Asia, the world’s largest and most populous continent, is an incredible destination for any inquisitive and adventurous traveller, volunteer or gap year student. The huge variety of landscapes, cultures, foods and traditions housed within the 48 countries of this immense region create a treasure-trove of new sights and experiences just waiting to be explored. Throw yourself into local life and culture by volunteering in Asia on one of our teaching or medical projects, or delve into Asia’s beautiful landscapes and fragile ecosystems as you work in Asia with animals on one of our animal welfare or wildlife conservation volunteering projects.
Containing 30% of the world’s total land area, and an eclectic mix of booming cities, sleepy villages, beautiful beaches, soaring mountains and lush rainforests, it can be hard for any traveller or volunteer in Asia to know where to start! The options are never-ending, but what’s certain is that wherever you choose to go, your trip will be phenomenal.
If you’re interested in exploring Asia’s southeastern region, we have several worthwhile volunteering projects here that will add an extra dimension to any travel that you do. Volunteer with animals in the rainforests of Malaysian Borneo, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, to be awe-struck by the huge variety of wildlife found here, and to witness some of the world’s rarest mammals, including the orangutan and pygmy elephant. Spend part of your gap year or career break exploring the mystical narrow river valleys and steep, forest-clad hills of Laos on one of our teaching or wildlife conservation projects. Lose yourself in the ‘lost paradise’ of Sri Lanka as you volunteer with elephants here amongst spectacular mountains, jungles and wetlands. Volunteer with animals in Thailand, or work as a teacher, to enjoy a slower pace of life within its lush forests or on its idyllic beaches. Make a visit to the Thai capital Bangkok to experience the vibrant bustle and delicious street food of this city of contrasts, where glistening air-conditioned shopping centres sit alongside 200-year-old village homes, and ornate Buddhist temples neighbour brightly coloured neon displays.
If South Asia and the Indian subcontinent hold more appeal to you, choose to volunteer as a medical intern in India, or as a teacher in Nepal, or spend your gap year or career break challenging yourself with a spectacular trek through the world’s highest mountain range, the Himalayas. Dive into Delhi, India’s national capital, and experience life in a vast megacity with a total population bigger than that of Australia. Spend time exploring this fascinating historical city, where Indian tradition sits alongside colonial-era buildings and futuristic newly built office skyscrapers, whilst volunteering in a city hospital, and get a real insight into local daily life. For a comparatively calmer experience, volunteer in Nepal to experience the huge range of environments found within this relatively smaller country – from the soaring peaks of the majestic Himalayas, to the thick jungle and paddy fields of the foothills and lowlands, through the alpine meadows and rhododendron forests in between.
In contrast to the poverty of Nepal, China is the second largest economy in the world. This rapidly developing super-power is a fascinating country in which to volunteer and live. In addition to the great physical diversity which comes with covering 18 different climate zones, China is home to some of the world’s largest and increasingly influential cities. Volunteer in China as a teacher, and have the opportunity to experience life in this intriguing country for yourself, beginning your journey at the capital city, and cultural and political centre, Beijing.
Asia’s huge population (60% of the world’s total) is just as varied as its spectacular landscapes. The many cultures in Asia (including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian and Arabian, amongst others), are all vastly different, and each are sub-divided into their own ethnic communities with distinct traditions, languages and cuisine. Whilst English, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese are the most common languages across the continent, the total number spoken reaches several hundred; India alone has 30 official languages and Indonesia has 12, with many more being used amongst families at home.
Speciality cuisine also varies hugely across the continent as each cultural group has developed its own characteristic dishes. One thing’s for sure – if you volunteer in Asia, you certainly will not be disappointed by the food! In Thailand, Laos and Malaysia, you can enjoy fresh and flavoursome stir fries and noodle dishes, including the popular, but spicy, Laksa, and the well-loved Pad Thai. Spend your time volunteering in the Indian subcontinent, and the words curry, dahl and rice will take on a whole new meaning as you discover the huge variety of wonderfully spiced dishes that fall under these names. Taste the traditional Chinese Dim Sum whilst volunteering in this East Asian country, and experiment with the new flavour combinations which each of the small portions of steamed food brings, and, wherever you go, enjoy rice, a staple of most Asian cuisines, in all of its various forms!
If this taste of what the incredible Asian continent has in store has inspired you to find out more about the opportunities to volunteer in Asia, work in Asia with animals or children, or spend your gap year in Asia, have a look at the volunteering projects that we offer in Borneo, Laos, Sri Lanka, China, India, Nepal and Thailand. With 34 different volunteering projects to choose from, we are sure that there will be something for you!