WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
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.
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 walking with and bathing elephants, water rafting and bamboo rafting on a jungle trek in a remote hill village. Try out your bartering 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 takes the form of bamboo huts strung out along the river or wooded hillsides. Take the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of river tubing. 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, then visit 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 course (about $250 depending on course and kit hire), others may prefer the option of visiting Maya Bay ($20) and some will want simply to chill.
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 of course 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). Volunteers also have the option to take part in a Marine Conservation & Scuba Diving project (extra cost applies)
• Option 1: Teaching (4 weeks) – no additional cost
• Option 2: Beach Conservation placement (4 weeks) – US$782 + US$119 transfer fee
• Option 3: Teaching and beach conservation (2 weeks on each) – US$391 + US$119 transfer fee
• Option 4: Teaching and marine conservation and diving (2 weeks on each) – US$612 + US$119 transfer fee + dive training costs (if applicable*)
• Option 5: Marine conservation and diving (4 weeks) – US$1,224 + US$119 transfer fee + dive training costs (if applicable*)
*Additional dive training costs will apply if you choose to take part on the Marine Conservation & Diving project and are not yet trained up to PADI Advanced Open Water level. PADI Open Water (US$595), PADI Advanced Open Water (US$561)
Teaching and Community Development (CBT)
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 certificate for FREE 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 (CMM)
This project work is conducted on the island of Koh Rong Samloem. 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 of village infrastructure, language teaching in the village community, silt trap monitoring, village clean ups and recycling scheme development and beach clean ups.
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 livelihoods 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 which is epitomised in the majestic mainland temples and elaborate ceremonies and rituals of this fascinating country.
Marine Conservation & Diving (CBM)
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 not only to give you an insight into the workings of the local community and economy but also to 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 the opportunity to help 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 work with 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.
To participate in the scuba diving project work you will need to be qualified to Advanced Open Water or equivalent, with dive training available in country at the project site. Please see the extended project cost information for prices for dive training in the warm tropical seas of Cambodia!
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.
Day 57: Travel to Vietnam
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).
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. Nha Trang also offers scuba diving (extra cost applies).
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.**