Multiple Locations +3
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Thailand
4 - 26 weeks
Program Tags
Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Post-High School Scuba Diving Instruction Social Justice Study Abroad Volunteer Abroad Wilderness

Program Details

Animal Viewing Boating City Exploring Farming Hiking Kayaking Remote Exploring Sailing Scuba Diving Sightseeing Swimming
Fall Spring
Boat Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Hotel Lodge Sleeper Train
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Program tuition includes accommodations, transportation, food and activities once participants are in-country. International airfare is additional.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Airfare Visa
Oct 20, 2021
Dec 26, 2018
44 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Leave the traditional classroom far behind, as we journey to the heart of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Our Southeast Asia Gap Semester is a unique blend of education, projects, and exploration of these intriguing and ancient cultures. Our exclusive access to people and places, developed over decades, gives us a window into aspects of Southeast Asia rarely experienced by outsiders. In Vietnam, we work with youth affected by Agent Orange in their daily activities. While exploring Cambodia, we get our hands dirty building and installing bio-sand filters for families in rural villages outside Siem Reap. We partner with local conservationists at a Thai Elephant Rehabilitation Center deep in the jungle to understand the true value of conservation as we care for Thailand’s indigenous elephants. Standing knee-deep in rice paddies with our host families, we discover a way of life that has remained virtually unchanged.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Immerse yourself in Buddhist Teachings and Meditation at a Monastic Institute
  • Impact Lives While Installing Clean Water Filters in Homes in Cambodia
  • Become SCUBA Certified on the Thai Island of Koh Tao and Help Restore the Reef
  • Learn About and Care for Elephants in Thailand Alongside Local Conservationists
  • Explore Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, and Phnom Penh

Program Reviews

4.92 Rating
based on 24 reviews
  • 5 rating 91.67%
  • 4 rating 8.33%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.85
  • Support 4.95
  • Fun 4.8
  • Value 4.75
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 24 reviews
Yes, I recommend this program

How doing a gap semester trip impacted my life

When I first signed up and got accepted into the program, I didn't really want to go because I felt that I was going to miss out on going to college with my friends and having a social life. Taking a gap year and doing this program made me realize that there's so much more in this world than we imagine. To have this opportunity is a once in a life time experience that I will never forget and I'm so happy that I did this trip.
I also took a gap year because I needed a break from school. I was mentally and physically exhausted and school was draining. This helped me just take a breather from the stress and anxiety school was doing to me.
I love my group and they will forever be my family. They are so supportive and loving, we have a special bond and it's so amazing how quickly we connected and got along. They were my rock and support system for three months, I won't find anything like this again.

42 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Semester with ARCC

I had an amazing three months on ARCC Gap in Asia. The itinerary was incredible, ranging from camping on the Great Wall of China to a Thai farming homestay. The group leaders were supportive and knowledgeable, and added so much to the experience. My group was full of friendly, passionate, and interesting people, and together we were able to have run no matter where we were or what we were doing. Our in-country guides were amazing, teaching us some of the native languages and showing us the best spots to eat. The program had a perfect balance of service projects, sight seeing, cultural immersion, and adventuring, with enough down time that we could be energized and well rested. My advice to someone going on ARCC Gap in Asia would be to go in with an open mind and to be very excited for a great three months of adventure and learning.

38 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

There's a world outside your window

I learnt so much from service opportunities, but I grew from my reflective moments during bus rides. After a long day of work, I'd look out the window and observe how people interact with each other and their environment. Sometimes I'd laugh or frown, sometimes I'd think deeply about their actions. "How does this mother manage to balance her baby whilst riding her scooter?", I'd ask myself. "Ooh, I wonder what that fried dough tastes like!", I'd say. I thought I was only reacting to what I was seeing; little did I know I was slowly building character. Before, I did either of these three things whilst on a bus: read, listened to music or slept. But why would you want to waste the opportunity to observe? Don't let the world pass you by: pluck out your earphones, put your book away, open your eyes and look outside: now tell me, what do you see?

What would you improve about this program?
I think it's important that ARCC markets themselves to the international community. So many other students from other parts of the world could benefit from this experience.
36 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My four country trip.

Before I graduated in the spring 2017, I wasn’t really sure if I actually wanted to go to college. I did get accepted into several colleges but was super unsure if I wanted to go. My mom encouraged me to look into a Gap Year. At that time I didn’t know much about gap years, so I investigated a bunch of different programs and came across ARCC on Go Overseas. I submitted my application for the ARCC Asia trip and I am beyond happy that I did. In the 3 months of traveling to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, I learned that the world is much bigger then I ever imagined. I learned to immerse myself in many unique cultures. I experienced once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like camping on the Great Wall of China, watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and scuba diving on Koh Nang Yuan island in Thailand. I also got the chance to experience home stays to see what life was like for local families. It’s experiences like these that not a lot of people get to have in life, let alone at a young age. Aside from all these amazing opportunities I also got the chance to do service work such as teaching English to Chinese students, working with kids affected by agent orange in Vietnam, building water filters for local villages in Cambodia, and working with elephants at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. While I was volunteering at these different places, I realized how fortunate I am and it made me appreciate my life back in the US. It also made me realize that you don’t have to have much money life to be happy life. I learned to make long lasting relationships and memories with the 12 other people in my group. it’s hard to answer the question of “what was my favorite part of the trip?” I would say all of it because every experience and every memory was one of the most extraordinary things that I have ever experienced in my life.

Here is a list of other amazing highlights of my trip:

* 4 day hike into Tiger Leaping Gorge
Dancing with the locals in Shangri La
High ropes course
Visiting a small rual village

Sleeping on a boat in Lan Ha Bay
Biking in the old towns
Exploring the city of Saigon

Riding in tuk tuks
Beach days
Visiting rual villages

Scuba diving
Thai boxing
Working at a wild life sanctuary


What would you improve about this program?
Visiting additional rural places especially in Vietnam would be nice.
40 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

As cliche as it sounds..."the best 3 months of my life"!

I am sitting at 35,000 feet on my final flight from Hong Kong back to the States. With only 3 of the 12 hour flight remaining, I know my time with my friends will soon come to an end. But Dr. Seuss said don’t cry because it’s over smile because it happened. I want to use this review of ARCC in asia to talk about all the fond memories and realizations I will take away from this portion of my gap year.

This trip has far exceeded any and all expectations. First I will focus on the experiences themselves. Over the last 3 months I have done so much… below are just a taste of all I have done!


- Rode a Tuk Tuk
- Built Water filters in Cambodia
- Saw the sunrise on Angkor Wat


- Learned to Scuba Dive and loved Scuba Diving
- Worked at an elephant sanctuary
- Developed a strong relationship with my host mom during a homestay in a rural thai farm village.


-Climbed and slept on the great wall of china!
-Hiked Tiger Leaping Gorge (7 miles a day!)
-Went to a rural village in Fu Gong China and built a toilet for a village with only 1 toilet

-Volunteered at Friendship Village
-Swam and relaxed at Halong Bay
- Said goodbye to 13 amazing people…relationships that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

But frankly the experiences would be nothing if it weren’t for the kids I experienced them with. Every single one of the members in my cohort are so valued. A great way to explain this is the words I shared with my group at our final evening circle closing circle. “ I came into this trip feeling a little insecure socially. I leave today thankful that I have made 11 new friends and more importantly have garnered the confidence to simply trust and be myself. I look forward to staying in touch in the future. Thanks for making these 3 months some of the best 3 months of my life.”

Indeed these last 3 months in Asia have been so much more than simply exploring and learning about Asia. It was about the social connections I made. It is about learning to trust and believe in myself that I can make friends I am liked for who I am. And it was about learning about the reality my life is just one small fraction of this world: indeed there are so many like minded people out there and it is just about giving them a chance to share their story because chances are you have more in common than not.

In sum, my time in Asia is one of the most coveted parts of my life and I am forever grateful for the places I saw, the people I met, and the new relationships that will last with me for a lifetime!

35 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Sarah Beth
Yes, I recommend this program

Most enlightening, empowering and happiest 3 months...

I went on the Southeast Asia program and it was by far the most enlightening, empowering and happiest 3 months of my entire life. Words can’t describe how incredible ARCC and this program is. My leaders were incredibly knowledgeable, passionate and really had the best interest for all of their students. ARCC was really good at providing a safe yet challenging environment for us and also informing parents of any travel changes/updates we may have had. I’ve come back to the U.S. feeling much more confident and grateful. Overall, if you are thinking about taking a gap year - DO IT! It’s so beneficial and I can’t thank ARCC enough for all of the wonderful friends and experiences I’ve gained.

35 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The power of the individual

Throughout the entire semester I had grappled with where my purpose lies in the web of complexities that comprise the issues we encountered abroad as well as those we face at home. It was not until sitting in a tree house at Our Land, being led in discussion by inspirational founder, Vijo, that I realized the answer was quite simple. Vijo clarified and deepened the understanding that the earth doesn't need us, but we need the earth. To some degree, every issue we face as humans can be tied back to this concept. We just need to dedicate some compassionate attention to thinking about ourselves - outside of the box.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the capstone project is a wonderful component of the ARCC curriculum. Yet for many in the group, it resulted in either a source of unnecessary stress or a distraction from our surroundings (sitting in an Internet cafe for hours rather than exploring a city, for example) I think it would be more effective if there was allotted time at the end of the trip to work on capstones, as many students changed their project up to 2 days before presenting. Though an important component, it shouldn't take away from soaking up each moment of an experience you wish to.
35 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The Perfect Program for a Gap Year Taker

This experience was the perfect start to my gap year. I was hesitant about what to choose as my first program/activity, and decided to apply for the Fall Gap Semester in Asia. Asia was my first choice because I had been interested in meditation and Buddhism, wanted to get lost in the language barrier, and the east vs west cultural differences. I was not disappointed! ARCC does an amazing job of balancing cultural immersion, backpacking, and service learning. I realized on this trip that I am a city person. Our days in Beijing, Hanoi, Saigon, Phnom Penh, and Bangkok were my favorite. The guides that ARCC uses have their itineraries planned very well. We did have time to explore each city on our own, going on morning runs(unforgettable and a great way to see a city) and walking through countless night markets. We also spent a fair amount of time in more rural areas where we did service projects such as constructing water filters and teaching students. What I greatly appreciated is that we got to interact with these people in a way where we call each other friends. You can't escape the reality of it all. The most striking example for me was in Meile, a village in the poorest region of China. Our guide, Alex, gave us a talk right as the school children were exiting their classes for recess. He told us how one of out every twenty of these kids would make it to high school. We then played games with the kids and had a lot of fun, but the nagging thought of limited opportunity stuck in our minds long after.
In terms of safety, it needs to be said that Asia is incredibly safe from what we saw. We felt comfortable walking in groups in night markets, or even on night runs there was little concern of any danger. It is ARCC policy to have students remain with at least one other member at all times but this was not a big deal.
The personal development I experienced on this trip had surprised me in ways I was not expecting. A piece of advice I received before going on this trip was to buy into everything, team building exercises and cultural engagement specifically. I can trace fundamental changes in myself back to specific places.
One last thing: I journaled for at least half an hour every night simply because we had so many meaningful experiences each day. The only negative is that normal life will pale in comparison once you return home. :)

What would you improve about this program?
I cannot think of much. The staff is on top of everything (paperwork and visas and packing list).
The staff also spends a lot of effort creating these 12 person groups, reviewing everyone's bios and interviews.
33 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Yes there were a lot of photo and video opportunities. We had a group go pro that our leaders and members of the group used to capture moments through out the semester.