Friday, 23 September 2011 2:59 PM
Asia remains one of the most enduringly popular regions to visit, but to really have an experience you won't forget, why not consider volunteer work in some of the most talked-about destinations?
There are so many amazing places to visit on this continent and you will find that any time you dedicate to helping out while you are there will be greatly appreciated.
It does not matter what skills or experience you have, as you can let your passions guide you by getting involved in conservation, community or building projects, or working with young children or animals.
Best of all, you will get to do this while based in some of the trendiest travel destinations in the world, providing you with the perfect way to get off the beaten track and experience a more authentic side than the average tourist will see.
If you have ever wanted to get more from your time visiting Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, China, the Philippines, India, Malaysia or Sri Lanka, you will be able to do so by signing up to one of the various voluntary projects running in these countries.
Vietnam is increasingly becoming an in-demand stop among those touring Asia – and no wonder, with its beautiful scenery, welcoming locals and fascinating history.
However, many of the people here also live in acute levels of poverty – which is where your efforts can make a difference.
When you sign up to voluntary work in Vietnam, you could spend your time working with the country's children.
Ho Chi Minh City is one place where you can get involved with a project like this. Here, you will spend time at one of the orphanages, where you will help brighten up the kids' day by singing songs with them, playing games or planning art projects to encourage their creativity.
This is sure to be a very rewarding experience and there is little doubt the young people you meet will show their appreciation for your efforts.
Plus, you will also have plenty of spare time to take in some of the fascinating sights of this city, including the Reunification Palace.
Alternatively, you could spend your visit in the beautiful Mekong Delta, where you can amble down the waterways and visit the floating markets.
You may also want to help teach the local schoolchildren English, which might open up plenty of doors to them later in life.
If the Vietnamese countryside is something that appeals to you, you could also help the people who live there construct defences for their properties for when the monsoon season begins, or build homes for underprivileged families.
Elsewhere, Cambodia is something of a closely guarded secret among the people who have travelled there. Although not established as a tourism hotspot just yet, its ancient temples and beautiful beaches means it is one of the coolest Asian destinations.
However, again you will find there is every opportunity for you to make a positive difference to the lives of the people who live here.
By choosing to complete voluntary work in Cambodia, you could spend time at an orphanage, or visit Phnom Penh, where you can teach some of the desperately poor kids who live here.
You may wish to help them with their English skills, or play with some of the under-fives and bring fun and laughter into their days.
Not only will volunteering in Asia enable you to make a tangible difference to the lives of the people who most need it and enable you to give something back to the community, but it will also allow you to discover some of Asia's most talked-about countries.