SE Asia Semester | Cultural Immersion, Service Learning, Adventure

Video and Photos

Halong Bay
Halong Bay
Trekking in Laos
Trekking in Laos
Jumping for joy, Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia
Hilltribe village in Laos, learning how to hold your baby brother
Exploring Halong Bay, Vietnam

About

Who do you want to be in our world? Join us for a life-changing, overland journey through the cultural heart of Southeast Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

10-week program for ages 18-24. Fall and Spring departures. Scholarships and academic credit available.

Develop a global perspective, independence, leadership and communication skills through outdoor expeditions, service learning projects, and authentic cultural immersion. Pacific Discovery programs foster empathy for other cultures, ethical and sustainable travel practices, and awareness of international issues. Students leave with a deepened sense of their identity, passion, and purpose.

Pacific Discovery is a global leader in experiential education, offering inspiring summer, semester, and gap year programs abroad since 2001, and is an inaugural member of the American Gap Association.

- Visit our website to request a detailed information booklet for this program.

Highlights
  • Volunteer in service learning projects in Elephant Conservation, and in Community Development where we build a home for a marginalized family
  • Develop skills in independent travel, leadership, meditation, yoga, local cooking, climbing, kayaking, trekking, snorkelling
  • Work together to plan the student-led section - developing your international travel skills
  • Explore Southeast Asia's highlights - temples, cities, world heritage sites, islands, beaches, national parks
  • Experience transformative personal growth that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves, working towards a deeper understanding of their values, identity, passions and purpose

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.93 Rating
based on 30 reviews
  • Housing 7.1
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 30
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Lian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

do it!

My time with Pacific Discovery surprised me. I was challenged emotionally, physically, and mentally and I learned an incredible amount about myself and the cultures we visited that has broadened my perspective in the best way possible. The program is so well organized and the experiences are authentic and meaningful. You see beautiful places, meet beautiful people, grow as a human on the earth, and make memories that will last a lifetime. If anything it just gives you time to enjoy the fruits of life, grow, mature, question and be curious, get inspired, and experience settings that truly are once in a lifetime.

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Claire
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thinking about traveling with Pacific Discovery? DO IT!!

Pacific Discovery's Southeast Asia program was the perfect mix of volunteering, adventure travel, independent exploring, and personal development. We were given so many opportunities to try new things and experience the culture in a meaningful way. My program leaders Jess & Devin are some of the coolest people I know and they were always there to support us. It was very clear while traveling how much effort was put into planning the program and if you are at all thinking about traveling with Pacific Discovery I would say you ABSOLUTELY should.

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Sadie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Nine Weeks of Love, Passion, and Adventure

I could not be more grateful to have had the opportunity to travel with Pacific Discovery. The program completely exceeded my expectations. Our group became a family, exuding constant support and always pushing each other to be the best versions of ourselves. Our instructors guided us when needed and taught us valuable lessons but yet they never felt separate; they were one of us, part of the family. These are all people whose friendships I will cherish forever and who I know I can always go to for support, guidance, or another adventure.
During the nine weeks we saw so much, did so much, and learned so much, challenging ourselves in ways we could not have anticipated. Together we marched for animal rights, lived in remote Hmong villages, trekked through rice fields, kayaked through caves, bathed elephants, meditated alongside monks, saw first hand the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. Meanwhile, I was constantly pushed to step out of my comfort zone, to think deeper and to ask more questions. Ultimately, I can gratefully say that these nine weeks made me a more curious, passionate, capable and confident being. I leave my nine weeks inspired to learn more, see more, and challenge myself further.

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Ellie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am Alive

We were standing on the tip of a boat in our last couple days in Vietnam, watching the silence of the night rush past us, while dancing and singing on the top deck celebrating a birthday...when the girl next to me said the one thing that summed up everything I was feeling, "I have never felt so alive. This is real life, not a dream, this is as real as it gets." We then proceeded to scream at the top of our lungs, "I'M ALIVE". Dramatic, but all too honest. Spending nine weeks in four foreign countries, with 14 strangers, sounds terrifying and unreal. But leaving Bangkok for Pennsylvania, on November 14th was the the hardest day of my life. Southeast Asia became home, and my group had become my family. They had become a part of me. I cried as my taxi pulled away from New Siam II, and a guy friend ran along side waving goodbye. We saw and experienced so much together, we saw hardship, loss, inspiration, happiness, and everything else in between. We met locals that changed our view on our world, we helped each other learn more about ourselves than I ever thought was possible, and we had two leaders that taught us so much about life in general, that I will never stop looking at them as two of my greatest role models. There's a lot to say about the little things you do, yeah you live next to elephants for week, or go to the beach, or live on a boat for a couple nights...but it's all so much more than that. The life I live now is completely different than the life I lived 3 months ago, and I have nothing but Pacific Discovery to thank for that. They tested my limits, stretched my comfort zone, and brought a me out of me I never thought was there. I would go on this trip 100 times if I could, and I am sure I would learn just as much as on the 100th time as I did the first time.

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Erika
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Go do it!

It's not quite possible to describe just how awesome this experience is. With the support of a group, you can discover so many places in ways I never imagined. I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Southeast Asia with pacific discovery and as far as I'm concerned I couldn't have made a better choice in the organization. The founders of the program have personal relationships with many of the people we encounter (for example one of the families we stayed with in a home stay in Cambodia). This allows for easy access to very authentic experiences with locals. I find this is something hard to find in an organized trip such as this one. A mix between fun, adventure and service, this trip provides the perfect recipe for personal growth. I had so much fun snorkeling in southern Thailand, and was humbled by the service work we did with elephants. Climbing and trekking inspired an adventurer in me I hadn't known until now.
With all that being said, I can't explain just how incredible this trip was for me, so I suggest anyone who may be considering this to go do it!

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Gabe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

In a word..... OUTSTANDING!

Incredible amount of thought and time given to crafting a unique and extraordinary experience. It's hard to describe what a program like this brings to a gap year student looking to travel and experience the vibrant culture, amazing history and stunning landscapes of SE Asia.

Our trip brought together folks from different parts of the world in an effort to better understand our own lives. Buddhist temples in Thailand and river trips in Laos were among the most memorable but the true strength of the Pacific Discovery program is the extreme care and though that goes into every adventure. Hiking in Vietnam comes to mind as one of those mind blowing experiences that I think back on fondly. Though it was 15 years ago I'm still in contact with my trip leaders and some of my fellow travelers. Thanks so much to the Pacific Discovery crew....... You made Asia accessible and for that I thank you!

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Shannon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Trip to Always Remember

It has been 7 years since I traveled with Pacific Discovery in South East Asia - it was the best decision I made in college and it could also very well be yours too. I had spent time abroad with other programs, but it was this program that immersed the whole group into different cultures, unique landscapes, unforgettable experiences and lasting memories. Quality is what makes this company stand apart. In this very materialistic age, Pacific Discovery takes you on an adventure to better appreciate what you have, and maybe more importantly, live a more conscious-driven life. Yes, there was fun activities, side-splitting laughter, picturesque settings, and gorgeous photos taken to reflect back on. Traveling around these days, I always find myself thinking about this trip - a trip to always remember.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I had been better prepared, but I think I always wish that on every trip I take. There is really nothing that stands out seven years later.
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Shani
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Greatest two months of my life!

This program was absolutely incredible. We spent two months exploring Southeast Asian cities and villages, immersing in the culture, eating the most flavorful (and cheep) food, and enjoying the adventure of travel. On this trip, I met some of my best friends and got to hang out and meet amazing people. I highly recommend this trip to anyone considering travel.

Some of my favorite activities from this trip include:
-watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat
-boating down the Mekong River
-tutoring Cambodian students in English
-teaching Laotian children to hacky sack
-attending a circus in Cambodia

In addition, the trip was very well organized. There was a great balance between planned activities and free time.

What would you improve about this program?
I would've loved to stay even longer!