Multiple Locations +2
  • Thailand
  • Cambodia
4 - 12 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel College Credit Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Language Immersion Religious Scuba Diving Instruction Social Justice Study Abroad Volunteer Abroad Wilderness +2
Financial Support
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, Payment plans
Health & Safety

Program Details

City Exploring Scuba Diving Trekking
Fall Spring
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. Keep in mind, while budgeting, that international airfare and spending money are extra. International airfare estimated at $1300 - $1500; internal flight estimated at $150-$250; visa fees estimated at $120.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Meals Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Airfare Visa
Mar 27, 2023
Apr 18, 2023
41 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

A region accentuated by the colorful robes of Buddhist monks, the vivid greens of rice fields and jungle forests, and the cultural diversity of hill tribe communities - this is the ultimate Southeast Asia semester. Each country offers a unique cultural experience unto itself; and each faces the challenge of reconciling urban expansion and industrialization with indigenous land rights, free movement of nomadic peoples, and equal access to resources.

On this semester, walk among ancient temples, traverse mountainous jungles, and explore the clear blue water of Thailand’s beaches. You’ll explore tradition, globalization, and human rights against the backdrop of two of Asia’s most complex nations. Immerse yourself in community life through homestays and visits to remote villages. Emerge with your self awareness and perspective forever altered.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We recognize that we are a long way from the diversity we aim for within our students, staff, and partners. We want and need more diversity to truly become the organization we would like to be. We recognize that this will not happen overnight or without dedicating time, attention, and resources. To that end, we have created a strategic plan to address our current shortfalls and to make significant improvements, which you can see on our Diversity & Inclusion page.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Neurodivergent Support

At Carpe Diem, each applicant reads through our extensive Essential Eligibility Criteria prior to enrollment. This criteria allows applicants to determine if the organization is an appropriate fit for their gap semester/year goals and their individual needs. During the interview and application process, we have honest and direct conversations with students and families about the support that our staff is able to provide throughout the program experience. We are committed to creating a culture of acceptance and support. To that end, our Overseas Educators and local leaders are selected for their skill in group facilitation and promoting inclusive group dynamics.

Accessibility Support

At Carpe Diem, each applicant reads through our extensive Essential Eligibility Criteria prior to enrollment. This criteria allows applicants to determine if the organization is an appropriate fit for their gap semester/year goals and their individual needs. We have honest and open conversations with applicants about our ability to support individual needs on each program, with the ultimate goal of a healthy and successful experience for all students. In the past, we have worked with students with severe allergies, diabetes, chronic injuries, and mental health diagnoses. We know each student's journey is individual and we work with families to support these individual needs where possible to help determine if the program is a good fit for their gap semester goals.



We are committed to maximizing the net positive impact while minimizing the carbon footprint of every program. In our office, on our programs, and through our carbon offset match, our programs are geared toward environmental education to empower future leaders to move their communities to take action. During our programs, students learn more about their impact as individuals and a travel community - then take a solution-oriented lens to tackling key issues. We also contribute to and amplify the voices of organizations and partners who focus on permaculture, natural building, and sustainable solutions.

Ethical Impact

Our programs are designed to connect to our local communities and provide reciprocal exchange and engagement. Through engaging in experiential education, community engagement, and intercultural exchange, our students develop enhanced perspectives, deeper cultural understanding, and a profound sense of self-discovery and personal growth. We work with vetted local providers to build their businesses as they provide value to our students and programming. With our homestay families, we ensure we minimize our footprint by regularly rotating the communities we work with and evaluating our social impact alongside their community leaders.

Program Highlights

  • Grasp self-sustaining agricultural practices: Join your hosts in learning more about permaculture and that localized food systems that support their self-sustaining communities
  • Grab your boots: Trek through the jungle and stop to visit our local contacts in remote hill tribe communities in northern Thailand
  • Immerse yourself: Stay with host families in remote communities, learning by doing and taking on their way of life
  • Scope out the city: Explore Cambodia's capital to provide more context for the history and traditions of the nation
  • Go back in time: Walk among the temple complex of Angkor Wat with a historical lens and use these experiences to reflect inward


Carpe Diem Education Scholarships

Carpe Diem Education awards $30,000 annually to support diversity and inclusion in its programs. The Access Scholarship provides up to $5,000 for a gap year semester or full-year experience. The Inclusion Scholarship offers up to $2,000 for a gap year semester. The Carpe Mundi Scholarship is for Portland-based students. Grants are mostly need-based, and applications open in January.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 15 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.7
  • Support 4.95
  • Fun 5
  • Value 4.95
  • Safety 4.95
Showing 1 - 8 of 15 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

2023 member

My journey started in Cambodia landing in Siem reap and spending 6 days adjusting to a new environment. We met our first guide and visited temples like Angkor wat. We spent time teaching kids English at ptd. Camped outdoors at vitamin air, explored Bangkok,udon,chiang rai and chiang mai. Overall my experience was exciting and every moment felt unreal. I got to learn a lot about my cohort members and even got to see some small changes in myself. The curriculum helped me depend more on myself rather then relay on others.

  • Temples
  • Food
  • Cost of daily supply
  • Travel is only 2 months
  • Hot weather environment
44 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The BEST Two Months of My Life!

Carpe Diem changed my life for the better. My semester in Southeast Asia truly was the best time of my life. I experienced so many things that I would have never been able to do had I not found Carpe. For instance building mud bricks, staying at a hill tribe, or eating lunch in a tiny hut on a mountain of rice fields. My expectations were exceeded and I learned so much about myself as a traveler. The friends I have made on this trip are amazing and truly some of the best people I have ever met. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

  • Once in a lifetime experiences
  • Genuine connection with people
55 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

South East Asia program

The people, experiential learning, and cultural immersion Carpe Diem provides made this gap year program the best fits for me. One of my favorite experiences was staying at a Buddhist feminist retreat in Thailand. As always the food was amazing, our partners were welcoming and matched Carpe Diem‘s mission, the meditation and yoga sessions were a definite highlight, and the intellectual conversations I participated were a safe space for me to contribute my thoughts as well as learn from others. Something unique about the buddhist feminist retreat were the silent walks we had in the afternoon. We got an amazing view of the rice fields, mountains, and sunset. Overall, this was an amazing experience!

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

One of the best experiences of my life!

Carpe Diem Education has been one of the best experiences of my life. I had the opportunity to travel around the world in a planned, and informative way. I learned about the local culture in a way I wouldn’t have if I had been solo traveling. I gained a greater appreciation for international communities, the environment, and how we impact the world has travelers. I have also learned a lot about myself and how to take care of myself when travelling. This program also helped me figure out what path I wanted to take in the future. I am so grateful for this program and everything it has offered to me!

  • Hands on education
  • Adventure
54 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made

Carpe Diem Education’s Southeast Asia program was amazing! The experiences I had were unforgettable and I truly got to develop as a person. The people I met on this trip were so kind and down to earth, and I felt very close with them in the end. My favorite part of the trip was going to the International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice, where we attended a Buddhist feminism retreat which was eye opening! I also really enjoyed Pun Pun Organic Farm which is known for seed saving. I really recommend this program!

  • Great food and people!
  • Amazing experiences
  • Lack of detail in itinerary
  • Sometimes more rugged, but for the most part it’s not
51 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe Diem SE Asia

Carpe Diem is 100% an experience I would recommend to others. The mix of volunteer service work with explorative more touristy activities was excellent. A highlight of my trip was our experience at Pun Pun farm in northern Thailand. We spent a day helping build mud bricks for a community member’s house. The work was tiring but extremely rewarding. Tiring but very rewarding sums up the whole of my semester perfectly. I now have built great friendships with my fellow group members and wonderfully relationships with our various host families and organizations.

  • Our group leaders (OEs) were extremely supportive and wonderful
  • The intellectual conservations we had as a group because of Carpes “lessons” were wonderful
  • The per diems we got for food was insufficient at times.
56 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My carpe experience

This trip was beyond unbelievable and a dream come true. I knew I wanted to do this program a year before I could even apply. I learned so much and came of out my trip as a more confident and responsible person. I learned about the culture from living with home-stays and was able to volunteer in each country. I got my scuba certification while in Vietnam and I have used it frequently since. My educators were so helpful with everything and they thought my group so much about each place we went to. I also met amazing people through the whole journey and came out of it with amazing life long friends all over the country.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The food here was so flavorful, but I did have some odd things. I had the opportunity to try bamboo worms with a home-stay family. I also ate a tarantula leg.
105 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The best 3 months of my life!

The best 3 months of my 21 years of life has to be the most to the point way to describe my time in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam with Carpe Diem Education. I am 21 and finishing up my college sociology degree this year. For fall term of my senior year, I wanted to do something different, and experience true hands on learning outside of the traditional classroom lecture setting. This trip to South East Asia truly went above and beyond what I could have ever expected to get out of my time abroad.
From week one in Thailand when we each got placed in our own homestay with the most amazing and sweet host moms, to the last week of the trip directing our own student travel through vietnam, each experience I look back on with so much gratiude, knowlege, insight, and a smile.
Carpe Diem truly does give you the ability to have such unique and amazing experience, and there is also such a good balance of volunteer work, weeks in homestays, and life off the beaten path, to city days for self care and relaxation.
One of my fondest memories from the whole trip that I think about daily was out treck in Thailand. We went on a 3 day treck in Thailand led by 3 amazing locals who know the area and land so well. They led us through dense bamboo forests, that would open to the most amazing views on the hillside of a rice patty field. We stayed the night in village leaders home in a small Lahu village. The full day we were there was my favorite day of the trip.
We got up and walked 30 mins through the village and into a rice patty field where to the left of the path was vegetables growing, ahead was a bamboo forest, and down the hill was a stream. We brought 2 chickens, a sack of rice and some eggs. We collected water form the stream, picked vegetables from the field, made a fire with bamboo and cooked the rice, chicken, and eggs in the bamboo logs over the fire. We also learned to carve spoons, chop sticks, bowls, and cups. We ate the meal we made on the beautiful hillside in Thailand. Something about that day was so special, peaceful, and such an amazing learning experience.
Carpe Diem allows you to get to experience and connect with others so different from you. Each homestay family I stayed with showed me such kindness, love, and were so welcoming despite language barriers. I have shared so many laughs, hugs, and amazing homecooked meals with my host famalies. Most homestays are with at least two others in the group which is nice and comfortable.
A quick trip recap of everything amazing Thailand: A week learning Thai, and homestays with sweet host moms. 10 days volunteering and staying off the beaten path in an amazing Akka village. 4 days of trecking through beautiful Thailand rice/ pineapple field hillside. Some amazing hostels and city days to explore beautiful tempels. A week on an organic permaculture farm learning about sustainability. 5 days of silent meditation with monks learning about buddhism, and mindfullness.
A quick trip recap of everything amazing Cambodia: Days in Phnom Phen learning about the genocide, killing fields, and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. Angkor Watt of course. A week on a village off the Mekong river working on a clean water project homestay living. A quick trip recap of everything amazing Vietnam: Days to explore the amazing city of Ho Chi Minh. A week with very funny Tan Tao University students staying in homestays, english teaching at primary schools, and a school for the deaf and disabled, picking pineapples, cooking, and singing a lot of karaoke. 5 days on the beautiful beach in Nha Trang getting suba certified, and tanning on the beach. Days in the city to go to museams and learn about the Vietnam War. And lastly student directed travel. Student directed travel is where we got to plan how to get from Nha Tang to Hanoi which was 800 miles in 1 week. We got to plan where we wanted to go, stay, forms of transportaiton, activites, and had to stay within a budget. It was so amazing.
So there you have it, the best 3 months of my life by far! The guides for Carpe Diem are also amazing, and really made the trip flow well. They handled the tough situations with ease and are such wonderful, and positive people. Having 10 students and 2 guides total was also great! All Carpe Diem trips have 15 people or less.
I would highly reccomend going abroad with Carpe Diem whether you have just graduated high school or are about to graduate college. I feel refreshed, and have a new motivation, and goals for my life becuase of my time abroad with Carpe Diem Education!!

What would you improve about this program?
Not being allowed to have phones was great, but I do have a critique with that. Often on our days in the city which was our time to get in the internet for contacting home and other needs, it was very hard, tiring, time consuming, and stressful to find internet cafes where we could use computers. Internet cafes are becoming less of a thing since most everyone has a smart phone. So I think it would be nice if Carpe Diem had a computer just for us stndents to use. Becuase often the rest days in the city were us running around stressed to find computer access.
100 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers