Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Sri Lanka from $270

COVID-19 Program Updates
Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Plan My Gap Year has decided to pause some of their upcoming programs temporarily. Learn more about COVID-19 updates and sign up for email notifications to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

Climbing up Lion's Rock
Climbing up Lion's Rock
Views from River House
Views from River House
Sunset after the safari through Parakrama Samudra
Sunset after the safari through Parakrama Samudra
Old Tsunami School
Old Tsunami School
Sri Lankan Elephant
Sri Lankan Elephant
Ambalangoda
Ambalangoda
Train to Galle
Train to Galle
River house sunset
River house sunset

About

PMGY offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in the lovely coastal town of Ambalangoda in Sri Lanka. Volunteers get involved in a wide-range of project work childcare, dog rescue, elephant, English teaching, medical, mental health & turtle conservation opportunities.

Our programs in Ambalangoda run throughout the year. We have two start dates every month so you decide when you go and how long you go for.

Highlights
  • 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.

Popular Programs

If you love elephants you will love this! Elephants in their natural habitat combined with meaningful research represent a perfect match!

Teach novice Buddhist monks or children displaced by the Tsunami. English is a valuable skill that will greatly enhance their future career prospects.

On this uncrowded, exotic and developing island there are many vulnerable children in much need of volunteer's care and support.

Gain invaluable medical experience, an opportunity not to be missed in this gorgeous part of the world by those pursuing a career in medicine.

Do something different and amazing with your family and give back to a local Sri Lankan community whilst immersing yourselves in the culture and lifestyle.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 102 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.6
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 33 - 40 of 102
Thea
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teen 2 week adventure & volunteer programme

The 2 weeks I spent in Sri Lanka with PMGY were amazing and such an incredible experience. This was down to my groups great coordinators - Steph and Anthony, Colby, Ashika and their continued support throughout the trip. But also the activities and volunteering work we were doing. Each trip or working day was planned out and all transport was provided to get us there and back. This made the trip far more enjoyable as you didn't have to worry about navigating Sri Lanka yourself.
The accommodation was clean and the 'sisters' cooked all the food for everyone - it always tasted amazing! Pre-departure organisation and communication was great so I knew just what to expect, however I would recommend bringing a blanket or sheet with you to sleep with. You may think Sri Lanka is hot but when the AC is on in the bedrooms at night it can sometimes get a bit chilly. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend PMGY and hope to do a longer trip with them in the future.

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Naomi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteer and Adventure

This trip was so well organised and there was always someone with you wherever you go so you always feel safe. All the activities are so well thought out and things that you would never get to do unless on a trip like this so they were all enjoyed by everyone!
The co-ordinators (Steph and Anthony) were so fun and down to earth and felt like they were apart of the group, which was so good as it then didn't end up feeling like a school trip.
The pre-departure information was very helpful and they are always there to answer your questions and help as much as they can.
The first week of doing the different projects was so much fun as you get a taster of all the different projects, especially the teaching as the kids were so excited and grateful for you being there!
The second week we got to see so much of the country and experience loads of different things such as the safari, a hike and chilling on a beach.
The food cooked by the sisters is very yummy, especially the noodles! (they were a huge favourite by everyone).
It was an amazing two weeks and would go back and do it all over again if i could!

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Jasmine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Plan My Gap Year Sri Lankan experience (16-17 year olds)

The volunteering and adventure trip was superb!
The first week consists of volunteering in Ambalangoda and it involves teaching, construction, elephants and turtles. If I had to choose my favourite it would be either elephants or teaching. Having such a close encounter with the elephants was awe inspiring but I really miss all of the children we had the opportunity to teach. The volunteering felt very rewarding and at the end of it everyone on the trip felt as if we had accomplished something.
The accommodation is clean and comfortable, but if you are planning on going remember to bring a sheet as there are no covers. Everything you need is catered for. During the first week there are different activities every night such as meditation lessons and Sri Lankan dancing. I
loved all of them! The meals are all cooked by the sisters and they are delicious- especially the pancakes.
The following week was amazing. We did so much it would take hours to list it all, but highlights included a safari and a hike (both very early starts) as well as visiting beautiful temples and the stunning beaches of Marissa. The hotels are lovely- some of them even had four poster beds!
The staff are brilliant. They put so much effort into ensuring the trip is a success and are genuinely wonderful people.
If you are thinking about going on this trip I would stop thinking and start booking. It was the best two weeks and I am so happy to have done it.

What would you improve about this program?
No improvements.
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martha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteer and Adventure

PMGY's 'Volunteer and Adventure' trip was AMAZING!

The pre-departure support was very good and responses were always fast and helpful.

The first week of the programme was very well structured and we were always kept busy. It was great to be able to try out all of the different projects. There was really fun evening entertainment which was a great way to experience Sri Lankan culture (dancing on the roof was a particular highlight!) The volunteer accommodation was also so nice and we were very well fed and looked after by the sisters.

The second week was all very well organised and all the accommodation was great. Again, we were very busy but it was great to see so many different aspects of Sri Lanka.

All of the in country coordinators were absolutely amazing and so so friendly and helpful. Anthony and Steph were available 24/7, always smiling and are genuinely such amazing people. Steph had done the trip twice before and had lots of great info about all the places we visited which was nice. Our drivers, Jaga and Babbi, were amazing as well.

Everything about this trip was perfect. Seeing as it was only two weeks it was more an opportunity for us to get a feel for what the volunteer projects that PMGY run are like, instead of actually creating lasting change and so that is why the impact rating is slightly lower (however im sure in the long term we have all been inspired to go on and volunteer so it definitely had an impact in that sense!)

What would you improve about this program?
Only improvement that could have been made would have been to have had something to do on the first Saturday when we all arrived to help us get to know each other but I can see why that would be difficult with different arrival times and it wasn't a huge problem.
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Lewis
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Orphanage project - July 2017

This is my second adventure with PMGY and I can honestly say I've had another fantastic summer, and would definitely travel again with PMGY!
In the weeks leading up to my departure everything I needed to know was covered in the volunteer handbook. This included information about the project, the accommodation, the weekend trips and Sri Lanka itself.
Alongside this, the U.K. Office were also very helpful with answering further questions and giving advice on the journey. Extra bookings and payments that needed to be made were easy (but safe) to make via the links sent by email.
When embarking on the journey itself, after a long and tiring flight, I was greeted with friendly faces from which we started our drive to the accommodation which was The River house.
The River house is surrounded by beautiful views and interesting wildlife such as crocs, monkeys and Komodo dragons. It has a large common which is a great place to play games and watch movies on an evening, along with relaxing after a long day at project. Generally its full of laughter and good vibes created both by the volunteers and the local staff. It also includes a pool, western toilets, showers and wifi which is bought for a few hundred rupees (few pounds). All the coordinators are always extremely helpful and a lot of fun to have around which makes the experience a lot better.
The project I was involved in was the government orphanage which ran in the afternoon; a normal day at the orphanage would include about an hour of basic teaching followed by playing games outside, including sports and singing songs etc. The children are lovely to teach and every day you'll return to the house feeling like you've accomplished something- most days you'll return having learnt something from them too!!
There are also opportunities to do a day at the turtle or elephant conservation project if they have extra passes, however these are first come first serve so you have to be quick about it.
Although there's plenty of time to independently travel, I would 100% recommend the weekend trips. They're honestly a great way to make lasting memories, new friends and are a good value for money.
I felt a bit aprehensive about the Dubai stopover as its more independent, however Teena, our main point of contact over there couldn't have been more helpful and welcoming, any questions we had were answered.
PMGY are a great company to travel with, what makes it great is the staff and co-ordinators who are always willing to go the extra mile to ensure they have the best time possible.
Also big shout out to Josh and Colby who were excellent in helping me with my flight problem, and putting a few minds to ease. ;)
General tips:
-Plenty of sun cream and mosquito repellent.
- Make sure you have clothes to cover shoulders, knees and in my case tattoos.
-Baby wipes are your friend
Orphanage tips:
- the children are very tactile, and like to be involved in games and songs.
-Preparation is key; pens, Paper, worksheets.
-Ideally cover tattoos or hide necklaces, rings etc.
Although they're harmless the kids will get distracted but these things.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful place full of beautiful people filled with amazing experiences and opportunities. Once again thank you PMGY!

Katy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Medical Experience - Summer 2017

PMGY Sri Lanka is a fantastic organisation and I would recommend it to anyone interested in volunteering abroad.
Prior to departure the staff at the UK office (Josh, Colby and Phillip) were really helpful in answering any questions that I had and are easily contactable via email, phone or on the Facebook page. They are all very friendly in their replies, even if the answer has already been covered in the handbook that you receive when booking definitely worth a read to find out about the projects and especially with regard to sorting your visa).
I had also read reviews and seen feedback posts on Facebook from previous volunteers that were extremely positive. This made me really excited for my upcoming trip but also wonder if it could actually be as good as people were making out. I was wrong to question it because it was amazing!
Despite arriving at the volunteer house at around 2am due to our late evening airport transfer, we were greeted with a smile and a homemade flower garland. The following day was orientation - a proper welcome to PMGY, overview of the projects and opportunity know one another. We were also taken to a moonstone mine, beautiful Buddhist temple and the town centre for money exchange/ATM and the supermarket.
I spent some of the time with PMGY at London House which can accommodate around 40 volunteer in single sex dorms and the second half of the stay at River House, the company's summer facility for when there are more volunteers. Both properties have similar bedrooms, shared bathrooms and some communal space. Meals are organised on a two weekly menu, mostly traditional Sri Lankan food (but probably less spicy!) with a few westernised dishes. I thought it was all delicious and there was always plenty to go round! The location is great and staff are always happy to suggest places to visit outside of project time such as the beach, tsunami museum and local towns. The atmosphere in the house was great, with a range of different ages, nationalities and project interests. Some volunteers arrive together, as myself and my friend from university did, but most arrive alone and leave with a whole new group of friends!
In terms of the project itself, I was doing the medical experience in the government hospital. As the handbook states, this was largely observational. I would recommend spreading your time between a variety of departments, unless you have a very specific interest, to gain the widest experience possible. The opportunity to do a turtle or elephant day pass is amazing too (although not guaranteed).
The only PMGY organised trip that I went on was the Maldives experience. It was an incredible weekend in a lovely hotel on the island of Maafushi. PMGY had done a great job of arranging flights, boat transfers and accommodation for the 15 of us. But we were left with the freedom to spend our time however we wanted once there. Recommended spending money of £200 was plenty, including snorkelling trip, tubing, day at a five star resort (amazing!) and food.
The other weekend trips also sounded fab and are good value for money. Both trips are a great way to see some beautiful parts of the country and pack in a lot more activities/sights than you could in a weekend of independent travel. The reason that I didn't sign up for these is that my friend and I covered most of the things they included in the extra week we had booked to travel Sri Lanka. Either way, I would recommend seeing country however you decide because it is beautiful, varied and unspoiled.
Finally, what I believe really makes PMGY fantastic are the people: the coordinators and local staff who go above and beyond their roles to make sure everyone is having the best time they can and the other volunteers who share amazing experiences and become great friends together.
To visit this country, have so many opportunities and experiences within and outside the project, and meet such beautiful people was an honour. Enjoy it!

Top tips:
General
- Bring some outfits that cover your shoulders and knees. The local area is very Buddhist so it isn't appropriate to be exposed, nor on public buses.
- You might want to pack/buy a sheet or sleeping bag liner as the beds have a bottom sheet but no cover (or you could sleep with the sheet over you, straight onto the mattress but I don't know how often they're washed).
- Buy a Fantastick ice cream. Just do it. You won't regret it.

Medical
- Ask questions! Some doctors and nurses speak better English than others and some are just generally friendlier but most will get you more involved if you seem keen.
- Experience a variety of departments if you can.
- Probably best to get a Sri Lankan sim card so that you can organise earlier or later transport back to the house depending on how busy the hospital is.
- Take water and tissues (some wards don't have air con or loo roll)!

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Ben
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing volunteering experience

I was in Sri Lanka for 3 weeks doing volunteering teaching English. The teaching was really stasifying and the kids were well behaved and eager to learn. I thought both at after school English classes and also at a Buddhist temple in the morning teaching monks. I highly recommend the teaching programme as once you get to know the kids you feel like you are adding real value. The whole programme was very well organised with transport provided both to and from project each day. Yet all of the projects only ran for half of the day giving you lots of time to explore the local area and visit the nearest town Ambalongoda. I also spent both weekends travelling indepentely with people I met at the volunteer house which I highly recommend. Before the trip I was apprehensive as I had never traveled alone before yet that didn't matter and it was one of the best experiences of my life and I highly recommend going you wont regret it!

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Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching Projects

I spent 2 months (8 weeks) doing the teaching project. In the morning I taught young Buddhist monks at a local temple and in the afternoon I taught at Old Tsunami school. I felt I was really able to make an impact on the lives of the children and monks and I became very close with them. Now I'm back in the UK I miss them all a lot! Teaching English was really fulfilling and I really enjoyed it. The other volunteers that I worked with were also great!

All the coordinators and everyone else with PMGY out in Sri Lanka were amazing and couldn't have been more dedicated and enthusiastic about their jobs! They were all funny, interesting and easy to get along with and were always there if you needed them. Also they were great at sorting out your problems from teaching ideas to keeping the local ice cream place open in the evening!

The accommodation was nice- with really beautiful views and socialable areas so it was easy to make friends with the other volunteers if you went alone (most people do). Also we had time to explore the local area (Ambalangoda) which was really nice. On the weekends we could go further and it was nice to explore more of Sri Lanka. I did both the Hill country/tea and Safari weekend trips organised by PMGY and they were both fab! The support and advice I recieved before I went was really good too.

Overall I had an incredible experience and would highly recommend it.