Who do you want to be in our world? Join us for a life-changing, overland journey through the cultural heart of Southeast Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
On our Southeast Asia Semester, you'll travel in a fun, safe and supportive small group with two experienced international instructors to facilitate and mentor your experience. You'll get involved in rewarding service learning projects in wildlife conservation and community development. We will hike, boat, bike, raft and snorkel through diverse national parks. You will also have many opportunities for meaningful connections with local people that will deepen your own global perspective. We encourage you to challenge your personal barriers and support the development of your leadership skills, resourcefulness, resilience, and independence. Pacific Discovery is committed to sustainability and ethical travel, which we'll be practicing throughout the program.
Develop a global perspective, independence, leadership and communication skills through outdoor expeditions, service learning projects, and authentic cultural immersion. Pacific Discovery programs foster empathy for other cultures, ethical and sustainable travel practices, and awareness of international issues. Students leave with a deepened sense of their identity, passion, and purpose.
Pacific Discovery is a global leader in experiential education, offering inspiring summer, semester, and gap year programs abroad since 2001, and is an inaugural member of the American Gap Association.
10-week program for ages 18-24. Fall and Spring departures. Scholarships and academic credit available.
- Visit our website to request a detailed information booklet for this program –
7 Participant ReviewsWrite a Review
I could not be more grateful to have had the opportunity to travel with Pacific Discovery. The program completely exceeded my expectations. Our group became a family, exuding constant support and always pushing each other to be the best versions of ourselves. Our instructors guided us when needed and taught us valuable lessons but yet they never felt separate; they were one of us, part of the family. These are all people whose friendships I will cherish forever and who I know I can always go to for support, guidance, or another adventure. During the nine weeks we saw so much, did so much, and learned so much, challenging ourselves in ways we could not have anticipated. Together we marched for animal rights, lived in remote Hmong villages, trekked through rice fields, kayaked through caves, bathed elephants, meditated alongside monks, saw first hand the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. Meanwhile, I was constantly pushed to step out of my comfort zone, to think deeper and to ask more questions. Ultimately, I can gratefully say that these nine weeks made me a more curious, passionate, capable and confident being. I leave my nine weeks inspired to learn more, see more, and challenge myself further.
We were standing on the tip of a boat in our last couple days in Vietnam, watching the silence of the night rush past us, while dancing and singing on the top deck celebrating a birthday...when the girl next to me said the one thing that summed up everything I was feeling, "I have never felt so alive. This is real life, not a dream, this is as real as it gets." We then proceeded to scream at the top of our lungs, "I'M ALIVE". Dramatic, but all too honest. Spending nine weeks in four foreign countries, with 14 strangers, sounds terrifying and unreal. But leaving Bangkok for Pennsylvania, on November 14th was the the hardest day of my life. Southeast Asia became home, and my group had become my family. They had become a part of me. I cried as my taxi pulled away from New Siam II, and a guy friend ran along side waving goodbye. We saw and experienced so much together, we saw hardship, loss, inspiration, happiness, and everything else in between. We met locals that changed our view on our world, we helped each other learn more about ourselves than I ever thought was possible, and we had two leaders that taught us so much about life in general, that I will never stop looking at them as two of my greatest role models. There's a lot to say about the little things you do, yeah you live next to elephants for week, or go to the beach, or live on a boat for a couple nights...but it's all so much more than that. The life I live now is completely different than the life I lived 3 months ago, and I have nothing but Pacific Discovery to thank for that. I would go on this trip 100 times if I could, and I am sure I would learn just as much as on the 100th time as I did the first time.
Pacific Discovery's Southeast Asia program was the perfect mix of volunteering, adventure travel, independent exploring, and personal development. My program leaders Jess & Devin are some of the coolest people I know and they were always there to support us. It was very clear while traveling how much effort was put into planning the program and if you are at all thinking about traveling with Pacific Discovery I would say you ABSOLUTELY should.
The Southeast Asia Semester Program was the greatest decision I have ever made. Our leaders, Josh and Rebecca, were absolutely amazing! Along with being so knowledgeable, Josh and Rebecca were simply great people with great values. The trip was a perfect balance of cultural experiences, volunteer service, outdoor activities, and free time. There is no replacement for actually traveling to a place and immersing yourself in the culture. I learned so much about the history of Southeast Asia as well as the people. Pacific Discovery has such a terrific thing going and I am so happy that I had the privilege of being apart of it. I made lifelong friends and unforgettable memories. I feel like I grew so much as a person. It was the best nine weeks of my life!
Pacific discovery is more than a tour company. It's a close family embodied with the true spirit of travel. This adventure is unique in that it doesn't fall under any particular category. One day your relaxing on a cruise ship in Ha Long Bay (google pictures), the next your trekking through the Laotian jungle and spending the night with a native hill tribe. The variety of activities offered on this trip is incredible. Each day of the itinerary is thoughtfully planned. You can tell that Rachel and Scott really care about the experience they are providing for their participants. This program offers a great balance between group and independent travel. The perfect ratio of structured activities to free time to explore and make the trip our own. For example, while not offered as an official activity with Pac Disco, I found the time to go waterskiing on a river in Cambodia. Many participants feel comfortable enough after the trip to extend their stay, traveling either with someone they met on the trip or independently. I spent a week learning Thai massage living in Bangkok and went on a ten day silent meditation retreat. PD was more than helpful with preparations such as my visa extension paperwork. I remember before leaving to go on the program I was at REI and had a question about a whether I needed something and they responded to my email while I was still in the store. This only one example of their passion and dedication. I'm bringing home a deep understanding of southeast asian culture, great memories, and friendships that will last a lifetime. You will grow in ways you'd never imagine. You will learn what you never could in a classroom. Come for the adventure, you will get so much more.
The best decision I ever made was to come on the fall Southeast Asia semester with Pacific Discovery before starting college. My leaders, Josh and Rebecca, were so fun and caring and knowledgable. I made lifelong friendships and had incredible experiences. The program was so organized and went beyond my expectations. It balanced activities and relaxation perfectly. We were able to trek through the wilderness, stay in remote villages, bond through group activities like rock climbing, work on service projects with local people and also take a break and explore beautiful places. The amenities ranged from clean, comfortable hotels and hostels to more rugged homestays and villages. I always felt safe and never worried about any sort of health problems. At the same time I was pushed beyond my comfort zone and challenged everyday with new adventures, which resulted in tremendous personal growth. I look back on my journal and pictures from my time in Southeast Asia and wish I could be back there. Truly a life changing experience.
This trip was truly incredible. It completely exceeded my expectations. The leaders were so much fun. They were caring, knowledgeable, and were more like our peers than our bosses. Every day was filled with several activities that were very organized and well planned out. I was never disappointed with the food or accommodations. This trip was a great mix of cultural immersion, service, exploration, and just having fun. I made life long friendships with my group mates. There was also a perfect balance between free time and planned activities. I really have nothing negative to say about this trip, and it was the happiest two months of my life!