Islands in Thailand, mountains in Nepal and high-rise cities in China. Asia is a huge continent (like ridiculously huge) with endless possibilities for gap year adventures – which is good to know but not massively helpful! So in an attempt to narrow your options down, here are a few of our favourite trips from a handful of organisations we genuinely recommend:
1. Teaching English abroad is a gap year staple. But this project isn’t teaching children, it’s teaching the monks of Bu Tum pagoda in Cambodia. The monks approached Outreach International asking them to help find volunteers that could improve their skills. So they did. Enter you. After completing their temple duties in the morning, the monks have four hours with you in the afternoon to brush up on their language skills. You’ll spend the mornings planning your lessons and once a week you can join the monks on their weekly visits to rural communities, helping those in need.
This is a fascinating cultural exchange – you’ll be learning as much about the lives and teachings of the monks as you will be imparting your own language knowledge. You can find out some more details about the project here.
12 weeks – 6 months, starting at £1,850
2. Stay in a traditional longhouse with a balcony overlooking the Bornean jungle and spend your days with the cutest bears in the world – Sun Bears. These small beauties are seriously under threat, hunted for their meat and bile and kept illegally as pets.
The rehabilitation centre where you’ll be based is working hard to make their lives better and get them ready to head back out into the wild. One of the most important tasks is creating exciting and interesting enrichment activities for the bears to help them practise their wild bear skills – hunting, climbing and building nests. Without these vital skills, they wont last long back out in the jungle. This gap year project might be short but it’s definitely sweet.
2-4 weeks, starting at £1168
3. Be there at the start of something great. Blue Ventures are building a new marine conservation base in Timor-Leste to conduct research in the highly diverse but under-researched Coral Triangle and the first set of volunteers will be heading out there this year. Despite it’s small size, Coral Triangle is home to more than 75% of all the world’s coral reefs, not to mention a plethora of fish, sharks, whales, dolphins and turtle species. You will join Blue Venture’s team of scientists as they collect data from these previously un-surveyed waters. You’ll be kept busy diving, helping with beach clean-ups and other conservation and environmental awareness projects.
The work you do here will be of great help to the marine scientist community – and you get to live on a beautiful island while you do it. If you want to get involved, you can find more details about the project here.
5-6 weeks, price dependant on diving ability.
4. Learn the world’s most widely spoken language, live and work in a family home and experience a culture like no other – spend your gap year Au Pairing in China. For around 30 hours a week you’ll look after your little colleague – playing with them, practising English and taking them to and from school. The rest of the time is yours to discover this incredible country and practise your Mandarin. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of help in the shape of great teachers and 60 class hours during your three months. Experience huge cities, new foods and a completely different culture, just go here for more details.
3 months for £695
5. For a post-uni gap year with a difference, hop on a plane to Hanoi, Vietnam and get stuck into an International Development internship, working on issues like drug abuse, prostitution, disabled people’s rights and health problems. They need help with research, report writing, staff training, marketing and admin. Get real hands on experience of working on a human rights project whilst living in fast paced, colourful Hanoi. Stay with a host family and spend your weekends exploring this beautiful country.
From 8 weeks, starting from £2,295
Gap years, before or after uni, are a brilliant way to get some real life work experience alongside some real life adventure. We know university fees are huge these days so use Patchwork to help fund your CV enhancing trip. Friends and family can chip in £20 towards your diving training, £5 towards some beer at the end of a hard day of building toilets or lend you their copy of Lonely Planet Vietnam so you don’t have to splash out on one.
Check out our readymade gap year Patchworks here for some inspiration.