Your gap year guide to Asia

Years of experience in welcoming travellers from all over the world have made Asia the perfect host, and like all good hosts, it offers something for every taste. Whatever you’re looking for on your gap year there’s a good chance you’ll find it in Asia; from whitest of white knuckle adventure rides to some of the best volunteer projects in the world.

Asia is perfect for gap year travellers; the serene beauty provides a soothing backdrop to a career escaping break while the rugged mountains and million mile an hour cities offer the perfect slice of adventure for those full of youthful energy. Here are a few words of advice on the how, why and where of gap year travel in Asia and start planning your own trip.

Check out the Gapometer to mark Asia on key gap year criteria.

*****        Gaptastic

****         Great for gappers

***           Worth a look

**             Too much else to see

*              Never mind the Gap

              

Volunteering

In an age of mass media the beauty of this place somehow continues to surprise, yet too much of the Asian continent continues to experience severe depravation. According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia’s poor account for two thirds of the total in the developing world and a huge number of volunteer projects have sprung up to help ease the problem.

There are lots of different projects in areas like community work and teaching or maybe even link one with a conservation project or two. Asia should be as famous for its wildlife as its landscapes; animals like pandas, elephants, tigers and sea turtles can all be found here. The WWF has listed 6 places in Asia amongst their list of 19 priority places, leaving no-one in any doubt as to the area’s significance.

***** The perfect place to use your gap year for good

Travelling around

With a year on your hands you’ll want to spread your wings and really explore a place, and in Asia that’s both easy and rewarding. There are now easier ways to get around Asia than the famous overland expeditions of the 70s (though if you’ve got a camper van spare give it a go). Travelling varies from country to country so make sure you plan thoroughly. Most central countries, like China and India, offer extensive rail and road links. South-East Asia, with the exception of Myanmar, is probably the easiest and cheapest place to explore in the world. Don’t forget to bring a good book for the journey though!

For people who get coach sick there’s always the option to use up a stop or two from a Round the world ticket. Low cost airlines are getting in on the act so look out for new destinations. For those who want to do most of their travelling in Asia, check out companies that offer an ‘air pass’ which for one price, allows you to dot around all over the place.

**** Plenty to see and no reason not to explore

Money

Money and budgeting are big considerations when you’re planning to spend a year away from home, so the cost of getting to and living in a place is all important. There are big differences between countries in this respect; the more expensive countries to explore in Asia are Japan, Taiwan and because of its size, China. If you want to visit these countries perhaps consider earning money by teaching English while you’re away. The affordable countries include Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Sri Lanka while cheap countries such as Thailand, Nepal, India, The Philippines and Indonesia offer truly budget travel.

Living costs are a large part of your budget so plan carefully. While you’re on a volunteer placement this will normally be sorted out for you but when you’re travelling independently remember that budget hostels doesn’t necessarily mean rubbish hostels. In fact they can often be the most fun! The same is true about food; the best food in Asia is found on the street and it’s incredibly cheap. Some of the best meals in Asia cost less than 50p! The great thing about Asia is that you don’t need to pay for your entertainment because it’s all around you!

***** Plenty of bargains to be found

 

Earning as you go

Earning while you’re away is essential for many people. For travellers who do need to earn a few pennies, Asia is a good place to choose for your Gap year travelling. The continent has the biggest demand for English teachers and there are placements in a range of destinations including some of the world’s most exciting locations. Getting qualified is one of the best money saving investments travellers can make. For a relatively small price you can get qualified in double quick time and at least have it as a safety net in case you spend a little too much souvenir shopping! You’ll get access to TEFL contacts all over the continent and can easily include a little teaching in your itinerary.

***** There is nowhere better to earn money while travelling

The wow factor

Asia has the wow factor in bucket loads. It’s the most popular destination for westerners and millions of people can’t be wrong. The cultural and natural diversity of the continent offers the perfect backdrop to a gap year with enough going on to keep you entertained at just the right price to keep you solvent! The old favourite still has plenty to offer a new generation of travellers.

***** Everyone should go at least once. It’s the law

 

Useful links:

http://www.i-to-i.com/resources/students-and-gap-years/

http://www.i-to-i.com/travel-asia.html

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