Six motivational sabbaticals available in Asia-Pacific

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” as John Lennon once said. A sabbatical is frequently necessary to stand back and consider where you are and where you want to be.

We’ve compiled a list of the top sabbatical ideas in the Asia-Pacific area for individuals who are fortunate enough to be able to take time off from work. These ideas range from learning a new skill like surfing to becoming a meditation expert while lodging at a temple.

On South Korea’s Jeju Island, learn Korean

Make local friends to practise your Korean while living on Jeju Island

The recent surge in interest in Korean culture around the globe has been so great that a phrase called “hallyu”—which translates to “the Korean wave”—has been created to describe its spread. One of the world’s fastest-growing languages, Korean, is worth learning on a sabbatical for individuals eager to ride this wave.

Spend a prolonged stay on the picturesque island of Jeju Island to fully integrate yourself with the locals and acquire these language skills as quickly as possible. You can escape the stress of your work and life back home while enjoying the stunning surroundings, Korean music, films and food here.

During your break, stay at JEJU Doldam B&B and wake up to views of the ocean.

Participate as a volunteer at Chiang Mai, Thailand's elephant sanctuary.

Feed rescued elephants in Thailand as a volunteer

Elephant Nature Park is located high up in the foggy, jungle highlands close to Chiang Mai, and offers a rewarding sabbatical experience. Since 1995, it has been one of Thailand’s most well-known conservation initiatives, rehabilitating rescued elephants. Here, numerous elephants that were rescued from exploitation are housed with adopted dogs, cats, pigs, ducks, and numerous other needy creatures.

Single-day trips and overnight stays are welcome, but lengthier volunteer postings are accessible only if reservations are made well in advance. Regarding the latter, you will assist the mahouts, or keepers, in preparing fresh vegetables for the elephants’ mealtime, feed them by hand, and give them a bath in the rivers of the rainforest. While seeing these stunning animals in their natural habitat, you’ll learn about their behaviour and simultaneously contribute to the betterment of the earth.

After your placement, stay longer by checking into the charming Hoh Guesthouse, even though you’ll be living on-site while volunteering.

Discover surfing in Australia's Byron Bay.

Learn to surf Down Under and enjoy a seaside vacation during your time off.

What could be better for a genuinely rejuvenating sabbatical break than learning a new skill and spending endless hours in the sun and sea? Furthermore, Australia is the best spot to learn how to surf. More precisely, Byron Bay, a formerly tranquil seaside town that has become glitzier while maintaining its alluring natural beauty and easygoing vibe.

There are multiple lengthy stretches of immaculate white sand in the town; begin with the mild rollers off Watego Beach, which are ideal for beginners. And progress to the large swell of the bronzed, pro surfer-filled Brunswick Heads Beach after your hiatus with a local surf school.

Enjoy a chic extended vacation at WategosRent in Byron Bay.

Learn to teach yoga in Mysuru, India.

Take advantage of a transformative yoga sabbatical in Mysuru.

The southern Indian state of Karnataka’s Mysuru is the ideal destination for a transformative vacation. Ashtanga yoga originated there, as did the highly customised Mysore technique of teaching it, which involves practicing six days a week before sunrise. It is a popular destination for yoga enthusiasts worldwide, drawing even the Madonna to one of its esteemed yoga schools.

As most of these “shalas,” which are Sanskrit names for yoga studios, only take on students for a minimum of one month, you’ll be able to fully experience this verdant city with its calming, spiritual vibe. After practice every day, purchase a fresh coconut from the nariyal wallahs (sellers of coconuts). After that, visit nearby cafés like TKS Iyengar’s or C.C.B.C. to savour a delicious, freshly made breakfast of south Indian specialties like dosa and idli (fermented rice pancakes).

Red House Yoga Centre in Gokulam, which is home to the majority of yoga shalas, is the ideal place to base yourself for your vacation.

In Koyasan, Japan, meditate while visiting a temple

Staying in a Japanese shrine to find tranquilly of mind

If you are unable to give up your work and give up all material belongings in order to achieve enlightenment, taking a sabbatical and spending time in a Koyasan temple to meditate is at least a good start. Shukubo, or temple dormitories, have been welcoming monks and passing pilgrims for more than a millennium. These days, they provide thoughtful, contemporary visitors with lots of time to think and find mental calm.

In rural parts of Japan, shukubo are located in serene, holy, and isolated natural settings. Respecting the resident monks and attempting to cause them as little disruption as possible as they go about their daily training is something to keep in mind while visiting.

Within the grounds of a 1000-year-old Buddhist temple, Shukubo Koya-san Eko-in offers a very tranquil stay complete with meditation, Buddhist rites, a lovely garden, and fine, traditional Japanese décor.

Learn to cook at Vietnam's Hội An.

Enrich your life by taking a Vietnamese cooking course.

Anyone who travels to Vietnam will soon realise what intricate, varied, and tasty the country’s food is. Why not take a course that debunks some of the greatest myths around Vietnamese cooking if you have some free time? Hội An, a seaside city, is a well-liked destination for these kinds of activities and also provides a leisurely pace of living by the water.

After touring the enchanted historic old town with its painted pagodas, canals, and paper lanterns, enrol in a session at the Gioan Cookery School. Before learning the fundamentals of preparing classic dishes like banh xeo (crispy pancakes with a variety of toppings), phở (rice noodles in bone broth), and fresh spring rolls, classes frequently involve a tour of a local market to pick up supplies.

During your sabbatical, make yourself at home at the highly recommended Okra Hoian.

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