Laos Wildlife Sanctuary Frequently Asked Questions

You will find below answers to many frequently asked questions. If your question does not appear then please click here to open the 'contact us' page to ask us your question.
01. Is Laos safe?
Laos is a very safe and friendly, but as always when travelling you must take the usual precautions to make sure you stay safe. Common sense and knowledge is the key phrase, and on arrival you will have an orientation meeting to advise you of any precautions you need to take. Most visits to Laos are completely trouble free.
 
02. What languages do I need?
You need to be able to speak English as this will be the common language at the project.
03. What are the living conditions at the project?
Volunteers 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.  
04. What type of food will I be eating?
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 Western food, and vegetarians are easily catered for.
 
Within the immediate area there is a local market that operates daily where you can buy local food, fish, vegetables, fruit and snacks. Around 5km away is a small village where you will find a mini mart that stocks a few more goods than the local shops. You can buy pasta, tuna, ice creams and various other things from here.
05. Will I have time for extra activities?
Yes, in fact we actively encourage it! Laos is a beautiful country and we wish you to experience its culture, history and people. On days off, the project can coordinate group activities like trips into Vientiane, swimming or boat trips when there are enough people interested. Volunteers can also organise trips to local sites or to 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 is a resort with a swimming pool where volunteers can spend their off days.
06. How many hours will I be volunteering?
The animals wake at sunrise so work starts at 6.30am. The last jobs are finished by 5.00pm but you will have around 1.5 hours of free periods during the day where you can relax or catch up on sleep.

You will work six days a week, with one day off to explore the local area or relax. The atmosphere at the centre is friendly and relaxed, so with consultation with the staff, most requests for preferred days off are possible although the project coordinator must ensure that all duties are fulfilled daily for the benefit of the animals.
07. Do I need to be qualified?
No, you will be given guidance and training and will initially work with experienced volunteers.
08. How do I get to the project?
The donation does not include flights, visas, or travel insurance, though we can provide information as requested. We will organise your pick-up for a hotel or airport in Vientiane, but the cost for the transfer is not included in the volunteer placement fee, and is to be paid directly to the driver upon arrival at the centre. The cost of this is 1500 baht (paid in baht or LAK) for the car, and not per person, so will be cheaper if there are several people in the car. 

You must be available for a pick up at your hotel or the airport no later than 10.30AM on a Sunday or Wednesday. You should book a flight that arrives by 9:30am as this shoud allow enough time to clear customs at the airport. If the flights you wish to use arrives later than 9.30am then please arrive the day before andspend the night in Vientiane.
09. Is there access to internet, telephone and post?
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 the internet. Receiving and making international phone calls on the sanctuary phone is available for emergencies only.
10. What vaccinations will I need for Laos?
We recommend that our volunteers consult a doctor for up-to-date advice about vaccinations. Do this as soon as possible as some vaccinations take time to be effective.
 
However, all volunteers are required to have their vaccinations for DTP (Tetanus, Pertussis, and Diphtheria) up-to-date. This is mandatory for everyone who wants to have a volunteer placement at the centre.
 
Read more about our medical and safety advice.
11. Do I need a visa?
Most nationalities receive a free 30 day visa on arrival at several of the international borders to Laos, including Vientiane and Luang Prabang airports, and the Friendship Bridge between Nong Kahi, Thailand, and Vientiane in Laos. However, it is important to check this with your embassy as the borders that provide visas on arrivals can differ by country. The cost for your visa on arrival should be around $US35, depending on your nationality. A passport with at least a six month validity, and two passport photos are required. For long stays you will most likely need to arrange a visa from your home country with the Laos Consulate or travel agency.

You only need a tourist visa, as volunteer work does not require a business visa. It is better not to confuse immigration officers by telling them you are working, as volunteer work does not require a special visa, just state you are visiting Laos for tourism.
 
Most nationalities can extend their 30-day tourist visa up to an additional 60 days for a fee of US$2 per day through the Department of Immigration in Vientiane.
 
Read more about visa requirements in the countries we work in.  
12. What cultural differences must I consider?
Take off footwear when entering a building or shop.
Modesty is highly valued. Public body contact, especially between men and women is avoided.
Lao people do not like to be touched on the head as it is considered offensive. It is also considered impolite to point one’s foot at another person. It is also not appreciated if visitors behave as if they are in a hurry.
Privacy is an important cultural value, and relationships are based on trust and personal questions from people they don’t know very well are not appreciated.
The traditional Lao greeting is called ‘wai’. This involves placing your palms together at chest level as if praying and inclining your head.
13. When is the best time to go to Laos?
Laos has a tropical monsoon climate, with a pronounced rainy season from May through October, a cool dry season from November through February, when it can give chilly at night, 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.   
14. Can I drink alcohol and smoke?
Volunteers are not allowed to drink alcohol during working hours. In the evening, after work has completed for the day, volunteers are permitted to drink alcohol in moderation at our volunteer hang out. Working and living with animals means you must be able to follow safety protocols and react quickly at all times. We therefore cannot allow volunteers to be drunk or having a hangover on site.    
Smoking is not allowed inside any of the project’s buildings, including your bedroom and the volunteer kitchen. Smoking is allowed outside the volunteer hangout
15. Is there a dress code?
Laos is not as “westernised” as some of the other countries in South East Asia, and the village where the centre is located is very traditional and rarely sees westerners. 
 
Volunteers are expected to behave respectfully and dress modestly at all times, but especially when leaving the property. This applies to both male and female volunteers, but due to cultural differences particularly for women.

Wear tops with sleeves that cover your shoulders when walking around outside the centre. Obvious cleavage or showing midriff is not acceptable in the centre or outside.
16. Do I receive training and orientation?
Yes, on arrival you will receive orientation from our project coordinator, giving local information and advice. Basic training will be given to ensure you achieve the project objectives. You will continually be learning from the staff.
17. What are the criteria of a volunteer?
Volunteers will be assessed on the information provided during the application process.
18. Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is highly recommended for this project. To help make getting insured easier we have formed a partnership with award-winning travel insurers, World Nomads. They provide insurance to travellers from over 140 different countries and are the only insurer we have found that will allow you to take out a policy even after you have left your home country.
 
If you purchase an insurance policy from World Nomads through this link - Travel Insurance - they will also make a donation to Globalteer and the many projects we support.
 
Please note that Globalteer can accept no responsibility for your travel or insurance arrangements and encourages you to fully research all travel and insurance options available to you.
19. Who usually volunteers at your projects?
The majority of volunteers are from the UK, United States, Canada and Australia. We also place volunteers from Holland, Germany, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand although all nationalities are welcome. The majority of volunteers travel alone to the project, although we also accommodate couples and groups. 
20. How do I arrange onward transport at the end of my stay?
Volunteers are responsible for the cost of transport to wherever they may be heading after their time at the project. The cost of your onward transport is not included in the volunteer fee.
 
The project will help volunteers to take them to their onward destination. Volunteers can leave the project anytime between 6am and 7pm, but volunteers usually depart the project between 8 and 10am.
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