking and kayaking, taking in picturesque views, an elephant camp focused on protection of rehabilitation, homestay hospitality and a true insight into local life as you learn about local culture along the way, stopping off in numerous small Lao villages.
In the final 2 days, spend time at the waterfall at Tadsae, a multi-level limestone formation that creates numerous cascading pools and the beautiful hilltop village of Ban Tinpha. Finish off by kayaking down the Nam Khan and take some final moments to enjoy your last village visit before transferring back to Luang Prabang.
Optional Side Trips
On your weekends or while off project, the following short trips are popular with our volunteers and should definitely be checked out! Swim in the crystal clear water of the Kuang Si waterfall, enjoy the cascades and walk to the top of the falls to enjoy the beautiful view of the course of the water below. There is also a protected bear camp at the falls that is well worth a visit; take a ride on the Mekong River to visit the historical Pak Ou Caves that hold thousands of Buddha images. Visit the “Jar Maker” and weaving villages on your way back to watch the weavers at work; a short ride out of town, you can kayak on the Nam Khan River, discovering village life, beautiful countryside and lush green mountains along the way; experience the life of a Lao mahout (elephant keeper) at a local elephant camp. Learn about the elephants and enjoy the sounds and life on the river as your elephant takes you silently for a ride; take a guided city tour through Luang Prabang with an experienced English speaking guide, visiting the Royal Palace Museum and the beautiful temples of Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai; cycle through the Luang Prabang valley and experience the daily life of the local people, passing temple ruins and handicraft villages.
Further Travelling Opportunities
If you have the time and budget, there are a number of opportunities for exploring Laos further. These could include visiting the World Heritage-listed ancient temple of Wat Phu Champasak, the nature reserve of Nam Ha Npa, the elephants and villages of Hongsa, the dramatic Mekong River, the travelers’ adventure hotspot of Vang Vieng, and many more.
Even further afield, the likes of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all border Laos and are a travelers dream with an endless list of possibilities and activities. You’ll be left wondering why you didn’t stay for longer!
Build Your Program
- Pre-departure support and discounted services
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
- Arrival orientation
- Long term experienced staff
- Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
- All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
- Welcome meeting
- Location orientation
- All necessary project training by experienced staff
- All necessary project equipment and materials
- 24-hour in-country support
- 4-day adventure tour
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes