The British term “gap year” refers to taking a year off from studying in order to do something else – usually to travel.
Either in between high school and university or while in university, taking a gap year is popular all over Europe and, in recent years, in America too. Many young people take a gap year to travel and tens of thousands every year travel to Thailand.
Now, while spending time backpacking around Thailand is fun, there are five other things you can do while on your gap year in Thailand. Five things that will teach you about Thai culture, give you work experience, help you help others and, of course, allow you to have a fabulous time in an incredible country.
Write, Blog or Photograph – If you’re going to be spending a gap year traveling around Thailand, why not write or blog about your experiences while you’re doing it? You can write articles and submit them to travel websites, thus making money you can use to travel more.
You can start a travel blog and make money through Google Adsense while showing your friends and family where you are and what you’re doing. Or, if you’re into photography, Thailand is one of the best countries in the world to take unusual pictures.
Volunteer – While on a gap year in Thailand, doing some volunteer work is a great way to have fun while learning about Thai culture. From working in an elephant camp with elephant trainers, to taking care of gibbons at a gibbon rescue organization, or working with children in an orphanage for kids with HIV, there are so many volunteer opportunities in Thailand, you’ll be amazed.
Just make sure, before you sign up for anything, you don’t pay any fees to volunteer above and beyond basic accommodation and food. That’s because, if the organization is charging you a lot of money than basic costs, they’re in it as a money making scheme and not as a way to help people.
The other thing to know about volunteering while you’re traveling around Thailand is you must have a work permit to do so, even if you only do it for a couple of weeks. All the legitimate organizations will get one for you and, if they won’t, you don’t want to volunteer there, as it is illegal and you could get into trouble.
Teach English – Another wonderful way to learn about Thai culture while in Thailand is to get a job teaching English, while on your gap year in Thailand. Teaching Thai kids, you will learn so much about Thai culture and, as the schools often do day trips and field trips, you will get to see a lot of Thailand too.
You can either teach for a year at one school, or teach for a semester, depending on what you and the school want.
Again, any teaching job in Thailand must come with a work permit and never pay a fee to an agency to get a job. There are so many jobs in Thailand for English teachers, there’s no need to pay a fee to get one.
Learn Thai – Thai is a language few people in the world speak except Thais. Traveling to Thailand and spending a few months in a Thai university or language school learning Thai, then traveling around Thailand practicing it can set you up with an advantage, when you go to university, few will ever have. Learning Thai is fun and Thais love it when you try.
See Thailand’s Museums and Cultural Events – Thailand has some of the most unusual museums in the world. From the Forensic Museum in Bangkok to the National Museums in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, every town and small city in Thailand has museums you can visit on your gap year.
Thailand too, with its hundreds of years of history, has exotic cultural events every month. From the Thai Water Festival, Songkran, in April to Loy Krathong in November( where Thais float banana boats on rivers and the ocean and give offerings to Buddha), you’ll learn so much about Thai culture and have experiences you’ll never forget.
Spending your gap year in Thailand is one of the best things you could ever do for yourself. You’ll experience a fascinating culture, make new friends, learn a new language and see and do things most people will never do. Travel for your gap year in Thailand. You won’t regret it.