Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Ho Chi Minh City from $245

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About

IVHQ offers a variety of highly affordable volunteer opportunities in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Join the program for anywhere between 1 week and 24 weeks. Volunteers can assist on a range of community-driven projects while being based in the largest city of Vietnam. Volunteers are accommodated dormitory with other volunteers at the Ho Chi Minh Tourism College.

IVHQ Volunteer Programs available in Ho Chi Minh:

  • Teaching English
  • Special Needs/Childcare
  • Food Outreach
  • Medical

Highlights

  • Programs available year-round, starting on each Monday of every month
  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
  • Highly affordable program fees from $295 for 1 week
  • Community-driven projects focused on supporting local needs and delivering sustainable positive impacts
  • Superior support services both pre-departure and while volunteering
  • Free online volunteer training for all IVHQ volunteers
  • Between 15 and 30 volunteers start in Ho Chi Minh each month
  • Weekends are free to explore Vietnam with fellow volunteers - trekking, visiting temples and visiting the Mekong Delta.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

99%
based on 20 reviews
  • Impact 9.2
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.9
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 20
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Journey
10/10

A Life Changing Volunteer Experience

The impact volunteering in Vietnam has had in my life is profound. I signed up for my trip 6 months before taking off, spending weeks researching for an organization with a strong reputation. I found that through IVHQ International. They had several programs available, but I ultimately chose Vietnam as my Grandfather served as a Green Beret during the war and the things he experienced wounded him badly. I knew this country would have an impact on me, but I vastly underestimated just how much.

First: the support we received before, during, and after were of the highest quality. Questions were answered promptly, the Facebook pages also gave us a community to connect prior to arriving. In country, it was the perfect mix of help and independence. The Green Lion team was nothing short of phenomenal in their care of us. The accommodations and the food (my goodness was the food amazing!) were high quality.

Second: the placement. I was a medical volunteer and immediately felt at home in the hospital. It was an eye opening experience and I connected with patients at the level I need to be a successful doctor, with a language barrier in place even. I learned more than I could have ever dreamed when I first booked the trip.

Finally, the people. I went at a time the accommodations were filled with people. I formed so many wonderful friendships, even being an introverted person. I met people from all over the world, learned about their homes, their dreams, and know if I ever visited, they would gladly meet up.

If you are on the fence: simply do it. Sign up. Fundraise through the website IVHQ provides. You will not regret joining this organization in the slightest.

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked more opportunities to observe in other areas more frequently. We watched medications being mixed every day, which gave us a chance to bond with the patients, but overall, I have no complaints. Thank you for the opportunity IVHQ and Green Lion!
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Journey, we appreciate you taking the time to provide this excellent review and I am stoked to hear that this program has had such a positive impact on you. It's great to hear you have made friends from all over the globe and that you have learned more than you expected too while on the medical project. We have loved having you volunteer with us and we would happily welcome you again in the future! ^Sean - IVHQ Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Program Manager

Yes, I recommend
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Brandon
10/10

An Experience to Remember

When I chose to volunteer in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam with my friends, I was a bit skeptical simply because I had never been to Asia and did not necessarily know what conditions to expect. The moment I landed, however, I was greeted with warmth and kindness from the Green Lion staff who made sure we felt safe, comfortable, and prepared to start our volunteer journey. As I began to meet amazing volunteers from around the world, I was continually impressed by the generosity and positivity of all of the local people, the 3 home-cooked meals we were provided each day, the cleanliness of the accommodation, and the accessibility of where we were staying to restaurants, museums, bars, shopping centers, etc. For New Year's Day, the Green Lion even hosted a party where they cooked a buffet-like feast for all of the volunteers to enjoy while having fun with karaoke. In regards to the volunteering, I worked on the medical project and loved being able to assist people in need. Although the language was definitely a barrier for me, I was able to still communicate with many of the nurses and physicians who allowed us to shadow/assist them in wound care, the operating room, acupuncture, physical/occupational therapy, and mixing medications. They even give you nap time each day (haha). Ho Chi Minh City was constantly bustling, and it was super fun to hang out with new friends in District 1 at night, grab a milk tea from the tea house directly across from the accommodation, or lounge around in the park nearby. IT IS TRULY AMAZING. Post-program, I feel much more equipped to attend medical school this fall now that I have seen healthcare on an international scale. It was extremely rewarding to make comparisons between the United States and other countries, and I feel that this life-experience is one that will be invaluable. If I could offer any advice to future participants, it would be to have fun and keep your mind open. Things are definitely different here than where you are from for most people, but that's what makes the adventure so memorable and exciting. In addition, remember that you are there to volunteer, so do not get lazy and stop attending your placement. It is important that you relax and enjoy yourself, but commit to the task that you signed up for. I will definitely be coming back to Vietnam at some point in the future, I absolutely loved it.

How can this program be improved?
If anything, I would say that there should be less time mixing medications in the hospital (medical project), and more time getting to observe surgeries or assist with wound care. In addition, it would be nice to still have three meals on the weekends, even if it required more payment up front, so you don't have to wait so long to eat.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Brandon, thanks for taking the time to provide a very detailed and informative review, I am sure future volunteers will find this very helpful. I am also stoked to hear that the program made such a positive impact on you and that you can now transfer the skills and knowledge you have learnt at the medical project towards your studies. Great piece of advice to future volunteers and I hope you can volunteer with IVHQ again in the future. ^Sean - IVHQ Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Program Manager

Yes, I recommend
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Shawna
10/10

Better than you would've expected

Growing up I have always been taught that Vietnam is a dangerous and dirty place. However, IVHQ had a way of making it feel all the opposite. All staff members were good at english and extremely friendly. The accommodation itself had great air conditioning, quality running water, and weekly cleaning services. There was security to open and lock the gate during later hours. The food was delicious and more flavorful than expected. For whichever program that you do, you will be free to roam the city or whatever you'd like around 4 p.m. and resume volunteering the next day. You would be free all weekend! It was my birthday and Christmas when I went and it was all made special because of the green lion staff. I am forever grateful. I also volunteered with special needs children and I left in tears. I did not want to leave and you should expect to leave touched and inspired as well. I was afraid that I would not like the trip and would not want to come back. I was afraid that I would be alone. But, I was wrong. I miss Vietnam and the staff members of IVHQ. I would definitely do the program again or even have my own trip and visit my new friends. Don't be afraid to ask for information or any questions because IVHQ will not hesitate to help.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Shawna, thanks very much for your review and it is excellent to hear that this program has changed your entire perception of Vietnam. I am stoked to hear you loved everything about the program and how hospitable the local team were. We look forward to you volunteering with IVHQ in the future. ^Sean - IVHQ Vietnam Program Manager

Yes, I recommend
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Andriana
10/10

IVHQ - Ho Chi Minh City

As soon as I stepped off the plane, the Green Lion welcomed us into their family. We arrived to help people and make an impact on the community but we left with so much more.
When we began our placement, the staff at the Food Outreach felt like we had come home. Then the Vietnamese people that we were cooking for, made us feel welcome and we truly felt like we had impacted their lives in a special way. My favourite memory was learning that Vietnamese people show respect by offering you or taking something from you with two hands. I then witnessed this from most of the people that I served food to, as they accepted the tray of food with two hands.
The Green Lion coordinators were wonderful, always ready to help and became our friends that we hung out with after placement and a few tears were shed when we had to leave them. The food and accomodation were great and I would recommend taking less clothes and buying so much more from the local markets!
The other volunteers placed there showed us around the accomodation and the local community and even after two weeks, we have made lifelong friends. Even though the placement was amazing, hanging out with like-minded people and talking about their experiences at their placements was the highlight of my night, each day.
This was my first time to South East Asia, but the Vietnamese people; the local community, the Green Lion and the country at large, were always welcoming, friendly and supportive in every way and it has truly made me happy that I chose to volunteer with IVHQ. Upon arriving home, I see the world in a different way and money does not seem so important to me anymore, because I know, even though some people in this world may not have a lot of it, they are still good, happy people that are ready and willing to help others out.

How can this program be improved?
More time on placement and less on orientation.
Weekend trips on offer.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Andriana, we appreciate you taking the time to share this review and it will be very helpful for future volunteers! We are stoked that you were able to connect and make lifelong friends with other volunteers from all around the world and we would love to have you come back and volunteer with IVHQ in the future.
Sean - IVHQ Vietnam Program Manager

Yes, I recommend
Jane
10/10

couldn't ask for the better one

Today I just receive a mail from IVHQ, office of New Zealand. And I decide to write this feedback.
I don’t usually discuss topics or write feedback on Facebook let alone make posts longer than 300 words, but I felt obliged to do so because of that journey I go on is amazing and change me in so many ways. I felt obliged in part because I have always thought of myself as a feminist but have struggled consistently to locate the line between radical feminism and constructive feminism, especially at the time where the “right” answer seems always to be the most progressive one.
More so, the first time I heard about IVHQ is on the early of 2016, my life is really creepy at that time. It just happens, and denial doesn't facilitate change. I was suffering from endless nightmare and insomnia every single night. Dealing with the floods and living with mood swings. And I even became anti-social during that period of time. I feel so lost when I talk to people. After endless discussions and endless sliences I finally decide that I couldn't stay in that low ebb anymore. And reason I wanna sigh up for this program is extremely simple, I want to see something different and I wanna move on from the pieces of break up with my first love and also the sadness of missing my bestie who is moved to another country.
Somehow I shared my decision, people more than one of them told me weren't really the right thing for girl to care about the volunteer staff especially you need to go to the third world country. And I bet somebody said the the same thing to you may as well, so it's glad thing that I didn't listen. Instead I prepare all of the staff for that program. Because I found that become my refuge of my low ebb.
As I post earlier when I volunteer in Vietnam, the experience is really fantastic, you have a so rare opptunity that can work together with other volunteers come from all over the world, with different culture background and massive language barrier. You can love and serve and play. You always think others people and needs before your own... Each and every one of us are trying our very hardest to be Christlike. During my English teaching program there, neither my Vietnamese or their English is good enough for commication, and that never become a issue for students to express their emotion of how much they appreciate from the volunteers. They may leave a orange for you during the lunch time, the may bring you a homemade cake... The use their own way to express their grateful. They give elegance a whole new meaning.
I never anticipate that the endless sweating will cure the endless insomnia, the mosquito bites will cure the nightmare, the people there remind me how much I should be grateful of what I have now...
G.K.Chesterton was absolutely correct, "the most complicated part of comprehending the world is the study of somehow smaller world, ourselves." As we shape ourselves and as we shape of our lives. I gradually become more aware of limits and potentials, and consequently learn to adjust learn what's out there.
I'm not going to write a full essay on this because this is Facebook and ain’t nobody got time for that. I will just end this by saying: all those readings from CC shouldn’t be for nothing. :")

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Jane, Thanks for posting such an honest and sincere review from your time in Vietnam. It is great to hear that you had a really fantastic time and worked harmoniously with other volunteers from all over the world. We are glad that your time in Vietnam has helped you moved forward in your life, to help you overcome your low ebb and become more aware of your limits and potential, it sounds like you really had an inspiring experience. Thanks for being an IVHQer!
Lynn – IVHQ Vietnam Program Manager

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Julie
10/10

8 weeks in Ho Chi Minh city

Coming from Ireland, arriving in Vietnam allowed me to experience a completely different culture. Our orientation week provided an interesting insight into this beautiful country and it's history. The program fee included all admission fees to these activities which included a varied range from museums to cooking classes. It also gave us new volunteers a chance to get to know each other. Our evenings were spent getting to know the social scene in the city.

I signed up for the Special Needs/Childcare program and was quite apprehensive to begin as I have limited experience and no qualifications in this area. My coordinator was so helpful and was able to answer all my questions to put me at ease. We were helping out in a daycare centre for children with special needs which we attended from about 9am before heading back to the accommodation at 11:30am for lunch. We returned again after lunch at about 1:30pm until 3:30pm. The children in the centre had varying disabilities which were explained to us when we started. We'd play with the children and they loved the attention they received from the volunteers.

At weekends, the volunteers would explore the rest of the country. There was a tourist office at the accommodation which assisted in booking trips. Bus routes were good and cheap which made it an ideal mode of transport.

I thoroughly enjoyed my 8 weeks in Ho Chi Minh city and simply cannot recommend it enough! I've made so many memories that I cherish and met such incredible people from all over the world.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Julie, We are thrilled to hear that you thoroughly enjoyed your time in Vietnam! The orientation is a great chance for volunteers to get to know each other and to become acquainted with the culture before starting at their placements. Thanks for your recommendation! We would love to have you join another program in the future.

Yes, I recommend
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Nasreen
10/10

one week taster

Volunteering overseas is something I've always wanted to do but didn't think it was a realistic or achievable goal for me. IVHQ changed that for me with the one week programme in HCMC. I was signed up to do the special needs programme but opted to visit the orphanage instead as other volunteers constantly and passionately spoke about how much fun it is to visit the children. I was glad for this flexibility offered to me. However, I can't describe my experience to you as fun but it was the most outstanding experience for me out of my whole trip.

On my way to the orphanage I didn't expect to make any differences in the children's lives during my short visit but expected at least to make some contribution to their joy. I imagined playing games with the children, with lots of laughter included. I planned on giving them gifts and seeing their faces light up at the sight of them. I approached this from my own experiences with my nieces and nephews back home and my ideals of what love and affection are. These expectations and ideals were soon to be challenged.
Upon arriving at the orphanage we had the most enthusiastic and warm welcome from those children. They immediately attached themselves to my person and my heart, as though I was their favourite auntie. I felt blessed to be in their presence.
Not long into my visit my heart began to sink. There wasn't much chatter going on, or game playing. The children seemed lack lustre and they were eager to keep looking out of the windows. I got a sense of their need for something more out of life. I had two children in my hands and a third climbed up on a toy truck to join in the view and peer out of the window, when we were swiftly reprimanded by the coordinator telling me it wasn't allowed. Not wanting to overstep bounds or be disrespectful of a culture I was unfamiliar with I placed the toddler back down. but couldn't help feeling like we were restricted in small things. The theme continued while having to force feed the children their meal, listen to them being shouted at by their carers, who admittedly are overworked, and then when I visited the kindy upstairs and a little girl asked me to colour in with her, an activity I'm much familiar with. Similarly I was asked not to do so and let the child do it for herself. By now, any enthusiasm I had for engaging with the children was dampened and I felt somewhat overwhelmed.
My spirits were lifted a little when I picked up one child who thought my curly hair the most fascinating thing ever to play with. He'd stretch out a lock and let it go, watching it spring back in place and would then crack up with laughter. It was the funniest thing both he and I have ever seen. For him my hair and for me his amusement. He repeatedly did this for a good five minutes. His laugh was infectious and brought a light to my heart.
These children, impoverished and without the gentle touch of their own parents, could still find joy in the little things of life. They manage to laugh and smile and have a hope and an eagerness to thrive. They look forward to the daily visits of the volunteers. It struck me then, as I realised, that giving affection is the most simple yet valuable gift I can give to another human being, and that changed something in me for always. I know that there is always something I can give back to others and make a positive impact however small it may be perceived by me.

If asked if I would volunteer in an orphanage again? my answer would be "no" but I would visit them in my free time as many volunteers do to give them one on one time and millions of cuddles and spoil them with gifts. As my own coordinator kindly explained to me that the most important thing in any child's life is the presence of their own parents, and nothing can bring them back to these children. These carers who take them in, who are overworked and disheartened I'd imagine, do the best for them with what they have. This gave me a whole new understanding of respect and humility for others and my own parents which I have brought back with me.

This is the beauty of a one week programme that allows you to have a taster and map out a future placement that I will be more suited to with the skills and characteristics I have to bring to it.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Nasreen, Thank you for your in-depth and honest review. Placements at orphanages can be especially difficult for volunteers, however we are glad that you were able to offer some support and comfort during your short-term placement. We wish you all the best and hope to have you join IVHQ again in the future.

Yes, I recommend
Keren Keziah
10/10

You'll never be the same again

The greatest & most memorable moment was saying goodbye to the patients. It was unexplainable - joy, sadness, & all other emotions mixed up in a split second. When the local Physio translated that I will be leaving, you can see the sadness in the patients' eyes, but with such gratitude.

You see, we come with a mindset that we will be contributing and helping these people. But we leave knowing how much they've made an impact in us, and in our hearts. I honestly don't have enough words to describe it, you need to go to be able to know how it feels!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Keren, Thank you for your beautiful words and encouragement to future volunteers! We are so lucky to have had you volunteer with us and we would love to have you volunteer with IVHQ again in the future.

Yes, I recommend
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Niklas
10/10

Incredible Volunteer Experience

The moment I arrived at the international airport of Ho Chi Minh City, I was warmly welcomed by Jenny, my coordinator. We had to wait some time until we could leave the airport as we had to wait for one more volunteer.
We used the time exchanging stories and talking about how Vietnam was compared to Germany, where I come from and she also told me some phrases in Vietnamese.

Our orientation week coordinator, Leah, did a very good job showing us around all the sights in the city and also answering any question or helping is with any problem we brought to her. Since our accommodation was located on the premises of a local private school, we got to know some of the students during the orientation week. We were supposed to practice some english with them, by playing some games together. That was a really nice experience, as one could really see, how they were trying to formulate english sentences and how thankful they were when we corrected them.

The work at my volunteer placement was a lot of fun. In the mornings we would usually either prepare lessons for our classes or we would go to a local orphanage to take care of young children, who lived in the orphanage. That included feeding them, playing with them and comforting them when they were sad.
One day a mother came into the orphanage with two children and left them there, because she couldn't provide for them anymore. The siblings were crying all the time and I held the little boy the whole time so he would stop crying and fed him as well. When I wanted to put him back on the floor he would start crying again so I pretty much held him in my arms until he would fall asleep.
It was a wonderful experience to see how much trust those little kids have in you that they lean their heads against your chest and fall asleep.

In the afternoons, we usually went to another orphanage, where we were supposed to teach the kids, who were older than in the other orphanage, some english. I was lucky to be the teacher of class 4, the oldest class, consisting of 5 girls in the age range of 15 to 19 years. It was quite a challenge, as those girls were really smart and so I had to prepare really well to teach them something they didnt already know. Teaching them was so much fun because they actually wanted to learn something.
On my last day the girls brought some candies and cookies to reward me for my hard work in those two weeks :)

Overall my three weeks in Vietnam were a very good experience, as we got to know the culture and the city very well during our orientation week, thanks Leah!!, and also did some really good work taking care of the kids and teaching them. We noticed how much they appreciated it.

Furthermore, this program was quite easy to adapt to, as volunteers live in a big and international city and the food is very good.

Thanks for the wonderful time GreenLion and of course thanks as well to IVHQ for making volunteering as affordable as it is! :)

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Niklas, Thanks for your review. We are so glad that you were warmly welcomed onto the program in Vietnam by the local team and were able to settle comfortably into the new environment. It is heartbreaking to hear that a mother needed to drop her children off at the orphanage. Thank you for being there to help provide care for these children. It sounds like you put a lot of effort into your teaching work and that the students really appreciated the extra effort. It would be great to have you join another IVHQ program in the future!

Yes, I recommend
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Pia
10/10

Great experience, very rewarding

Volunteering in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam was an incredible experience for me. Although I only did it for a short period of time due to time constraints (job waiting for me back home) it still gave me everything I was looking for: impact (feeling of making a difference, as small as it may be), rewarding sensation, understanding of the culture, fun, and creation of amazing social bonds with other volunteers.
The first week, all the volunteers that have arrived around the same period of time are taken out on a cultural week where we get to explore the city/country and get acquainted to its culture through various touristy stops and a small cultural class. The week is very well organized and passes really quickly and by the end of it one would have visited all landmarks and sites of that area.
Then we get to our programs, I was in the Teaching English one, and had to do two different types of classes: assisting an english teacher in a school and doing exercises with the students to help practice their english, and something called the English Club, where we went to a coffee house and vietnamese students eager to learn english would join and we would have small lessons, conversations (to help practice) and games. Even singing sessions sometimes! That was the best part of my days for me because you could see the students' eagerness and willingness to practice and get better. I could feel that they understood how important english is for a career and that they would do anything to improve and become fluent (most of them less fortunate and longing for a high paying job in their future). Some of the students even took the volunteers out after the classes in order to practice more! They were so kind.
I personally formed a bond with two of the girls and by the end of it we took pictures and they gave me gifts (bracelets) to keep as a souvenir of them which as you can imagine, really touched me...
Apart from that the accommodation was comfortable and clean, nothing to complain about; and the other volunteers were lovely. I was lucky enough to have a group of open people wanting to socialize and interested in other cultures. We would arrange trips to other cities in vietnam during the weekend and they would go great. I met some amazing people and I hope I get to see them again.

Thanks,
Pia

How can this program be improved?
Mattresses could be a little less stiff on the back but it's okay!!
Other than that nothing much
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Pia, It’s nice to hear from you. It sounds like you had a really well rounded volunteer experience in Vietnam with a great mix of meaningful volunteer work, cultural learning, socializing and sightseeing. We would have loved for you to stay longer! Thanks for being an IVHQer.

Yes, I recommend
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Dong
10/10

Medical Project in Ho Chi Minh

I took part in a medical project in Ho Chi Minh. I have to say that this trip is pretty suitable for medical students just like me. I helped the patients with their IVs, changing medicine, transferring meds and pulling out needles as well as cleaning the wounds.
As a medical student in China, who is going to study for the second year, I haven't been to the operating room or help the patients by myself, but in Ho Chi Minh, what I have experienced made me relized being a doctor means more than helping and caring but responsibility and the ability to cope with stress.
Thx for the project, i believe I will stick to being a doctor in the future.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Dong, Thanks so much for your review of the Medial placement in Ho Chi Minh. We love your photos - you look like a great group of volunteers! We hope to have you volunteer with IVHQ again in the future.

Yes, I recommend
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Vanessa
9/10

The best way to spend your summer :)

Applying via IVHQ to the medical placement in Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best choices I have ever made in my life. I'm super impressed by how prompt the replies from the organisation are, making me felt so safe and ready before the program started. Not only is the pre-trip online support very useful, but they also send you emails during and after the trip asking how are you doing. In addition, the first week of arrival was an orientation week, when we had chance to learn vietnamese culture, including their language and how to roll the springrolls. I enjoyed that "culture week" a lot! Also, I am very grateful that despite the well-organised schedule of the program, the timetable is very flexible that we have plenty of time to explore the city, and even book a flight to travel around! I have never expected to have booked a ticket to travel to Hanoi in order to visit one of the 7 wonders of nature, the Ha Long Bay, in my second weekend trip. The travel agent in the hostel where we live was very helpful and our weekend trips would not have been this perfect without the organisation by the travel agent. The staffs and local students (since we live in the hostel of Saigon Tourist Hospitality College) are very nice and friendly. They even showed us around the city and brought us to try their local food. The most unforgettable experience is trying their traditional food, balut. Although eating a half-fertilised duck egg seems so disgusting, it actually tastes okay. After this trip, I really think that south east asia is such a lovely place to explore, and I wish I could spend more time to travel some other places in Vietnam!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Vanessa, what an awesome review! Thanks for taking the time to share a little about your time volunteering with IVHQ in Ho Chi Minh City. We are so glad that we were able to facilitate this for you but it sounds like you made the most of your time: immersing yourself in the culture, getting stuck into your volunteer work and exploring Vietnam in your free time. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Yes, I recommend
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Brianna
10/10

Vietnam- Ho Chi Minh City

This was my first time volunteering abroad and my experience in Ho Chi Minh City was unforgettable and life-changing. The program offered the opportunity to build a relationship with the program coordinators, the other volunteers, and the children in the orphanage (my placement).
We stayed in a college in the city and were offered a lot of support by the local staff. It was easy to communicate with the staff and they were very willing to help.
There was wifi and the meals were provided by the college restaurant, staffed with Vietnamese students. In this case, you're also able to meet local students that are potentially around your age to find out more about the culture and aspirations of the younger generation.
Overall my experience in Vietnam was unforgettable and very well worth the nervous worrying that took place before my departure.

How can this program be improved?
I volunteered in the orphanage and I would just like to point out that transportation came out of our pockets. The kids made it very worthwhile but I definitely think the daily transportation to the orphanage should have been included.
Yes, I recommend
Mallory Meiser Go Overseas Headshot
Mallory
9/10

Go Overseas Team Review!

What I love about IVHQ is that they offer an affordable alternative to your typical vacation for young professionals. While most of my friends take a week off to head to the beach, I was able to learn a new language, interact with a different culture and make friends from all over the world. I had never been to Asia, or travelled alone before and IVHQ offered me the support and opportunity to do so. Next time you are thinking about how to spend your vacation days-- consider taking the adventure of volunteering abroad in a new country. Now for the category by category break down:

Impact:
The program I worked on was called “Feeding the Homeless.” Every morning we would leave the local school where we were living around 7 a.m. and take a bus to the soup kitchen (although rice kitchen might be a more apt term). I was fortunate enough to have the chance to work with another volunteer who had been there for 7 weeks already. It was obvious the kind of relationship someone who had volunteered for longer through the program was able to make. On his last day the local staff baked a cake and threw a going away party for him!

Support:
IVHQ works with a local provider to run their programs. The onsite staff, Anna and Leigh, were very supportive and always around if I had a question. I had a staff member meet me at the airport (along with a few other volunteers) and make sure we got to our housing. Once at our housing they gave us a map of the surrounding area, made us lunch and gave a couple of tips for crossing the road (harder than you might think when no one obeys the traffic lights!). Overall there was enough support for me to feel safe, but also the freedom to explore on my own and be more independent if I wanted.

Value:
Full disclosure, IVHQ waived my fees for volunteering in Ho Chi Minh as part of the Go Overseas paid PAID vacation program. However, when talking to the other volunteers they noted that they had chosen IVHQ because it was much cheaper than other volunteer programs. Besides housing we also got meal tickets (3x day) and entry into Independence Palace, The Vietnam War Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels during culture week.

Fun:
This is a fairly subjective category but I would say it is hard not to have a good time in Ho Chi Minh. There are about four different programs going on through IVHQ which means there are lots of other international volunteers around to make plans with. Leigh (one of the program staff) recommended loads of fun weekend trips (I went to Mui Ne-- a definite must!). The project itself was more rewarding than fun. We worked hard -- chopping vegetables, setting tables, washing dishes, etc. -- but the local staff and people we got to interact with while serving made it all worthwhile. One of my favorite parts was actually the culture week where we got to explore the city, learn the language and make some authentic dishes. I think the more you know about a culture the more you can appreciate it. Another highlight was a dinner that Leigh put together where all the volunteers got to meet local students who were learning english. We all had a blast trying to communicate in broken Vietnamese/English and the night ended in singing and dancing.

Safety:
We lived a bit on the outskirts of town but there was never a time I felt unsafe. We all stayed in bunks with 6 - 8 other volunteers and they locked the gates at night after 11. As long as you use common sense (not carrying around valuables, let friends know where you’re going, etc). you should be perfectly fine!

Overall:
This was my first time in Asia, and a developing country. Volunteering with IVHQ was a great way to travel on my own, learn about the culture, and meet other people. As I mentioned earlier, I also highly recommend it as an alternative to your typical vacation for a working professional. Getting out of the country and traveling alone gave me a chance to get outside of my comfort zone in a way its really hard to do in "real life". Feel free to email me at any time if you want to learn more about my trip! [email protected]

How can this program be improved?
One issue that some volunteers came across was that the onsite staff was not aware of what program they were doing once they got there (medical, orphanage, etc). This lead to some initial confusion and also means that some volunteers worked on programs they weren't necessarily vetted for.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Mallory, It's great to hear from you. Thanks for leaving your thoughts from your experience in Ho Chi Minh with IVHQ. We are glad we could provide you with a meaningful and memorable vacation. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Yes, I recommend
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Aubrey
10/10

Good Morning, Vietnam

One of the greatest stories I have from my time in Ho Chi Minh is a simple one. Within the first 30 minutes of meeting my fellow volunteers, we were planning a weekend trip together to the beach town of Vung Tao, Vietnam. We were frantically looking at websites and listings to book a cheap hotel, when I paused and looked around the room at everyone... from Ecuador, Portugal, England, Germany... All corners of the world. I remember saying to my new friends: "Can you believe it? We didn't know each other an hour ago, and I feel like I've known you my whole life." It was a beautiful moment, and just the beginning of some beautiful friendships.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing, it would have been the amount of time I spent there. It was not clear to me that the entire first week is a culture week, so I only got to be at my placement for one day. I still enjoyed and loved every single second, but I wish I could have stayed longer and made more of an impact.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Aubrey, Thanks for sharing a snippet from your experience volunteering in Ho Chi Minh City with IVHQ. It sounds like you were able to share your experience with a truly special bunch of people. It's great to hear that you spent your free time exploring Vietnam with your new friends - that's what travel is all about. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Yes, I recommend

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Over 80,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the...