GIVE Laos Volunteer Excursion & Wildlife Conservation

Video and Photos

Longtail boat ride on the Nam Ou River
Longtail boat ride on the Nam Ou River
Bottle Packing
Bottle Packing
Kuang Sii Waterfall
Kuang Sii Waterfall
Education classes in Sop Chem
Education classes in Sop Chem
Rice Fields
Rice Fields
Sop Chem Monks
Sop Chem Monks
Baci Ceremony in Sop Chem
Baci Ceremony in Sop Chem
Zip lining
Zip lining

About

While GIVE’s Laos Program is the perfect extension to our Thailand trip, it also stands alone as an off-the-beaten-path adventure into the rugged mountainous territory of this fascinating country. Your Laos volunteer opportunities will involve supporting remote villages on a variety of English education, eco-friendly infrastructure, agriculture and wildlife conservation projects. You’ll also have the opportunity to meditate with monks in a monastery, summit craggy limestone peaks, explore hidden waterfalls and summit limestone peaks. Come see for yourself why Laos is the best-kept secret in Southeast Asia!

Extend your trip with either or both of our Wildlife Conservation Programs!
Elephant Immersion will take you Northern Thailand to trek with elephants in the jungle, play with baby elephants, & support an elephant nursery/hospital
Volunteer in Vietnam to experience the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh and support Asiatic Back Bears rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.

Highlights
  • Take part in the Alms Ceremony
  • Explore Tat Kuang Sii National Park
  • Visit a 60-acre wildlife sanctuary
  • Hike through dense jungles to a beautiful viewpoint

2020 Trip Dates are Here!

Check out our new 2020 dates and our newest location, Vietnam!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

100%
based on 11 reviews
  • Impact 10
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 11 of 11
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Dani
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Laos with Thailand Elephant Experience Add-On

Traveling to Laos this summer 2019 has been such a beautiful and unforgettable experience. The second I arrived at Sop Chem, I immediately felt at home. The locals are so welcoming and genuinely want to connect with you. A key lesson I learned was that love overpowers any language barrier. While in the village, I learned about Laos and Khmu cultures. To become even more immersed, there is a homestay. This was my absolute favorite part of the trip. I stayed with a family that had a thirteen year old daughter named Nali. Throughout the night, another volunteer and I helped her cook dinner and asked her questions about her life. From then on, she always referred to me as "sister" when working on the permaculture plot with me or at the Baci Ceremony. This ceremony is so unique and powerful because it is where the whole community and volunteers express their gratitude to each other.
After leaving Laos, I experienced the Thailand Elephant Add-On as a responsible traveler. This was eye-opening to be able to learn from locals about ethical elephant tourism and conservation. We were able to interview local mahouts and elephant experts. I learned a lot about the mahout-elephant relationship and the misconceptions that exist. When we got to one of the local guides village, his elephant came running towards him, and it was beautiful being able to witness their deep connection.
I can't recommend traveling with GIVE Volunteers enough. All of the guides are kind-hearted, hard working, and well-trained teammates that truly make the experience so much fun. These trips get you out of your comfort zone so that you can grow, and the relationships you form last a lifetime. I continue to talk to my group and guides from the Thailand GIVE trip when I went last year in Summer 2018.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. During free time, walk around the village and talk to the locals, especially people you haven't talked to yet. Write down your experiences and self-reflections in a journal. Take the time to get to know your local guides because they have the best insight and stories to share.
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Kym
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Laos GIVE Volunteer Trip

As a mom on this trip, I wholeheartedly recommend this trip for the educational and life changing experience it is set up to be. I loved the fact that there were no hidden agendas and that we as volunteers were expected to honor the Lao culture and community. Instead we worked alongside the people to make their ideas a reality. We taught English, played games, participated in cultural ceremonies and worked to create a permaculture plot to provide an alternative to other farming methods.
The guides for this trip are nothing short of amazing people who work hard day and night to ensure safety and also provide insight into the people and places we encountered. Parents send tour your kids and know that they will be well taken care of and come back to you well-nourished - physically, mentally, educationally, and spiritually. Or better yet, go with them and have your own life-changing experience!! I loved it!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Enjoy every moment. Connect with people. Ask questions - not just here but everywhere. Take a journal - even if you aren't the journalling person. Unplug and enjoy the ride!!
Sam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable

This trip was so much more than a vacation; it was an adventure. From day one, there is exciting and meaningful interactions with the other volunteers and also with the community in general. All the basics were met (food, clean water, accommodations) and then some. The itinerary was exciting and full of new experiences every single day. The best part of the whole trip was also the longest part: the extended stay in Sop Chem, a small village 2 hours away by boat from the nearest larger town. There are no words to express the beauty and wonder of Sop Chem. It is quite literally a paradise with amazing people and beautiful scenery. It was so easy to become accustomed to the way of life in Sop Chem. In fact, I found it easier to adjust to Sop Chem than to adjust when I got back home to the United States. Life there is slower paced and disconnected, something that I found to be therapeutic and recharging. I felt so culturally immersed the entire time, which gave me a true feeling of purpose that I haven't ever gotten on a trip before. The volunteering was so meaningful. I only wish I could have done more. Overall, this trip was life-changing and eye-opening. I discovered so much about myself throughout the journey and I can't wait to continue making a difference here and eventually getting back overseas and continuing to make a global impact.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate was a whole steamed frog, bones included. The taste was different, but I was so proud of myself for trying it, and I was so excited to have gotten the opportunity to try food so different from what I am used to.
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Rachel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GIVE Laos 2019

This was such an amazing experience and GIVE did a great job organizing it for us. They have a beautiful connection with the locals that helped everything run smoothly. This connection allowed me to learn so much about the culture that as a tourist I may have otherwise overlooked and also allowed me to ask questions to dive even deeper. There was the perfect balance of work and play during our time in country and the work is rewarding every step of the way. We were either working on the permaculture plot with local men and women or we were teaching their children in the school. GIVE laid out the itinerary for us before we left and provided all transportation for us. All of our accommodations had either air conditioning, a fan, or sometimes both which was helpful as it is very hot there. We were also provided with mosquito nets when necessary and always had access to clean drinking water. With that, the meals were great as well. I'm not a picky eater at all and I enjoyed everything I had. Overall, I would absolutely do another give trip in the future.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be open to everything and soak it all up while you're there. You have opportunities to talk to some pretty amazing people on the trip and don't be afraid to ask questions to learn even more.
Manuel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Awesome Addition to GIVE Thailand

Among GIVE Volunteers, Laos is well known as Thailand 2.0 because so many people combine their Thailand trip with this one to make one amazing month long adventure in south east Asia! Make no mistake though, Laos is a country of its own. Similiar to Thailand but by no means identical. One major thing I noticed between the two was that Thailand was more hectic in terms of activities. We always seemed to be bouncing around from one amazing thing to another. Laos however, seemed to be running on slowed time. Everything seemed to slow down and it was a little more relaxing. We still did a ton of amazing things though!! Among them was zipling through the jungle, building a teacher's dorm out of recycled plastic bottles, and practicing Buddhism with actual monks! The Baci ceremony in which the locals we worked with wished us safe travels and good fortune was definitely the best bittersweet closing to an amazing adventure.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Traveling to a country as far as Loas can be nerve racking but trust me when I tell you that it will all be worth it. GIVE is a legit organization that really cares about the people they help and they have taken every precaution to ensure that you have an amazing but safe adventure in ANY of their programs.
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Brendan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Do it!

I had many doubts about going on a service trip abroad, but GIVE absolutely proved my doubts wrong. To begin, GIVE makes sure to work with rural communities in an ethical way, only doing projects that the locals have expressed a need for. We also worked alongside the locals to learn from each other and enrich the experience.

Another thing I love about GIVE is that it gives you a really authentic experience, despite traveling with a group. We reached many places and had experiences that I could not have without traveling with GIVE. The adventure activities are rugged and active in the best possible way.

Finally, the relationships I made on my trip were incredible. The locals, the guides, and the other volunteers are all people I will remember for the rest of my life.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
1) be patient, the lifelong friendships will come

2) be prepared to get dirty

3) still pack light

4) seriously, do it!
Carly Jo
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Laos 2018

Just off the bank of the gorgeous Nong Khiaw River, an hour away from civilization, lies the most beautiful village of Sop Chem, populated by around 60 families. I can wholeheartedly say I have never experienced the true meaning of unconditional love until I arrived in Sop Chem. The whole community welcomed us with open arms and loving hearts. Throughout the entire two weeks of working hard on the construction site and the classroom, I made the most beautiful connections with the most inspiring people. Experiencing the most genuine view of their culture, traditions, religion and cuisine. One night we were able to pair up for homestays with amazingly welcoming families and were able to exchange abundant laughs and smiles all throughout the night without speaking a single word to one another.

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Molly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

Traveling with GIVE has absolutely changed my life! Laos is an incredible, beautiful country that is rich with culture. The trip was well organized while still allowing for independence to make the experience your own.

While in Laos, we spent a few days exploring the quaint city of Luangprabang, participating in local ceremonies, learning about the history and culture of Laos, and becoming acquainted with the area.

From there, we traveled via long tail boat up the river to the small village of Sop Chem - a beautiful, welcoming community that quickly became family.

Our sustainable construction and education projects focused on asset-based community development, using the resources and skills of the locals & region to empower them to achieve their goals (and offering some extra hands to help). A truly impactful means of volunteering!

I can’t say enough great things about GIVE and their trips!!

Joe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Memorable

This is an experience you will be able to tell your kids in 20 years. If you want to immerse yourself in a new culture, learn current event and become a conscious traveler GIVE is the organization for you. It’s been two years since I went on my trip to Laos and I’m still talking about it. The staff is great, kind, and well trained. You gain great experience teaching English and working along side local engineers on sustainable infrastructure projects. You get to work along side wild life conservation groups. For instance, in Laos we worked with free the bears a great organization that works with rescuing moon bears and providing them a safe sanctuary that mimics their ecosystems. You also get the opportunity to learn about UXOs dropped in Laos during the Vietnam war. Lastly you will get to go to the beautiful village of Sop Chem a place I consider my second home. The people are very welcoming and are eager to teacher you their culture as well as learn about yours. I recommend freshening up on your card games because the teens in Sop Chem don’t play around when it comes to games like slap and speed. I would also like to add the adventures are amazing but the connections you make abroad are going to be the best memories you have on this trip!

Cultural Activity Laos
Carly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Living and Learning

The GIVE Laos trip was one of the most special trips I've ever been on. I've volunteered with GIVE three times now and this was my absolute favorite. Little did I know I found my second home in a small village in the jungle, halfway across the world. The community members are so motivated, intelligent, inspiring, and hilarious! They were always the first to the worksite and ready to work on the project with us, as one big community. Working with the ladies during our adult English classes was an absolute highlight for me. I also appreciated the supplemental discussions and educational context that the guides provided for the country and culture. I learned things about my own country that I would have never known until I took a chance and traveled. This trip was organized, safe, fun, and inspiring!

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Madeline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Somewhere I Call Home

Two years ago, I had never heard of the country Laos, and was completely ignorant to its existence, yet my experience there with GIVE Volunteers was overall amazing, and has had such a big impact on my life and how I view the world. While there, I came across both mental and physical challenges, but the wonderful locals, guides, and volunteers are some of the kindest people I have ever met. Being in the village of Sop Chem itself, we were immediately welcomed and assimilated into their lives; it wasn't long after we arrived when it began to feel like a home away from home. I cried plenty of ugly-tears when my time there came to an end, but I am constantly reminded of everything I learned and experienced, and I feel I now have a greater passion for people, the environment, and leaning and understanding other cultures. I don't know how long it will take, but I am sure I will go back one day.