Real Asia Experience

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founded in 2011
Josh
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Coordinator | Josh
Coordinator | Josh
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.
Visit Sri Lanka, India and Nepal on a 6-12 week long tour while making a social impact! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Singles
Couples
Groups

PMGY’s Real Asia Encounter takes in Sri Lanka, India and Nepal. We seriously can’t think of a more sublime combination of exotic and fascinating gap year destinations in Asia to volunteer in. An action-packed 6, 9 or 12 weeks lie ahead of you in some of the best places to volunteer abroad!

From the steep mountain ranges of the Himalayas that perch in Nepal, to the tranquil and picturesque island of Sri Lanka, not forgetting the global powerhouse enriched in culture India, Asia has it all. Asia’s abundance in physical diversity and variety is one of its standout features. Volunteer in Asia on this once in a lifetime trip and choose the trip duration, volunteer projects and travel experiences that are right for you.

Your first stop will be Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka may be small but it has 2,000-plus years of culture! Furthermore, the country is home to 8 (yes 8!) Unesco World Heritage Sites as well as endless beaches and lush rainforests! Embrace everything the country represents with its welcoming people, beautiful beaches and oodles of elephants. Finally, get ready for those taste-buds to be tickled as you enjoy some wonderful food and the infamous Sri Lankan tea. Sri Lanka is spectacular, affordable and still uncrowded so now is the time to go!

Your time on this largely undiscovered little island will give you the chance to explore its length and breadth. In addition, you will be able to make a positive impact when volunteering at local projects. PMGY’s development work in Ambalangoda and Wasgamuwa runs throughout the year. There is something for everyone in Sri Lanka. For example, you can teach in our community volunteer project or support on our childcare projects in the afternoons.

In contrast, choose your volunteer project to learn about the Sri Lankan mental health system. You can even choose your gap year programs in Sri Lanka to be more physical with renovation, elephants and sea turtle conservation opportunities. Sri Lanka is the only country you can engage in wildlife conservation projects on the Asia Gap Year experience. 

Your second stop is India. Architectural splendours, chaotic street life, tranquil havens and culture shocks are all guaranteed during your time in India. Consequently, there will be lots for you to experience in this vast, endlessly diverse and hugely inspiring country. India’s Golden Triangle comprises the three most visited cities in the country’s north-west – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. All of these three bustling cities are accessible from our project location.

Jaipur, the capital of the largely desert state of Rajasthan, is home to the iconic Amber Fort. In addition, it boasts some of Asia’s best bazaars. You could spend weeks in Delhi and not see it all! The sprawling, fascinating Indian capital has so much to offer! Agra, once the heart of the Moghul empire, boasts the unparalleled beauty of the Taj Mahal.

Your volunteering choices are very varied. Contribute to the lives of children with learning difficulties. On the other hand, you can choose to teach English to help children reach their full potential. In the same vein, you can choose to gain practical medical experience and insight on elective programs. Finally, during your gap year travel in India, choose your volunteer project to engage in the lives of underprivileged children in children’s homes. 

Your final stop is Nepal which has been a hotspot for travellers, dating back many years. Whilst the world has changed, Nepal is still catching up. Certainly, this provides one of the many reasons that make it such a fascinating country. Its landscape is diverse and harsh yet beautiful beyond belief. Many of its people live in poverty yet remain as proud and welcoming as ever. You may leave Nepal at the end of your duration but you are certain never to forget it.

Combine adventure travel with community volunteering as well as ticking off all the ‘must-see’ things in Nepal. You can choose to volunteer and live in a Nepalese Buddhist monastery teaching monks English. As a result of living at the monastery, you will also learn and embrace the monks’ cultures and ways of life.

Alternatively, you can choose to teach young people English in a school community development setting. Finally, choose your volunteer project to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.


Your Itinerary

  • Day 1 (Saturday) Arrival
  • Day 2 (Sunday) Orientation
  • Day 3-6 (Monday-Friday) Volunteering Begins
  • Day 7-8 (Saturday-Sunday) Weekend!
  • Day 9-28 (Monday-Saturday) The Following Weeks
  • Day 29 (Sunday) Goodbye Sri Lanka – Hello India!
  • Day 30 (Monday) Orientation
  • Day 31-34 (Tuesday-Friday) Volunteering Begins
  • Day 35-36 (Saturday-Sunday) Weekend!
  • Day 37-56 (Monday-Saturday) The Following Weeks
  • Day 57 (Sunday) Goodbye India – Hello Nepal!
  • Day 58 (Monday) Orientation
  • Day 59-62 (Tuesday-Friday) Volunteering Begins
  • Day 63-64 (Saturday-Sunday) Weekend!
  • Day 65-83 (Monday-Friday) The Following Weeks
  • Day 84 (Saturday) Last Day

Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?

Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.

The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.

In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.

When you join PMGY we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visa issues etc. Furthermore, our UK team are only ever a phone call away should you wish to discuss any aspect of your upcoming programme. When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing during your orientation course by our local coordinators. We will go through everything from emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM card, something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. We will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.

All our local teams are experienced development professionals who have years of experience in hosting international volunteers. They are our representatives on the ground and will assist you 24/7 throughout your stay. Whether you need to call home, travel at the weekend or require urgent assistance – they are there to support you.

While we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each programme is as safe as possible.

Typical day

Almost every day you will be doing something different on this adventure, but here are three examples of what you might be doing in each country.

Sri Lanka

Your orientation will begin on Sunday. Our local team will teach you about life in Sri Lanka, the “dos and don’ts”, local culture and religion. Your coordinator will introduce you to the transport system, safety advice and outline all the projects we support in the community. If you wish to take part in multiple projects during your time as a volunteer in Sri Lanka, this can be discussed during your orientation.

In the afternoon, our local coordinator will take you to see some of the famous sites around Ambalangoda. You will visit the longest sleeping Buddha statue in Asia, an original blue moonstone mine and perhaps some famous Buddhist temples. You will also have the chance to change money, buy a local phone or SIM-card and visit the supermarket.

You will start your volunteer work in Sri Lanka on Monday morning.

Should you need anything whilst at the project, remember our local team are only a phone call away. You will see Sri Lanka coordinators throughout the day at the Volunteer House and they are always happy to help.


India

Your orientation as a volunteer in India will begin on Monday. After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we will begin the orientation day. The day will kick-off with the theoretical aspects. During this, our team will cover everything from health and safety, language, money matters, cultural differences, rules and regulations. This part of the orientation usually lasts between 1 and 2 hours in the morning.

Following this, you will have the opportunity to visit our main project base within the local slum community. Here, the team will outline the background behind the project and introduce you to the local staff. Our teaching and medical volunteer opportunities are based within this location. Then, following a hearty lunch back at the Volunteer House, the local team will help arrange SIM cards and money exchange for those who require assistance.

On Tuesday, you will start your volunteer placement. The first couple of days should be spent learning the ropes and getting to know the people at the project. As the week goes on you will find that your role develops as you begin to get more comfortable. You will also have regular interaction with our local coordinators. Whatever the problem, big or small, you’ll be fully supported throughout your time with PMGY.

On average, you will volunteer for around 3-5 hours per day. This will usually take place in the morning, however, this will ultimately be dependent on your project. You will also have the chance to discuss with your local coordinator about the possibility of getting involved in more than one project.

Nepal

Your orientation as a volunteer in Nepal will begin on Monday. After a refreshing breakfast, your day will kick off with a 2 hour Nepalese language lesson. Learning Nepalese is not only a great cultural experience, but it is also an important preparation for your volunteer placement. Being able to readily communicate with the locals will make your experience all the more enriching.

You will then continue with an introduction to the transport system, safety advice and our Nepal volunteer programs. This theoretical part of the day will be based in your in-country director Asim’s house.

After lunch, we will then head into the heart of Kathmandu’s tourist centre. Our local team will take you sightseeing around the city. This will offer you the chance to check-out the famous Monkey Temple, Boudha stupa and Pashupati temple. You will be accompanied by a local team member who will teach you all about Kathmandu’s rich and diverse history.

You will start your volunteer work in Nepal on Thursday morning. Should you need anything whilst at the project, remember our local team are only a phone call away.



 

Free-time activities

Here is an idea of what you could be getting up to:

Sri Lanka 

  • Hikkaduwa - Hikkaduwa has long been among the most popular of Sri Lanka’s beach spots. It has a lively and fun vibe – definitely a backpacker town. It is also your best bet for evening drinks and meals out during your time with us.
  • Bentota – Bentota is a good option for those looking for a relaxing weekend by the beach. It is one of the more established beach resorts on the west coast of Sri Lanka with a number of activities available to you. You can go on a river cruise, visit a turtle hatchery, check out Sri Lanka’s tallest Buddha statue or try out some of the many water sports available.
  • Galle –Galle is always a favourite of ours. The UNESCO World Heritage protected Galle Fort is an 18th-century Dutch walled town with chic shops, grand colonial houses and beautiful beaches. Unawatuna beach is the place to be for a lazy weekend by the sea.

India

  • Delhi - Delhi is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and home to 25 million people. Despite this it is a relatively easy city to find your way around in and made infinitely easier by its gleaming, cheap and efficient metro. The city is split into two parts: Old Delhi, a 17th Century walled city with narrow alleys, constant traffic and main tourist sites and the spacious, planned areas of New Delhi. Old Delhi is littered with the relics of lost empires such as the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort, a symbol of India, and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, the largest in India, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people! Nearby is Chandni Chowk, the main street of Old Delhi and a vibrant bazaar filled with food carts, sweets shops and spice stalls.

Nepal

  • Chitwan - Chitwan is located in the vast flat and fertile Terrai region close to the Indian border, offering a different landscape to that of Kathmandu and Pokhara, which are closer to the Himalayas.
  • Pokhara - Far from the earthquake epicentre, and almost unaffected by the disaster, Pokhara is blessed with spectacular scenery and a booming adventure sports scene.
  • Kathmandu - Kathmandu is Nepal’s capital and only major city. It is a bustling metropolis rooted in history and rich in culture. Filled with temples, palaces and courtyards, the unique architectural heritage and religious influence make it a fascinating location to live and work.


Water Sports
Swimming
Concert/
Music
Safari/
Zoo
Museum/
Opera
Sports

Require­ments

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Criminal Background Check
required
Education Requirements
at High School level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
You should also be physically fit, as volunteering overseas can be quite strenuous. 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.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by Plan My Gap Year

Your fee includes both your registration fee and programme fees.

Your programme fee includes
  • accommodation, 
  • meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner),
  • airport pickup (24 hours), 
  • in-country orientations, 
  • airport transportation,
  • 24 hour in-country support.
Your registration fee includes; 
  • 24 hour UK based support, 
  • comprehensive volunteer handbook, 
  • live pre-departure webinars, 
  • regular programme inspection.

Airport Pickup at Bandaranaike International Airport

You will be met on-arrival by a member of the PMGY Sri Lanka team who will be wearing a PMGY T-shirt and holding a PMGY sign. We advise all volunteers to wear their PMGY t-shirt (if they’ve purchased one) as this helps us identify you at the airport.

Once you’ve met up with our local team you will be driven to our Volunteer House in Ambalangoda. The journey takes around 2.5 hours.

Accommodation

Sri Lanka

During your time with PMGY in Sri Lanka you will live in our Volunteer House which is located in a peaceful suburb of Ambalangoda. Just 20 minutes drive from the centre where you will find local restaurants, small convenience stores and ATMs. You’ll be living with other PMGY volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.

The accommodation is basic but comfortable with Wi-Fi (there will be a small charge). Each room has bunk beds with up to 9 people per room in same-sex rooms. Volunteers are provided with fans in the room and their own mosquito net and bed linen. Bathrooms are shared, have a shower and western style toilet. The water is cold but this shouldn’t be a problem as Sri Lanka is hot and humid all year-round!

India

During your time with PMGY in India you will live in our Volunteer House located in central Faridabad, a satellite city 15 miles from Delhi. You will find restaurants, convenience stores and ATMs all within walking distance. You’ll be living with other PMGY volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.

The accommodation is large, basic but comfortable with free Wi-Fi. Each room has bunk beds with up to 7 people per room in same-sex rooms. Volunteers are provided with fans in the room and their own bed linen. Bathrooms are shared, have a shower and western style toilet.

Nepal

Project Residence – Some of the orphanages we support have separate living quarters for volunteers (these are located next to the project). Rooms will fit between 2 and 4 people with bedding provided. Wi-Fi may be available, but will be intermittent if so. Volunteers have their own space and privacy Volunteers have their own space and privacy and should expect cold showers. The orphanage mother will prepare meals for you and the children. You’re more than welcome to lend a hand in the kitchen and learn how to cook traditional Nepalese dishes.

Host Family – Staying with a host family is a great way to become immersed in the Nepalese way of life. You will either have a private room or share with fellow volunteers and you can be sure you will be made to feel like part of the family.

Monastery – Volunteers will live at the monastery in separate volunteer living quarters. Accommodation is basic but comfortable. The monastery in Chitwan is located in a rural setting so volunteers should not expect western style toilets, hot water showers or internet access. The accommodation in Kathmandu is more modern.

Living at the monastery is a truly unique experience that can bring with it some amazing views. You’ll hear the gong go off at 5am every morning to call the monks for prayer and meditation – something you’re welcome to take part in! Living life side-by-side with the monks is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity!


Guesthouse
Food & Beverages

Sri Lanka

You will be served three freshly prepared meals per day. Most meals are traditional Sri Lankan dishes that can be typically quite spicy. Sri Lankan cuisine consists of a lot of rice and the meat is mainly fish or chicken – vegetarian options are always available. A weekly menu has been introduced that blends Sri Lanka cuisine with Western cuisine so you will know in advance what is on the menu for that day!

If you fancy some western comforts, you will find plenty of restaurants serving western meals in the nearby town of Hikkaduwa. Hikkaduwa is a 20 minute journey from Ambalangoda and the cost to get there by tuk tuk is around £3 per way. This is a popular place that volunteers go to in the evening, as it is a trendy backpackers town.

India

You will be served three freshly prepared meals per day. Most meals are traditional Indian dishes that can be typically quite spicy and made up of vegetarian ingredients, although pasta and other such western dishes are prepared every now and then. If you are not a huge lover of spicy food don’t worry, there will always be a more mild option available!

Nepal

You will be served three freshly prepared Nepalese meals a day by your host family. Traditional Nepalese food generally uses a variety of fresh, local ingredients including; lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, chillies, yogurt and lots of rice so its may take a little getting used to.

Dhal Bhat is the national dish and is usually served for breakfast and evening meal every day. It is a dish comprised of rice, lentils and seasoned vegetables.

Most meals are vegetarian with typical dishes being pasta or noodles complimented by locally grown vegetables. There is the occasional chicken, pork or fish dish served up from time to time.


Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo. We assist you to find cheap flights to Sri Lanka.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Sri Lanka provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Sri Lanka you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Sri Lanka.

Dates & Fees

NO CREDIT CARD FEES
Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
6 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
6 weeks (min. stay)
$1,734
9 weeks
$2,184
12 weeks (max. stay)
$2,484
Average fees
$248 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Plan My Gap Year will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Plan My Gap Year during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Plan My Gap Year cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Plan My Gap Year.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Real Asia Experience

Visit Sri Lanka, India and Nepal on a 6-12 week long tour while making a social impact!

$248/week

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