South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail - 10 weeks

Company : Frontier
Activities: Volunteer with Children / Adventure Holidays / Activity Holidays / Charity Challenges / Career Break / Hiking Holidays / Volunteer Programs for Under 18s / Community Volunteer Projects / NGO / Overland Tours / Trekking Holidays / Marine Conservation Volunteer / Summer Volunteer Programs / Humanitarian Projects / Animal Volunteer Projects / Tours / Expeditions / Wildlife Tours / Cultural Tours / High School Study Abroad / Summer Study Abroad
Countries: Cambodia / Thailand / Vietnam
Location : South East Asia
Duration: 2 months to 3 months
Approx Costs: 2500 to 2500 £ Pound (UK)

Travel with us to the ancient Kingdoms of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in Southeast Asia, famously popular destinations for gap year travellers and it isn't hard to see why.

The countries provide a world of unimaginable beauty offering the perfect setting for an adventure that will take you everywhere – from buzzing night bazaars full of jewel-bright lanterns, to pearl-white sand beaches and picture perfect vistas; from dazzling temples to formidable sunken Buddha statues hidden by a riot of rainforest vegetation; from refreshing waterfalls in breathtaking landscapes, to the remains on an ancient citadel; you will experience all this, and combine your journey with a 28-day beach conservation or teaching and community development project (if you can't decide between the two projects try a combination of both).

This adventure trail takes in the best sites in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and will lead you to the highlights of these unmissable destinations. Who could resist swimming in crystalline waters off perfect white sand beaches and exploring lush green rainforest where monkeys, elephants and other exotic creatures lurk?

Soak up the intense historical ambience in the venerated temples throughout these ancient empires and be awe-struck by the majesty of Angkor Wat in Cambodia; then spend your nights in the vibrant whirlwind of the bars and nightclubs of the cosmopolitan and exotic cities you visit en route, as you enjoy the company of your travel companions and new friends. You will enjoy the exhilaration of travelling in a new and exciting culture.

What is so fantastic about this journey is that whilst travelling you will benefit from the leadership of a young, friendly, fun but also sensible and well-travelled guide who will take care of all the stress and organisation on the trip, whether it be recovering lost luggage, arranging bus tickets, booking hostels or extra activities, dealing with emergencies or even knowing the best places to go for a great night out in Bangkok! If you want to experience the beauty and adventure of Southeast Asia, travelling along with a young and friendly group of companions, without the hassle, then joining this Frontier Adventure Trail is the perfect solution!

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?


Sample Itinerary

Your adventure will begin as you fly into Bangkok and are escorted to a guest house in central Bangkok where you will have the opportunity to acclimatise. You will receive important briefing and orientation, giving you essential information about the adventure ahead of you.

Thailand


Day 1: Bangkok

Acclimatise and settle in to your guest house just off Khao San Road where you meet the rest of the group before heading off to explore the local area. Groups can range in size from 2 - 12 participants or more.


Day 2-3: Bangkok

You will receive a trail briefing and health and safety awareness information from your trail leader and then the real adventure begins. Visit the phenomenal Grand Palace and temple of the Emerald Buddha which have fascinated locals and foreigners for centuries. These intricately and exquisitely carved monuments, erected in honour of Thailand's ancient kings, are a perfect example of the staggering architecture found in this part of the world, and are a perfect start to your Thai adventure. Then you will visit the glorious reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, a sacred emblem of Thailand's Buddhist heritage. Other sightseeing highlights at this stage in Bangkok include Wat Arun and the optional extra activity of a river canal tour ($10). 


Day 4-5: Chiang Mai 

Visit this beautiful city in northern Thailand and explore the local temple of Wat Chedi Luang and take part in Monk Chat where you will get the opportunity to talk to the local monks and learn more about Buddhism and life at a Thai monastery.

The jungle trek will take place either in Chiang Mai or Pai.

Experience trekking, riding and bathing elephants, while water rafting and bamboo rafting on a jungle trek in a remote hill village. Try out your batering skills in the atmospheric and authentic night bazaar of Chiang Mai and pick up some bargain souvenirs. Optional extras available at this stage of the trip include zip wiring , Thai massage at the local women’s prison or watching Muay Thai Boxing.


Day 6-10: Pai 

Continue travelling North and visit Pai in northern Thailand where the pace of life slows to a crawl and accommodation is bamboo huts strung out along the river or wooded hillsides. Take the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of river tubing and elephant riding. Trek through the beautiful rolling hillsides or appreciate the slower pace of life by travelling through the area by bicycle journeying further afield to explore the surrounding area from hotsprings and waterfalls to the Pai Canyon. Additional options include traditional Thai cooking classes or a circus school visit.


Day 11-12: Chiang Mai to Bangkok;

Travel back down through Chiang Mai and stop off to take in the exquisite sunrise or sunset over Chiang Mai from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Enjoy one last night out in Chiang Mai at the famous Rooftop Bar before travelling back to Bangkok for the next leg of the journey.


Day 13-15: Kanchanaburi

This Thai province is a true Aladdin's cave of natural and historical treasures, magnificent landscapes, including some of Asia's most dramatic waterfalls, expansive pagodas and informative museums where you can find out more about the regions complex history. Explore this unique part of Thailand and visit Erawan National Park where the trees are filled with jumping monkeys, Wat Tham Seua and Wat Tham Khao Noi by bicycle, the perfect way to appreciate the grandiose splendour of these miraculous temples.  Learn about the important and culturally rich history of Thailand at the JEATH museum and War Cemetery and explore the area surrounding the bridge over the River Kwai. Optional extras include a visit to a floating market with shopping opportunities in the surrounding area.


Day 16-25: Island hopping!

Visit two of the exotic islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi or Koh Chang and spend some time relaxing on the tropical beaches and actively exploring with Kayaking and snorkelling through the pristine blue waters. Some of you may wish to take a dive package (about $250 depending on package and kit hire), others may prefer the option of visiting Maya Bay ($20) and some will want simply to chill.

Cambodia


Day 26: Travel to Cambodia


Day 27-28: Siem Reap

This province is a wonderful introduction to Cambodia with expansive lake scenery, an abundance of lavishly decorated elephants, floating villages and the spectacular temple complex of Angkor Wat, a visual feast of temples formed of golden filigrees and blood red stone. Visit the Terrace of Elephants or find out what the "Churning of the Sea of Milk" entails, in this most significant of historical monuments! A visit to the Siem Reap night market is also something not to be missed!

Following this, you will receive your field briefings and safety tests before travelling to your project site.


Day 29-54: 

At this stage of the project, you will get the chance to participate in a volunteering project: teaching and community development, beach conservation (extra cost applies) or a combination of both projects if you can't decide between the two (extra cost applies). 

An additional project and transfer fee of $150USD / £100GBP will apply if you choose to take part in the Beach Conservation project for 2 or 4 weeks.

 

Teaching and Community Development

You will be teaching in a school for underprivileged children, where you will make a vital contribution to their lives. Your work schedule will cover a comprehensive, varied and enjoyable teaching programme which will engage you fully with your pupils and will awaken your creativity and initiative. You are sure to gain huge satisfaction from inspiring these underprivileged children, bringing joy and fun to their lives, whilst enhancing your own skills and experience significantly. You can also gain a TEFL BTEC certificate for an additional fee if you spend the four weeks conducting the teaching work. On your weekends off you may wish to visit the stunning West Barray Lake, take a boat trip on Tonle Sap or just relax and enjoy the night life and bustling local street markets.

 

Beach Conservation

This project work is conducted on the private island of Koh Smach where you will be living in true castaway style, in simple semi- permanent structures based right on the beach overlooking the azure waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Day to day activities may include snorkel surveys to assess coral reef damage and fish population size and structure, patterns and extent of resource use by villagers, environmental awareness campaigns within the local village, community development work including refurbishment to village infrastructure, language teaching in the village community, silt trap monitoring, village clean-ups and recycling scheme development and beach clean-ups.

You will become adept at surviving on this remote island wilderness, cooking over open fires and swaying in your hammock each night under a spectacular star studded sky. Through immersion in local culture and activities with the local village, you will assess how reliant the local villagers are on the coastal ecosystem for their livelihood and may gain an insight into the impact of global warming on the threatened marine and coastal communities. You will discover the rich cultural heritage of the Khmer communities as you work alongside them on environmental education programmes and community development activities. Discover the rich blend of Buddhist and Hindu spiritualism infusing their daily lives and is epitomised in majestic mainland temples and elaborate ceremonies and rituals of this fascinating country. By carrying out this valuable beach conservation work, you will have the opportunity to gain a BTEC qualification in Tropical Habitat Conservation for an additional £260 (to complete this program you need to be on the island for a full four weeks).

 

Marine Conservation & Diving

The project works to safeguard these natural marine resources, working side by side with the local community assisting in the management and sustainable use of the resources within the established community fishing area, as well as providing much needed teaching resources and care work for the community itself.

The project incorporates a number of different elements, all of which combine to not only give you an insight into the workings of the local community and economy, but also lend a hand in protecting rapidly diminishing species.

The marine project involves joining a scuba diving research team that monitors the marine ecosystem and collects data on the reef, coastal breeding grounds and the abundance of important species. This data is then used to help maintain a proactive conservation strategy. Volunteers learn about seahorse and invertebrate species, as well as collecting valuable data from seahorse surveys. There may also be the opportunity to assist with educational awareness programmes for local children, providing them with workshops on responsibility and helping in island and beach cleanup days.

You may also find yourself teaching English in the island school, providing much needed education and support. With nearly a third of 7-14 year olds unable to attend school, this is a fantastic opportunity to get close to the local children and make a real difference to their future prospects. You will dance, sing, and play games as well as teach them English. Literacy is crucial to education, and in providing them with vital skills, you can provide them with hope for a future of choice.

 

Day 55-56: Phnom Penh 

Explore this scintillating, sprawing and cosmopolitan metropolis known as the "pearl of Asia", take in the Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, the S 21 museum and the Killing Fields, an important and intensely moving experience.

Vietnam


Day 57: Travel to Vietnam, visa to be purchased on entry


Day 58-59: Ho Chi Minh

Venture into this vibrant and industrious urban centre with its bubbling and exhilarating vibe. Visit the War Remnants Museum containing eye-opening exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War and Cu Chi Tunnels to discover how the Viet Cong lived during the war and their guerilla warfare. See the pastel-hued pagodas and pick up some real bargains from the tiny merchants and traders of the many side streets and alleys. Take a walking tour of the city taking in views of the Cathedral, Opera House, Reunification Palace and Ben Thanh Market. If there is time and you have any energy left you can opt to take a tour of the Mekong Delta home of rice fields and floating markets (approx. $60).


Day 60-67

En route to Hanoi you will have the chance to encounter several of Vietnam's most diverse towns and villages.  Mui Ne offers the chance to see the magnificent sand dunes that expand along the coast where you may be able to try out sand-boarding.  Visit the local fishing village and watch the fishermen bring in their catch at sunrise and enjoy beautiful vistas from the beach as you relax. If sand-boarding isn't sufficient for the adrenalin addicts opt to try out quad biking ($25). 

Nha Trang gives you the chance to chill with a day snorkelling, sunbathing and swimming while you enjoy a Four Island Tour.

Hoi An is a stunning little town bursting with Chinese influences at every corner. World famous for its tailors, you could stroll past a delicate Chinese temple with colourful lanterns lining the streets, and drop in to a tailor to get measured up for your new suit or ball gown made from Thai silk!  Hire bikes and cycle along the river to enjoy sunbathing, swimming and general relaxing on the beach.

Visit Hué and see the imperial tombs, the old citadel and enjoy a walk along the Perfume River.


Day 68: Hanoi 

Explore Hanoi, by taking a walking tour of this vibrant and colourful city of a million bicycles, picking up a last few souvenirs. Visit the night markets and take in one of Vietnam's famous shows at the Water Puppet Theatre.


Day 69: Halong Bay  

Explore Halong Bay with a boat trip along this spectacular coast with its enormous limestone caves, dense jungle and monolithic islands.  The area boasts incredible biodiversity with a fantastic array of wildlife including antelopes, monkeys, lizards and bantams living on some of the offshore islands.  


Day 70-71: Return to Hanoi and fly home!

Return to Hanoi to do some more last minute shopping and prepare for your homeward journey the next day.

**This itinerary is very flexible and subject to change. It is intended as a guide. You and your fellow travellers will change the itinerary according to your interests and depending on how you are progressing.**


 

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