Vietnam

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I recently completed the IVHQ medical program in Vietnam, and it has had an immense impact on me. This was my second medical program trip with IVHQ, and each one has given me knowledge and experience that I will carry with me throughout my medical studies and career! This is a perfect program for either groups or solo travelers, as you will meet so many other volunteers who share interests and love adventure as well! I can’t wait to start planning my next trip!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Aug 12, 2022
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I have recently volunteered with IVHQ for 2 weeks in Vietnam (teaching project).
I have never collaborated with IVHQ before and this was kind of a trial for me: I wanted to "test" how IVHQ worked, prior to engaging with this organization for a longer volunteering experience, which I am going to undertake later this year.

I can honestly say I am impressed with their work. First of all, the support prior to departure was always timely, organized, and helpful (follow-up of coordinators on my questions, support when changing details of my application, easy-to-understand explanations, support for booking flight etc.).

Once I arrived, I was then communicating with local staff, who were super nice and and friendly too! It is important especially when you arrive in a different country after a long flight, and during the very first days of your stay, and before making any friends, to have someone who makes you feel at home and not alone.

IMPORTANT: I would like to warmly recommend all future volunteers to take "culture week" options during volunteering for sure! I am glad I did, because it provides you with a better understanding of the country you are visiting and moreover, you make better bonds with other volunteers.

As for program itself: it was well organized, I was working together with several other volunteers and a project coordinator Tracy, who was supporting us during the lessons. The teaching project was very rewarding and fun! The coordinator was giving us support, and at the same time we had a flexibility of acting during classes, as per our creativity and lesson-planning.

By the way, one more thing about positiveness of program staff: at one point I got sick and had a sore throat and a high temperature, and the local coordinators were so caring and nice to me: instead of just giving me pharmacy medications, they in addition prepared a homemade drink for my treatment, and used to bring me every few hours to my room together with soup and meals, while I was in bed.

During my time in Vietnam, I have also met many young volunteers who were engaged in various projects (most of them traveling and volunteering solo). In case you are very young and inexperienced, maybe even scared to volunteer alone in an unknown country - don't be discouraged! and be sure that IVHQ staff will support you, because I really felt it on myself and other volunteers too.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Feb 4, 2020
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I have a lot to say on frontier, mostly because I bought a 30week program with them... Southeast Asia trail 10 weeks, Fiji marine 10 weeks and central America trail 10 weeks (which turned out much less if you continue reading). The whole 30 weeks cost around 13k plus additional $1700 for open water and advanced diver certifications. So we can average out around $4400 per 10 weeks. I'll be working in US dollars for this review. I'm going to round and estimate but I think it's pretty accurate still.
First off I just want to say, let me be your lesson on this... Avoid Frontier at all costs. I made the terrible decision to go with frontier so hopefully I can at least pass on some knowledge to prevent others from being swindled. I truly believe they are a fradulant scam. This is only a highlight of some of the more major issues as I would have to write a whole book on all the complete failings.
Southeast Asia (Sea) trail: Oct to Dec 2017.
If going on your own for 10 weeks and you spend 5k, you're probably only going to spend that much if staying in nice/private hotels, eating out a lot or doing expensive activities. With frontier you get none of that, with is fine because thats not how I prefer to travel however, what you get is a whole lot less than what is promised and fasley advertised. First off, I've been to many hostels good and bad. The ones frontier goes to are largely in the not good category (though I admit some were fine or good). The budget is for $10 a night. Even at 10 weeks that's ($10/night x 70 nights)=$700 . Okay that's a major expense for any traveler. Next their website claims meals are provided. When arrived, find out some meals aren't provided, no drinking water is provided, the budget is roughly $3 a day minus weekends so $3/day x 5days/week x 10 weeks)= $150. Also the guide wouldn't pay for your meal if you got "western" food. This was not a real rule but one imposed by this guide (as were many other rules she made up in her head). Investment in the project which in this case was teaching English in Cambodia by frontier =$0! It was extremely awkward on the first day of meeting the school administrator when she told us this. Many in the group immediately wrote emails to frontier demanded an explanation. It was ambiguous and completely non transparent business practices. Basically they state that they never promise to spend the money on your project but they can choose to spend on anything such as other projects, "administration costs" and lawyer fees. If you actually want your money to support the cause you choose, stay away from frontier. The school has since dropped frontier after for their deceitful practices, both to us as volunteers /consumers and themselves. Website claimed several activities included, guide denied this. Eventually the group persisted and indeed the guide was forced to give us a refund for certain activities. Other things the guide made up... Can't jump in waterfall because too dangerous (as 10 year boys were jumping), limiting alcohol... She made up random rules like 2 drinks per evening, no more then 2 times a week. This was also protested and guide was told that's not a rule. Curfews... Couldnt go out after 6pm without signing out or having a buddy. I'm 30 years old, and getting treated like a children. Not to mention this guide could not speak any local language, had no experience leading group travel and had only lightly traveled that region before so was more or less useless thus minimal. I can't remember all the travel fees but it's safe to say they weren't in the $3000 range, probably like $500. So you're getting possibly the value of $1000 but getting charged $5000. That is straight awful. A couple folks dropped out (one for medical issue, another due to complete disappoint with frontier), most on the trip agreed it was terrible value and would never use frontier again but nothing we can do about it. Several sued or tried but it's prohibitively expensive trying to go against on your own (remember all those lawyer fees??) so I don't think anything came about. That being said I did get to meet some cool people and see some cool places. My advice... SEA is pretty well traveled so it's simple to go it alone as you'll meet plenty of people at hostels. Or travel with a reputable and reliable company (definitely not frontier) for a short time until comfortable to go alone or meet some friends and travel. Or find a local NGO to work with and know your cause is actually getting your money. There was a girl at the school that just did this and volunteered for free, even got free room to stay for teaching meanwhile we shuffled thousands of dollars to a corrupt company instead of a well deserving school for impoverished children.
Fiji marine: Jan to mar 2018.
So another ten weeks here, 4.4k paid. Additional $1700 for padi courses. So the situation here was different than SEA, which was more travel based. While Fiji was a more permanent camp, not really any travel included. The living conditions were pretty bad here. It was quite remote and self sustained living a lot which personally I do kjnda enjoy. However, if you're paying for a suite and get a dump you'd be upset, rightfully so, this is kinda like that. Obviously I didn't expect a suite, but the water would constantly break, camp was falling apart. Barely a workable shower when I got there. The solar panel was broken so nearly zero electricity. We had one light in the camp that worked. Everything else was personally brought by volunteers /staff such as mini solar lights and panels for charging phones /cameras etc. Obviously no wifi (again knew that and didn't really care) though can occasionally get signal on local Sim card. The kitchen and all equipment was in pretty rough shape. The living conditions in general were disagreeable. Beds were a one inch foam mattress, my back was agony the whole time and extremely difficult to get anything resembling good rest on. The food was cooked by staff and volunteers on camp, typically. The food that came out was surprisingly good most of the time but that's because I suppose we had some good cooks. Meals were typically rice, canned beans/veg. Once a week we'd get fresh fruit, veg, bread, eggs but that would always run out quick before next supply. As far as the diving goes... Fiji has superb diving BUT getting certified was a nightmare. Ideally open water and advanced can be finished in a week. Sure there were lots of additional challenges so they even say maybe 2 or 3 weeks. It took me 8 weeks! You're basically paying for the diving here since as we discussed you're not getting much value from the lodging or meals. So to be low balled on diving was a major issue. Essentially I got 11 dives outside the training dives, which could be seen as the most expensive dives in the world compared to how much the project cost. There were many issues some directly frontiers fault, some indirectly, only one reason was neither (evacuated for hurricane, which at this point shouldn't be surprising to hear that we were forced out of camp and off the island to the mainland at our own expense and actually charged by frontier for using their mainland lodging! That is some reprehensible behavior!). FYI the other reasons were frontier failing to pay for their dive insurance, constant boat and air compressor failures, dive instructor getting sick and requiring surgery on the mainland (I say this is indirectly frontiers responsibility because they should have had a backup plan rather than delaying training for another week). All that said the staff in general here were better, more experienced, and they were quite a few of them. Also the people I met here were mostly cool.
Again I enjoyed Fiji and locals and most of the other volunteers but again it is not even close to being worth going with Frontier. Fiji is very easy to travel solo or find an NGO that won't rip you off.
Central America trail: Jan to Mar 2019.
This was more travel based like SEA trail but again was a disaster. It was so bad it was aggressively canceled by frontier (since we were exposing their lies) and they refused to provide any refund at all. If you thought the other trips above were bad, this time I had enough. Arrive in Mexico on day one, our guide (again someone with limited knowledge /experience but could at least speak Spanish), states frontier won't let us go through Nicaragua due to potential conflict. Okay we were never given any indication of this issue even though it was clearly known ( they pulled this same stunt the previous year) and states in their terms and conditions that they are required to notify us of any major changes and we can choose to agree with those changes or receive refund. This never happened. Guide says frontier will provide transport from Honduras to Costa Rica to avoid Nicaragua (via flight). Volunteers say okay, not ideal but we're already here and can't do anything about it. A week before this flight this guide says actually what he meant that first day was that we have to pay the flights completely out of pocket (about $400 at this point). Volunteers say no that's not what you said, frontier and guide both lied about the origins of this "no going through Nicaragua rule," claimed they told us before which is most certainly false ( they even said yeh we have an email we sent you, we said where, they said ohh we can't find it... That email was sent the week we were moving servers and it doesn't show up now. Well that's not how email works,) and that they have the right to cancel without refunds because of this immient danger situation. It's almost hard to argue the stupidity that comes out of the frontier office as the danger has been known about for over a year, they are required to notify us and give us options, well yeah none of that happened. They canceled around the 4 week mark effectively scamming us out of over the trip. Also this guide frequently lied to us, failed miserably to communicate what we were saying since they wouldn't answer our direct emails, and kept saying "oh well I'm not English native speaker so maybe you didn't understand me" which he used as a cover for the lies. Again also no experience leading group travel and was quite terrible at it in all regards. He also made frequent creepy and unwanted advances towards one of the other volunteers to the point she wouldn't feel safe near him or if alone with him. He also made frequent "jokes" in very poor taste (jokes about things like teen prostitution, indicating he might have taken part on other trips he's done). It was embarrassing, creepy and offensive, even to me, and I'm not one to get offended easily. I was looking up legal documents and talking to lawyers while on this trip to find out if they are acting illegally. Could you imagine doing that when you're supposed to be traveling and exploring the world? In the end, the fight of one versus an international corporation based in another country was too much for me but I really hope they are exposed and taken down, it won't be soon enough. In the meantime I hope to warn as many people as possible of this company.

All in all, I cannot overstate how bad frontier is, and I don't think I'm exaggerating at all. I have dealt with them over the course of 2 years, actively spending about 24 weeks with frontier. Please learn from me and never book with frontier. They are dishonest and misleading, possibly fradulant. Be careful because they spend a lot of money on advertising and If you want to take the chance like I did then good luck but you'll likely regret it.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Cambodia, Central America, Fiji, Thailand, Vietnam
Posted: Jun 27, 2019
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Projects Abroad

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Jul 2, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
8

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Mar 2, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Jan 25, 2018
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Deciding to volunteer in Vietnam last minute (while travelling in Vietnam) I cannot stress how efficient and clear the communication was with IVHQ. These guys know what they are doing. Green Lion - the local team - took over, and although not as quick to reply, they did confirm information sent. Picked up at airport and taken to the accomodation without worries. The building currently under construction, which had its drawbacks (but end stages) it has a lot of potential, but fulfilled all needs. Delicious food, nice atmosphere among the team and participants. An introduction week with cultural exchange and other experiences as well as useful information to help ease into the following weeks to come. Feedback submitted every week and taken seriously.
The 3 weeks (or remaining 2 and 2 days) of the medical placement went by quickly. I was glad to see that we could be involved by assisting the nurses, which in turn hopefully helped the patients. The conditions are different and a local guide from Green Lion was present at times to aid with language barriers. However, not a lot was medically explained as to why they did so, which could come as a bit of a shock, for me it was. Overall though, watching and experiencing families pull through the tough situations their members were in while at the hospital is inspiring. Have an open mind, follow the steps that IVHQ points out to you and you will surely have a good experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Dec 12, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I spent a month teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City, and loved every moment of it. The Green Lion staff are some of the friendliest people I have met, and go out of hier way to ensure that your stay is enjoyable. The first week consists of 3 orientation days to show you around the city, which were great but for this reason I recommend you volunteer for more than 2 weeks, as not much of the first week is spent in your program. The people I met there were so enthusiastic about travel and helping those in less fortunate circumstances than their own, creating a great atmosphere at the accomodation. The lovely family that live across the road pretty much do everything, from the cooking, laundry and running the corner store. Food served 3 times a day is a great way to experience Vietnamese cuisine, and they make sure to accomodate for all. If you are thinking twice about volunteering abroad or traveling solo for the first time, don’t! I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone, not that I was out of it for long because the Green Lion staff that run the volunteering projects make you feel right at home,

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Nov 30, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

In August 2016 I fulfilled my lifelong passion to volunteer with children who needed it the most.

I now go back in 6 weeks time, same program and same location :)

I spent 3 weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; I was based at a local hospital where I cared for children with disabilities from unprivileged families living close to destitution but had the support of this vital volunteer program and hospital day care. I gave my time, my love and my gentle hand to children who just wanted to be accepted. I assisted local staff in providing therapeutic treatments, feeding, play time, entertaining and educating.

In my spare time I visited an orphanage where my heart was broken; 3 floors and 75 children with no mummy & daddy and a safe place to call a home. There were no bedrooms for these children - they shared communal floor space and simply was provided with a pillow, they were fed twice a day and relied on donations from volunteers - donation of time and donation of basic supplies for everyday living.

The orphanage was over an hour on the bus out of district 4 and I was struck by the vision of poverty on the streets, no documentary can prepare you for that. I fell in love at the orphanage with every child I met – I spent most of my time in the baby room as my heart lay there, with around 10 babies under 2 including ‘tiny toes’ a 10 day old baby abandoned by his mother and born at 7 months premature. This sweet innocent child was perfect but with a long road ahead of him and no name at the time.

It’s also hard to forget Quin – a 12 year old girl with severe mental and physical disabilities who also resided in the baby room at the orphanage as the staff where not quite sure what to do with her due to her inability to walk or feed herself, she was playful and sweet and just wanted to play.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easier but I had no idea how hard it was going to be. 35 degrees of heat with no air con at the hospital or orphanage, in an area struck with poverty and a nation of people with no healthcare support. There is no public health cafe in Vietnam!

We have all had ups and downs in life some harder than the other (loss, illness and hardhsip) but we are truly blessed to have access to clean water, health care and a roof over our heads and food in our tummy’s. To give your time is to give happiness.

Last a note from the words of a true inspiration - Christina Noble.

“I will work with the ill and unwanted, with the lonely and the misbegotten, with the throw-away children of this war torn country.
The future of our world is the future of our children, our beautiful children. For many of them, it is a matter of giving them back their future, giving them a life, giving them hope and giving them the childhood they deserve.”

xx

Program:
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Oct 2, 2017
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
9

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Getting a big hug and a thankyou in Vietnamese from an elderly man to whom i was serving food in the Food Outreach program in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam would definitely rank as one of the most cherished moments of my life.

The Food Outreach programme organized by International Volunteer HQ in Ho Chi Minh City was a truly unforgettable experience. Great Website, Outstanding support from the Program Manager at IVHQ, Prejourney resources, Value for Money, A very warm, friendly and helpful local team in Vietnam and a great experience in the volunteer program are all the reasons why i would definitely recommend International Volunteer HQ to any aspiring volunteer. Highly Recommended !!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Vietnam
Posted: Sep 21, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

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