Southeast Asia Explorer with Gapforce

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About

Travel to three of Southeast Asia's most sought-after destinations: Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Engage in the community as well as help with conservation efforts. Some highlights include wandering around Bangkok & Chiang Mai, helping out at an elephant sanctuary, watching sunsets over the temples of Angkor Wat and taking boat rides around the famous rivers.

Highlights
  • Explore Bangkok & Chiang Mai.
  • Volunteer at an elephant sanctuary.
  • Relax on paradise Thai beaches.
  • Watch the sunset over amazing temples of Angkor Wat.
  • Assist on a vital house-building project in Cambodia.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.27 Rating
based on 26 reviews
  • Housing 8.2
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 8.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 26
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Lia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best trip!

My decision to go on the Southeast Asia adventure was very spontaneous and out of character for me, and it ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made! I wanted to experience other cultures, meet friends from around the world, and gain perspective away from my little bubble at home. All of that was achieved and more! Genuinely, from the moment I stepped off the plane and met up with a few of the participants, I knew I was in the right place and that I was going to have a couple very transformative months.
One of my favorite things was house building in Cambodia. It was extremely humbling and eye opening to work alongside the locals in the village, and to see how quickly we could get a house up when we all worked together! I also loved the gorgeous scenery and beaches on the island Koh Tao, hikes through the jungle in Thailand, and the stunning boat ride through Halong Bay in Vietnam.
If you are on the fence, you should do the trip!! You will be challenged, and sometimes uncomfortable, but mostly having the best time and making memories you will never ever forget.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Probably navigating the streets in the major cities. No vehicle will stop for you. By the end of the trip I was having nightmares about my friends getting crushed my motorbikes. It’s fine as long as you have your wits about you all the time but the problem is that I don’t!
Default avatar
Beth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My advice- Take a Gap Year!

The day that I clicked the button to confirm that I was going with Gap force to South East Asia I felt sick.... I was worried about being away from home, flying by myself, not knowing anyone, the food etc but as soon as I was greeted by Terence in the airport in Thailand I felt as ease! And from that moment on I just sucked up every aspect of adventure within Thailand and Cambodia and I have to say I don’t think I stopped smiling!
The dynamics of our group were so lovely and I felt that after a couple of days we became so comfortable around each other and truly became good friends. This also applied to our leaders Callum and Terence who became very close to us ,along with being super protective of the group, energetic and being able to give advice under all circumstances!
The food, hostels and areas we visited were all unique and met everyone’s tastes. Our hostels sleeping arrangements varied from location to location yet we always slept well and had access to a bath room even if this included having to get up early to get the first slot in the shower! There were also some cases where there were strangers in the room as-well which was slightly strange and was always tried to be avoided.
The food took me awhile to get used to. Especially when we had to have noodles/rice for breakfast! But now I’m back home I crave the Thai food so much and despite bringing my own spices home I can’t seem to replicate the food to anywhere near the quality that it was.... so embrace it while you are there!!!
Every location we went to was different from the last and therefore contained both positives and negatives. My favourite places were Pai which felt very small and safe aswell as Bees elephant sanctuary which consisted of very simple living in the countryside, with the company of the most amazing people and creatures which I loved! I didn’t like Bangkok which is dirty, busy and very smelly! Sadly Bangkok is a focal point during the course of the trip which means that despite its negative connotations we had to revisit it quite a lot which was a downside to the trip as no one was ever looking forward to the return!
The trip contains a lot of travelling such as overnight buses which last on average about 10 hours. These are not incredibly fun to travel on so make sure you have a neck pillow and some good snacks as you never really know when your next stop is!
Also if you are considering doing this trip I advise you to review your fitness level as some of the hikes ie to view points and waterfalls are quite physically challenging for some. However don’t let this hold you back as there are sometimes alternative activities such as a cooking class which can fill your day if your not up for a hike!
During my time on the trip I was surprised yet I enjoyed the amount of independence and free time we were given. We could utilise our free time in whatever way we wanted even if that was just a day of chilling or perhaps going to explore a new temple. We were allowed to go out to the local shops whenever we wanted and could eat when and with who suited us!
All in all if you are reading this review then you must be somewhat interested in joining Gapforce to go to South East Asia and I urge you to do it! It was one of the best decisions I made and I was supported the whole way by my team leaders who were such great guys and from my family at home (there is WiFi everywhere). As a result of this trip (the first time I travelled alone) I feel like I have developed so much as an individual and I am much more independent and capable of travelling alone in the future. So my advice to you is to just go for it and you will soon get the travel bug too! X

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I feel like the whole trip was full of surprises and laughter so it is hard to narrow such a question down to a single event but I loved- pushing myself on the hike to the waterfall, taking part in a fire show, building a fence for the elephant sanctuary, sleeping on a overnight train, eating noodles for breakfast, white water rafting and realising that centipedes are infact super dangerous (so take a torch) etc etc etc .....
Read my full story
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Marion
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thailand Adventure

I booked the 4 week trip in Thailand and I had the most amazing time there. I met a lot of new and wonderful people on this trip. We had lots of interesting activities, but also a lot of free time so we could explore on our own. I would recommend to read a little bit about Thailand, the culture and what to do, so you can plan visiting places on your own, e.g. temples that are not on the program. Take part in the optional activities, there is some really cool stuff to experience. The elephant sanctuary was something I was really looking forward to. It was different than what I expected but I had a great time there. You are not allowed to touch the elephants, but that gives you the opportunity the get to know their real personality. It is awesome to see what impact you can have and to help out the people there. Our leaders Terence and Callum took really good care of us, always asking how we were feeling and never pushed us to do anything if we were tired. I cannot tell which part my favourite was, because every place had it's own charm. I would love to go back one day!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you're unsure about anything just write an e-mail and ask, the people are really nice and like to help you out. Pack light (if you forget anything or you have too few of something you can always buy stuff here). Be open-minded and enjoy the moment!
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Isabella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Trip leader makes all the difference!

I had the privilege of participating in the GF Southeast Asia Explorer Trip lead by Terence Kuan this past Spring and I can honestly say it was everything I could’ve hoped and more. While the itinerary and planned activities were amazing to begin with, Terence’s experience, insight into cultural competency, and commitment to fostering an educational and fun experience for his group took it to the next level in terms of valuable experience. He was consistently present and willing to support any need arising within the group, facilitated productive conversation about concerns, and frequently vocalized his intention for the outcome of each part of the trip. I felt 100% supported, and I would 100% recommend Gap Force to anyone, but especially any trip lead by Terence.

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Annie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

South East Asia Explorer

The South East Asia trip is a perfect way of exploring Asia with a group of like-minded people. It's a great all round trip that allows you to explore the beautiful beaches of Koh Tao to the vibrant city in Bangkok. It gives you a great opportunity to make lifelong friends from around the world and helps you explore aspects of yourself you didn't know you had.

It's a unique experience that would be hard to replicate if you travel by yourself. The volunteering programs are very good and I especially loved the house building in Cambodia. The highlight of this experience was the house building ceremony as we felt very honored to take part in. The hostels have also been a great way to meet new people and make great friends along the way. The hostels are very sociable and always clean and comfortable.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would pack lighter as there are so many opportunities to buy clothes and toiletries out here.
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Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Southeast Asia

The Southeast Asia trip with Gapforce was the best 2 months of my life. I’ve done things I never thought I would, such as swim with Reef sharks, building a house for a family and looking after an elephant for a week. I couldn’t recommend this trip enough. Although it’s an organized trip, you still have a lot of independence and the free days allow you to explore other areas of each place. I wouldn’t have known where to go in each country but with the trip, you go to all the main places and do the best activities on offer.

I loved meeting new people at the hostels, which were always really clean and nice as well as very sociable. I’ve made friends for life and now when I next go traveling I’ve got a group of people to go with. It was an amazing experience and worth the money.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I saw was seeing a Reef shark off the island of Koh Toa. We weren’t sure if we would see any and it was our last day snorkeling but suddenly we saw three sharks and a huge turtle. It was amazing.
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Sophie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

2019

I would recommend this trip to anybody wanting to travel to South East Asia and meet new people. Within the two months you will go from being a group of strangers to a family. I have had the best two months, experiencing the rich cultures, tasting delicious foods and making lasting memories. During the trip we spent time in cities, more rural areas, travelled to beaches, temples and so much more. The trip is action packed and can be tiring at times but rest days are also included. Not only do you travel with a group of new people but you will also travel with an amazing leader. Our leader Terrence always prioritised our safety as well as our enjoyment of the trip. Everything was well organised And above all I can honestly say that Terrence made these two months better than I could have imagined ! We couldn’t have asked for a better leader.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Most nerve wracking moment was meeting new people, however that was eliminated almost as soon as you meet the group, everybody is in the same situation !
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Cerys
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible trip

Taking part in this trip was the best decision I made for my gap year and I would recommend it to anyone wishing to travel around Asia and explore new cultures , experience beautiful landscapes, meet new people from all over the world who become like family by the end and really find yourself while doing it all. The best part about the programme is while doing all this , with activities planned nearly every day for you you have an experienced trip leader who ensures you get the most unique authentic experiences and your safe while doing it all. Our leader Terrence was the best leader we could have had he priotised our experience , feelings and safety throughout and became a good friend aswell . Also for young people who wish to travel alone and meet new people but fjnd goinh completely solo scary this is a great form of travelling to meet a bunch of new people , many who haven’t met before and travel around together - you form strong friendships with these people and go through a lot together which is a huge part of the trip , even if it makes the good byes pretty tough ! Definitely recommend !!!!