When you study abroad in Thailand you can also explore other countries in Southeast Asia during your semester break, or at the end of the semester. Most TEAN students choose to explore one or two other countries, with most program alumni saying the ‘don’t miss’ countries in the region are Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Lately some students have also ventured beyond mainland Southeast Asia to Indonesia during their semester breaks or post-semester trips.

Novice monks at the Shwedegon Pagoda, Myanmar
Novice monks at the Shwedegon Pagoda, Myanmar | Photo by Wendy Potter, Michigan State University

 Myanmar

Myanmar has recently opened up for tourism, making it the perfect place for students looking to get an other-worldly experience. Students who’ve visited the beautiful country have noted that being there is like going back in time. “…We saw the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and then took an overnight bus to Bagan. We became friends with a man that works at a bicycle shop and we rented bikes for two days to go exploring the pagodas. Bagan was my favorite place to go. Since it is so new to tourism we would be on top of a pagoda watching a sunrise with maybe 2 other people whereas at Angkor Wat we watched the sunrise with 500 other people, so it is a whole new and different experience. Everyone there is so friendly and a lot of people asked to take pictures with us and practice their english with us – it was such an incredible time.” Sophie Fish, Emmanuel College

Since Myanmar is an up and coming travel destination, it’s better to go now before the tourism skyrockets!

Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam | Photo by Sydney Krantz, Mass. College of Art

Vietnam

Vietnam remains a must-see for TEAN students travelling Southeast Asia. Before visiting this country with such rich history and culture, it is easy to think that it might be very similar to Thailand. Despite some familiarity in the chaotic traffic, lush cities, and food, Vietnam is still a very different experience from Thailand. Students in the past have loved the cuisine and exploring the many facets of the country’s landscape. “In my opinion Vietnam is a must see. I was blown away by the country’s breathtaking beauty, delicious food, intense history, and friendly hospitality. It was amazing- I was there for a week but it was not enough!! I wish I had enough time to explore every part of it.” Sydney Holinka, University of Pittsburgh

Some students decide to spend their entire break in one country, in order to really get to know one place; Vietnam tends to be the top choice for students who spend the break in one country.

Sunset in the Gili Islands, Indonesia
Sunset in the Gili Islands, Indonesia | Photo by Shane Lawson, UMass – Amherst

Indonesia

Indonesia is a popular destination for backpackers and travellers looking for gorgeous beachfronts. Less TEAN students go there during the semester because of cost and distance, but some students take time after the semester ends to travel here. There are beautiful islands other than Bali that are quiet and tropical–places where you can simply abandon all worry for a snippet of time. “Personally I travelled to Indonesia on my spring break and absolutely loved it. I was only in Bali but I would recommend a few nights in Bali and then traveling to different islands to get a different feel for Indonesia.” Brittany Watson, College of Charleston

You can also find nature/adventure treks, meditation retreats, and yoga retreats in this country. Some past students have gone and hiked to the top of an active volcano, volunteered with orangutans in the Indonesian jungle, and gotten zen on a silent meditation retreat.

Note: Air Asia has some of the best flight deals for getting around SE Asia, so be sure to check out that site when travelling to these destinations!