Laos Fact File
General factsPresident: Choummaly Sayasone (2006)
Prime Minister: Thongsing Thammavong (2010)
Land area: 89,112 sq. mi (230,800 sq. km); total area: 91,428 sq mi (236,800 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 6,803,699 (growth rate: 1.59%); life expectancy: 63.51
Capital city: Vientiane, 810,000
Monetary unit: New Kip, Thai baht, US Dollar
Ethnicity/race: Lao 55%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 8%, other (over 100 minor ethnic groups) 26% (2005 census)
Religions: Buddhist 67%, Christian 1.5%, other and unspecified 31.5% (2005 census)
Lao PDR is a landlocked country bordering Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. About 6.8 million people live in its 18 provinces, with most people – 63 percent – still living in rural areas. However, urbanization is occurring at a rate of 4.9 percent each year. The country is largely mountainous, with the most fertile land found along the Mekong plains. The river flows from north to south, forming the border with Thailand for more than 60 percent of its length.
Despite still being a least developed country (LDC), Lao PDR has made significant progress in poverty alleviation over the past 2 decades with poverty rates decline from 46% in 1992 to 27.6% in 2008. The country is on course to achieve the Millennium Development Goal target of halving poverty by 2015, however the challenge now is to ensure that all Lao people benefit in the country's development.
The Laos Wildlife Sanctuary LocationThe wildlife sanctuary is located near a small local village two hours north of Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. The village where the centre is located rarely sees tourists, so gives a real insight into the traditional Laotian way of life. During time off, volunteers can organise trips to local sites of interest, or visit Vientiane and its surroundings, including the beautiful Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area, Lake Nam Ngum, and the nearby Buddha Park.
Accommodation at the Laos Wildlife SanctuaryVolunteers stay in bungalows situated on the grounds of the sanctuary under the shade of plenty of trees. The bungalows are basic, but comfortable, and volunteers normally only share with one other person. The bungalows also come with a small balcony to relax on at the end of the day. Hot showers and western toilets are shared and are located in a building just next to the bungalows.
Three meals a day are included in your stay, and volunteers have access to free filtered drinking water, coffee, and tea. Breakfast is do-it-yourself, but supplies are provided. Lunch and dinner are freshly prepared Laotian dishes, with some European foods, and vegetarians are easily catered for.
There is no wifi at the project, but it is easy to buy and use a local SIM card, which can be used to access 3G for internet.
There is also a volunteer hangout where volunteers will be able to socialise in the evening. There is a small library, dartboard and board games that can be used. Outside there is an area for campfires, and a course to play petanque on which is a very popular sport with the locals!
Within the immediate area it is possible to buy most things that you would need such as drinks, snacks, washing powder, and toiletries. However, it isn’t like going to the local supermarket where everything is clearly labelled for you – you may have to dig around a bit! There is also a daily local market where you can buy local food, fish, vegetables, fruit and clothing.
Climate in LaosLaos has a tropical monsoon climate, with a pronounced rainy season from May through October, a cool dry season from November through February, and a hot dry season in March and April.
Generally, monsoons occur at the same time across the country, although that time may vary significantly from one year to the next. Average temperature in Laos is around 29 degrees.
Daily Schedule at the Laos Wildlife SanctuaryVolunteers work a six day week, with one day off to explore the local area or relax. Hours worked and activities will vary based on the season, number of volunteers, and needs of the centre. Be prepared to work hard!
An example of a typical day:
Start your day at 6.30am
Breakfast from 8-9am
Lunch from 12am-1pm
Work day ends around 5pm
Dinner at 6.30pm
Getting to the projectThe nearest airport is Wattay International Airport (Airport Code VTE) in Vientiane. The most economical way to fly into Vientiane is to fly directly into Bangkok, Thailand and book a separate, regional flight into Vientiane.
Once you arrive in Vientiane, the project will arrange your ground transportation to the center on Sundays and Wednesdays.
To help you find the best air fares Globalteer has formed a partnership with a division of The Flight Centre Group who will tailor make your travel arrangements for you at a competitive price.
You can contact them for a free, no obligation travel quote by calling 0844 560 9944 from within the UK, or if you are outside the UK you can call +44(0)203 056 1146. Make sure you mention Globalteer when you call and if you do purchase your travel through them, Globalteer will receive a small donation. However, don’t forget that it’s up to you to make sure your travel arrangements are right for you and your project.
Extra ActivitiesOn days off, the project can coordinate group activities like trips to Vientiane, swimming or boat trips when enough people are interested. Volunteers can also easily individually go to local sites, or Vientiane and its surrounds, including visiting the beautiful Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area, Lake Nam Ngum, or the nearby Buddha Park. Near the project there is a resort with a swimming pool where volunteers can spend their off days.
The Globalteer DifferenceThese days there are a great many opportunities to volunteer overseas, but not all organisations are the same.
Watch our short video presentation to see what makes Globalteer different from your average volunteering organisation!
A brief history of LaosThe Lao People’s Democratic Republic was established in December 1975, succeeding the Kingdom of Laos. This followed decades of civil war between the Royal Lao Government and the communist Pathet Lao, as well as involvement in the 2nd Indochina conflict. With the defeat of the royalists, the monarchy was abolished and the communist Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) instituted a one-party State. The Constitution of Lao PDR was adopted in 1991.
Politically the country has considerably opened up in recent years, ratifying six out of the nine core human rights treaties, creating a more conducive legal environment for civil society, and actively pursuing regional and global integration. Lao PDR joined the
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1997, the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2013 and is undertaking taking steps to join the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.