Safety is a good question, and a matter we take very seriously. Laos was actually chosen as our destination because of the security of the location.
VESA staff members meet the designated Group Flight at the arrival hall of the airport, where they are accompanied to our hostel and then on to the elephant Conservation Centre. Our VESA staff members are with the volunteers in the centre’s accommodation overnight and the whole group stays together.
The volunteers are supervised and accompanied on all volunteer work, activities, overnight accommodation and in country transportation by a VESA rep.
As with all our programs, safety of our participants is our #1 priority.
We are aware that for some of our participants this may be their first experience abroad or even away from their families. Should they have any queries or need any assistance while on program there will always be someone nearby to help and you should not hesitate to ask any question at all. We are definitely there to make our volunteers have the best possible experience.
VESA closely monitors all political, civil and environmental situations in Laos. Should we deem that the area is unsafe for travel we will readjust the program accordingly.
Please visit your government’s travel website for further information on travelling conditions throughout the South Pacific.
Volunteers on the VESA programme will be accompanied at all times by members of our staff who are all qualified Senior First Aid technicians.
In Laos, we work with an already established Non-Profit organization The Elephant Conservation Centre, and at all times will be accompanied by the organization’s staff as well as two VESA staff members. On tour both staff members as well as a local guide will travel with you.
There is very limited cell phone coverage whilst on the first week of the program. Internet is not available during the volunteer week but will be available for a fee at reception at our hostels in Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.
All accommodation and food is included in the cost of the program. However, if you wish to buy that special necklace or souvenir for back home, then you will need to bring along some cash.
At Laos International airport on arrival there are ATMs for you to take out local currency, the ‘Kip’, for drinks, snacks and souvenirs. $US Dollars are accepted for larger purchases and are easily changed. It is extremely important that you alert your bank and credit card company that you will be travelling overseas so that they do not put a hold on your card. A quick phone call is all it takes.
Optional activities in Laos i.e. hot air ballooning can be paid for by cash on the spot
No vaccinations are mandatory however VESA strongly recommends that you speak to your medical practitioner about any further immunisations you may need.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date. Pack a travel first aid kit, especially as you will be travelling away from major city centres. Malaria is a risk factor in rural Laos during certain times of the year. Malaria prevention options should be discussed with a travel medicine specialist prior to departure. There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Most travellers need a visa to enter Laos. A 30-day tourist visa can be obtained on arrival at the airport in Vientiane. The current price for a visa is between $30 and $50USD (USD cash only, passport photo required). Visas cost an extra $1USD on weekends and public holidays.
Sure, not a problem! All we ask from our participants is that you come with an open mind and a desire to make a difference. Please note however that the majority of our participants are university students and range in age from 18 – 24 years old.
Find out more
See what you'll be doing each day on the Laos Elephant Encountered project.