Are you young, free and planning the best gap year adventure in Thailand you can imagine? It can all be incredibly exciting but travelling that far away from home for the first time can also be scary and intimidating.
That’s why it pays to do your research and organise some, if not all, of your adventure in advance. Of course, your plans can change during your trip but a successful gap year experience in Thailand should always be based on a solid plan.
When you’re planning the best gap year adventure in Thailand, you need to think about booking your flights there and back. Plus arranging accommodation for your first few nights is highly recommended.
You’ll need an up to date passport and may require one or more vaccinations depending on your travel history and itinerary. Consult a medical professional to find out more.
You’ll also need to get to the airport and making the start of your journey as manageable as possible is always a good idea. So book a cab to Heathrow rather than struggling on the train and tube.
The first thing you need to think about is what kind of gap year experience are you looking for? Are you going to hit the beach and meet other young and carefree people? Or are you looking for a rewarding adventure, volunteering in some of the most worthwhile projects Thailand has to offer?
In truth, to make the most of your gap year experience, a combination of fun and ethical travel is always best. A year is a long time to spend partying. And with a huge range of exciting volunteer projects out there to get involved in, you can learn skills, meet dedicated people and make a difference. And you’ll still find plenty of time to top up your tan and dance yourself silly at a full moon party in Koh Phangan.
You might not think that a volunteer project is your kind of thing. But the scale and scope of how you can help in Thailand is incredible. If you have a passion for animals then you’re really in luck. Imagine volunteering at an elephant sanctuary and getting up close and personal with some of nature’s gentle giants.
Knowing that you’re making a difference to the lives of animals that have been mistreated is truly rewarding. There are also projects where you can help preserve marine environments while learning to dive. Or you could spend a few months working in a wildlife sanctuary.
If you are more of a people person, you can offer your time to work with disadvantaged children. Working in schools and playgroups in some of Thailand’s most underprivileged areas is very rewarding. Or you can follow your academic dream and volunteer on a medical internship programme, developing skills that could help boost your CV and future career.
Teach English to monks, work on a Thai newspaper or learn eco building skills on sustainable construction projects. There are plenty of gap year options in Thailand.
Of course, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And since you’ll be in one of the most naturally beautiful countries on the planet, it would be a big missed opportunity not to spend some time travelling and exploring.
No trip to Thailand is complete without a visit to Bangkok. One of the biggest and most iconic cities in the world, it’s fair to say that Bangkok is not for everyone. But with its bustling streets home to stunning temples, sumptuous food and some of the best nightlife in Asia, it’s always worth a visit.
Head north to beautiful Chiang Mai, a mountainous region and cultural centre. It’s famed for its elaborate Buddhist temples and night markets where you can pick up artisan handicrafts. You can also pay a visit to the remote mountain communities where life has remained more or less unchanged for centuries.
If island life is more your thing, then you’ll be spoiled for choice in Thailand. To the southeast of Bangkok is Ko Samet and Ko Chang, with their upmarket holiday resorts and low key hostel hang outs. To the south in the Andaman Sea you’ll find the party capitals of Phuket and Ko Phi Phi (famous for being near the place where The Beach was filmed).
Visit the Khao Sok National Park for pristine wildlife reserves and untouched jungle. Check out the limestone cliffs on the Railay peninsula. Or camp on the river in the traditional village of Pai. For an island untouched by mainstream tourism try Koh Phayam where you can surf, dive and relax with a taste of how Thailand used to be.
Transport in Thailand is an adventure in itself, with a vast gamut of travelling methods to enjoy. From the modern skytrain and buzzing tuk tuks of Bangkok to a good internal coach and plane network for longer distances, getting around in Thailand is relatively easy.
The travel infrastructure is very much built around tourists. So no matter where you are headed you’ll be able to find helpful English-speaking guides and agents who can point you in the right direction.
Travel is generally cheap on the tourist coaches, but even cheaper on the locals buses. Plus you can make shorter journeys in group taxis or on motorbike taxis to keep costs down.
There’s enough to see and do in Thailand to fill dozens of years, let alone one. But seeing as you’re in the region, it’s well worth exploring more of Southeast Asia. This is a part of the world that is begging to be explored. So when you’re planning the best gap year adventure in Thailand, start or end your trip with a Southeast Asia backpacking extravaganza.
To the south east lies Cambodia. It’s less developed than Thailand and emerging from an incredibly dark period in its history. The temple city of Angkor Wat is truly one of the wonders of the world and a highlight of any trip.
Head north to Laos and hang out on the legendary Mekong River in Luang Prabang. It’s one of the main stopping off points on the backpacker trail, with buzzing night markets and plenty of activities to try.
To the east is Vietnam, with its twin mega cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. Stunning cuisine, a fascinating and rich history, and a shining example of how a country can emerge from difficult times to prosper in the modern world.
You can also travel west to the relatively undiscovered Myanmar or south to the more developed Malaysia and Singapore. From here Indonesia and Borneo are well worth visiting.
We hope this article has made planning the best gap year adventure in Thailand a bit easier for you. Be sure to check out our Thailand discounts, as you could save a packet on your next adventure.