The characters in E4’s new comedy drama Gap Year are taking what you might call a fairly typical Asian backpacking adventure – full moon parties in Thailand, sunrise at the Great Wall of China, etc. These are the bucket list items that, on paper at least, are essential.

Of course, the ragtag Gap Year crew are chronically waylaid by humorous disasters (it’s TV, after all) that make their trip anything but typical. You might need to work a little harder to make your own gap year unique.

So we’ve rounded up the destinations featured across the show’s eight episodes and are here to offer some alternative suggestions to what you should see while you’re on your travels. And to celebrate its release, head over to StudentUniverse and use promo code 'E4GAPYEAR' to get an additional £20 off any flights to destinations featured in the show.


Episodes 1-2 – China

Everybody visits...

You have to visit the Great Wall when you’re in China, it’s a travel law, even if most people get there and think: Well, it’s an okay wall, I guess.

So instead...

Visit Shangri-la! Yes, actual name. It’s a town in Tibet some 10,000ft up in the mountains, brimming with jaw-dropping views, Tibetan culture, and all-you-can-eat yak hot pot. It probably has some decent walls, too.

The Great Wall of China at sunset

Make it happen: China on a Shoestring includes the Great Wall, Hong Kong, the Yangtze River, and more.


Episode 3 – Vietnam

Everybody visits...

Ha Long Bay is an otherworldly waterscape characterised by thousands of limestone karsts and islets that would be paradise if only it weren’t swarmed by a similar number of tourists.

So instead...

Delve deep into the Phong Nha Caves found in the heart of the country. These massive cave systems include Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, so big it houses its own river, jungle, and climate.

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha

Make it happen: The Vietnam Explorer covers the whole country, including Ha Long Bay, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, and more.


Episode 4 – Thailand

Everybody visits...

It’s a gap year rite of passage to hit the beach for a Full Moon Party on Koh Pha Ngan. The price of entry is simple: paint yourself neon, dance yourself stupid, and drink yourself incontinent.

So instead...

Try the more relaxed pace of the Koh Yao islands – they boast all the beauty of better-known Thai islands, like Ko Phi Phi, but keep things a bit calmer by offering snorkelling, kayaking, hiking, and more. The perfect place to nurse a hangover.

Koh Yao islands

Make it happen: The Ko-Conut Hopper tour includes Phuket, Koh Lanta, Krabi, and more.


Episode 5 – Borneo, Malaysia

Everybody visits...

If you’re in Borneo it’s probably to meet orangutans at any one of the nature reserves or conservation projects dotted throughout the jungle. We have nothing disparaging to say about that, orangutans are awesome.

So instead...

Kalimantan is on the Indonesian side of Borneo, so we’re cheating a little here. Free of volcanoes and bad weather, its forest is ancient and its trees massive, so its canopy teems with wildlife (including more orangutans which, as you might remember, are awesome).

Baby orangutan in Borneo

Make it happen: The Great Orangutan Project takes you to Borneo to work with awesome orangutans on an award-winning conservation project.


Episode 6 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Everybody visits...

The Petronas Towers are the centrepiece of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, looming 1,483ft above the city. They offer some impressive views, and never fail to look good on Instagram.

So instead...

Thean Hou Temple is no less spectacular for its traditional styling, and is built high enough over the city to provide views just as special as those from the more famous towers.

Thean Hou Temple, Malaysia

Make it happen: The Best of Malaysia tour includes Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka, and more.


Episode 7 – Penang, Malaysia

Everybody visits...

Batu Ferringhi has the advantage of being easy to reach from the city, but the price is murky water swelling with jellyfish and a beach blighted by day trippers and their inevitable detritus.

So instead...

Penang National Park requires a bit more effort, but represents a microcosm of the area’s natural beauty, including jungle, coastline, and a selection of quiet, pristine beaches. There’s even a beach full of monkeys, which are often better behaved than the day trippers.

Penang National Park

Make it happen: The Best of Malaysia tour includes Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka, and more.


Episode 8 – Nepal

Everybody visits...

Kathmandu is where travellers go to find themselves. Instead they often get lost in its knotty, rickshaw-jammed roads, medieval temples, and over-priced backpacker conveniences.

So instead...

Just a few miles outside Kathmandu, the ancient city of Bhaktapur is a little closer to ‘real’ Nepal. You can enjoy its medieval homes and temples at a slower pace. The damage of the devastating  earthquake in 2015 is still in evidence, which means some travellers are staying away, despite the area being completely safe.

Bhaktapur, Nepal

Make it happen: The Trekking Annapurna package offers an incredible, challenging adventure around one of the world's highest mountains.