Me and my partner are hoping to travel Thailand, Cambodia and Laos for a few months in September (the rainy season woo!). By the way, for those of you have been in Sep/Oct, is it really that bad?
The question I really wanted to ask about is about volunteer opportunities in these countries. I'm a bit skeptical of all of these touristy 'organisations' that charge a fee for you to volunteer! I would love to volunteer with animals especially, and saw a project with sea turtles or elephant conservation (but both very expensive).
Does anyone know of (or have any experience) of good/cheap/free & worthwhile volunteering??
Thanks so much in advance :)
#1 misscherie has been a member since 22/1/2010. Posts: 6
In Cambodia there are opportunities to do some volunteer teaching (usually language) at some of the orphanages. Think a search of the Internet (Google, Yahoo, etc) will give you a few.
#2 teacherdavids has been a member since 30/1/2007. Posts: 7
Hi my friend and I are currently volunteering for SAELAO Project in Vang Vieng , Laos. Its a great way to learn new skills, boost your confidence and really get involved in the local Laos community. No skills are needed. You just help wherever you can.
Below is an email we sent to Lonely Planet. If you need any more tips please let me know. Thanks, Arrian.
If you'd like to contact the project organiser directly, his name is Sengkeo (Bob)
email@example.com Mob. 0202 928 630
Dear Ms D,
I am writing to enquire as to the possibility of you and your associates within the Lonely Planet looking into a project in Vang Vieng Laos, concerned with sustaining the river, and jungle surrounding Vang Vieng. The project is aiming to build a community centre/school to both teach English and educate people about sustainable logging and farming techniques so that the area can be preserved for the future.
Sengkeo ( Bob) the director of the project was raised in Vang Vieng and lived in Canada for 12 years He has returned to the town to see a completely different place to the one he left He then spent some time working with the 'Organic Mulberry Farm' (see Lonley Planet for details) just to the north of the town and is still in frequent contact with Mr. Thi the owner of the farm. S.A.E LAO is based in Nathong a village 7km west of the town, 500m from the Blue Lagoon and Phoukham cave. The project is offering volunteering spaces where you can stay at the site in a communal style. You can eat traditional Laos food and learn tradditional building techniques and farming that are both sustainable and long lasting, you also have the opportunity to teach English to local children and the staff at the project in the evenings Monday through to Thursday.
Sengkeo also runs a guesthouse in Vang Vieng with his wife Kappet. It is away from the hustle and bustle of the town, yet 5mins walking distance from the centre. It is on the main road running through Vang Vieng, although rooms are set back in a tranquil garden setting. Rooms are immaculate with fresh linen and towels daily, with fans and en-suite bathrooms throughout. At 50,000 Kip/ night, we feel is one of the best value guesthouses in Vang Vieng. Money generated is used to support the S.A.E LAO project.
In recent weeks, whilst I have been involved on the project, progress has slowed due to a lack of volunteers and consequently funds, therefore the few of us left have come back into the town in order to find ways of raising more funds. We have teamed up with Z Bar and the owners Jac and Si have kindly let us organise fund-raising nights in return for management, advise and help from the volunteers. This relationship is one we hope to keep up as both sides are benefiting from the arrangement. We have managed to increase custom for the bar whilst raising money for the project.
#3 arrian has been a member since 6/2/2010. Posts: 5
http://www.saelao-asso.com -- En anglais, s'il vous plait?
If you check under the "Sights & Attractions" section of the location guides here on TravelFish, most will have some information on volunteer opportunities. For example, there's a variety of places where you can volunteer in Luang Prabang, Laos, some free and some with placement fees:
The Stay Another Day group keeps a comprehensive listing of volunte
er opportunities throughout Laos: www.stay-another-day.org
In Vang Vieng you can also volunteer at the Organic Farm which is also a beautiful place: http://www.laofarm.org/
I am the author of 700 Places to Volunteer Before you Die, but also the volunteer coordinator for Care for Dogs in Chiang Mai. There is no charge to volunteer at CfD. We are very flexible with when you work and can arrange a homestay in advance if you want to be off the beaten path near the shelter. I always like to meet other travelers and show them around, so check out the CfD website if you want more details. http://www.carefordogs.org/volunteer/travel-volunteers/
By the way, if you do pay for an Elephant program, I get more positive feedback from Elephant Nature Park (ENP) near Chiang Mai, than from any other project around the world and it is not just because I live in the area. Their program has been getting raves long before I moved here 6 mo. ago. I am naturally suspicious of too much good feedback, and checked it out myself when I arrived. ENP is the real deal
I have just spent 4 month volunteering in a school in North East Thailand and I think it was a great experience. I found the placement through Dragonfly Thailand (http://www.thai-dragonfly.com/), which is an organization that has contacts with various schools and orphanages. They charge you a small fee which is to pay for 5 day induction to the culture and some teaching skills, completely worth it. But I think they require at least a couple of months in the school, which by the way I believe it is appropriate as if you are teaching in a class you need to get to know your students in order to be achieve some results.
Volunteering is also a great opportunity to get to know better the culture of the country you are in and make friends.
regarding the weather, I arrived in Thailand at the beginning of October and it was hot, but depending on where you go in the country the temperature changes.
#6 chaeta has been a member since 27/12/2010. Posts: 10