Volunteer in Vietnam with Plan My Gap Year – an award-winning, international volunteering abroad organisation with programs in Hanoi, Vietnam. PMGY provides safe, trusted and affordable programs, with a range of volunteer projects in Vietnam, including Childcare • English Teaching • Medical & NGO opportunities.
PMGY Vietnam is located in the chaotic urban capital of Hanoi in the north of the country. The Vietnam volunteer programs start on the 1st & 3rd Wednesday of every month. Our projects in Vietnam run throughout the year and volunteers can join the program for 2-24 weeks. Volunteers in Vietnam are provided with an extensive pre-departure support service, airport pick-up, in-country orientation, three meals per day, volunteer accommodation and local team support.
Most Affordable – PMGY’s programs are accessible to everyone who wants to make a difference, through low fees and high-impact projects.
Best Support – Our international and local teams provide extensive around the clock services to assist you every step of your PMGY adventure.
Safety Prioritised – With safety a PMGY number-1 priority, we have taken all necessary precautions to ensure our programs are as safe and structured as possible.
Extraordinary Experiences – With PMGY, you have the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in amazing cultural and travel experiences, ensuring you leave with unforgettable memories.
Friendships for Life – Your PMGY experience not only opens up a doorway for new experiences and exciting memories, but also life-long friendships when meeting new people from around the world.
As a childcare volunteer in Vietnam with PMGY, you will work to brighten up the lives of young children, making an important contribution to their daily lives. Our local team and participants work with a range of organisations in and around Hanoi. Our international volunteers provide vital support and care for children and young adults in NGO care centres, kindergartens and hospitals.
Background to the Childcare Program
On this childcare volunteer abroad program in Vietnam, you will be involved in one of two project types during your time on the program. Our volunteers support a range of facilities in and around Hanoi. Not only do participants work with childcare centres, but also facilities caring for young adults and children with disabilities.
As in most developing countries, disabled people in Vietnam do not receive the level of support they need. It is estimated that nearly seven million people in Vietnam are disabled (8% of the population). We support NGOs in Hanoi that provides vital assistance to these vulnerable groups. Volunteers on one of these programs work with local staff to complement their work and enhance the opportunities of both children and young adults that they help care for.
Volunteering with disabled people is a challenging but highly rewarding experience. These projects require you to use your creativity, emotional strength and resourcefulness to make a difference. Through your hard work, you will not only change their lives but yours as well. Although challenging, the project offers participants the opportunity to showcase their skills in supporting others.
In the childcare centres we also support, the aim of volunteer work in Vietnam is to provide daily support in caring for children. In addition, childcare volunteers in Vietnam will work to nurture their English, confidence and communication skills. Roles may vary from teaching basic English to leading fun activities, and assisting with tasks such as mealtimes.
Childcare Volunteer Placement Examples
Friendship Village – This is a living, health, and educational centre for children and adults living with the effects of Agent Orange. The centre also provides healthcare to war veterans. Friendship Village was founded in 1992 by George Mizo. The American veteran wanted to help repair the damage caused by Agent Orange in the America-Vietnam War. The Friendship Village complex is primarily composed of: two living quarters, two classroom buildings and a health centre. There is also a vegetable garden, as much of the food is grown on-site.
The centre provides a home to 120 residents, aged from 4-26 years of age. The residents come from all over Vietnam and suffer from a range of disabilities. This can include Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, physical deformity, and severe mental disability.
Participants help out in a number of different ways. This can include collaborating with the teaching staff as to new ideas and techniques to help the residents. You can share ideas on how to structure lessons, provide an independent evaluation of the students, and work on updating profiles. If appropriately qualified, volunteer in Vietnam participants can also help in giving individual assistance to the students. Sometimes participants will also teach English to the staff, teachers and residents.
Please note that the minimum time commitment to join Friendship Village is 4 weeks. Volunteers on this project are advised to have experience working with people with physical and/or mental disabilities. This experience can be professional or obtained through education.
Khanh Tam Day Care Centre – This is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation. The project was established in 2006 for early detection and care of mentally impaired children. The centre cares for approximately 80-90 children, aged 1-12. Here, there are a total of 4 classes:
• Early Intervention – The target group is aged between 2-5 years. The program provides children with basic skills to develop (communication skills, playing with others and etc). Namely, this aims to help children integrate into society at an early age (kindergarten age).
• Primary/Elementary Program – The target group is aged between 6-12 years. The children in this class will learn how to read, write and calculate.
• School Function Program – The target group is aged between 6-12 years, with no ability to study standard primary school program.
• Living Skills Program – The target group is individuals between 10-16 years. These students have no ability to integrate into society or study a standard primary school program. Children will focus on learning living skills to help them prepare for when they grow up.
Participants will initially begin the project with an observational role. This will become more hands-on after generating a better understanding of the project and the individual abilities of the students. Vietnam childcare volunteers will start to provide a helping hand to run the class activities and lessons. In time, participants are encouraged to come up with and run their own ideas, bringing in new perspectives to the centre.
Please note that the minimum time commitment to join Khanh Tam Day Centre is 4 weeks.
Little Seeds Project – The Little Seeds Project is based at the National Hospital of Paediatrics in Hanoi. Aside from the medical treatment provided at the hospital, the children have very little social interaction. Quite a few of the children come from rural communities. Therefore, a family member, usually the child’s mother, will stay with their child 24/7 in the hospital. You can, therefore, imagine how stressful the whole experience is for not only the child but their family as well.
The time children spend at the hospital varies from a week to several months. We have therefore identified a placement where we can create regular activities and engagement for the children. The aim of this is to improve their psychological well-being. When hospitalised, the children face huge changes in their life and daily routine, which has numerous psychological effects. Infants, toddlers, school-aged children and teenagers all respond differently to illness in regards to their individual development.
Without the right stimulation and routine, long-term hospitalisation will result in a higher susceptibility to long-term psychological damage. The program aims to bring entertainment to the children and pay attention to specific needs that develop during long-term hospitalisation. Responsive activities will be strategically developed to support the various needs of the children. We aim to introduce a concept called ‘play therapy’.
From childhood to adulthood, play is fundamental in our lives. At a young age, we have not developed the abstract reasoning abilities and verbal skills to articulate our feelings. Kids, therefore, use toys as adults use words, playing to communicate in the same way we would have conversations.
Vietnam childcare volunteers will play and work with the children. The scheme provides them with the space to develop strategies, helping to cope with the difficulties they experience. During playtime, the children’s defences are reduced and it becomes natural for them to express their feelings. Play releases stress connects people to one another in a positive way, stimulates creativity and curiosity, and helps to regulate emotions.
Volunteers with children in Vietnam create an environment where the children can grow, play and learn with adults who are respectful and understanding of their needs. Furthermore, the sessions give family members a much-needed break. A mother may use this time to take a shower, buy groceries, or just take some time for herself. The mothers and families take great joy in seeing their child being happy and interacting with other kids. This opportunity for the families also helps relieve pressures, assisting them to cope with the situation as a whole.
The project generally takes place across mornings and afternoons. Three days a week, the project runs only in the morning. This means that participants will get two afternoons off a week as well. PMGY participants will work alongside local volunteers who will help with translation and general support. We expect participants to spend an additional 1-2 hours each day preparing activities for their sessions at the hospital. The number of children who turn up each day varies. This can depend on how the children are feeling and if they have any treatments scheduled for the afternoon.
The average group size is 5-10. The children can also vary on a daily basis given the nature of volunteering at a hospital. The children differ in age, so participants will need to prepare a range of activities. At the hospital, there is a small classroom where the sessions take place. Within the room, there are some limited resources available for you to use, such as board games and play-doh. Our Volunteer House also has resources you can take to the hospital. There are also plenty of places you can purchase additional materials should you require them.
Morning Star Centre (Sao Mai) – Founded in 1995, Morning Star centre is a subsidiary of the Vietnam Relief Association for Children with Disabilities. The centre has nearly 70 staff members caring for approximately 150 children ranging in age from 1-25 years. Morning Star’s mission is to provide opportunities for children and young adults with special needs. Local staff and volunteers work to ensure that individuals receive education and training. This aims to help them successfully play their part in the local community. The centre strives to provide assistance for those children suffering from developmental disabilities including Down’s Syndrome, Autism and Cerebral Palsy.
The children are grouped in smaller classes of around 12-13 children. On average, there are 2-3 teachers per class. The classes are tailored to the needs of the children. Participants can get involved in a range of activities from basic education, motor skill development, play therapy and physical education sessions.
Where possible, Morning Star strives to prepare the children to enter mainstream education. However, it is quite common for former pupils who have entered mainstream education to return to Morning Star. This is unfortunate because government schools are by no means equipped to welcome special needs students.
In addition to their traditional classes, each pupil will also participate in one-on-one occupational and/or speech therapy classes. Volunteers with relevant experience may have the opportunity to sit on in these sessions to provide further guidance to staff members. However, participants with the appropriate experience will not be able to run these sessions independently.
Phuc Tue Centre – Phuc Tue Centre was established in June 2001 and provides support to around 75 children and young adults. The students range from 2-30 years of age and suffer from a variety of physical and mental disabilities. These include the effects of Agent Orange, Autism, Down Syndrome and Japanese Encephalitis. The centre aims to provide the children with the support needed to facilitate them to become as independent as possible. Therefore, it is hoped that in this way, the students will be able to integrate into mainstream society.
There are 4 classes at Phuc Tue and 12 teachers work at the centre. All of the teachers graduated from the Hanoi National University of Education. Participants assist the staff in their daily activities and sessions. These include early grade academic learning, life skills training and physical education/therapy. During the lessons, volunteers assist the teaching staff, often working one-on-one with individuals. The students really enjoy dancing and singing, so any type of musical activity is always popular. A few of the children can speak a little English which participants can work to enhance. As well as providing assistance in the classroom, Vietnam childcare volunteers can help to feed the children requiring special assistance during mealtimes.
Morning Star offers some vocational and pre-vocational courses for teenagers before sending them to outside vocational schools. The courses help increase the student’s independence and confidence, and their abilities to get enrolled in professional training centres outside. Having recently set up a coffee shop within the centre, some of the students help out here. Through this scheme, the students receive valuable experience in working and interacting with the public. Many students have also been participating in cooking lessons, with the eventual to sell these masterpieces within the shop.
Ruby Kindergarten – The centre was founded in 2013 and currently hosts up to 90 children. Spread over two floors, there are a total of 5 classes, split according to age group. Within each of these classes are between 10-15 children. There are three older classes and two younger classes.
Each day starts with stimulating exercises, helping to wake up the children (and volunteers!) in preparation for the day ahead. Volunteers then start with their designated older class for 1.5 hours. As a volunteer with children in Vietnam, you are encouraged to help lead activities that promote very basic English. After feeding time and a nap, class time starts up again. Participants spend the afternoon with one of the younger classes.
Volunteers with children in Vietnam are always accompanied by a Vietnamese teacher during their time at the project. However, it is important for participants to prepare activities for the classes in advance. This ensures that the time is used most productively. A member of the local team will be available to make suggestions and steer you in the right direction. The kindergarten has a whole host of resources you may wish to use. Additional items may be found in the Volunteer House.
Smile Kindergarten – This centre is home to children aged from 12 months to 6 years old. The kindergarten’s mission is to explore and develop children’s abilities. This is done through teaching art subjects, languages and various methods of communication. It also has different clubs in the school where the kids can nurture their talents and cater to their hobbies.
Generally, one class will hold 15-20 kids. The participants are expected to help the children improve their English through songs, dance and informal education. They should be creative in generating fun basic educational materials. Doing this allows the children to become more confident in their communication and mannerisms. This may include arranging drawing, painting and handicraft activities. There will also be a local teacher in the class to help the volunteers if needed.
The Centre for the Future of Autistic Kids – Known locally as ‘Lac Long Quan’, the centre was established in 2005. The founder of the centre was initially a psychiatrist working with parents of autistic children. The founder believed that there was a lack of support within the community. With this in mind, she decided to set up her own centre to care for these children. This would also help provide respite for the parents. Since the initial opening of the centre, the doors have been opened to a bigger cohort of children. This means that the centre can now provide care for those with Downs Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy too.
There are three floors to the centre, divided depending on the severity of each pupils’ disorder and age. The centre aims to provide support and education, enabling the pupils to eventually enter mainstream primary and/or high school. For those who may find this difficult, the centre continues to provide the support that instead promotes the development of vocational skills.
Volunteers on this project work with the younger pupils in two of the three classes. The role of a participant on the childcare volunteer program in Vietnam is largely dependent on project needs at the time and any relevant experience/qualifications. Roles may vary, from performing one-on-one or group activities that promote motor and sensory skills, to supporting the advanced students as they attend basic English and maths classes.
Volunteers with a background in physio- or occupational therapies may have an opportunity to work with the staff in this field. The staff really appreciate any guidance and feedback, so knowledge in these fields, although not essential, is invaluable.
Volunteers on this program are strongly advised to join the project for a minimum duration of 3-4 weeks.
Your Volunteer Role & Typical Childcare Day
Each of our Vietnam volunteer programs mentioned will have different expectations and roles for their international volunteers. In general, you can expect to provide daily hands-on care, interaction and attention for those who need it most. We try our best to outline expected roles under the specific ‘Project Placement Placements’ above. However, it must be noted that these roles can still vary.
Whilst each project location is different, as a childcare volunteer in Vietnam you will typically volunteer for around 4-6 hours per day. Participants are usually only expected to volunteer 4 days per week, however, Monday-Friday is possible. Project hours each day will vary depending on the location. Typically, participants will partake in the project from 9am-12pm and then 2-5pm, although this can vary.
Volunteers will usually travel by public bus to and from the project each day. This fee is included in the Program Fee. Volunteers will either be provided with a bus pass in-country or reimbursed their travel fares on a weekly basis. The bus station is around a 10 minute walk from the Volunteer House.
As a volunteer teaching English in Vietnam with PMGY, you will work to encourage students to develop skills that will help them to achieve their future goals. Conversing with fluent, native English speakers greatly improves their language skills, essential for future employment. This project provides the perfect opportunity for international volunteers to teach English in Vietnam, putting their leadership skills into practice across schools and communities in Hanoi.
Background to the Teaching Program
Education is becoming an increasingly important issue in Vietnam. Traditionally, agriculture has provided jobs for the masses, but this sector’s growth has plummeted. Nowadays, international commercial trade governs the Vietnamese economy, especially in major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This economic shift has created a greater demand for skilled labour and a workforce that is multilingual. In such circumstances, English is frequently the main language required.
In recent years, access to primary and secondary education has risen significantly, and schools have received increased levels of funding. Furthermore, there is a greater focus on physical, psychological, social and emotional growth, alongside general educational achievement. English language training was introduced into the national curriculum in 2010. This follows continued recognition from the government for the importance of the ability to speak English to young people.
PMGY support a range of educational establishments and classes, from government high schools, universities and education classes for the local community. The aim of our teachers in Vietnam is to create an environment to encourage students to practice their English and improve their confidence. We encourage volunteers in Vietnam participants to keep the lessons fun. Being creative to make the lessons interesting will encourage the students to engage and improve their confidence.
Teaching Volunteer Placement Example
Community & University Classes – Alongside our work with schools in Hanoi, our volunteers in Vietnam contribute to a number of community classes. These take place within the local community and nearby Universities. There are typically four different levels of classes per Community/University setting. Each class will attend two sessions per week. Every day, participants will engage in two classes: one morning, and one afternoon. The first hour of the lesson will typically focus on learning and understanding English vocabulary and phrases. The second hour tends to then concentrate on putting this into practice.
The community classes are attended by high school and university students wishing to improve their English. Unfortunately, these individuals cannot afford private tuition. Most of the students come from rural areas and move to the city to attend university. The aim of the classes is to create a fun and interactive environment for the class participants to practice their English. On average 5-20 people attend each class.
High Schools – The main school we support is Nguyen Tat Thanh (NTT) project. NTT is a secondary school (11-18 years of age), home to over 2,500 students. English language skills are of growing importance at the school. However, the local teachers tend to focus on teaching listening, reading and writing skills, rather than focussing on communication skills. This is often because this is an area they are limited in themselves.
NTT is fairly well-resourced, but the school cannot afford to hire enough native speaking English staff. Furthermore, with large class sizes, it is difficult for teachers to give students the individual attention they need. Therefore, English speaking volunteers make an invaluable contribution to the school’s ambition to improve the English of their students. There may also the chance to help with sports classes: badminton, basketball, football and volleyball are the main sports taught. If willing, as a volunteer teaching English in Vietnam, you can also spend time helping improve the English of the teaching staff. This helps bring about long development at the school.
Your Volunteer Role & Typical Teaching Day
On this volunteer teaching English abroad program, you will be responsible for preparing and leading your own activities within the lessons. Depending on the volunteer project location you may be required to follow a curriculum. Communication with the local teachers and staff is therefore key, ensuring they can support with the lessons and activities you prepare.
As an English teacher on this Vietnam volunteer program, you must be proactive in taking lead around the topic. Our local team will be on hand to guide you as you plan your lessons. They will give you an idea of what former participants have taught and what students wish to learn. We will also give you ideas on what activities you can implement when teaching. To teach English in Vietnam, there is no requirement to have taught before. Where possible our local team aim to segment the group the students relative to their ability and level of English. This helps to improve the structure and productivity of the classes.
Whilst each project is different, the typical working hours to teach English in Vietnam are 8am to 6pm Monday to Thursday. In school settings, participants will be expected to teach up to four classes per day. Typically, two classes will be taught in the morning and the same in the afternoon. Each class lasts approximately 45 minutes, with a 10 minute break between two consecutive classes. Lunch is taken between the morning and afternoon sessions. With up to 50 children in one class, experience and confidence are great skills to have and develop. Volunteers must also be flexible, creative and having determination to succeed!
The university and community classes both follow a similar structure. Volunteers who teach English in Vietnam will lead two classes per day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each class will last 2 hours (4 hours total per day). In general, volunteers will be at the project from 9am-4pm each day, with an extended lunch break. Volunteers will teach 4 different classes each week. For all teaching projects, Fridays are not spent at the project and are instead used to prepare lessons for the following week.
Local transport to and from the project each day is included in your Program Fee. Most placements are located within a 1 hour commute of the Volunteer House. Volunteers will either be provided with a bus pass in-country or be reimbursed their travel fares on a weekly basis. The bus station is around a 10 minute walk from the Volunteer House.
As a medical volunteer in Vietnam with PMGY, you are offered a fantastic opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into the Vietnamese health care system. On the medical volunteer in Vietnam program, you have the chance to learn from local staff within Vietnam’s leading paediatric hospital. If you are thinking of a career in healthcare, or you are studying a health-related subject at university, this program will offer you essential first-hand exposure to assist in your career development.
Background to the Medical Program
The health status of the Vietnamese has seen significant improvements across the last 30 years. This has largely mirrored the rapid economic development that followed economic and political reforms, launched in 1986. This has led to increased life expectancies at birth and decreased infant mortality rates. However, everything is not as rosy as it may seem.
Despite the aforementioned advances, the workforce in this field still remains insufficient to effectively meet the needs of the population. In 2015, on average across Vietnam, there were 8 physicians per 10,000 patients. However, during the same time period, there were 28 physicians per 10,000 in the UK. Similarly, there were 26 per 10,000 in the US. The statistic was also significantly lower compared to other countries across South East Asia. This has meant that in recent years, too many patients for medical facilities has been an increasing problem.
Medical volunteers abroad in Vietnam with PMGY have the fantastic opportunity to gain volunteer experience and thus further their career goals. The various opportunities within the Vietnam health care setting expose participants to a variety of interesting cases, allowing medical volunteers in Vietnam to further both their background and experience in the field. Additionally, the program allows participants to explore the fascinating and exciting culture of this Southeast Asian treasure.
Medical Volunteer Placement Example
VNCH – PMGY participants on the medical program in Vietnam will spend time within Vietnam National Children’s Hospital (VNCH). VNCH is Vietnam’s leading paediatric hospital, serving a population of 30 million people across central and northern Vietnam. The hospital was established in 1969 as the ‘Institute for the Protection of Children’s Health’. It adopted its present name in 1997. Currently, the hospital has 1,500 beds, organising services and making a positive impact for 1,500 inpatients and 3,000-4,000 outpatients a day.
VNCH collaborates with the pediatric department of the Medical University of Hanoi, training medical students, specialists, sub-specialists, general practitioners, and MD-PhDs. The VNCH also holds up to 25 training sessions per year for doctors and nurses from all over the country. These aim to provide greater knowledge of Vietnamese health care workers.
The hospital provides treatment in the following departments: neurology, respiratory diseases, malnutrition, oncology, nephrology, endocrinology, haematology, cardiology, gastroenterology, surgery, neonatology, intensive care, emergency, infectious diseases, psychiatry, anesthesiology, surgical recovery, out-patient examination, physiotherapy rehabilitation.
As a medical volunteer in Vietnam with PMGY, you may have the chance to partake in some or all of the following:
• Extensive Learning Opportunities – Participate in bed-side interactive teaching sessions, ward rounds, ward classes and small group discussions. This provides an excellent opportunity to learn about patient care for Vietnamese people by interacting with patients.
• Take Your Knowledge One Step Further – Attend lectures/seminars/symposia (if organised in English).
• Engagement in Various Medical Settings – Visit clinics and units such as neurology, respiratory diseases, oncology, nephrology, endocrinology, haematology, cardiology, gastroenterology, surgery, neonatology, intensive care, emergency, infectious diseases, psychiatry. There can also be the opportunity to visit the blood bank and outpatient department.
• Watch Medicine in Practice – Observe surgeries at the surgical department and laboratory departments if their academic and experience background supports it.
• Work with Children – Play, learn and work with children in the Psychiatry department.
During your volunteer work in Vietnam, you may encounter examples of the following: health defects consequent of Agent Orange, tuberculosis, respiratory infection, malnutrition, and tropical disease.
Your Volunteer Role & Typical Work Day
In general, as a volunteer in Vietnam, you will be working alongside and learning from qualified staff at VNCH. Pre-medical students will up-hold an observational role only. As a medical student, you may get the opportunity to undertake some more basic hands-on involvement at your discretion. However, we can never encourage nor guarantee hands-on opportunities for the volunteer experience, as the decision ultimately lies with the medical staff.
Participants will usually travel by public bus to and from the project each day. This fee is included in the volunteer Program Fee. Participants will either be provided with a bus pass in-country or reimbursed their travel fares on a weekly basis. The bus station is around a 10 minute walk from the Volunteer House. It takes approximately 30-45 minutes to reach the hospital by bus.
Medical participants on the PMGY Vietnam volunteer project will typically attend VNCH between 9am-5pm on a Monday-Friday basis. Participants will have an extended lunch break to break up the day. This means that on average, volunteers will spend 4-6 hours on the project each day.
NGO volunteers in Vietnam work to help tackle issues, such as health and human rights, in and around Hanoi. As an NGO volunteer in Vietnam, you will utilise your skills within a very stimulating environment, helping to support an NGO in a developing country. This project provides the perfect opportunity for international volunteers to put leadership skills into practice and make a profound positive impact on the project.
Background to the NGO Program
The number of local NGOs has risen significantly, addressing various issues. These include as supporting underprivileged communities, environmental conservation and children’s rights. However, due to a lack of funding and trained staff, these NGOs potential for advancement has been limited.
PMGY’s Vietnam NGO community volunteer abroad program is a fantastic way to get involved in development work within a more holistic environment. University students and graduates will find these placements to be an exciting way to gain work experience. The projects offer the chance for participants to learn about core economic, educational, environmental and social issues in the developing world. Working alongside NGO professionals is an amazing opportunity to develop your skillset, gain experience and learn more about the world.
As a Vietnam NGO volunteer, you are needed to bring new energy and perspective to NGOs in and around Hanoi. Our participants help NGOs to continue to make a difference in Vietnamese society. Your role in this project will be dependent on the needs of the organisation and your experience. The opportunities are office-based and offer a great opportunity for university students and graduates to develop invaluable work experience. This program is a great way to gain insight and make an impact on social development on a more strategic level.
NGO Volunteer Placement Examples
NGO volunteers in Vietnam support a variety of establishments, and a list of examples can be found via the ‘NGO’ tab at the top of the page. Participants will be assigned to these depending on their skills, experience, interest, duration of the program, as well as project needs at the time. Projects that the NGOs are involved in will naturally come and go. Our team will try their hardest to match volunteers to a project best suiting their skill set. For this reason, it is important that this is well detailed within your application. You will be asked to send through a CV to a member of our PMGY team. This will help ensure that the NGO program assigned to you is the best fitting.
Below are some ideas of what you could be doing on an NGO project, making an impact on local communities:
• Content Writing – Each NGO we support has a website that is displayed in English. Volunteers with strong writing skills can review the current website content – proofreading and developing the content.
• Design – Volunteers with graphic design skills can help NGOs in promotional activities. This could be helping to design websites, leaflets or presentational material.
• English – The local staff really appreciate if participants can help improve their level of English.
• Finance – Volunteers with accounting and finance backgrounds can assist with bookkeeping and developing cash management systems.
• Fundraising – International volunteers have the communication skills to create and edit fundraising proposals and foster national and international alliances. Fundraising is the key to the future of NGOs. Whether it’s compiling a list of prospective donors and creating concept notes. In the past PMGY volunteers have been involved in creating fundraising proposals that have brought in five-figure dollar donations!
• Report Editing – The NGOs have to provide regular reports to their sponsors, partner NGOs and various committees. Typically, these reports need to be produced in Vietnamese and English. Volunteers can lend a hand in editing the reports produced in English.
• Research – University students/graduates have the analytical and research skills to design and support research drives and fieldwork.
• Social Media – NGOs we support are becoming aware of social media power and its ability to raise awareness and build support. Training the local staff about effectively using social media is a great way participant can add value.
• Website Support – For those with relevant skills, assistance can be provided through updating and improving the NGOs website. Better still creating or introducing new software/systems that improve the efficiency of the NGO.
Below are some examples of the NGO projects that previous participants have supported during their time as a volunteer in Vietnam:
Asian Management and Development Institute (AMDI) – AMDI is a science and technology NGO. The establishment provides research, training and consulting services to charities, partner NGOs and government agencies. The AMDI team is made up of highly educated professionals. These individuals have particular expertise in human resource management, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
AMDI has established and managed a variety of projects. For example, AMDI has conducted research to assess the impact of climate change on the Mekong Delta, near Ho Chi Minh city. This follows a prediction that this delta will reduce by half within the next 25 years, negatively impacting the lives of so many across Southeastern Asia. With this in mind, AMDI has worked to establish and offer solutions in order to achieve long-term sustainability here. AMDI has also been working on a conservation initiative to preserve Ha Long Bay. There are three main focal points to the program:
• To resettle the floating communities – Ha Long Bay has a number of small communities. Many of these neighbourhoods have created their own floating villages around the bay. Unfortunately, a large number of these communities produce an obscene amount of pollution. The initiative aims to create settlements inland with support services in place for communities to effectively settle
• Increase the environmental responsibility of local tour operators – Through heightened legislation and standardised requirements, it is hoped that operators touring Ha Long Bay can work to reduce and offset consequences on the surrounding environment
• Introduction of environmental education initiatives – The introduction of these drives is hoped to encourage locals and tourists to take greater responsibility for sustainable management of the bay
To work with AMDI, an NGO volunteer Vietnam is advised to have a good level of previous experience in this area. This is vital to be able to make an impact on their projects.
Centre for Education and Development (CED) – CED is the main establishment that our NGO volunteers in Vietnam work with. The centre is run by a dynamic group of experienced scientists, training specialists, educators, and development specialists. Together, these professionals are committed to education and development causes in Vietnam. The group have worked together for many years. Over time, teams have conducted research to both create and implement suitable programs to serve Vietnam’s rapidly evolving educational needs. CED works to develop innovative solutions and initiatives with a wide range of public and private partners in Vietnam.
The education aspect of CED’s work focuses on improving the level of teaching within local schools. For example, giving teachers the tools to incorporate out of the classroom learning into the curriculum. A frequent weakness with the Vietnamese education system is the lack of creative, engaging and practical learning. CED offer specialist advice, introducing ideas and concepts that will help make education in the schools more engaging and rounded.
CED’s development programs work with the private sector to encourage greater corporate social responsibility. The main issues targeted are climate change and environmental protection. The main environmental issue tackled is sustaining water supplies. Water overuse is an issue that will have lasting effects on the economy if companies do not start to take responsibility. These organisations must play their part to resolve current issues and work to implement a sustainable practice.
Centre For Sustainable Development (CSDS) – CSDS works to facilitate opportunities for young people. This is achieved through sustainable livelihood support and youth development via international exchange and non-formal education. Often, this is done through proposal writing, events and seminars. CSDS work hard to improve the lives of disadvantaged people and ensure children’s right to better education. Additionally, they also work hard to raise awareness on environment, water and sanitation issues. CSDS and NGO volunteers in Vietnam have worked to implement various projects. These include building schools and kindergarten for indigenous children, providing language and vocational training and educating school children on personal hygiene and sanitation. More recently, there has been a greater focus on training and skills for young people. Within this, there has been a large focus on building their capacities in networking, project management, seminars and sustainable development.
CSDS often hold training workshops on leadership, volunteer management and social entrepreneurship. These are held with the aim of empowering young people through capacity building and civic engagement. This is achieved through non-formal education approaches that enhance personal growth and social impact. CSDS sponsor a series of youth groups, working towards unifying youth and volunteer groups in Vietnam. This is achieved through the creation of networks and the introduction of tools of social media and volunteer activism.
Helen Keller International (HKI) – HKI is an international NGO. The organisation operates in partnership with the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology to support blindness prevention programs. The program aims to support visually impaired children in Kon Tum province. This is done by strengthening the ability of health professionals to provide paediatric eye care services. HKI offers outreach in a number of different ways. These include:
• Offering subsidised eyeglasses and eye treatment to economically disadvantaged people
• Check-ups and referrals within rural communities
• Education on how to recognise symptoms of common visual impairments and how help can be accessed. Early intervention can cure a wide variety of visual impairments. This education outreach extends to the importance of nutrition and myth-busting around traditional methods of eye care. This includes the use of herbal medicines
• Offering vocational training to vendors of eyeglasses. It is common that people with limited to no relevant experience of eye care, own outlets that sell specialist eyeglasses. The effects of wearing incorrect specialist eyeglasses can be extremely bad and potentially irreversible.
Your Volunteer Role & Typical Work Day
As an NGO volunteer in Vietnam, you will support and facilitate with NGOs in a developing community. This can be anything from content writing and generating reports to helping with fundraising and building finance. Your exact role is dependent on you as a person and your experience/skillset. Each participant is different and brings a unique set of skills to the placement. Volunteers work closely with the staff to help strengthen the operations of the organisation. You will find the NGOs open to ideas and willing to create a role to suit your interests.
The typical working hours for the NGO volunteer project are 9am-5pm with an extended lunch break. This means that on average, an NGO volunteer in Vietnam will spend between 5-7 hours working on the project per day. Participants will attend the project from Monday-Friday each week.
Participants on this project will usually travel by public bus to and from the project each day. This fee is included in the Program Fee. Volunteers will either be provided with a bus pass in-country or reimbursed their travel fares on a weekly basis. The bus station is around a 10 minute walk from the Volunteer House.
After confirming your place on a PMGY volunteer program, we strongly advise that you book your flights as early as possible. This will help ensure that you get the lowest airfare. You can choose to book your flights independently or we can help you with arranging them. PMGY has a wealth of experience in travelling to and from our host countries. This means that we know the most affordable ways to travel and the best airlines to use. PMGY have an ATOL Licence to ensure any flights booked through us are financially secured by the Civil Aviation Authority. If you would therefore like any assistance booking your flight, you can request an optional flight quote during your online application. Alternatively, feel free to contact us on the phone or by email.
For your volunteer trip to Vietnam, you should book your flights to Noi Bai International Airport for your Wednesday start date. The airport code is HAN. Volunteers travelling to Vietnam can arrive at any time on their designated Wednesday program start date.
Having an appropriate travel insurance policy during your time abroad is essential. It is therefore mandatory for all of our international volunteers to be appropriately covered across all of their trip dates. Although most of our participants experience a smooth ride during their time overseas, occasionally things may go wrong. Having a travel insurance policy in place helps you effectively deal with any problems you may encounter during your time away.
Plan My Gap Year Ltd is an appointed representative of Endsleigh Insurance Services Ltd, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We have partnered up with the insurance company Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive optional policy. This has been designed with our international volunteers in mind, to cover our participants for all of their travel essentials. The policy is available to anyone across the globe, up to the age of 65 years. The document will cover you for your time on any PMGY destination and any onward travel (excluding the US and Canada).
If you’d like to purchase PMGY travel insurance, you can add this option on during your online application. You can also add this to any upcoming trips with us by getting in contact via telephone or email.
Our International Team will work hard to provide extensive levels of support in the build-up to your trip. From our online chat service to email support and telephone conversations, our team are always ready to help. All international volunteers with PMGY will receive a Volunteer Handbook. This detailed hand guide will provide you with all you need to know in the build-up to your trip. From visa guidance to suggested packing lists, this will be the ultimate guide, helping you plan for your volunteer trip abroad.
We have Facebook groups for each of our volunteer destinations. Here you can find members of our international and local teams, as well as past, present and future participants. These pages, therefore, provide a great forum for participants to network, share experiences and community updates year-on-year.
Sometimes it can be difficult to picture yourself abroad without yet being there. We, therefore, do our best to further manage expectations before you arrive through a variety of informative and action-packed videos on our PMGY Vimeo channel. These clips help provide you with a visual perspective of what you can expect during your time volunteering with us. Our webinars are not to be missed either. Running on selected Tuesdays, at 4pm UK time, our International Team provides invaluable advice for your upcoming trip. Each webinar covers something different. Our pre-departure webinar covers all of the essentials you need to know and do before joining us abroad. Our program preparation webinar is more project-specific, with advice and information for the time you will spend on placement. Finally, our safety webinar offers you some top tips on how to manage your safety and wellbeing across the pond. For those who are simply interested in learning more about PMGY, our team also run an introductory webinar. This provides an introduction to the volunteer organisation, our background, goals and volunteer opportunities overseas.
Teaching and childcare participants may wish to take their program preparation even further, through a 60 hour online TEFL course. This is the perfect introductory course for working with children and teaching English abroad. Participation in this course enables international volunteers to acquire key skills whilst working towards an internationally accredited certificate.
Our projects are based in the north of Vietnam in Hanoi, around 30 minutes from Noi Bai Airport. As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi does not disappoint and will impress you on so many levels. It has all the attractions a visitor could want, but in no way is Hanoi touristy. With an array of cultural sites and some of the best markets in South East Asia, there is something for everyone.
Enjoy a bowl of Pho Bo (noodle soup), grab a glass of Bia Hoi (local beer) and soak up the atmosphere! Hanoi is the perfect location for those looking to really immerse themselves in a community. If you learn about the culture and pick-up a few Vietnamese words, you will find people to be extremely welcoming.
Our programs in Hanoi run from 2-24 weeks, beginning on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Our Gap Year Vietnam Experience, a trip combining volunteer and travel, runs for 4 weeks and starts on specific start dates across the summer.
PMGY’s volunteer opportunities in Vietnam program are run by our dedicated and experienced in-country local teams.
All staff have been fully vetted by our International Team. The committed local community network provides the structure for your stay with us as a volunteer in Vietnam. Our local team will arrange your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, in-country orientation and 24/7 emergency support. Whether you are teaching English in schools or working to support children with disabilities, our local team will support you. Our team provides a great framework for you to enjoy a unique volunteering experience with us in Vietnam.
Your orientation for your volunteer program in Vietnam will begin on Thursday and will commence until the end of the weekend. The first day will cover all the theoretical aspects, with an insight into the overall program, Vietnamese history, culture and language. The team will go through all the relevant safety protocols. This will include staff contact details, ‘do’s and don’ts’ and advice for staying safe in your free time. You will meet various coordinators across the day who will take different leads during this induction to the program in Vietnam. The rest of this jam-packed day will cover an overview of your volunteer project and useful tips for your placement. The team will talk you through how to deal with potentially challenging situations. This will be ended with a fun and interactive Vietnamese language lesson.
On Friday, your project coordinator will take you to visit your volunteer project and meet the local staff. Today will be a great opportunity for you to get a feel for the program before officially starting on Monday. If you are feeling confident, it may even be possible to begin the project in full on this day! Across the weekend that follows, your local coordinators will take you on a tour of the city.
Please note that the orientation for participants on our Real Vietnam Experience trip may differ from the general itinerary noted above. However, the principles will remain the same.
Please note that the itinerary below is for our volunteer programs in Hanoi. For these programs, you should arrive into Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi on Wednesday.
Day 1 (Wednesday) Arrival
Welcome to Vietnam! You will be met at Noi Bai International Airport by a driver from our local team, holding a sign with your name on it. They will take you straight to the Volunteer House where you can relax and meet your fellow participants. You will also receive your locker key and house key.
Should you arrive in the morning or early afternoon, our local coordinators will give you a brief guide of the local area via a neighbourhood tour. If not, you will get the chance to explore the local neighbourhood on Thursday!
After getting your bearings, you will have the rest of the day to relax and get to know other participants in Vietnam.
Day 2 (Thursday) Orientation Begins
Your orientation as a volunteer in Vietnam will begin on Thursday and will commence until the end of the weekend. The first day (Thursday) will cover all the theoretical aspects, with an insight into the overall program, Vietnamese history, culture and language. The team will go through all the relevant safety protocols. This will include staff contact details, ‘do’s and don’ts’ and advice for staying safe in your free time.
You will meet various coordinators across the day who will take different leads during this induction to the program in Vietnam. The rest of this jam-packed day will cover an overview of your volunteer project and useful tips for your placement. The team will talk you through how to deal with potentially challenging situations. This will be ended with a fun and interactive Vietnamese language lesson.
Day 3 (Friday) Orientation Continues
On Friday, your project coordinator will take you to visit your volunteer project and meet the local staff. Today will be a great opportunity for you to get a feel for the program before officially starting on Monday. If you are feeling confident, it may even be possible to begin the project in full on this day!
Days 4-5 (Saturday-Sunday) City Tour and Free Time
On Saturday, our local coordinators will take you on a tour of Hanoi. You will get to see some of the best sights this famous city has to offer, whilst learning more about safety and how to use the public transport system.
Depending on the day’s schedule, you may get the chance to visit places like the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu). Here, you can learn about the philosophy of Confucius, whose principles shape traditional Vietnamese culture. Alternatively, you may spend time exploring the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. This museum first opened in 1997 and focuses on the 54 officially recognised ethnic groups that exist in Vietnam. It is recognised as one of the finest modern museums in Vietnam. Across the day, you will also get a chance to visit Hanoi’s lively Old Quarter and the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake – a cultural and social focal point in Hanoi.
Sunday is then a free day. Take this time to further explore the local area with fellow participants and prepare for your first day of volunteering on Monday.
Days 6-10 (Monday-Friday) Volunteering
Now your volunteering begins! Should you need anything whilst at the project, our local team are only a phone call away. You will see our coordinators throughout the day at the Volunteer House; they are always happy to help. You will also be assigned to a specific coordinator from the team, who will help you settle into your project initially. They will then visit you across each week, and will also be available for advice back at the Volunteer House.
Day 11-12 (Saturday-Sunday) Weekend
After a hard week of volunteering, it is your time to explore the wonders of Vietnam. Whether you are looking to soak up some culture, relax by the lake or cruise around Ha Long Bay, Vietnam has it all! As a volunteer in Vietnam, our team both welcomes and encourages participants to explore the country’s wonderful treasures. They will be very happy to help you plan your weekend opportunities and outline any travel tips. There are also set dates across the year in which our local team help to organise trips to Sapa and Ha Long Bay.
The Following Weeks
Your next week(s) will follow a similar pattern, as you will be volunteering from Monday to Friday. Time will fly so make sure you make the most of it!
Our local team are there to support you throughout your stay. Whether you’ve lost your phone, want some advice for weekend travel plans or just need someone to talk to, they are there for you.
Last Day (Wednesday)
It is time to say goodbye. Wednesday is your last day on our program. If you are heading home then we can help you arrange your return airport drop off. Please note that this is not included in your Program Fee.
If you have not travelled much before, it is really hard to know what to expect. When anticipating their time overseas, many international volunteers (and their loved ones) are often concerned about safety and security. Although we can never guarantee experiences to be 100% trouble-free, we have taken all necessary precautions to ensure our programs are as safe as possible. Every program that PMGY offers has been personally inspected and selected by a director of PMGY. We have lived in the accommodation, experienced the orientation and worked on the projects. Through our frequent visits and daily communications, we have built strong, trusting relationships with our local staff.
In the unlikely event that something was to happen, participants have various layers of support available to them:
• Volunteer in Vietnam Local Team
• Project Staff
• PMGY International Team
Projects are monitored on an on-going basis to gauge participants’ experiences. With the help of feedback, we are able to continually improve our placements and opportunities. Security and safety are frequently assessed as part of this. We ask our participants to raise any concerns with our local or International Team. This ensures that these can be addressed and/or resolved as readily and appropriately as possible.
Through pre-departure and in-country guidance, we do our best to prepare our international volunteers for their time in Vietnam. All participants are provided with a comprehensive safety briefing during their orientation period. Our local teams will go through everything from project introductions, to emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. During this period, our team also provide participants with a full list of the important contact numbers.
Listed below are some general safety tips:
• Be modest with the amount of jewellery worn in public
• Do not drink tap water
• Be cautious of beggars or crowds. Incidents can occur when is confusion to distract you.
• Be cautious about removing money in public
• Always try to know where you are going before you attempt long journeys. Be especially careful at night
• Use reputable transport only. Our local staff will be able to recommend some during orientation
• Try to keep in groups at night and never walk alone along dark, empty streets
• The recognised tourist areas can be considered potentially high-risk areas for pickpockets and thieves
• Leave your valuables behind before a night out in the town
• For traffic safety, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly when crossing the road
• Do not accept drinks or food from strangers
The climate in Vietnam varies from north to south. The north of Vietnam lies in the subtropical zone, whilst the south lies in the tropical. In Hanoi and the rest of north Vietnam, the hot season prevails between April to October, with the cooler season sweeping across October to March. In additional to hotter temperatures, the summer months in the north often brings with it increased rainfall. However, this rainfall shouldn’t put you off, tending to fall in short, sharp bursts. During the colder months (typically January-March), temperatures can drop between 10-12-degrees Celsius. With no central heating within the Volunteer House, this can get quite cold both inside and outside. We, therefore, advise that participants joining us during this time bring some warmer clothing. In the south, the tropical climate means that it generally stays hot throughout the year. This is paired with dry and wet seasons.
Volunteer House – Please note that this section refers to our main Vietnam volunteer programs in Hanoi.
On the Vietnam volunteer program, you will live in our Volunteer House. Our accommodation is based within a quiet and friendly neighbourhood of Hanoi, approximately a 45 minute bus journey from the Old Quarter of Hanoi (the main tourist area). There are a number of restaurants, convenience stores and ATMs only a walk from the Volunteer House. Our Vietnam volunteer programs are also located in various locations around the city.
As a volunteer in Vietnam, you will be living with other international volunteers. The Volunteer House is large, basic but comfortable. Bedrooms conform to a single-sex dorm-style setup, with up to 8 people per room. Air-conditioning is available in each room and individuals will be provided with the bed linen. During the winter months, participants are recommended to bring additional bedding, such as a sleeping bag. Each bedroom in the Volunteer House has its own shared bathroom, with a western-style toilet and shower. Hot water at the accommodation is provided in the winter months only. There is some, but limited hanging space in each room.
There is free Wi-Fi within certain areas of the house, including the main communal area. This can be intermittent, therefore volunteers in Vietnam are also recommended to purchase a local SIM card in-country to use with an unlocked mobile phone. There is a large designated communal area within the Volunteer House where participants can relax and socialise. Within the accommodation, there are two washing machines that can be used free of charge, and participants can purchase detergent cheaply from shops nearby. Alternatively, there are laundry services around the neighbourhood, available for a reasonable price.
Each volunteer will be provided with a locker to keep valuable items. Volunteers are asked to pay a deposit of 50,000 VND or 5 USD for the locker key which can be reclaimed at the end of your program. However, participants are encouraged to only bring essential items during their volunteer work in Vietnam. There is fridge space within the accommodation for volunteers to cool items they need to keep chilled. Please note that power cuts are fairly commonplace in India although they tend not to last more than a couple of hours.
In our main Volunteer House, our local team have an office on the ground floor. This makes for a great atmosphere and ensures that volunteers are well supported throughout their stay. Each participant is provided with a house key (subject to a deposit of 5 USD) so the house is accessible at all time and to ensure general volunteer safety. We also have a member of staff (usually a nanny or an intern from the local team) present in the house overnight. Please note if you arrive late in the evening on the arrival day at our Volunteer House, it is likely our local team will not be present and you will meet them the following day.
Most of our volunteer projects in Vietnam are not within walking distance of the Volunteer House. In these cases, you will need to travel to and from the volunteer placement each day. The local team will introduce you to different options during your orientation. Most participants will reach their project via public bus. The cost of a bus pass for the volunteer project is covered in your Program Fee.
During our busiest months (June to September) you may be placed at alternative accommodation. This could be a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
During your volunteer trip to Vietnam, you will be provided with three meals per day. Meals will be traditional Vietnamese dishes – this means a lot of rice! All food will be nutritious and freshly cooked. Free drinking water is available 24/7.
For breakfast, you can expect fruit toast and tea/coffee. Some of the volunteer opportunities will provide you with lunch. In other cases, participants will either eat at the Volunteer House or take lunch at a nearby cafe. In the latter circumstance, the local team will reimburse you up to 40,000 VND. When lunch is taken at the Volunteer House, the dish is usually always a Vietnamese dish, which will include soup, rice, vegetables and sometimes meat or fish.
Dinner is served at the Volunteer House. Generally speaking, meals are served in the early evenings and usually divided into equal portions by the nannies to ensure everyone gets an equal amount. You can expect a variety of dishes, so there will be always something to suit even the fussiest eaters! A typical meal will have pork, fish, beef or chicken and tofu or egg and at least two different kinds of vegetable dishes, along with rice and soup. On an ad-hoc basis, our team also serve a western meal – our participants always appreciate this.
If you fancy eating out there are plenty of cafes and local amenities in the surrounding area or you can take a bus or taxi into the main tourist area, the Old Quarter, in the city of Hanoi.
Here is an example of the meals you can expect:
* Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, this cannot be guaranteed. This means that there may be instances where you need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the program.
Your local transport to and from the project each day is included in your Program Fee. Most placements are located within a 1 hour commute of the Volunteer House. Volunteers will either be provided with a bus pass in-country or be reimbursed their travel fares on a weekly basis. The bus station is around a 10 minute walk from the Volunteer House.
PMGY welcome participants of all nationalities and backgrounds. The minimum age to join the program is 17 and there is no upper age limit. All participants need to have a good level of English, although it does not need to be your first language. You do not need to speak Vietnamese. However, you will find that learning a few words in your days with us in Vietnam will go a long way!
All participants must be able to provide a clean criminal background check in advance of volunteering with us abroad. In general, no formal experience or qualifications are required for the projects, just lots of energy, enthusiasm and preparation! Medical, NGO and some childcare projects usually require additional documentation before participation begins in-country.
Your 1 USD deposit must be paid within 7 days of the application being successful to confirm your place. Your remaining fee will be due in full at least 60 days before the program start date.
Please check out our Application Process for more info on how to join our volunteer projects overseas.