On PMGY’s gap year Thailand experience, participants partake in a 29 day affordable volunteer travel trip across Thailand. There are so many sides to the country: beaches, mountains, jungles, paddy fields, bustling cities, peaceful Buddhist temples and friendly local people. On this incredible 4 week Thailand adventure, you’ll be able to experience it all! Throw in some like-minded people to share it all with, a guide to help to get the very best out of your experience, the Real Thailand Experience trip is not to miss!
JOIN US IN 2022 – 4TH JUNE, 2ND JULY & 30TH JULY
EXPERIENCE THAILAND IN A FUN, SOCIAL AND STRUCTURED GROUP PROGRAM
BATHE AND HANG OUT WITH ELEPHANTS IN CHIANG MAI
ADMIRE STUNNING TEMPLES AND EXPLORE BANGKOK’S FAMOUS WEEKEND JJ MARKET
PUT YOUR CREATIVE SKILLS TO THE TEST AS YOU VOLUNTEER WITH CHILDREN
EXPERIENCE CHILLED OUT LOCAL LIFE IN PATHUM THANI
STAY IN FLOATING RAFT HOUSES ON CHEOW LARN LAKE, WITH KAYAKS FOR TRANSPORT
APPRECIATE PERFECT SUNSETS ON THE EXOTIC ISLAND OF KO SAMUI
SNORKEL ON KO TAO (TURTLE ISLAND) - A DIVER’S PARADISE!
GET STUCK-IN IN A FULL ON, FULL MOON PARTY IN KOH PHANGAN
SUMMARY OF THE REAL THAILAND EXPERIENCE
The Real Thailand Experience offers the opportunity for ambitious individuals to join together and embark on a thrilling adventure across Thailand. Our local team provides a structured, fast-paced and thrilling group itinerary across a number of amazing sites around the country. Your group will also dedicate time to volunteering projects to give back to local communities, developing and showcasing your skills. On this gap year Thailand experience, you will arrive in Thailand on a set date, joining your group before travelling and volunteering across a 4 week period. This makes the PMGY Experience trips ideal for anyone who wishes to explore and engage in new experiences in the company of others.
Individuals in this gap year Thailand experience trip has a unique chance to engage in a variety of activities. From living on a floating house to teaching English in schools, and spending time with elephants - there are so many memories to be made! Across this 29 day itinerary, be prepared for breathtaking sites, friends for life and complete cultural immersion. The adventure is perfect for anyone looking to travel within a safe, structured and social environment.
From one destination to the next, you won’t need to worry about a thing. All in-country transport and accommodation are arranged by our local teams, ensuring that your gap year Thailand experience abroad is as smooth as possible. Our team will arrange numerous activities for you to enjoy and engage in during your trip. For any spare time, our local experts will be able to help you discover the impressive range of activities you can get involved in during your time in Thailand. A portion of your time will also be dedicated to making a difference within a community in Thailand, allowing you to put your skills and enthusiasm into practice to make a meaningful difference to local communities overseas.
The trip’s group set-up makes this gap year Thailand experience an exceptional social occasion, offering you the chance to meet individuals from across the globe, and form friendships that will last a lifetime. You will stay together for your entire adventure, sharing moments and memories that will stay with you forever. You will also have the chance to immerse yourself with members of the local community, making your gap year programs in Thailand even more special.
Our gap year Thailand experience starts in Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital for an eye-opening and action-packed for the first few days. We then travel to Chiang Mai, a city that holds a strong claim to be Thailand’s top destination, but a place often bypassed on most group trips to Thailand. We couldn’t take you to Thailand without a few days in Chiang Mai!
We then spend a week engaging in community education projects, supporting the children in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. This is an incredible opportunity to really integrate into the culture and see a side of Thailand your average tourist will never ever see! Volunteers have the opportunity to put their leadership skills into practice, making a profound impact across schools in Thailand.
After a productive week of volunteering, we’ll head to Khao Sok National Park – the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest. We’ll spend a couple of days in the jungle, exploring caves, kayaking and trekking. In the evening, you’ll have the unique experience to chill in raft houses above the stunningly beautiful Cheow Larn Lake, under a starlit sky - like a dream!
The final leg of this gap year Thailand experience takes us to the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan in the South of Thailand. Water sports, island tours, a Full Moon Party will all ensure we have an epic final week before heading back to Bangkok for the end of the tour.
You will spend one week on the volunteer program in Thailand during your gap year Thailand experience. Here you will be engaging in community volunteer work in Pathum Thani – a quiet suburb of Bangkok around one hour’s drive from the main tourist areas such as Koh San Road. During your time in Pathum Thani, international volunteers will get involved in English language teaching projects in a local school, where you will be teaching English to students for a total of 5 days. The work will be pretty full-on, so be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in! You will really become part of the community – you will find the locals will always greet you with a friendly hello and smile!
Working hours on this volunteer project in Thailand will depend on the specific project assigned to a PMGY volunteer teaching in Thailand. However, typical working hours are 9:30am to 11:30am and then 12:30pm up to 2/3pm, totally an average of 2-4 hours of volunteering per day, Monday to Friday. During the interval, the children usually finish lunch and this is free time for volunteers to head into town for lunch, return to the volunteer accommodation or stay at the school.
The distance to the project is dependent on the specific project you are allocated during your time. Projects close to the Volunteer House will usually be up to a 20 minute walk away. For projects further afield, the local team will arrange any necessary transport. This cost is included in your Program Fee.
A member of our local team will assist you in the projects, so you can really make a difference. This is the perfect way to experience a completely different side of Thailand and learn about traditional life there. We highly recommend that as a volunteer in Thailand, you use time outside of the project to prepare lessons in advance. This will help make your classes as fun, engaging and relevant as possible.
If you are new to teaching, you’ll find that your confidence grows massively once you have taught a couple of lessons! Additionally, the more time spent planning, the easier classes will be to run. Late afternoons can be used to prepare lessons or take the time to explore Pathum Thani, Bangkok and surrounding areas.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
Itinerary Schedule - The itineraries for our PMGY experience trips are subject to change, as a result of unforeseen circumstances. We will always do our best to notify participants of changes in advance of the program start date. However, activities day to day during time in-country also remain subject to unanticipated changes.
Depending on the time of year and the Full Moon dates, your itinerary may take a slightly different route to the one outlined above. Please note this will be done with your best interests at heart to ensure all of the activities can be offered, but your gap year Thailand experience is guaranteed to start and end in Bangkok regardless.
Free-time Activities - As indicated across the itinerary, the local team are able to assist in the arrangement of activities during periods classed as ‘free-time’. It should be noted that any prices displayed within this itinerary for such example activities are based on appropriate costs. These prices can vary year-on-year and should only be used as a rough indication of fees that may be entailed.
TEFL Course - We encourage volunteers to prepare as much as possible for their teaching program overseas. You can make the most out of your time by completing our convenient, inexpensive and international accredited 60 hour Online TEFL Course. The cost of this course is only 120 USD.
Please make sure you arrive into Bangkok International Airport in (BKK) on the appropriate Saturday start date. You should arrive after 7am on the Saturday and the pickup service is available until midnight on Saturday. If you wish to arrive before this time then you can either arrange your own hotel and airport transfer and we can collect you from your hotel on the Saturday.
Day 1 (Saturday) Welcome to Thailand!
Sawa Dee Kah – welcome! Our member of our local team will be waiting for you at the airport, holding a PMGY sign. We’ll take you directly to the Volunteer House where you’ll be living for the first week for your volunteer placement. This is also the home of your in-country directors – Sopida and Darryl.
Pathum Thani is a safe and quiet suburb of Bangkok, around one hour’s drive from the main tourist areas such as Koh San Road. There are a number of shops and ATMs only a walking distance from the Volunteer House. You’ll also find some street stalls if you fancy some traditional Thai snacks, a gym to work off all those treats and traditionaL Thai massages to enjoy!
You will be placed with other volunteers on our Thailand volunteering programs. Rooms are shared, with up to 10 people per room. The accommodation is basic but comfortable. After settling in, the team will provide you with a full brief about your project for the next week. Following this, the rest of the day is free for you to relax, explore the local area and catch up on some well-deserved sleep!
This day is just an arrival day – your peers will arrive across this period. This is therefore your chance to recover from your jet-lag and start making new friends! Depending on what time everyone arrives, our local team may start their introductions in the evening, before proceeding with the rest of the orientation tomorrow.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 2 (Sunday) Orientation & Introduction to Bangkok
After a good night’s rest, it’s time to begin your Thailand gap year experience! Our team will show the group around the local Bangkok area.
Your orientation will begin on Sunday, the day after your arrival. Our local team will teach you about life in Thailand, the ‘do’s and don’ts’, the Thai culture and religion. Your orientation will continue with an introduction to the transport system, safety advice and the project work for the week ahead. There will also be the opportunity to head to the main street to visit the supermarket and other amenities. You will be offered the chance to exchange money and pick-up anything you may need from the local shops.
Participants will usually head to JJ Market later across the day during the orientation. Home to over 8,000 stalls, JJ Market is a shoppers paradise with bargains galore and is Bangkok’s famous weekend market! This is a great chance to pick-up any bits you’ll need as well as practising your bartering skills. Our local team will be on hand to make sure you get the best deal possible! Please note that transport to and from JJ Market is not included.
Across this orientation day, PMGY’s local coordinators will give you the lowdown on everything you need to know for this gap year Thailand experience trip. This will include an insight into Thai culture, safety issues, and important words and phrases in Thai. We’ll also give you a more detailed rundown of the itinerary and answer any burning questions you may have.
Meals included: None
Days 3-6 (Monday-Thursday) Volunteering
You’ll start your project to support community development on Monday morning. You will be working with children in a local school, where you will be teaching English to students. Your local coordinator, Sopida, will be there to support you throughout. This is the perfect way to really get to know Thailand and its people, whilst making a positive impact and immersing yourself in the local community.
Thailand English teaching volunteers are required to lead classes to classes of up to 40 children. Whilst completing volunteer work in Thailand, you will be partnered up on the program and supported by both PMGY coordinators and local English teachers. Volunteers not only improve the children’s English but also provide them with meaningful insight into global cultures.
You can spend your evenings however you wish! Perhaps you’ll dine in some authentic Thai restaurants in Pathum Thani or venture into Bangkok for some shopping? Or maybe you’d rather stay behind and relax with fellow volunteers in front of the TV – the choice is yours! The local team are always more than happy to recommend some good spots to visit and activities to do in the area.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 7 (Friday) Last Day Volunteering!
Unfortunately, today is your last day volunteering. It is, therefore, time to say goodbye to the children as your placement comes to an end. In the evening, we will enjoy our final night in the Volunteer House before we meet our Thai Intro Experience volunteers who will join us as we begin our travels further afield.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 8 (Saturday) Free Day!
Today is your final day in Pathum Thani. You can use this day to relax in the local area and welcome the new intro experience participants. Alternatively, head more central into Bangkok for the day and take a boat trip along the Chao Phraya River or perhaps pay a visit to the Bangkok National Museum.
Meals included: None
Day 9 (Sunday) Grand Palace & Reclining Buddha
We’ll start the day with a half-day tour of some of the must-see sites in Bangkok. This guided tour and all entrance fees are included in the Program Fee. The tour will take you to Bangkok’s spectacular Grand Palace, Wat Po (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and a river trip across the Thonburi Klongs (Canals). Together, these sites are the perfect way to get a real feel for Bangkok’s past.
The afternoon is free for participants of the gap year Thailand experience to explore some more. For instance, see another side of Bangkok and eat out in Chinatown.
In the evening, we’ll then take the air-con sleeper train to Surat Thani. This journey will take around 11 hours. Straight after, we will take the local bus to Khao Sok National Park, which takes around a couple of hours.
Meals included: None
Day 10 (Monday) Park Life!
We arrive at Khao Sok National Park on Monday morning. We’ll check into the raft house at around 11am and take a couple of hours to relax, swim and go for a kayak. Khao Sok National Park covers 739 square kilometres and is an area of extreme natural beauty. It is covered by the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. Strikingly, you’ll also find huge limestone mountains, deep valleys, breathtaking lakes, exciting caves and wild animals to marvel at.
We’ll be staying in floating raft houses on Cheow Larn Lake. The lake is a massive man-made structure, located in the heart of the national park. This will be a sight not to forget as you find yourself surrounded by magnificent karst mountains. It’s a really amazingly peaceful setting. The raft houses are basic but you have your own kayak outside, which you are free to use whenever you want – it’s going to be a great few days!
In the evening we’ll have a boat cruise to explore more of Khao Sok National Park. We’ll return to the raft house as it begins to get dark and have a group dinner and hang out for the rest of the evening – all whilst floating on top of Cheow Larn Lake!
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Day 11 (Tuesday) Off to the Islands
We’ll spend the morning chilling by the lake for the last time. At 11am we’ll check out of the raft house and make our way to the island of Koh Samui. Koh Samui is Thailand’s second-largest island, famous for its palm-fringed beaches, dense rainforests and plentiful numbers of coconuts! We’ll check into the guesthouse in Koh Samui by the evening. There’s nothing like watching the perfect sunset at the end of the day!
Meals included: None
Day 12-13 (Wednesday-Thursday) Koh Samui!
Koh Samui offers everything you could possibly want in a beach retreat: white sandy beaches, coconut palms, fresh seafood and warm, clear waters. With an area of 247 square kilometres, Koh Samui is the largest island in the region.
Wednesday and Thursday are free days to explore Koh Samui. There are a number of optional activities you can sign up to:
Elephant Sanctuary – Participants are offered the chance to partake in a 3 hour tour across Koh Samui’s first elephant sanctuary. Throughout this period, individuals will have the opportunity to feed the elephants, walk with them and admire the gentle giants in their natural habitat. The centre works hard to promote ethical elephant tourism, permitting the beautiful creatures to live a happy life, free from demanding logging and tourism industries. This tour costs approximately 110 USD per person.
Tour of Koh Samui – Individuals have the opportunity to explore Koh Samui following a more formal itinerary. The 5 hour tour across the island will take you around various destinations, including the Big Buddha Temple, Nameang Waterfall and Chaweng viewpoint. This is a great way to see everything the island has to offer! This tour costs approximately 15 USD per person.
Meals included: None
Day 14-18 (Friday-Tuesday) Koh Phangan Here We Come!
After you’ve had a chance to grab some breakfast, we’ll take the ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan. Our team will tell you all about life on the island and what activities are available. There are a number of optional activities you can sign up to once you are in Thailand:
Ang Thong Island Tour – For those who opt for this trip, we will travel by boat to An Thong. Its National Marine Park is made up of 42 islands, featuring limestone massifs, tropical rainforests and deserted beaches. There is a considerable amount of wildlife inhabiting the islands including the Asian long-tailed monkey (langur), hairy-nosed otters, pacific reef egrets, white-bellied sea eagles, ashy drongos, tortoises, sea turtles, lizards and pythons. On the tour, you can go snorkelling, canoeing, and hiking to the top of the island for some incredible views. Participant feedback suggests that this is a really worthwhile trip. This tour costs approximately 80 USD per person.
Koh Tao Island Tour – The name Koh Tao means ‘Turtle Island’, named since the island’s mountains mimic the shape of a turtle’s silhouette. It’s the smallest out of its two other neighbouring islands (Koh Samui and Koh Phangnan) and a hotspot for scuba diving. Individuals who sign up to the Koh Tao Island Tour will go snorkelling, wander around the island and enjoy the atmosphere of this chilled-out island. This tour costs approximately 90 USD per person. Scuba dives are available at an extra cost.
Sunset Tour – Lasting just under 6 hours, this sunset tour is like no other. Offering the opportunity to explore and enjoy the splendours of the Northern coast of Koh Phangan, time on this cruise is the perfect chance to relax, snorkel and chill, in the company of your peers. You will be cooked up a treat across the duration of the day, meaning that you will not only catch a tan but leave feeling full of delicious dishes. This tour costs approximately 90 USD per person.
There is also a whole range of watersports available on Koh Phangan, such as kayaking, kiteboarding, wakeboarding and windsurfing. The local team can help point you in the right direction if you wish to get involved! There is also elephant trekking, various cooking classes, and even Thai boxing events in the evening.
This evening is the Full Moon party! It’s going to be a night to remember. Our local coordinators will be out with you to make sure you don’t do anything too silly.
Meals included: None
Day 19 (Wednesday) Back to Bangkok
All good things come to an end, as this Thailand adventure travel trip begins to draw to a close. Unfortunately, this means dragging you away from crystal blue seas as we make our way back to Bangkok. We’ll take the ferry from Koh Phangnan to Chumpong, and then from Chumpong, we’ll take the bus back to Bangkok. We’ll arrive into Bangkok on Wednesday evening and check into our usual guesthouse in Koh San Road.
Meals included: None
Day 20 (Thursday) Erawan Falls & Bridge over the River Kwai
Today is free. However, we will be running an optional tour to visit the famous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’. It takes around 3.5 hours to reach Kanchanaburi Province, where the bridge is located. Before we reach the bridge, we will stop off at Erawan Falls. Here, you’ll have the chance to walk up the falls’ 7 tiers, taking in the beautiful surrounds of the National Park.
After a couple of hours, we will head into town for lunch at one of the nicest restaurants along the river, followed by a long tail boat ride. You will also get the chance to walk across the famous bridge reaped in history from WWII. This trip costs approximately 90 USD per person.
Meals included: None
Day 21 (Friday) Koh San Road Markets
Now’s the perfect time to shop till you drop before we head north! The markets around Koh San Road offer some epic bargains. Alternatively, catch your breath and take the day to relax with a traditional Thai massage.
Meals included: None
Day 22 (Saturday) Free Day in Bangkok
There is now a gap in the itinerary for you to tick off anything we have missed so far in what has been a jam-packed itinerary! Head to some of the suburbs of Bangkok and explore at your leisure. Our team are on hand to offer some of their personal recommendations!
In the evening, we will take the overnight sleeper bus to Chiang Mai. The journey takes around 12-13 hours. The air-conditioned sleeper bus has a reclining chair/bed for each passenger, so you can get a good night’s sleep. The bus will arrive in Chiang Mai at around 8am in the morning.
Meals included: None
Day 23 (Sunday) Hello Chiang Mai!
The largest city in the North of Thailand, Chiang Mai is more than just a burst of colour. The city is often referred to as the ‘Rose of the North’, housing brightly decorated temples surrounded by luscious rolling hills. Chiang Mai is, therefore, a ‘must-see’ to anyone visiting Thailand.
Our group leaders will show you around the city and take you through what you can be getting up to over the next couple of days. We’ll be staying right in the city centre, so you’ll be in walking distance of all the major sites. After checking into the guesthouse, the rest of the day is then free to explore Chiang Mai. We recommend checking out the night bazaar – a series of covered markets, shops and stalls that offer the best selection of handicrafts in Thailand. Our local team will give you a heads up on the true price of things before bargaining!
Meals included: None
Day 24-26 (Monday-Wednesday) Temples, Cooking & Elephant Sanctuary
There are heaps of things to do in Chiang Mai, and our local team will help you make any necessary arrangements. The following trips are ones you may want to consider:
Day at an Elephant Sanctuary – A fun-filled day out to the Kanta Elephant Sanctuary where you’ll be able to learn more about these beautiful creatures. At the centre, elephants are well cared for and happy. The sanctuary provides a retirement home for elephants that have worked previously in the entertainment or logging industry. The centre aims to not only provide these rescued elephants with a high quality of life they deserve but also promote sustainable eco-tourism. None of the elephants at the centre is ridden, poached, overworked or abused. Instead, the sanctuary hopes to lead by example and encourage others to both respect and love these gentle giants
The cost of this full-day trip is approximately 90 USD. During the time at the sanctuary, you will have a unique and exciting chance to experience life with the elephants in their natural environment. Across the day, you can expect to help prepare and hand-deliver food, lead a walk through the lush greenery and bathe with the giants. There will be plenty of photo opportunities to capture all the breath-taking moments you can expect to experience across the day. This trip has always been popular with previous volunteers, to the point where everyone on previous trips has chosen to spend the day with elephants!
Some of the other amazing things you can get up to include White Water rafting (approximately 90 USD) and cooking classes (approximately 45 USD). Chiang Mai also has countless temples (Wats) that you can explore, a beautiful moat around the city walls, and some gorgeous scenery that’s a real joy to behold. You may want to just rent a push bike and cycle around the city – the options are endless!
Meals included: None
Day 27 (Thursday) Last Day in Chiang Mai
Today is free, so you can get the last activities crossed off your ‘to-do list’.
This evening we’ll take an air-conditioned night coach back to Bangkok where unfortunately our 4 week gap year Thailand experience is coming to an end. The journey takes around 9 hours.
Meals included: None
Day 28 (Friday) Free Day
Today is your last full day on the gap year Thailand experience. Use your time to buy any last-minute souvenirs that may be required and say your goodbyes. In the evening, we will then have a farewell drink as we say our goodbyes after an epic 4 weeks together.
Meals included: None
Day 29 (Saturday) Home Time
Saturday is your last day of the PMGY Real Thailand Experience. Whether you’re continuing your travels or heading home, our local team will be able to help arrange transport to your next destination or back to the airport.
Meals included: None
* This itinerary is subject to change as a result of unforeseen circumstances.
CHOOSING AN EXPERIENCE TRIP
What are the program start dates for the Real Thailand Experience?
The program start dates for this gap year Thailand experience in 2022 are as follows –
4th June 2022
2nd July 2022
30th July 2022
Can people from outside of the UK or USA join PMGY?
Of course! Although PMGY was founded in the UK, with offices now extending between the UK and US, we welcome participants of all nationalities onto our programs. Within the last decade, we have hosted tens of thousands of volunteers and travel lovers from across the globe. From France to Italy, Mexico to India, Namibia to Russia and Ireland to China – these are only a handful of the countries participants have joined us from! We want everyone from across the world to have an equal opportunity at experiencing a different perspective on life, and make friends across the world.
Why are PMGY’s fees so much more affordable than other organisations?
The PMGY International Team works hard to ensure that our fees are kept as low as possible. Consequently, this makes our experiences affordable and accessible without sacrificing the safety and quality of the overall experience.
Registration Fees to join our programs are assigned to the high levels of comprehensive support that we are renowned for. This includes telephone and online support staff available 24 hours each day, as well as detailed hand-guides and interactive webinars. Therefore, the remaining Program Fees to join the program go directly to our in-country teams, covering everything for your time in Thailand. In general, these fees are reflected in your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, in-country support and project upkeep during your time abroad. Furthermore, we make sure our fees are transparent, which is something our participants really appreciate.
Similar organisations offer fancy brochures, run large high-street offices and are usually owned by larger travel organisations with many shareholders. As a result, participants are charged an extremely high price to cover all of these overheads. Therefore, at PMGY, we have embraced the online age by focusing everything around an online presence. We have done away with out-dated brochures, an unnecessary high street presence and we are an independent organisation without any outside financial interests.
What are the requirements to join the trip in Thailand?
PMGY welcomes participants onto this gap year Thailand experience of all nationalities, religions and backgrounds. The minimum age to join the program is 18 and there is no upper age limit. Furthermore, all participants need to have a good level of English, although it does not need to be your first language. Of course, you do not need to speak Thai. However, you will find that learning a few words in your days with us in Thailand will go a long way.
All Real Thailand Experience participants must be able to provide a clean criminal background check in advance of joining us abroad. Thus, we are unable to accept anyone who has any previous criminal convictions. In general, no formal experience or qualifications are required for the projects, just lots of energy, enthusiasm and preparation! However, medical and healthcare projects usually require additional documentation before participation begins in-country.
Travelling and volunteering overseas can be both physically and mentally challenging. Therefore, all participants must be fit in both areas. Consequently, if you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas, then these must be declared to us during your online application. If you have any queries regarding your suitability to participate, we recommend that you contact us before committing to the program.
What date should I arrive and leave the Real Thailand Experience?
For your trip to Thailand, you should book your flights to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on the program start date. The airport code is BKK. You will be met at the airport by a member of the local team or an appointed driver, who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The program ends on the Saturday of your final week. Therefore, you must depart the accommodation on this day.
Are there any age restrictions to be a participant in Thailand?
In order to join this gap year Thailand experience trip, you need to be at least 18 on the program start date. Generally, the average age range of participants is 18-25.
There is no upper age limit to our programs, and in the past, we have hosted participants up to the age of 70-years old. Whilst we have found that our more mature participants get a lot from the experience, at times individuals have found it more challenging to integrate with a younger crowd. Furthermore, some participants have perhaps expected a higher level of accommodation, the structure within the local community, and general overall communication at the project setup. Consequently, whilst we welcome participants of all ages, we stress that all participants should remain open-minded and flexible. Additionally, participants must appreciate that the majority of our participants are across the 18-25 age range.
When should I apply to join the Real Thailand Experience?
For the majority of our programs, you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the program. This is since some of our programs only have limited capacity, meaning that spaces get filled very quickly. Therefore, it is particularly important that you apply in good time if you’re looking to travel between our peak period of June and August. This is because spaces can fill up very quickly during this period. Furthermore, please only apply if you are 100% committed to joining the program. You need to apply online by locating the “Apply Now” button on the individual project page. This will guide you through our online Application Process.
Indeed, once you have applied and confirmed your place on the program, it may be possible to change your start dates and this will not incur a fee. However, please note that this will be subject to availability and any changes should be made at least 60 days prior to your start date.
Can I join the program abroad with my friend/parent/boyfriend/girlfriend?
You’re more than welcome to travel with friends, family members or with a boyfriend/girlfriend. If required, we can make sure that you stay in the same accommodation and if relevant, volunteer at the same project. However, please note the majority of our accommodation is on a single-sex basis. Consequently, we cannot guarantee that you would be able to be placed in the same room.
Please outline in the ‘Special Requirements’ box of your online application if you’d like to make sure you’re placed alongside another applicant/s.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our participants work in the developing world, we work hard to ensure that our host locations are safe. Firstly, participant safety in each of our destinations is monitored regularly. Each of our programs has been inspected by a member of the PMGY International Team. Additionally, PMGY closely follows advice published by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Alongside the frequent contact we have with our local teams, we are able to ensure that our participants are never placed in unstable or unsafe regions.
The PMGY International Team have visited and participated in every program we offer. Thus, we have carefully inspected every little detail of our set-up, from the living conditions to local neighbourhoods and even the food you’ll be eating. Through these checks, we are able to ensure that all of our projects are up to scratch. Furthermore, all of our local teams are experienced development professionals, with years of experience hosting international travellers. They are PMGY’s representatives on the ground and assist participants 24/7 throughout their stay. Our teams are therefore always on-hand to assist in any emergencies that may occur. Additionally, our 24 hour international emergency telephone line is always accessible. PMGY’s in-country staff also have access to local medical professionals should these be required during a participant’s time with us.
When you join this gap year Thailand experience, we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visas and dress codes. For any unanswered or specific questions, PMGY offers a comprehensive support network, with online and telephone support staff available 24 hours each day. Our advisers welcome participants to ask as many questions as needed for them to effectively prepare for their trip overseas. On a monthly basis, our International Team also hosts both an Introductory Webinar and Safety Webinar. These are interactive opportunities for international participants to learn more about our projects and managing their safety overseas.
When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive introduction to the general program and your specific project. During this session, our team will also cover important safety advice specific to your country. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM-card. This is something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. In like manner, we will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.
Although we cannot guarantee your experience to be 100% trouble-free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each program is as safe as possible.
When do I pay for my experience program? Can I pay in instalments?
In order to confirm your place on this gap year Thailand experience, you need to pay a deposit of 249 USD. The remaining fee is then due no less than 60 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge. If you’re applying within 60 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.
Payments made in advance of the 60 day window can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 5% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur. Bank transfers can be accepted by UK participants only.
Can I use the Experience as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use this gap year Thailand experience trip as part of your university or college placement. However, PMGY is unable to guarantee that the Real Thailand Experience will fulfil the requirements of your establishment. Therefore, participants are encouraged to speak to a member of the International Team to establish whether the required parameters can be met. This should be done in advance of applying to the program. When appropriate, school/college/university representatives are welcome to contact PMGY to discuss further the suitability of the program in meeting the participant’s requirements.
First of all, the PMGY International Team are able to complete paperwork after participants on this gap year Thailand experience have confirmed their place on the program. Additionally, project staff in Thailand can also sign-off any paperwork that is required by your course tutors. However, while our team will do their best to complete any paperwork, we are unable to guarantee that we will be able to comply with every learning objective and requirement or your university/college. PMGY regularly receives medical, nursing, childcare and psychology placement students on our projects globally, with ties with some leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programs could meet the placement requirements for your course, please contact us directly to schedule a meeting.
BEFORE YOU DEPART
Do you offer an online TEFL course?
For PMGY volunteers teaching English in Thailand, the only real ‘qualifications’ you need are bags of energy, commitment and enthusiasm. However, if you’d like a chance to do some preparation work before you hit the classroom, we’ve got the perfect introductory online TEFL course for English language teaching abroad.
At only 60 hours and completed online, this course is obviously hugely convenient. The course can be done in your own time, at your own pace and you don’t even need to leave the house! You have got a whopping 75 days to complete the course, so there is no rush and you can fit it in when you can. Obviously, an hour here and there certainly adds up. Therefore there really is no pressure.
Once completed, you’ll not only have acquired key skills for teaching English abroad but also an internationally accredited certificate. If you find that teaching really is your calling, this course can be built upon with more modules in the future. There are 5 modules to this 60 hour course, covering aspects including ‘The Roles of the Teacher’ and ‘Lesson Planning’.
The cost of the course is 120 USD. If you’ve already signed up for one of our programs and would like to enrol on the online TEFL course then please contact us.
Can I fundraise for my Real Thailand Experience trip?
With PMGY, the money our participants pay goes towards the structure you receive on the Thailand program. The fundamentals of this cover aspects such as accommodation, airport pick-ups, around the clock support from our international and in-country teams, pre-departure training as well as the implementation and monitoring of the projects.
We do our best to keep our program costs as low and affordable as possible, without sacrificing quality and safety. However, with flights, travel insurance and spending money to factor into your overall budget, you may find you need a little bit of help with the finances. Consequently, a large number of PMGY participants decide to fundraise for their trip. In these instances, we recommend that participants on this gap year Thailand experience trip set up an online fundraising page to notify friends and family of your trip.
PMGY have partnered with the online crowdfunding website GoGetFunding for participants to create a personalised fundraising page for their trip. This professional online fundraising service allows you to set financial goals and get the message across about what you’re doing. You can also share your PMGY fundraising page across various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.
Can I raise money for the projects?
The PMGY Foundation is a UK registered charity (1169415). This charity has been created to help provide financial aid and assistance to projects we work with on an ongoing basis. Importantly, the objective of the PMGY Foundation is the prevention or relief of poverty for people living in the communities we support. This is achieved by providing or assisting the provision of education, training, healthcare and general living support. Therefore, we hope that the support offered by the PMGY Foundation helps to enable individuals to generate a sustainable income and be self-sufficient. Consequently, donations made to the PMGY Foundation will be directed to the projects most in need. This is determined by the trustees of the charity during our International Team overseas visits.
If you are looking to help raise money directly for the PMGY Foundation, you can do so via our Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. 100% of all money raised will be donated directly to the projects we support around the world. However, please note that participants are unable to raise money through the PMGY Foundation to help finance the cost of their trip overseas. For participants on this gap year Thailand experience trip looking for further information on how to raise money for their trip abroad, please visit our fundraising page.
How do I register for your online webinars?
Every Tuesday at 4pm (London time), the PMGY International Team hosts one of four pre-departure webinars. These last approximately 45 minutes each and importantly provide participants in Thailand with invaluable advice on their upcoming trip. The webinars are hosted by a member of our International Team, who all have extensive knowledge of our projects around the globe. You can attend (and even ask questions) from anywhere in the world, simply by logging in through your own computer. All you need is a computer, a good internet connection and a pair of headphones. In addition to this, if any family or friends would like to attend the session as well, they are more than welcome to do so.
For individuals who have not yet signed up to one of our programs, but would like to learn more about us, we encourage you to join our Introductory Webinar. Across 45 minutes, a member of the International team will introduce you to the concept of volunteering abroad, our destinations and both social and safety aspects of our programs.
For individuals on the Real Thailand Experience who have already confirmed their place on the program, there are three for you to choose from. Please note that you need to sign up for the webinar a few days in advance.
Travel Essentials Pre-Departure Webinar – covers all the basics.
Program Preparation Webinar – covers specifically childcare and teaching community work programs.
Safety & Wellbeing Overseas Webinar – covers the risks associated with overseas travel and how you can keep as safe as possible.
Will I require vaccinations and malaria tablets for my trip?
It is possible that as a participant of this gap year Thailand experience trip, you may require a course of vaccinations in preparation for your trip to Thailand. However, unfortunately, PMGY is unable to legally advise on these matters, since we are not medical experts. Therefore, it is vital that you contact your local doctor or travel clinic a few months in advance of your intended travel. Your local doctor/nurse will be able to advise you on vaccinations and malaria prevention you may need for entry into your program destination. Additional information can be found on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights to Thailand?
When you apply to join a trip with PMGY, we cannot guarantee your place on the program immediately. Indeed, on receiving an application, we have to liaise with our local team to ensure there is space available on the program and to assess your suitability for the specific project. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not make any flight and/or travel arrangements until your program has been confirmed by us in writing. Of course, once your place on the Real Thailand Experience has been confirmed, you are then free to book your flights either with PMGY or through a third-party travel agent.
After confirming your place on a PMGY volunteer program, we strongly advise that you book your flights as early as possible. This is since it will help ensure that you get the lowest airfare. You can choose to book your flights independently or we can help you with arranging them. PMGY has a wealth of experience in travelling to and from our host countries. Therefore, we know the most affordable ways to travel and the best airlines to use. Therefore, if you would like any assistance booking your flight, you can request an optional flight quote during your online application. Alternatively, feel free to contact us on the phone or by email.
Do you offer travel insurance?
Importantly, having an appropriate travel insurance policy during your time abroad is essential. Therefore, it is mandatory for all of our international volunteers to be appropriately covered across all of their trip dates. This includes your travel to and from the host country, as well as any onward travel. Although PMGY does everything to ensure your trip is safe, inevitably things can go wrong. Therefore, having a travel insurance policy in place helps you effectively deal with any problems you may encounter during your time away.
We have partnered up with the insurance company Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive optional policy. This has been designed with our international volunteers in mind, to cover our participants for all of their travel essentials. The policy is available to anyone across the globe, up to the age of 65 years. The document will cover you for your time on any PMGY destination and any onward travel (excluding the US and Canada). You can purchase PMGY Travel Insurance during your online application or you can contact us directly to arrange it.
How do I obtain a background check?
To join the Real Thailand Experience, you’ll need to provide us with a clean DBS or Police Check before you travel. This is a check that must be issued by an official Governmental or Police Body. PMGY have a commitment to the projects we support to ensure the participants we send are trustworthy and of sound moral character. Consequently, we are unable to accept participants who have had any previous criminal convictions.
If you hold a current DBS or Police Check, then we can accept this, providing it is clear and issued no more than 18 months prior to your program start date. You will need to upload a copy of this to your online portal after confirming your place on the program. Furthermore, the DBS or Police Check must be submitted to us no less than 21 days prior to your program start date.
If you don’t have a valid DBS check , then you will need to apply for one. UK participants need to apply for a “Basic Disclosure” through Gov.uk (which serves all people in the UK). This costs 23 GBP and takes around 15 working days to process. Full information on how to obtain a DBS check through Gov.uk is outlined in the Volunteer Handbook, received once you have confirmed your place on the on this gap year Thailand experience.
For Real Thailand Experience participants from the US, you can apply for a background check through Sentry Link. It costs 19.95 USD and is usually processed immediately. Alternatively, you are welcome to arrange your own background check through your local Sheriff’s Office or governmental body.
For all other international participants, we recommend you obtain a Police/Criminal Background Check through your local police station or official governmental body.
When will I receive my Volunteer Handbook?
All participants in Thailand will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the program. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we do not send a hard copy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains everything you need to know to prepare for your gap year Thailand experience. Ranging from what to pack to how to obtain a visa, we do our best to ensure you are ready to hit the ground running. Therefore, it is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you find any of your questions unanswered after reading through this, then our team are always on hand to assist you. You can contact us via email, telephone, Zoom, Facebook, online chat…whatever works best for you!
ON YOUR TRIP
Can I arrange a private room?
All of our accommodation options on the Thailand program involve sharing a room with other participants (usually same-sex). Unfortunately, we are unable to arrange private room options for our participants on the Real Thailand Experience.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
Our teams will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, this cannot be guaranteed on the Real Thailand Experience. Consequently, there may be instances where you need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Importantly, any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the program.
Are there any public holidays that affect project availability?
We aim to communicate as clearly and accurately as possible all holidays that impact project availability. This information can be found via our Holiday Dates page and in the Volunteer Handbook. However, due to the nature of developing countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change. In turn, these can unexpectedly affect project availability. Therefore in such instances, we ask our participants to be flexible and appreciative of this. These periods often provide participants in Thailand with a unique experience to enjoy the festivities and holidays themselves. However, our local teams will always do their best to find alternative project work if applicable/possible.
What is the dress code on the Real Thailand Experience?
Dress code varies from country-to-country and sometimes from project-to-project. Importantly, we ask that our participants adopt a smart and responsible image during their time in the communities. Of course, we will outline the specific dress code requirements in your Volunteer Handbook so you know exactly what to pack. In addition to this, our local team will also brief you during your in-country orientation on arrival in Thailand.
The general rule of thumb for girls is to cover shoulders, chest, stomach and thighs. In a like matter, for men, shorts should not lie above the knee and shirts should cover shoulders. Whilst we do not wish to impose strict regulations on our participants, we do ask that you respect the local culture during your travels. Moreover, dressing appropriately will earn you the respect of the people you’ll be working with. Therefore, our Volunteer Handbooks, outline preferred dress-codes in detail.
Additionally, it’s also a good idea to take some nicer clothes for the weekends and special occasions. However, please avoid tight and very short clothing. You should also avoid clothing that may have potentially offensive slogans on it. Tattoos and piercings should be covered where possible if your program includes a volunteer placement, particularly if you’re working with children.
How much spending money will I need?
The amount of extra spending money you should take with you as a participant in this gap year Thailand experience can depend on a multitude of factors. Considerations include what you undertake during your free time and how many souvenirs you purchase! Therefore, if you plan to go for a safari in Tanzania or perhaps go trekking in South Africa, you will need to budget accordingly. However, for general expenses and some independent travel, you should find 100-150 USD per week a suitable amount.
Will I be able to travel whilst on the program?
Your Real Thailand Experience trip involves travelling across Thailand with your group. You will follow a set itinerary across your time on the trip. This means that there is no opportunity to take part in any independent travel across the trip dates.
Before booking your flights, we recommend that you look into travel opportunities across dates either side of your trip. It is always great to spend some time travelling and seeing more of the country you wish to explore.
Accommodation on this gap year Thailand experience will vary depending on where we are at any one time. In all cases, rooms will conform to a single-sex set-up. The accommodation types are as follows:
Guesthouse – Basic but comfortable, fanned rooms, with usually 2-6 people per room. Western bathroom facilities and Wi-Fi are provided. Wi-Fi can be intermittent, therefore volunteers in Thailand are recommended to bring an unlocked smartphone. SIM cards and data packages can be purchased in-country. All guesthouses are centrally located, so we are right in the heart of the action and can walk to many of the best places to go.
Raft Houses – During our time in Khao Sok National Park, we’ll stay in floating bamboo huts. The huts are basic but comfortable, with usually 2-6 people. Each room has its own kayak, which you are free to use whenever you want. This is definitely one for the nature lovers!
Volunteer House - For just under a week, international volunteers will engage in our Thailand volunteer program. A description of this accommodation can be found below:
Our volunteer accommodation is based within Pathum Thani - a safe and quiet suburb of Bangkok, around one hour’s drive from the main tourist areas like Koh San Road. There are regular buses and vans which provide a quick and affordable route into the centre of the city. The Volunteer House is a local property within an extremely safe and quiet neighbourhood. It is around a 30 minute walk from the main street where you will find local restaurants, convenience stores and ATMs. Our volunteer programs are also located around this region.
As a volunteer in Thailand, you will be living with other international volunteers. The Volunteer House is basic but comfortable. Bedrooms conform to a single-sex dorm-style setup, with up to 10 people per room. Please note that although the video of the Volunteer House (below) provides volunteers in Thailand with a general idea of the accommodation set-up, most bedrooms now have bunk beds. Each volunteer in Thailand is provided with a mosquito net and their own bed linen. Air-conditioning is sometimes available but cannot be guaranteed. However, in any case, each room will have fans. Bathrooms at the Volunteer House are communal, with a western-style toilet and shower. There is no hot-water in the accommodation.
There is free Wi-Fi within the house. This can be intermittent, therefore volunteers in Thailand are also recommended to purchase a local SIM card in-country to use with an unlocked mobile phone. There is a main communal area within the volunteer accommodation, where volunteers will relax and socialise. There is a local laundry service within the neighbourhood, available for a nominal fee. Alternatively, there is some but limited space to perform hand-washing. Individuals on a volunteer trip to Thailand are recommended to bring a small padlock. Any valuables can be stored with our local team, however, volunteers are encouraged to only bring essential items during their volunteer work in Thailand. There is fridge space within the accommodation for volunteers to cool items they need to keep chilled. However, please note that power cuts are fairly commonplace in Thailand although they tend not to last more than a couple of hours.
The local team in Thailand also live on-site of the volunteer accommodation and therefore are on call 24/7 should you need anything. This is also a great way to learn more about Thai culture and practise your new-found language skills! There is a great atmosphere at the accommodation and you will meet some wonderful people to share your experience with. Most of our volunteer projects in Thailand are not within walking distance of the Volunteer House. In these cases, our local team will transport you to and from the project each day. The cost of this service is included in your Program Fee. Transport to our volunteering opportunities in Thailand is usually by mini-van or coach.
Some meals are included in the Program Fee – details are outlined in the itinerary section. Eating out is very cheap in Thailand. Thai food is also incredibly tasty and arguably the best in the world! Our local team will show you the best places to dine out as well as recommending some must-try dishes. There are also plenty of international restaurants so should you fancy a pizza, burger, or even a curry – you’ll be able to find it in Thailand!
* Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, this cannot be guaranteed. This means that there may be instances where you need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the program.
* These fees apply to each individual application.
In order to apply to join PMGY you are required to make your Registration Fee payment of 249 USD. In the unlikely event we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your Registration Fee will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying. The remaining fee is then due no less than 60 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge.
If you’re applying within 60 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.
Any remaining payments must be made no less than 60 days prior to your start date. This payment can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. If you chose to take our insurance or book a flight with PMGY then these must be paid for (in full) at the time of booking.
Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 5% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur.
OPTIONAL TRIPLE CARBON OFFSET SCHEME - 45 USD
PMGY provide participants with the opportunity to contribute towards our Triple Carbon Offset Scheme. This not only helps eliminate your carbon footprint but helps the planet with a positive contribution every time you fly. The Triple Offset Idea for volunteers in Thailand works as follows -
🇰🇪 Kenya - 57 mango trees are planted in Kenya. These are capable of absorbing the total carbon emissions for a volunteer trip to Thailand and also help provide a sustainable income for local farmers.
🇮🇳 India - 80 days of access to a solar cooker are provided to a family in India. This means the family don't have to spend on firewood and thus reduce their dependence on trees.
🇺🇸 USA - 1.25kg of rescued meals are provided to the homeless in the USA. This recycles wasted food reduces methane emission from food waste which is equivalent to 1lb of CO2 emissions.
This optional add-on can be added during the online application process or can even be added on at a later date. The offset platform is provided by our charity, the PMGY Foundation and ensures that 100% of contributions are put towards high impact projects around the world.