For students considering the cultural rite of passage that is a gap year, Thailand is the country that has it all. Dropping off the grid for a while in Thailand has never been easier, with a favourable exchange rate, pristine beaches, exceptional food and cheap ways to hop around the surrounding countries of Southeast Asia.
Rather than just doing the typical beachside holidays to Thailand, adventurous and inquisitive students can make themselves useful by volunteering with local wildlife or community organisations. Volunteering adds a great deal of clout to a CV. And while this isn’t currently a priority, it may be some time in the future. Still there might be an element of culture shock (or just jet lag) so it’s worth staying in one of the very nice hotels in Bangkok because they are very affordable compared to what you’d pay in the west.
Volunteer to Help Communities
A native English speaking university student should find volunteer work easily in an orphanage or childcare centre. With bounding enthusiasm and a fresh perspective on things, students can really make a positive impact on the children’s lives. For students with an affinity or affection for kids, this could be an enchanting experience.
For sporty students, there’s always building work to be done in isolated villages. Students can help with general labour and maintenance there. Helping a small village to get back onto their feet can give students a real sense of satisfaction.
Volunteer at an Animal Sanctuary
These types of volunteer programmes are plentiful but they are also very popular, so book in advance. At an elephant sanctuary, getting up close and personal with an elephant can be an amazing experience and one that you will treasure forever. This can involve the maintenance of sustainable crops to feed the elephants, giving them a wash at the river and offering support to the local community. Animal lovers and science students will surely jump at the chance to understand how elephants and the local community can live together sustainably and happily.
Mix It Up
Getting into Thailand often requires entry via Bangkok, the notoriously noisy and hedonistic capital, well-known for its traffic jams. It’s a good idea to get out of there and head to Chiang Mai, the unofficial capital of northern Thailand, surrounded by lush mountainside and beaches. From there it’s not far to the fabled Golden Triangle area between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. This has a bandit-country atmosphere with plenty of dense jungle, ancient tribes and bamboo rafts. Taking it all in from the top of a lumbering elephant is also possible.
Get some well-earned R&R from stressful study by relaxing on a beach or two. It’s possible to island hop on catamarans to some of the purest, cleanest beaches in the world. For students who are dreaming of swimming in incandescent clear waters, beaches of this kind are found on islands around the eastern coast of Thailand. For those with more energy, diving with whale sharks is possible, along with jumping over big waves on jet skis. Rayong is famous for the perfect swell for surfers during the peak season. Si Racha is known for the spicy seafood and delicious tropical flavours indigenous to the island. Thailand has it all, interesting architecture and art, delectable food and a fascinating culture. Uncover the gentle pace of life and atmosphere of holidays to Thailand and it may be difficult to return home again.