Southeast Asia Explorer with Gapforce

Video and Photos

Children
Children
Elephant
Elephant
Cambodia
Cambodia
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Monkey
Monkey

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 take 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

92%
based on 23 reviews
  • Housing 8.1
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 8.9
Showing 1 - 15 of 23
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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 !!!!

Emily Ann
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Trip Evaaaaa

If you're looking for a trip to introduce you to the world of backpacking then this is the trip for you. I seriously just had the best 2 months of my life travelling around Southeast Asia with 12 other strangers whom I now consider my family. Before starting this trip the thought of travelling alone seemed daunting but now I am so much more confident in my abilities in travelling and it is all thanks to our star leader, Terence. Throughout all of our excursions, T was exceptional at making sure we were all safe. I never once felt at risk while in his care. He was also very patient with answering our questions to the best of his ability while also encouraging us to be more independent and find out answers for ourselves. T was much more than just a leader however, he was our friend. When other members were going through hardships, he'd reach out to them to help them feel better. He'd show us the best places to eat, cute thrift stores, book shops, etc. Having T as our group leader was a big bonus as the trip really wouldn't have been the same without him.

Be prepared for the busiest 2 months of your life. From bathing with elephants, to rock climbing in caves, and partying in the streets of Bangkok, there was never a dull moment. I have learnt so much about other cultures and lifestyles that I will continue to apply back in my life at home. Its cliche but I really did find myself in SEA. I'm much more confident and assertive day-to-day and I have a better understanding of what I want to do with my life. I would highly recommend this program to anyone of my friends and anyone who wants to change their life for the better.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take out more money than the recommended amount to avoid the ridiculous atm fees because you WILL overspend on smoothies and iced coffee.
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Tori
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best 2 months of my life :)

I’m not exaggerating at all when I say choosing the SE Asia Expedition is probably the best decision I’ve ever made! The people I’ve met and the things I have experienced have changed me as a person for the better- I am more confident, happy and up for trying new things. Between jumping into rivers full of elephants, eating club sandwiches on boat roofs in exotic Thai islands and building a house for a poor Khmer family, this trip is both incredibly fun and also extremely eye opening. Our leader Terence couldn’t have done a better job at making me feel safe, providing emotional support when I needed it and making sure everyone was enjoying their trip to the best of their abilities- thank you T you the man!!
The people I was with on this trip became family to me- choosing this trip means choosing to make friends for life.
Thank you Gapforce for providing this awesome adventure for young travellers, it truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice for future travelers is make sure you either have 2 cash cards or a decent amount of emergency cash that you don’t touch- my card got munched by an ATM half way through the trip which made my life a bit difficult
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Hadyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GAPFORCE 2k19

Having just arrived home today after 2 months travelling with our gapforce group, I’ve come to realise the impact the trip has already had on me.
I’d say it was the best period of my life so far, having experienced such a vast amount of incredible places and people in such a short period of time with such a brilliant group of people, who I now consider family.
Terence (or big T as we called him) was such a great leader: cool headed and wildly knowledgable, whilst also being a genuinely good friend proved that he was the best gapforce leader you could ask for. Whenever anyone needed help or advice, he was there with all his attention devoted to you. (If you’re reading this T, thanks so much man).
This trip was so ideologically enlightening and important to my view of the world and the people within it, I genuinely think this is something that everyone should do at some point in their life. Visiting such vastly different cultures to our own expands your perspective in such a refreshing way that I feel like a much improved person because of it, and for that; I have gapforce to thank.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Try to understand what you’re getting into with backpacking in general. Do not expect some luxury holiday where your babysat and everything is catered for you. Travelling on this level is an adventure: it can dirty, physically challenging and sometimes even emotionally straining (especially towards the end with the final goodbyes). However it is so worth it when you consider the memories and personal improvement that this kind of travelling involves.
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Helena
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best trip ever

We had Terence and Lazlo on our trip as group leaders. They were so welcoming and we all bonded as a group really quickly. The trip was well organised and we did so many activities and also had a lot of free time to explore. Met some amazing people who I will be friends with for a long time. There was only one negative which was some of us got pretty ill. However it was sorted out quickly with a trip to the hospital where we had Terence helping and adapting the plans so we wouldn't miss out on activities. It was my 21st Birthday mid trip, everyone made it so memorable and we a party. We all grew so close really quickly, respected each others space and had so much fun. It was difficult to say goodbye. But we've all planned to have a reunion in 5 years.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Dive in head first and be yourself. Be confident and friendly and you're bound to have a great time. Seek discomfort and go for it.
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Emily
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Southeast Asia Explorer

I wasn't quite sure what to expect this trip to be like, but I am so glad I decided to go with a group like this. It was a very authentic, backpacking experience, which was fun but also character building. Staying in loud busy hostels, being constantly in the heat, and frequently taking night buses creates a sense of adventure, but it also isn't for the faint of heart. It's easily exhausting, but the locations we visited were worth it all. We saw a lot of Thailand in a relatively short time, and every place was unique and amazing in it's own way. Cambodia was also a very eye opening and life changing experience. There was a good balance between it feeling like a vacation while on the Thai islands, and productive while building a house in Cambodia for a family in need. While being abroad, I was able to create relationships with people from around the world, and the smaller group size allowed for great friendships to be created. I also enjoyed the sense of freedom this program creates. Our leader was there for us as needed and organized where we were going and staying, but we always had free time to find our own adventures. I definitely recommend this program for anyone that's looking for a true and authentic trip, able to be responsible for themselves but also able to be a positive and enthusiastic group member.

What would you improve about this program?
-Better budgeting plan for food. It was complicated getting our food allowances because of bank restrictions and how the company organizes it, resulting in having to take out a lot of personal funds to cover paying for meals.
- Budget for water ($1 a day or so)
- I would have liked the option to be able to spend a bit more for more secluded rooms in hostels. We sometimes had issues with what time people were going to sleep, it was pretty split. If the group was more divided in the hostels I think everyone would have been happier and better rested.
- Some of the "optional included" activities were not actually included.
- Give exact dates and times when we should arrive and depart for flights.
- New and better packing list
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Ari
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thailand adventure

This was one of the most emotional experiences in my life. Traveling for the first time alone and learning so much about myself and also about other cultures.
It was a good decision to travel with an organisation, because you do not have to book hostels or think about where you go or what to do. These tasks are taken from you, your guide knows the country well and you just can enjoy the trip. The safety of the trip was good overall, also because most of the time we were in groups.
Thailand is such a beautiful Country.
The volunteer project at elephants world in Kanchanaburi was amazing.
I probably will never forget seeing my first elephant and the amazing erewan waterfalls..
We did so many funny activities, like white water rafting, tubing... and also saw and learned a lot of Thai culture (I (personally) would have liked to see a few more temples).
Also I met so many people from all of the world, who became friends to me.
I had many ups and downs, because it was my first time being so far away from home alone. But our leader is such a nice person and he always tried to help me with my homesickness and tried everything to make me feel comfortable in this new situation. I know, that I could have come to him with any problem and just talk about it.
I would say this program is perfect for everyone, who don't wanna travel alone.
I really would recommend doing it, because this is something you will never forget in your entire life.

What would you improve about this program?
Not really improvement but when I booked this trip, I didn't really know, that it would be so big rooms, sleeping in a 12-6 bed room is fun for one night, but for 30 (or more) days it was really exhausting for me, but that's the life of a backpacker..
Personaly I would have liked to visit a few more temples.
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Emilie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Southeast Asia

This was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I got to meet some amazing people from around the world and travel to 3 different countries all whilst learning new things and having fun. The leaders were really nice and funny. They were always available if you needed help or even just if you needed someone to talk to. The volunteering was so rewarding and humbling. It was also really hard work but in the end, it was totally worth it. The places we visited were also very varied and so were the activities. We went to several big cities, had some outdoor activities such as hiking, we went to some museums and also several beaches.
I really recommend this trip to anyone who wants to travel and discover a new culture all whilst having fun.

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Nina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

10/10!

This trip has brought so much knowledge and joy into my life. From the people involved, to the places traveled it was an amazing experience.

We traveled all around Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam for 2 months, staying in 14 different hostels. We visited beaches, temples, elephants, major tourist attractions, and went on hikes leading to beautiful waterfalls. There was always something to do or something for us to see!

Although the people in the group had chatted online, I was still nervous spending two months with people I barely knew. Luckily, I enjoyed spending time and learning about different cultures within the people in the group.

We had events that included everyone in the group, as well as free days that we could explore the cities by ourselves, and optional activities that we would pay out of pocket to participate.

Our guides were awesome! They were supportive at all times, and people could go to them with any problem they had. They were proactive and did everything in their power to make the trip fun for everyone!

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Morgan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing

Okay so you know when you read those super cheesy reviews and you’re like “oh, they’re probably being so over dramatic” well no I’m not, I’m being damn straight with you. This trip was incredible. I’ve not only become more equip to deal with traveling (solo or group) but I’ve learned a bucket load of life lessons. (If your piss is orange please drink more water) Oh and don’t forget the life long friends I’ve made who I can now crash at their houses while traveling ;) #budgeting but for real, like Ellie said in her comment and I believe Kate said it too, this trip changes you, you come out of it more humble, experienced and damn well more confident. I really do recommend this trip for anyone willing to take that screw it leap of faith because I promise you, you will have the time of your life.

P.S.
-Bring good reliable water bottle
- Do your research, I mean going in blindfolded can be fun but probably not the best choice when entering a foreign country....
-Don’t over pack, you will be angry at yourself
-Air con will make bus/train rides cold so please bring a jumper and warm pants (or a travel blanket)
-There is never such a thing as too much bug spray or sunscreen
-Highly reccomend 3 pairs of head phones because if you’re like me you will lose 2
-Group trips are so much more fun with a speaker ;)

What would you improve about this program?
As a few others said
-Water should be included into the food/money budget I can’t tell you how much money I spent on it...
- Over budget, I think $150 is appropriate, maybe $200 if you want to live lavish...
- Please, pretty please with a cherry on top rewrite that packing list, it is absolutely dreadful. I didn’t use half of the stuff it told me to bring (aka hence the over packing comment where I was slightly upset with myself for bring that much stuff)
- More activities would be better however set down-time days would be nice too (kind of enjoyed how we ventured away from the itinerary)
Ellie
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience ever!

The Southeast Asia Explorer trip has been one of the best experiences of my life so far! We have seen some AMAZING things like Elephants, waterfalls, mountains, halong bay, temples and so much more. There is a multitude of things to do here that you can never be bored!
This trip has given me the confidence to travel on my own and to navigate my way around any situation. I feel like I’ve become a more strong, confident, independent woman who can face the world.
In conjunction with that, this trip has also made me a more open minded person. There are so many ways of life that people don’t see on tv so it’s a bit shocking at first but seeing how others live gives you the drive to want to change the world. For example in Cambodia there was an obscene amount of garbage and there were children begging on the streets. It was something I’m not used to but it’s how things are. The situation in Cambodia (and many other parts of the world) is not helping global efforts to stop Climate change. We as a whole world need to stop producing so much waste and leaving it to rot on the ground or in the ocean but it’s a group effort that will get us to our goal.
Back to the trip: I would recommend bringing more money that was suggested on the website since there are many optional activities that cost a bit more money. We went on a hike that cost 900 baht ($27 or £21) and that took a chunk out of the $100 per week. Maybe bring $150?
Another reccomendation is research where you’re going beforehand since there was some flexibility in the itinerary so we were able to go where we wanted. Like in Cambodia we went to the palace and some other places that I don’t believe were on the original itinerary.

Basically this trip is amazing as a stepping stone to becoming a solo traveler. It gives you confidence, perspective and love for the world around you.

What would you improve about this program?
More included activities, water should be paid for (it shouldn’t be part of the food budget) and more clarity with what is going on.

About GapForce

Gapforce is a leading provider of structured Gap Year programs and summer opportunities overseas. The wide range of global adventures includes marine conservation, wildlife protection, community volunteering & healthcare, extreme expeditions,...