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Some Helpful Tips on Volunteering in Southeast Asia

US Navy 110624-N-VE260-654 Sailors assigned to Naval Air Facility Atsugi teach elementary students English at Terao Elementary School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For travelers seeking a holiday that goes beyond the usual sun, sea, sand and getting sauced escape, volunteering can be an incredibly rewarding experience that allows you to delve deeper into other cultures, meet new people and see a whole different side of your chosen destination. Southeast Asia is home to hundreds if not thousands of organizations that accept volunteers on a regular basis, so the only hard part is narrowing down the options.

 

However, before you sign-up for a week or more of selfless giving, there is the not-so-small matter of responsible volunteering to consider. ‘Voluntourism’ has exploded in Southeast Asia over the past few decades, which means that there are many companies that have jumped on the gravy train in the hopes of striking it rich by charging do-good travelers to lend a hand. Some of these organizations offer little to no benefits for the communities they claim to help, and in some cases they even cause more damage than good. On the flip side, there are also many volunteers who sign up for all the wrong reasons, which can cause a multitude of problems for everyone involved.

 

If you do want to volunteer in Southeast Asia, it pays to do your research first. Start by thinking about what skills you have to offer to people overseas. Sure, you may speak English, but that doesn’t make you qualified to teach it. Invest in some courses before you set out to save the world so that you have something legitimate to bring to the table. When looking into volunteer organizations, check to make sure that they are the real deal. Research where their money goes, how they select volunteers and what former volunteers have to say about their experience there.

 

Also, be honest with yourself, and be aware that volunteering is not for everyone. Many projects require volunteers to live in remote areas where you won’t have access to all the comforts of home. In addition, you may be face to face with rampant poverty, illness, abuse and corruption on a day to day basis. Can you handle being out of your element? And can you fully commit to the time period requested by the organization? For some other tips on responsible volunteering, check out this great article in Southeast Asia Backpacker on Responsible Volunteering in Southeast Asia.

 

If you’re thinking about volunteering in Southeast Asia but not sure where to start, we’ve put together a list of some of the more ethical volunteer organizations in the region to get you started. If there are any that we’ve missed that you think deserve a place on the list, feel free to comment below.

 

EDUCATION-BASED VOLUNTEERING

Conversations With Foreigners

Rather than charging huge sums to volunteers, Conversations with Foreigners has set up a sustainable model of cultural exchange for volunteers and Cambodian students at their conversational English language center in Phnom Penh. The students pay a small fee to learn English and gain a greater understanding of other people and cultures, and the volunteers only pay for Volunteer Housing costs, should they decide to stay in the organization’s accommodation. All of the money from the classes goes to the Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT), a local NGO that sends skilled Cambodians into some of the poorest rural areas to teach rural people agricultural skills and proper sanitation so that they can empower the community members to improve their own livelihoods.

www.volunteerincambodia.org

Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development

Grassroots works with Burmese teachers, social workers, health workers and migrant workers to promote education, human rights, and a safe working environment for Burmese migrants and their families in Phang Nga, South Thailand and Mae Sot. Their programs aim to provide education to the children of migrant workers, empower women through education and health care, and bridge the gap between the Burmese and Thai communities. Skilled volunteers can help by providing education, healthcare, IT assistance and administrative support.

www.ghre.org/en

Isara Foundation

Isara is unique in that it is one of the only free volunteer programs in Thailand. This non-profit organization provides free education to hundreds of Thai school children and implements projects that raise awareness about personal safety and environmental awareness. You can help by teaching English, computers or art to the children in the free learning center or by helping out at the Recycling Center, rebuilding classrooms and distributing free helmets to the community and the surrounding towns.

www.isara.org

 

US Navy 120109-N-NB694-319 Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) teach English to students at Nikhom

 

HUMANITARIAN VOLUNTEERING

The East Bali Project

When the team from the East Bali Project first started, they asked the local villagers in East Bali what their main priority was and they said education for their children. Since then, the organization has gone on to increase literacy rates among young people, provide scholarships for disadvantaged school children, raise awareness about nutrition and sanitation, provide free healthcare to those in need and vastly improve water resources and infrastructure in the area. If you have experience and training in the specialist fields of agriculture, education, environment, health, infrastructure, technology, or nutrition and can commit to at least 2 months, you can make a difference with this award-winning non-profit organization.

www.eastbalipovertyproject.org

 

ENVIRONMENTAL/CONSERVATION VOLUNTEERING

ProFauna

Established in 1994, ProFauna is a non-profit organization that works in a non-political and non-violent way to protect wildlife and forests in Indonesia. They currently have two opportunities for volunteers in Indonesia: teaching wildlife and forest conservation at their education center in Malang, and a hands-on sea turtle conservation program in Bali. Volunteers pay a small fee that includes lodging and three meals a day.

www.profauna.net

Baby Sea Turtle

WILDLIFE VOLUNTEERING

Free the Bears

What began as one woman’s plight to stop the harvesting of bear bile has now grown into an vast international organization that aims to rescue bears and other wild animals that have been illegally poached and imprisoned. Free the Bears now has projects in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and India, and they have rescued and rehabilitated thousands of animals. Volunteers can now work with the bear keepers at the world’s largest Sun Bear sanctuary at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center in Cambodia to feed the bears, clean and maintain the enclosures and build new enrichments. The minimum stay is one week, but you can stay for up to 8 weeks, and all of the fees go directly back to support the bears.

www.freethebears.org.au

 

HEALTHCARE VOLUNTEERING

Bumi Sehat

Voted the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year, Bumi Sehat founder Robin Lim started this life-changing non-profit organization when she began providing free healthcare to pregnant women and children under 5 years in 1995 in Ubud, Bali. Today the organization continues to offer free health services for mothers, including pregnancy, birthing, post-partum and breast feeding in their centers in Bali and Aceh, Indonesia. Medical professionals are welcome to apply for volunteer positions, as are English Teachers for the Youth Center.

www.bumisehatfoundation.org

Best Wine Bars in Southeast Asia

Wine Bottle Rack

 

Ah vino—nectar of the gods, social lubricant and a welcome addition to any meal. Although wine is not a traditional drink in many Southeast Asian countries, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good glass or three on your travels. For serious oenophiles or those who simply want a change from the usual Bintang, Tiger or Beer Lao, check out these top wine bars in Southeast Asia.

 

White Marble Wine Bar & Restaurant

Photos of White Marble Restaurant & Wine Bar, Hoi An
This photo of White Marble Restaurant & Wine Bar is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Located in the heart of historical Hoi An, this chic wine bar is housed in a 2-story wooden colonial building that has been revamped to offer a contemporary twist. The wine list here is impressive to say the least, with bottles from places as varied as Italy, New Zealand, California and France, and 12 wines by the glass, starting at just $4. The menu is an eclectic mix of Vietnamese and Hoi An cuisine like Fresh Rice Paper Rolls and Grilled Beef in Betel Nut, as well as international fare like the Trio of Dips, Sushi and a heavenly Cheese Platter.

98 Le Loi St

Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam

Tel: +84 (0) 510 3911862

http://www.visithoian.com/whitemarble

 

The Wine Pub

Photos of WP wine pub, Bangkok
This photo of WP wine pub is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Beer may be best for many in Bangkok, but wine lovers in the know head to The Wine Pub for its European-style ambiance and huge selection of bottles. Grab a seat at the huge bar or in one of the cushy booths and choose from over 100 labels from around the world or their 6 wines by the glass that change on a regular basis. If you need something to soak up all that plonk, The Wine Pub offers up a great tapas menu, as well as delicious French cheeses, charcuterie platters, salads and pastas.

Pullman Bangkok King Power

8/2 Rangnam Road, Thanon-Phayathai,

Ratchathewi, Bangkok

Tel. +66 (0)2 680 9999

Hours: Daily: 6pm – 2am

www.pullmanbangkokkingpower.com/promotions/wp-wine-pub

 

Rubies Wine Bar

rubies2

It may be small, but what Rubies lacks for in size it makes up for in vibe and vino. Snag a spot at the wooden bar inside or one of the cozy tables outside and order from a diverse mix of international wines by the glass or bottle. Get here early on the weekends, as the place packs out with expats who come for the great drink specials and live bands and DJs. They also throw lively parties throughout the year on holidays and special occasions.

Corner of Street 19 and 240

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Tel: +855 97 884 9664

Hours: Tue – Thu: 10am – 1am, Fri – Sat: 10am – 2am, Sun: 10am – 1am

www.facebook.com/RubiesWineBar

 

VIN+

VIN+ Senayan Arkadia - Escargot in Zuccini

New to Bali’s burgeoning wine scene, Vin+ is hard to miss with its soaring bamboo structure that evokes the shape of a wine barrel and sleek glass windows that offer indoor diners glimpses of the treetops and the lively Seminyak action below. Guests can sit outdoors in the shady garden wine lounge or lush al fresco dining area or enjoy air-conditioned comfort inside. On your way out, hit up the retail shop to peruse over 18,000 bottles, including rare and exclusive vintages. Or even better, call them up to have bottles delivered directly to your door.

Jl. Kayu Jati #1 Seminyak

Bali, Indonesia

Tel: +62 361 473 2377

Hours: Restaurant: 5pm – late, Shop: 10am – late

www.vingroup.biz/index.php/wine-boutiques/vin-seminyak-bali.html

 

Douang Deuane Restaurant and Wine Bar

Wine glass

 

Cheap and cheerful, this charming little spot that serves up great French and Asian dishes accompanied by divine wines by the glass, carafe or bottle. The French owner is super friendly and makes you feel right at home, and the soft lighting and sultry jazz playing in the background add to the ambiance. For a romantic dinner out, reserve the secluded and solo table for two on the upstairs balcony.

Th Francois Nginn

Vientiane, Laos

Tel: (021) 241 154

Where to Find the Best Street Food in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has long been known as one of the best places on earth to get fresh, tasty and cheap street food. From Singapore hawker stalls to Indonesian bakso carts, Thai night markets and Vietnamese roadside restaurants, we give you the rundown on the top hotspots for street food in the region.

Bangkok P1100339

Best Street Food Spots in Bangkok, Thailand

 

Sukhumvit Soi 38

 For a true Thai street food experience, head to Sukhumvit, Soi 38 where you’ll find a plethora of tin tables and plastic chairs and vendors selling everything from Pad Thai noodles to mango sticky rice. The stalls here are clean and there is a high turnover of locals and foreigners, which means the food is fresh and tasty to boot.

Time: 6pm til late

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Victory Monument

 The Victory Monument acts like a beacon calling hungry office workers, students and foodies to the small laneways shooting off from the traffic circle here. Wander down any of these streets and you’ll find plenty of food stalls selling delectable lunch dishes, including the famous Thai boat noodles. With a dark, rich broth flavored with herbs, spices and pork blood, slippery rice noodles, green vegetables and pork or beef, we bet you can’t eat just one bowl.

Time: 7am til late

Chinatown (Yaowarat)

 After the sun sets, busy Yaowarat Road transforms into a bustling night food bazaar with hundreds of vendors selling classic Chinese specialties like bird’s nest soup and roast duck, as well as some Chinese influenced Thai dishes like fried pork belly in peppery soup and rice noodles with ground pork, fiery chilies and aromatic holy basil.

Time: 6pm til late

Poultry at Chinatowns Talat Leng-Buai-la market (6491924593)

Roast Duck in Chinatown, Bangkok

 

Best Street Food Spots in Singapore

 

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre

 Smack in the middle of Chinatown, this hawker center is a Singapore institution and home to some of the most beloved street food stalls such as Tian Tian Chicken Rice with its succulent chicken served over broth infused rice with a side of fiery chilli sauce and Jin Hua Sliced Fish Bee Hoon, which offers up golden pieces of fried fish floating in a milky broth with thin rice vermicelli noodles.

Time: 8am to 10pm

Chatterbox ChickenRice

Chicken Rice

Old Airport Road Food Centre

 With up to 30 minute queues for quintessential Singapore hawker dishes like oyster omelette in chili sauce and Char Kway Teow (rice noodles with Chinese sausage, cockles, bean sprouts, chili sauce and dark soy sauce), you know the food stalls at the Old Airport Road Food Centre have got to have something good going on.

Time: Mon to Fri: 11.30am to midnight, Sat to Sun: 10.30am to midnight

 

East Coast Park Lagoon Village Food Centre

It’s all about fresh BBQ seafood like chilli crab, spicy grilled stingray and black pepper crab at the East Coast Park Lagoon Village Food Centre, as well as tasty wonton noodles, braised duck rice and satay. It doesn’t hurt either that the location is right on the beach, so you can grab your grub and have a picnic by the sea.

Time: 8am to 9pm

Chilli crab-01

Singapore Chilli Crab

Best Street Food Spots in Kuala Lumpur

 

Jalan Alor

A favorite foodie pit stop for locals, Jalan Alor runs parallel to Jalan Bukit Bintang, and is packed with hawker stalls selling Malaysian staples like chicken satay, grilled fish, braised duck with rice and fresh tropical fruits like durian, rambutan and mangosteen.

Time: 6pm til late (although some stalls are open during the day)

Kuala Lumpur - Jalan Alor

Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

Chow Kit Market Hawker Stalls

Chow Kit is the biggest wet market in Kuala Lumpur, and as such, it should come as no surprise that there are tons of hawker stalls here that sell delicious street food made from only the freshest ingredients. This is the place to go to get heavenly nasi lemak—coconut rice with various side dishes such as fried chicken, crispy anchovies, roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg and of course, fiery sambal, golden shrimp fritters, ikan masin (salted fish) and murtabak—flaky pan-fried bread with an egg and minced meat filling.

Time: 9am to 5pm

 

Petaling Street Night Market

Located in the heart of Chinatown, Petaling Street is a warren of shops selling clothing, electronics, handbags and souvenirs during the day, but come evening, the hawker stalls start to emerge. Many of the hawker stalls here have been in operation for decades, so you can sample tried and true recipes for delicious seafood, chicken and rice, BBQ fish, curry laksa and roti.

Time: 4pm til late

Laksa

Laksa

Best Street Food Spots in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

 

Ben Thanh Market

Enter Ben Thanh Market, pass the colorful displays of silk scarves, beaded shoes, leather handbags and glossy lacquerware, and head deep into the interior where you’ll find simple stalls selling everything from steaming bowls of pho to crispy and fresh spring rolls, banh mi pate sandwiches and bun thit nuong (rice vermicelli noodles with BBQ pork, mini spring rolls, fresh herbs and fish sauce). Wash it all down with a rich iced Vietnamese coffee served with sweetened condensed milk.

Time: 6am to 7pm

Pho-Beef-Noodles-2008

Pho Beef Noodles

Ton That Thuyet Street, District 4

Everyday, food vendors and foodies alike flock to this long strip of pavement to grab mouthwatering Vietnamese dishes like bun bo la lot, rice vermicelli noodles topped with grilled beef, pickled vegetables, peanuts, sprouts and herbs, sticky rice with Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, chicken and fried shallots and che dau trang, a sweet dessert made with glutinous rice, beans and coconut milk.

Time: All day

 

Banh Xeo 46A

Banh xeo is a Saigon favourite, and locals in the know head to Banh Xeo 46A in District 1 to fill up on the savory rice flour crepes packed with fatty pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and green onion and just a touch of turmeric and coconut milk. This roadside restaurant also serves up divine fresh and fried spring rolls.

46A Dinh Cong Trang Street

District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Time: All day

 

Best Street Food Spots in Jakarta

 

Pecenongan, Central Jakarta

By day, this street looks like any other, but as soon as night starts to fall, the mobile food carts move in and locals from far and wide flock here for tasty and affordable Indonesian fare. Get your fix of sate kambing (goat satay), martabak (a mix between a crepe and a pancake with sweet fillings like bananas, chocolate or cheese) and nasi uduk (coconut rice with roasted chicken, tofu or tempe).

Time: 6pm til late

Sate kambing sate ayam

Sate Ayam and Sate Kambing (chicken and goat satay)

Jalan Sabang

One block west of Jakarta’s backpacker area of Jalan Jaksa lies Jalan Sabang, a haven for street food that pulls in hungry diners both day and night. This is one of the best places in the city to get cheap eats, including nasi goreng (fried rice), chicken and mutton satay with spicy peanut sauce, fragrant duck rice and pisang goreng (fried banana).

Time: All day until late

Jalan Mangga Besar

If you’re craving Chinese food or seafood, Jalan Mangga Besar is the place to be. Some specialties here include bakmi kepiting (noodles with crab meat, fish balls and crispy fried wontons) and bubur ayam (chicken porridge). For the truly adventurous, try the cobra satay washed down with a shot of cobra blood.

Time: 5pm til late

Bubur Ayam Travelling Vendor 4

Bubur Ayam

 

For more info about Southeast Asian street food, including recipes that you can make at home, check out these great books from Amazon:

 

The Most Bizarre, Unusual and Intriguing Hotels in Southeast Asia

Sometimes it seems as if all hotels are made the same. You know the feeling—you walk into your room, throw your stuff down, look around and realize that you could be anywhere. Bangkok, Hong Kong, even Ohio for that matter. Which is a shame, because if you know where to look, Southeast Asia is full of interesting, unique and artistic hotels that are so much more than just a place to rest your head. Why stay in a cookie cutter hotel chain when you can stay in one of these fabulously unconventional hotels and villas?

 

Hang Nga Guesthouse AKA Crazy House

Crazy House Dalat, Vietnam

Walking into the Hang Nga Guesthouse is like entering into some sort of bizarre dream, where Gaudi meets Alice in Wonderland, with a splash of Swiss Family Robinson and Salvador Dali thrown in. This spectacular array of wood, wire, glass and concrete buildings features imaginative ladders shaped as tree roots, mysterious cubby holes, towering treehouses with jagged peaks, and even an bizarre Indonesian/Swiss style chalet. Add to this spiderweb patterned windows, wooden kangaroos, bears and giraffes, and an explosion of tropical foliage and flowers just for good measure, and you’ve got a feast for the eyes. The architect and owner, Ms. Hang Viet Nga was trained in architecture in Moscow, and considers her Dalat guesthouse to be a masterpiece of curved lines that fuse nature and people. While the locals might think the guesthouse is a tad on the crazy side, tourists from around the world flock here to see this fantastic fusion of architectural styles and imaginative whimsy.

Dalat, Vietnam

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

 

 

The Imperial Boathouse Hotel

Imperial Boathouse Koh Samui

Originally real rice Thai barges that used to ply the Chao Praya River and the open seas, these 34 wooden boats have been renovated into unique luxury suites. Each suite offers a breezy outdoor wooden deck, a spacious living room inside, sky-lit bathrooms, and a master suite below deck. Following the nautical theme, even the pools here are shaped like boats. As an added bonus, the Imperial Boathouse Hotel is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and just steps away from the gorgeous Choeng Mon Beach on Koh Samui.

Koh Samui, Thailand

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

 

Elephant Safari Park Lodge

elephant safari park lodge imageMany people who travel to Southeast Asia make a point to see some elephants on their holiday, but how many people do you know who actually stay in the midst of these beautiful creatures? The Elephant Safari Park Lodge is set in the middle of the Elephant Safari Park in Taro, Bali, and it offers guests an up close and personal experience with the 30 rare Sumatran elephants that roam the grounds. Eat breakfast while overlooking the forest and the elephant trails in the Mammoth’s Head Bar, have your own private elephant chauffeur pick you up at your room for a day of trekking with your elephant guide and bathing, feeding and petting the elephants. End your day with a spa treatment and a four-course dinner before retiring to your luxurious safari lodge room.

Taro, Bali, Indonesia

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

 

 4 Rivers Floating Lodge

4 Rivers Lodge
Far from the well-traveled backpacker trail of Cambodia, Koh Kong is an intoxicating mix of pristine rainforest, deep blue rivers, and untouched mountain ranges. Intrepid travelers can make the trip up the Tatai River to the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge, an environmentally friendly collection of luxury tents, floating on a platform along the river. Each tent features a private sun deck with views of the river in front and the Cardamom Mountains behind, as well as plush double and twin beds, flat screen televisions, Wi-Fi and mini-bars. But with so much nature and serenity outside, the chances that you’ll use these modern amenities is slim, as you’ll be much too preoccupied swimming, canoeing, trekking, and enjoying the spectacular sunsets from your deck.

Tatai, Koh Kong, Cambodia

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

 

Wanderlust

Wanderlust Singapore
Once a 1920s schoolhouse, this experimental boutique hotel is the result of a collaboration between four of Singapore’s award-winning design agencies. Each agency was given free reign over one level of the Wanderlust hotel, creating rooms that are funky, modern and unique. Take for example, the Eccentricity Floor by :phunk Studio, with its colorful neon lights, rainbow hallway and vibrant mosaic-tiled jacuzzi; or the Creature Comforts floor by fFurious, which makes use of friendly monsters, spaceship sculptures and twinkling star lights. Even the communal area and bar is cutting-edge, with walls painted in abstract patterns, shag rugs and futuristic furniture.

Little India, Singapore

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

 

Do you know of any other unique or eccentric hotels, guesthouses or villas in Southeast Asia? If so, feel free to comment below.

Country Guide for Teaching English in Southeast Asia

Country Guide for Teaching English in Southeast Asia

Kids in Ou Dong, Cambodia

Brunei

Brunei is an ideal place to teach English, as it is safe, peaceful and the students are polite and respectful of foreign teachers. It also doesn’t hurt that teachers are not charged income tax, so you take home your entire salary every month. Moreover, many schools will grant housing assistance, cutting down your costs even more. However, standards are quite high in Brunei, as most of the teaching jobs are at primary and secondary schools. Therefore, you may find it difficult to find a job without a B.Ed or teaching qualification from your home country.

Requirements:

•You must be a native speaker from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the UK

•Bachelor’s degree, preferably a B.Ed, qualified teacher status such as a PGCE, Dip.T or accredited teaching certificate from your home state or province

•CELTA, TEFL and TESL certificates are not necessary, but definitely help

Work Visa:

You must have an employment visa to work in Brunei. Your school will arrange this for you, including all the paperwork and fees.

Expected Salary:

An average teaching salary in Brunei is anywhere from $42,000 BND to $77,000 BND per year (around $34,300 USD to $62,900 USD). Depending on the school, teacher packages might also include a housing allowance, settling in allowance and a bonus upon contract completion.

 

Cambodia

Back in the day, it was easy for backpackers to pick up work teaching English in Cambodia with no qualifications. However, times have changed, and schools in the kingdom have stepped up their game. Don’t expect to find a job if you haven’t invested in the proper education or certification prior to applying. The easiest places to find work are in Phnom Penh and Siam Reap. Overall, teaching in Cambodia is a pleasant experience, as the students are keen to learn, very respectful of teachers and quick to crack a smile or join in a laugh.

Requirements:

•Bachelor’s degree or higher

•CELTA, TEFL or TESL certificate

Work Visa:

You must have a business visa to work in Cambodia. You can get a 30-day business visa on arrival in Cambodia and extend it every month, however, most schools will arrange a 6-month or 1-year business visa for you, including all of the paperwork and fees.

Expected Salary:

Anywhere from USD $500 to $3,000 a month. ESL schools in Cambodia typically do not offer plane tickets, housing, settling in allowances or bonuses upon contract completion.

 

East Timor

East Timor is one of the world’s newest independent nations, and is one of those off the beaten path type places where you won’t find hoards of tourists. As such, it can be a very rewarding place to work. The students are eager to learn, the salaries are decent and it is easy to head out on your days off to some of the world’s best diving spots, beautiful retreats in the mountains and miles and miles of pristine sandy beaches.

Requirements:

•Bachelor’s degree or higher

•CELTA, TEFL or TESL

•Teaching Experience

Work Visa:

You must have a proper work visa to teach in East Timor, however, this is easy enough to obtain. The school or organization that hires you will usually arrange the visa for you, including all paperwork and fees. You can apply for the visa from a consulate in your home country or from within East Timor.

Expected Salary:

Salaries generally start at around $20.00 an hour, but could be higher depending on the school or organization and your experience. Employers may also include round-trip airfare, health and medical insurance and temporary accommodation upon arrival in East Timor.

 

Indonesia

Your best chances of finding work teaching English in Indonesia will be in the capital city of Jakarta. Here you will find many schools with competitive salaries and benefits. Elsewhere, English First dominates the English teaching scene. Salaries in Indonesia for ESL teachers tend to be lower than other parts of Southeast Asia, and working visas are expensive and slightly difficult to procure. Therefore, many schools may ask you to cover the costs of your own visa or sign a contract agreeing to repay the cost of the visa if you leave before the agreed upon completion date.

Requirements:

•Must be a native English speaker from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand

•Bachelor’s degree or higher

•CELTA, TEFL or TESL certificate

Work Visa:

To legally work in Indonesia, you must have a work visa called a KITAS. If you meet all of the requirements, your school should arrange this for you. However, the KITAS is very expensive (about $1,500 USD), so some schools may take the cost out of your paycheck in increments each month, ask you to pay up front for the visa and then pay you back in increments each month, or ask you to sign a contract so that if you leave before the contract finishes, you are obligated to pay back the remainder of the visa.

Expected Salary:

From USD $300 to $1,500 a month, depending on the school. This may or may not include a housing allowance or free board at a house shared with other teachers.

 

Laos

Teaching English in Laos is great for those who prefer a more laid-back vibe over the hustle and bustle of city life. Laos is one of the most chilled out countries in Southeast Asia, even in the capital city of Vientiane, where you will find the majority of jobs. In addition, the friendly people and spectacular scenery are added bonuses. You won’t get rich teaching in Laos, but the cost of living is low and the going is easy here.

Requirements:

•Bachelor’s degree or higher

•CELTA, TEFL, or TESL certificate. **Some schools may hire you on without these qualifications, however, you may be looking at low rates per hour and part-time work.

•Experience is preferred but not necessary

Work Visa:

You must have a business visa to legally work in Laos. Most teachers come in on a tourist visa, secure a job, and then arrange the business visa from within the country. Your employer must sponsor you for the business visa, and they will usually arrange everything for you, including paperwork and fees. That being said, some teachers have reported that certain schools expect teachers to pay for the visa themselves at a cost of about $300 USD per year.

Expected Salary:

Salaries vary in Laos. Inexperienced teachers or those with no teaching qualifications may be offered rates are as low as $9 to $10 USD per hour and only a few working classes a week. For experienced teachers with legitimate credentials, the average salary is about $800 to $1,000 USD per month. It is very rare to find a school in Laos that will pay for plane tickets, housing, insurance or offer contract completion bonuses.

 

Malaysia

Teachers in Malaysia are rewarded with amazing scenery, a fabulously vibrant mix of cultures and religions, modern cities and incredible food. ESL students in Malaysia range from young learners just learning the alphabet to university students studying advanced grammar in an effort to study or travel abroad.

Requirements:

•Native speakers from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland are preferred

• Bachelor’s degree or higher

•CELTA, TEFL or TESL certificate

•Experience teaching

Work Visa:

You must have an Employment Pass to legally work in Malaysia. Most teachers enter the country on a tourist visa, secure a job, and then apply for the Employment Pass from within the country. Your employer must sponsor you for the EP, and they will typically arrange the paperwork and pay the fees. You must leave Malaysia to activate the Employment Pass.

Expected Salary:

Teaching salaries vary in Malaysia depending on the school or organization and your qualifications and experience. Average salaries range anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 USD. Some schools will also include a housing allowance, plane tickets and medical insurance.

Myanmar

Once a destination far removed from the typical ESL teacher’s bucket list, Myanmar is now enjoying a period of change, and English language teaching positions are becoming more plentiful. Yangon is where you will find the bulk of English language teaching jobs in Myanmar, and although the salaries may not be as high as those in other countries in Southeast Asia, the people you meet and the unique experiences you will have here make up for it.

Requirements:

•Bachelor’s degree or higher

•CELTA, TEFL, or TESL certificate

**It should be noted that it is possible to find a teaching job in Myanmar without a degree or teaching qualifications. However, if you don’t have these basic requirements, don’t expect to make killer money or receive any benefits.

Work Visa:

You must have a business visa to teach English in Myanmar. If you secure a job before you enter the country, your employer will arrange the paperwork for a business visa for you. Once you have the sponsorship letters, you can apply for a business visa at any Myanmar embassy. The multiple entry business visa is valid for 6 months, but you must leave the country every 70 days to extend the visa.

Expected Salary:

The average salary for an English teacher in Myanmar hovers around $1,000 to $1,500 USD a month, although this varies depending on your qualifications and experience. Some schools will pay for your visa costs, housing, plane tickets and even bonuses upon contract completion. As more and more English language schools open in Yangon and beyond, salaries and benefits will most likely become more competitive.

Philippines

It’s easy to see why so many people want to teach English in the Philippines. With over 7,000 islands, seemingly endless white sandy beaches, soaring mountains, verdant rice terraces, colorful culture and friendly locals, who wouldn’t want to work here? Unfortunately, finding ESL jobs in the Philippines is not easy. So many Filipino people speak excellent English that many schools prefer to hire locals rather than deal with the paperwork for employment visas for foreigners. However, if you really put your heart into it, you can find places that are willing to take on a foreign teacher.

Requirements:

•Bachelor’s degree or higher

•CELTA, TEFL, or TEFL certificate

Work Visa:

Once you find work in the Philippines, your employer will have to apply for an Alien Employment Permit, which takes about 14 days to process. After you have this permit, you can apply for an employment visa.

Expected Salary:

Salaries for ESL teachers in the Philippines are quite low compared to the cost of living, at about $800 to $1,000 USD per month. English language schools in the Philippines do not usually pay for flights, accommodation, or insurance. You may or may not get a bonus upon completion of your contract.

Thailand

Once upon a time, it was easy for backpackers with few or no qualifications to pick up English teaching jobs in Thailand. In recent years though, the government and schools have become much more switched on, and now you need at least a bachelor’s degree to get your foot in the door in the competitive English teaching field. That being said, if you have the right qualifications, there are literally hundreds of teaching jobs available at any given time in Thailand.

Requirements:

•Must be a native English speaker from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, the UK or USA

•Bachelor’s degree or higher

•CELTA, TEFL, or TESL certificate

Work Visa:

To work in Thailand, you must have a business visa and a work permit. It is quite common for teachers to enter Thailand on a 30-day tourist visa, find a job, and get a letter of sponsorship from their future employer for a business visa. Once you have the sponsorship letter, you must leave the country to apply for a business visa at a Thai embassy. For those who accept employment before arriving in the country, your employer will arrange the sponsorship paperwork for you, and you can apply for and enter Thailand on a Non-immigrant Business visa. The business visa is valid for 60 days, and can be extended for another 30 days.

Once you enter the country on your business visa, your employer must process the work permit for you. You do not have to leave the country to do this, and once you have the work permit, you can extend your business visa so that it is valid for one year. When your work permit expires, your business visa will also expire.

Expected Salary:

English teaching salaries in Thailand run the full gamut from pitifully meager to more than adequate to save money and have a great lifestyle. Your salary will depend on your qualifications, experience and the school or organization you work for. The best thing to do is try a number of different schools before making a decision. Some schools will also provide accommodation, round-trip airfare, medical insurance and bonuses upon contract completion.

Vietnam

Vietnam’s economy has been booming in recent years, and the influx of money means that more and more students are now able to afford foreign language classes. In addition, an increase in foreign investment and the popularity of Facebook (even though the website is banned in the country), have really motivated the younger generation to learn English as a second language. All this adds up to an increase in jobs and competitive salaries for ESL teachers in Vietnam.

Requirements:

•Must be a native English speaker from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, the US or UK.

•Bachelor’s degree

•CELTA, TEFL, or TESL certificate

•Teaching experience

Work Visa:

To get a work visa in Vietnam, your employer must sponsor you. Most enter the country on a tourist visa, and then either find a job or wait for their employer to submit all the necessary documents. Once your employer has submitted the letter of sponsorship to the government, you have 3 months to submit a police background check, obtain a medical checkup from an approved hospital or clinic, and submit original copies of your degree and teaching certificates. If everything is in order, you will receive a multiple entry work visa that is valid for the length of your teaching contract. You do not have to leave the country to change your visa.

Expected Salary:

Teaching salaries in Vietnam are quite high compared to other countries in Southeast Asia. You can expect to make anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 USD a month, depending on your qualifications, experience and the company that hires you on. Many schools will also offer a housing allowance, medical insurance, plane tickets and bonuses upon completion of your contract.

Dancing the Night Away in Thailand

Dancing the Night Away in Thailand

Firetwirler Thailand

 

Thailand is a country that has great weather nearly all year round. It is a country with cheap food, accommodation and transportation. And Thai people are generally Buddhist people with a very easy going and happy mentality. These are just some of the reasons why it is such a great country for those who enjoy staying up late.

I’m not talking about those men who are so lonely as to pay for companionship. Rather I’m talking about people who want to be in exciting places and listen to music that gets their hips swinging with the beat.

It is somewhat of an irony that despite the importance of tourism for the Thai economy most places in Thailand have to stop selling alcohol at 2am. It is interesting to note that many convenience stores and street side bars attempt to circumvent this law, but generally speaking the law stops people partying all night. There are however a few places that seem exempt from this law. Clubs in Patpong in Bangkok seem to ignore this law and many beaches in the south choose to ignore this law.

Whereas much of Koh Samui shuts at 2am the neighboring island of Koh Phangan has made a niche for itself as the place to go if you want to dance the night away. The most famous all night event in Koh Phangan is the Full Moon Party. It is a massive beach party that regularly has over 20,000 people dancing through the night to trance, RnB, drum and bass, house and rock music. There are over 12 sound systems each with its own genre of music to choose from. When the party winds down the following morning those still up for more can head over to the Backyard Party that has a jumping after party until the following evening.

This is not the only dance event in Koh Phangan. Near Haad Rin in the village of Ban Tai there are also regular outdoor music events. These are the Jungle Experience, the Half Moon Party, the Shiva Moon Party and the Black Moon Party. The first three are held in jungle locations and the latter at Mac Bay on the beach. They are smaller than the Full Moon Party but have a great atmosphere and are ‘must do’ events for trance music lovers.

Finally, in the north of the island is the village of Chaloklum. It is an area with lots of great beaches. In the jungle next to a waterfall is the Paradise Waterfall Party. This is a psy-trance event that happens during the high seasons of January to April and July to August.

In the case of all these parties they are well organized. The music equipment is excellent and there is no prohibition on drinking after 2am. And of course when you’ve had enough of parties there are over 20 beautiful beaches to check out. What more could you ask for?