Asia, one of the largest and most diverse continents, is a mine-field of opportunities when it comes to travelling. Let Her Campus Leeds help you out…
My top 5 things to do:
Go volunteer and help the local communities.
One way is through the well-known organization Frontier. Less expensive than most, and working with the most needy, this volunteer project in the capital city of Cambodia is the perfect way to make a difference: http://www.frontier.ac.uk/projects/416/Cambodia-Orphanage. In one of the poorest cities in Asia, this orphanage takes scavenging children off the street and relies on the support of volunteers to give the children a better start at life. Cambodia is also the perfect place to start your tour of Asia being ideally placed to venture into Vietnam, Thailand and finally to India and China. Flights are under £600 one way (according to quotes given from STA Travel) to Phnom Penh (PNH) with Singapore Airlines in July and if you arrive on the first Monday of the month, Frontier provides transfers to the project if you stay a minimum of 4 weeks. Whilst this may seem steep, this is far south-east Asia and enables you to use local transport to travel back towards Europe in order to obtain a cheaper return flight.
Go explore and head to Everest.
With its base camp on the border with Nepal, and the small detail of it being the highest mountain in the world, it is worth the immense physical challenge. You can do it with a company such as http://www.notjusttreks.com/nepal/everest-trek.html for £630 or go with a charity to ensure you are still making a difference whilst you go on an adventure of a lifetime. One such charity is the Greenhouse charity. If you are volunteering, you can raise the funds through charity organisations such as The Rotary Club who support younger generations who want to make a difference or you can even put in a bid for money through Leeds for Life!
Go and help the local wildlife.
The elephant trade in Thailand is notorious; animals which were once used for the logging trade are now abandoned or abused. Make a difference by helping in one of the many elephant conservation projects, for example: http://www.oysterworldwide.com/gap-year-in-thailand.php
Go explore the cultural and historical backdrop of India.
With its diverse and numerous temples, which are visited by millions every year, its culture is fascinating. The City of 1000 Temples is one of the oldest cities in southern India. In Kanchipuram you can see Hindu temples such as Varadharaja Perumal Temple for Lord Vishnu and the Ekambaranatha Temple, while in the city of Thanjavur the Brihadishwara temple has a tower 66 metres (216 feet) high, making it one of the tallest temples in the world. Then who can forget the Taj Mahal (located in Agra in north)? Travel through India on their local railway and explore India’s culture: http://www.seat61.com/India.htm
Go and gain yourself some unforgettable party memories by island hopping through Thailand.
Start at Bangkok before heading to Koh Tao, where you can snorkel and dive in its pristine waters and then head to the Full Moon Party’s birthplace on the party island of Koh Phangan, before buying some bargain souvenirs at the night markets of Cha Am. It is probably easiest to tour with a company such as iexplore as they provide accommodation and transport:
Flights are cheapest through statravel.com which offer student discounts (http://book.statravel.co.uk/staglobe/AirFlightSearchAdvancedForward.do?isNewSearchFlow=true&pos=1ASTAGLOBE-GB). The best way to obtain the cheapest flight is to be flexible; have a three month window in which to travel. Consider the outward and inward flights from different destinations travelling from one city to another via the local rail or bus network. If you are planning long term travel, buy a multi-destination or around the world ticket as it may be cheaper.
The advantages of going through a company such as intrepid travel is that if you aren’t confident about travelling abroad or plan on travelling alone it is a good way of sharing your experience with other people. The company will organise flights, transfers, accommodation and excursions dependent on your budget and wish list. Vouchers are also obtainable for students such as £75 off the package price. However, if you can sort a group of you to travel then once you are in Asia prices are a lot cheaper than advertised on the package deals. It is possible to undertake home-stays with the locals in Vietnam and Thailand for very little (http://www.godifferently.com/homestays_thailand_vietnam.html), plus travelling between excursions and continents is cheap and you aren’t fixed as to what excursions you must visit or the length of time you are able to travel for.
Whilst travelling the Asian continent is pretty daunting, make a wish list of countries you want to visit, volunteer projects you want to participate in, and things you want to see. If you plan your time wisely you can create the ultimate travelling experience which is unique to you. Enjoy!