6-week Gap Year program 2021: Thailand Culture and Service
Why choose this 6-week Gap Year Expedition: Thailand Culture and Service?
- Use these uncertain times to participate in a gap year expedition, giving you time to reflect and focus on what you really want to do next.
- Live a life-changing experience while giving back, doing service-learning in both a community and environmental context.
- Get a true Thai culture experience and return home with your head full of great memories and new friends!
You can also choose to join our regular Thailand volunteer programs for lower-budget options and flexible start times. Check these out!
Travel during COVID times
Given the special global circumstances and to ensure the safety of participants and local community members, this program has been developed with great consideration.
This Gap Year Expedition Thailand Culture and Service program offers a 6-weeks option to travel around Thailand as part of a small group in 2021. In line with the current Thai Government regulations, for the first two weeks, we will be based on the tourist island of Phuket where our group will stay together in a 3-star hotel close to the beach in an area designated for visitors. As well as plenty of time to soak up the sun, we will engage in a host of activities including shopping at local malls and markets, visiting Phuket old town, experiencing famous Thai street foods, and hiking Phuket’s most amazing trails! Our group will take part in a structured daily itinerary to keep you busy and emerge you little by little into Thai culture! We will also offer optional activities for those wanting to learn to surf or kite surf or interested in snorkeling or diving making the best of their time on Phuket Island!
After 2 weeks, we can leave the island and begin our expedition of 4-weeks, allowing you to discover the rest of Thailand, its diverse culture and its people! Note that if the current Thai restrictions were to change with a shorter quarantine, or no quarantine, your schedule below would be modified accordingly, and you will spend more time in the rural village of Maedtaman described below.
Read all about our project reopening response to COVID-19
The Schedule of the Gap Year Expedition: Thailand Culture and Service
Day 1-14: You will start your Thailand Expedition based on the tourist island of Phuket for the first two weeks, where our group will stay together in a 3-star hotel close to the beach in an area designated for visitors. Our group will take part in a structured daily itinerary to keep you busy and emerge you little by little into Thai culture! Plans include:
- Orientation with Kaya Site Director
- Health and Safety Orientation
- Thai cultural workshops
- Shopping trips at local malls and markets
- Visiting Phuket old town
- Experiencing famous Thai street foods
- Hiking Phuket’s most amazing trails
- And of course, some beach time!
After 2 weeks, we can leave the island on a 4-week-long expedition throughout the country, where we have an awesome Thai culture and program waiting for you!
Day 15-19: We will take part in a service project in Kuraburi, Phang Nga area. The area boasts two of the world’s ecosystems – jungle and coral reefs. Our group will play a role in protecting the local ecosystems by participating in environmental conservation and restoration service activities.
Day 20-23: We travel by speedboat to nearby Surin Island – a paradise of white, sandy beaches, thick jungles, crystal-clear waters, and some of Thailand’s best coral reefs. We will visit the original Moken inhabitants of this tropical paradise and take a long-tail boat trip to the Moken village with a local guide. On Surin Island, we will be staying in a tented accommodation at the National Park headquarters (electricity generated from 6 to 10 pm). You will immerse yourself for 2 days in the Moken culture through handicraft workshop, a forest hike, and a snorkeling coral reef exploration.
Day 24: We transfer to Khao Sok National Park and bask in the beauty of a 20 million year old rainforest and immerse in the natural environment while staying overnight in a jungle resort.
Day 25: You will awake to the sounds of nature, have breakfast and then head out for your Jungle Survivor activity. This day course is led by experienced park rangers. As you walk through the jungle, they will point out local resources, flora and fauna and teach you how to make a fire and cook a forest to table meal with rice and curries in bamboo. You will get to enjoy your freshly prepared meal sitting by the river and have time to relax with your group and swim if you wish. In the evening, go on a scheduled Night Safari to explore the jungle at night and learn about the many nocturnal animals and insects that come to life in the dark!
Day 26: After breakfast, you will transfer to Cheow Larn Lake. A guided nature hike will allow you to appreciate the outstanding beauty of this man‐made reservoir with its towering limestone cliffs and jungle‐clad hills. In the afternoon, we will be able to relax, swim from the footsteps of your bungalow or take a kayak out to survey the surrounding jungle and view wildlife.
Day 27: Awake early to catch the best of wildlife viewing in a longtail boat including the hornbills flying in the mist or gibbons playing in the trees. Travelling back across the lake, your boat driver will show you some hidden bays and rock formations that make the lake so special.
Once you arrive back at the Rajaprabha Dam, our group will head to the airport to take an internal flight from Phuket to Chiang Mai. We’ll check into our guest house, and explore the old town of Chiang Mai, before enjoying a celebratory welcome dinner.
Day 28: Today we meet the elephants at the elephant sanctuary, where we will spend the day learning all about these amazing animals.
Day 29: We will participate in an introductory language class, and a cooking class to learn all about Thai vegetables and herbs and then make five Thai dishes of your own!
Day 30: This is a free day to explore Chiang Mai and surrounding areas. Your program coordinator will have plenty of recommendations for the group to go explore on their own.
Day 31: Today we attend a Buddhist meditation retreat. At the temple, we will learn about Buddhism from a monk. You will be able to take a vow of silence and go on the alms round with the monks.
Day 32: Returning from our meditation retreat, we will enjoy the rest of the day, relaxed.
Day 33-41: For our next adventure, we will travel to the rural village of Maedtaman and meet our host families. Kaya has worked with the local community here for more than 10 years, on a development initiative that includes conservation of the local environment, community development and teaching English at the local school.
We will dedicate 7 days to the village working on the service projects, immersing in Thai culture, and exploring the area.
Day 42: Today we leave the village, travel back to Chiang Mai. We will check out of the guesthouse and this will conclude your program, so you will transfer back to Chiang Mai airport to catch your plane back home. And for those who want o stay a little longer, you have the option of extending your stay with another volunteer or internship placement. Check out those options here!
*Note that we will run a Spring group as well and the schedule will change slightly as we will be in Chiang Mai to celebrate the famous Songkran festival marking the start of the Buddhist New Year with a big citywide water fight! Essentially, you will spend a couple more days in and around Chiang Mai for the celebration and will spend less time in the rural village of Maedtaman.
What skills do I need to be a Volunteer on this 6-weeks Gap Year expedition: Thailand Culture and Service?
No specific qualifications are required other than enthusiasm for the experience and a flexible attitude willing to embrace the beauty of a new culture! Also, note that you will need to be COVID-19 vaccinated to undertake this program.
RECRUITING NOW FOR FALL 2021 EXPEDITION
WHY JOIN THE PROJECT
To get away after this stressful time and gain experience
To participate in a culturally immersive program in Thailand
To make new friends while traveling
Where will I spend time in Thailand during my Gap Year expedition?
About the location
During your first two weeks, you will be staying in Phuket. Well known for its magnificent coves and bays and blue waters, it is a great area filled with white sand beaches and is known as the world’s finest beach destination! Phuket is the perfect balance for adventure and relaxation for the group to start this 6-weeks expedition!
Once we leave the island, the group will head to Surin Island, also a paradise of the fine white sandy beaches, but also thick jungles, crystal-clear waters, and some of the best coral reefs in Thailand. The area is composed of a group of five islands in the Andaman Sea between Myanmar and Thailand. It is home to the Moken community. There, you will learn about the brightly colored “Spirit Poles” and Moken homes, built on wooden stilts directly on the beach. You will have the opportunity to participate in a handicraft workshop and learn the traditional art of Moken weaving. You will get the chance to use forest Pandanus leaves to weave a natural bracelet and keep it as a souvenir to show your friends back home upon your return. You will also have a chance to do a forest hike where your Moken guide will highlight useful plants, including medicinal herbs, edible species, and those used in the construction of traditional houseboats. You also go on a snorkeling coral reef exploration with a Moken guide to see the underwater life of the sea gipsies, how they have adapted to living in the water, and why they love it. Watch as your Moken guide spots sea turtles and sharks swimming in the waters. Your guide will take you to a wonderland of colorful tropical fish and allow you to witness the impressive Moken swimming techniques.
Then, the group will head to Khao Sok National Park and bask in the beauty of a 20 million-year-old evergreen rainforest and immerse in the natural environment. The area is well known for the huge limestone mountains, deep valley, exciting caves, wild animals and breathtaking lakes.
One of the most interesting areas of the national park is Cheow Larn Lake, where the group will be heading next. This man‐made reservoir has outstanding beauty with its towering limestone cliffs and jungle‐clad hills. This will be the perfect place to take longtail boards, enjoy a Thai style lunch of local vegetables and fresh fish from the lake, and immerse yourself with nature.
Your next stop will be Chiang Mai to spend some time there where you will get the opportunity to explore the old town and the surrounding areas. There is plenty to do and see from the market held into the old town, to the night bazaars and the many temples, museums and rural-villages nearby.
During your time in the rural village of Maedtaman, you will experience the true Thai life! The village is about an hour away North of Chiang Mai. It is a much simpler and relaxed pace of life, where you will learn to go with the flow.
Throughout your 6-week Gap Year program 2021: Thailand Culture and Service program, you will experience a variety of accommodations along the way to immerse you in the country and have a different perspective:
- Phuket – single room in a 3* hotel with complimentary Wi-Fi and TV
- Surin Islands – tented accommodation with bedding provided at the National Park Headquarter. Electricity generated from 6-10 pm
- Khao Sok National Park – double room in a jungle resort
- Cheow Larn Lake Spend – double room in floating accommodation on the lake.
- Chiang Mai – double room in a guesthouse with complimentary Wi-Fi
- Rural village – double room in a local host family
Details & Costs
- Duration: 6 weeks
- Cost: £7500 / $8800 for 6 weeks
- Requirements: Age 18+ and COVID-19 Vaccination
- Location: Variety of locations within Thailand
- Working hours: 8 hours a day of activities
- Project availability: Fall 2021- Start date November 8th and end date December 19, 2021. Spring 2022 - Start date March 14th and end date April 25th, 2022.
- Arrival day: Monday
What is included
- Accommodation: shared room of maximum 1 other volunteer
- Meals: 3 meals per day.
- Airport: scheduled pick up from Phuket and drop off to Chiang Mai
- On the ground transportation: all transports between locations, including flights within the program
- Access to personal online Kaya Community account, including:
– Pre-departure information pack for Thailand
– Fundraising Guide
– How to Manage your Money Abroad Guide
– Learning Reflection Guide
- On the ground training: cultural and safety orientation, project induction, cultural immersion modules, cooking class, meditation retreat, trekking, Surin National Park entry fees, Moken experience, Khao Sok National Park entry fees.
- Support: 24-hour local support with a team leader.
What is not included
- Flights to/from Thailand
- Police/Government Background Check; US and UK citizens will be processed through Kaya (admin fee applies). All other nationalities must provide local police check.
- Routine or country-specific vaccination if applicable
- Any costs for COVID-19 PCR tests required pre-departure and in-country
Easy 4-step application process
Click here to apply online and pay your application fee to apply for your space on your chosen project. Our advisors will then contact you to guide you through the next steps.
Once we’ve received your application, we’ll review your details and be in touch to arrange your informal telephone interview with your Kaya Placement Advisor.
Following your interview, we will provide you a placement offer. Once you are ready to confirm your placement and dates, you can pay your confirmation fee to book and secure your space.
When you have confirmed your project dates we'll send you your Welcome Pack and lots of other helpful information to assist you with preparing for your placement.
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