Volunteer in Laos, a Southeast Asian country surrounded by China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. It is the least developed and most enigmatic of the three former French Indochinese states. The dramatic green background laced with the magnificent Mekong river provides a heaven for volunteers and gap year students seeking for adventure in Laos. A ruinous sequence of colonial domination, internecine conflict and dogmatic socialism finally brought the country to its knees in the 1970s, and almost ten per cent of the population left. After two decades of isolation from the outside world, this landlocked, sparsely populated country is enjoying peace, stabilizing its political and economic structures attracting nature traveler and volunteers to come explore its wonders.
The lack of foreign influence makes Laos a top volunteering and travel destination for volunteers, gap year students and nature travelers. Laos gives an unparalleled glimpse of traditional South-East Asian life and with so many different experience to offer to volunteers and gap year travelers. From the fertile lowlands of the Mekong River valley to the rugged Annamite highlands, Laos holiday makers, green tourists and adventure travelers who have made it to Laos tend to agree that this country is the highlight of South-East Asia .
- The average temperature in Laos can range from 20-35 degree Celsius depending on the altitude of the volunteer project destination. For destinations located on highlands, the temperature may drop to 5 degree Celsius in the night so volunteer and gap year travelers are encouraged to be prepared. The monsoon season in Laos starts from May to November. This will be the wet season with frequent heavy rain. However these heavy rains usually do not lost for long so volunteering and travel activities may be not badly affected by it. From November to May, it will be the dry season for Laos. The best time to volunteer and travel in Laos will be from November to February as it will rain less and the temperature is cooler as well.
- The staple food of Laos is the rice and the sticky rice. The rice will be served with a variety of side dishes which consist of a selection of vegetables, herbs, fish, chicken, pork and beef. The main herbs used in Lao cuisine is mainly lemongrass, galangal and fish sauce. Fish sauce can also be served as a condiment together with the meals. Besides rice, volunteers and gap year travelers are able to try a wide variety of soup noodles which are also available from the food stalls and restaurants. Pho, a daily favourite noodle soup is one of the Lao food which can be found everywhere and it is very popular among the locals. Volunteers may also find that the Lao food is similar to their neighboring country such as Thailand, Vietnam and China because most of the Lao food is influenced by Thailand, Vietnamese, Chinese and French cuisine. Volunteers and gap year students who are vegetarian can also easily find for vegetarian food in Laos as most of their dishes are mainly herbs and vegetables.
- The common language in Laos is the Lao or Laotian language. It is also referred as the Isan language. Other dialects are used in the rural districts of Lao. French is still commonly used in the government and commercial business while most of the educated Lao have been introduced to English.
- All volunteers, gap year students and tourists require a visa for the duration of their stay. Tourist visas are available from your local Laos Embassy, Vientiane Airport, Luang Prabang Airport, Friendship Bridge or Savannakhet. Tourist visas are valid for 15 days and cost approximately USD30, multiple entry visas are available from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All further visa or immigration related enquiries should be directed towards your local Laos Embassy or consulate.
Volunteering programmes in Laos