Vientiane is the capital city of Laos, located on the western side of the country not too far from the Thailand border. The city is relatively small and composed in comparison to most other capital cities throughout Asia, which makes it attractive for travellers to stop and explore the town at ease.
Famous for its temples, French architecture and laid back atmosphere, Vientiane brings in an increasing number of tourists each year, and with this influx comes the opportunity for increased business. Some businesses have used this opportunity as a way to help the Laos community and support projects targeting important issues such as poverty, human trafficking and human rights.
While visiting Vientiane check out some of these amazing organisations and support the admirable work they do to help people in need.
Makphet is a vocational training restaurant in Vientiane that provides opportunities for former street children to reintegrate into Laos society. Run in association with the NGO Friends International, the restaurant offers vocational training, life skills, education and psychological support to the employees and their families.
The restaurant serves a variety of Laos and Western cuisine with a creative menu of unique dishes, which changes from month to month. Be prepared to pay upwards of 30,000 kip for a main meal but your money is going to a worthy cause.
Location: #78, Ban Inpeng Vat Chanh Tha, Vientiane Laos
Opening Hours: 11:00 am – 10:30 pm, Mon - Sun
Common Grounds Café
Common Grounds Café is a modern café and bakery located in downtown Vientiane. The café supports a number of community projects including Interwoven, an organisation sourcing handmade and fair trade products from women at risk in the community.
The café also sources 100% organic high-grade Arabica coffee from Northern Laos and provides their customers with a range of delicious meals and snacks, as well as a lovely, secure atmosphere to relax and dine in.
Location: Chao Anou Rd., Ban Watchan, Vientiane Laos
Opening Hours: 7:00am – 8:00pm, Mon – Sat
Sticky Fingers is a restaurant in town that serve a number of cuisines including Asian Fusion, French, Greek and Mediterranean, Mexican, Vegan and Vegetarian. The restaurant has, for a long time, been involved in fundraising for local projects and organisations, which include Vientiane Rescue, the COPE Centre, and surrounding schools and libraries.
They have a bonus card system, where you fill one point with a meal and once you reach 10 points you can have a free meal or donate your card to their current cause. They also run fundraising quiz nights and special 'cocktail for charity' nights that allow guests to have a bit of fun while donating to a cause.
Location: 1/3 Francois Nginn St, Ban Mixay, Vientiane Laos
Opening Hours: 7:00 - 23:00 Mon - Fri, 10:00 - 23:00 Sat - Sun
The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) was established in 1997 as a joint venture between the Ministry of Health and a number of international organisations concerned with disability in Laos. The centre, located in Vientiane, is now the only one of it’s kind in the country that provides people with prosthetic limbs, walking aids and wheelchairs to assist them on their way to a better life.
The COPE Centre tells the story of Laos’ war history and the horrible repercussions the war has had on its people. Here you can learn about the affects that unexploded ordnances (UXO’s) have on people today, with 80 million UXO’s still scattered throughout the country. The centre has a screening room with documentaries, an interactive exhibit and showcases stories of survival from Laos’ dark times.
Admission is free but donations are welcomed. $40 will provide transport, food and accommodation for one patient, while $100 will cover all medical and logistical costs for an average patient.
Location: Boulevard Khouvieng, Vientiane Laos
Opening Hours: 9:00am-6:00pm, Daily
Mines Advisory Group (MAG)
MAG is a humanitarian organisation clearing the remnants of war throughout Asia. They work in 11 countries, including Laos where they have been clearing unexploded ordnances since 1994.
You can visit the UXO Visitor and Information Centre in Vientiane and learn about the current UXO situation in Laos, as well as the work that MAG do to help people in the community. Watch slideshows, examine a UXO collection and view Laos via Google Earth to witness a bird’s eye view of the amount of bombs that were dropped on the country.
The organisation runs mostly off donations. $12 will clear 10m2 of contaminated land, $55 will provide 1 week’s salary for a national UXO technician.
Location: Unit 20, Thongsangnang Road, Sisavath Village, Chanthabouly District, Vientiane Laos.
Opening Hours: 12:00pm-6:00pm Daily
Laos Disabled Women’s Development Centre (LDWDC)
LDWDC is an organisation that provides support to women in Laos with disabilities. They offer training in areas including garment making, weaving, English language, computer and business administration so that the women can become independent and self-sufficient, and find jobs in the workforce.
The organisation has a centre in Vientiane where you can visit and meet the staff and trainees. They will take you on a tour of the workshop where you can see a range of products being made from different materials, including recycled paper. The centre runs various tours ranging from 50,000 – 100,000kip and some tours offer you the chance to join the women for a traditional meal made fresh with vegetables from their garden. All the profits go to supporting the women of Laos.
Location: 100 Thadeua Road, Hadsayfong District, Vientiane Laos
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 4:30pm Mon – Fri
T’shop Lai Gallery
T’shop Lai Gallery sells a range of products produced by Les Artisans Lao, an organisation promoting poverty alleviation by creating livelihood opportunities for disadvantaged groups in Laos. Products are made from recycled wood and non-timber forest products such as coconut and bamboo.
By making a purchase you are helping to provide on-job training and employment opportunities to marginalised women, youth and physically challenged people in the community.
Location: Vat Inpeng Street, Vientiane Laos
Opening Hours: 8:00am – 8:00pm Mon – Sat, 10:00am – 6:00pm Sun
Noi Noi (Makphet)
This shop is located above the Makphet restaurant and here you can purchase a range of products made by the parents of former street children, using simple recycled materials such as newspapers, old tyres and recycled rice bags.
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 4:00pm Daily
Located opposite Douang Douang Hotel in Vientiane these two organisations merge to showcase a range of handicrafts made by Laos’ artisans. They sell beautiful hand woven silk scarfs, batik products made by women of the Hmong tribe, traditional embroidered bags and many more.
Both organisations provide employment to women from ethnic minority groups and help to promote sustainable alternatives to opium production and harmful agricultural practices.
CAMACRAFTS / Mulberries
Location: Ban Vat Nong, Vientiane Laos
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 6:00pm, Mon – Sat
Do you know of any other organisations in Vientiane giving back to the community? If so I would love to hear about them. Leave your comments in the section below or you can contact me via my online form here.