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Golden Lands and World Heritage

Golden Lands and World Heritage

From remote villages to modern cities and sacred ruins to tropical islands, this semester traces a spectacular route through Southeast Asia’s celebrated sites and best-kept secrets. While exploring history, encountering traditional cultures, living like a local, and contributing to community-driven service projects, you’ll gain a profound understanding of the region.
We have many long-term service initiatives here, in the floating villages of the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia to the communities of our local staff from Thailand and Laos. Visit southern Thailand’s world-renowned beaches, cruise remote jungle rivers by boat and visit an orangutan sanctuary in Borneo and dive into the unique cultures, crystal clear waters and take part in coral reef restoration initiatives in Bali.

Students love our programs in Thailand!
Departure Dates
  1. September 17 - December 02, 2020

    Available
Program Profile
  • Countries:

    Thailand

    Cambodia

    Laos

    Malaysia

    Indonesia

  • Department:
    Gap Year
  • Duration:
    11 Weeks
  • Max. Students:
    16
  • Ages:
    17-22
  • Cost:
    $14,995 plus Airfare
  • Interests:
    Beyond Service
  • Program Types:
    Gap Semester
Program Profile
  • Countries:

    Thailand

    Cambodia

    Laos

    Malaysia

    Indonesia

  • Department:
    Gap Year
  • Duration:
    11 Weeks
  • Max. Students:
    16
  • Ages:
    17-22
  • Cost:
    $14,995 plus Airfare
  • Interests:
    Beyond Service
  • Program Types:
    Gap Semester

Thailand

Your semester begins in Chiang Mai Thailand with a two day program orientation. During these two days you will get to know your team, review the semester itinerary, deep dive into program guidelines and expectations, learn about Thai cuisine and culture, and explore famous temples and night markets. Next, you’ll spend three days at an elephant conservation center, gaining hands-on experience with Asian elephants and their mahouts (elephant caretaker). Next, head north for your first village homestay experience. In the villages, you can expect beautifully simple living conditions. Meet with local leaders to learn about the needs of the area while engaging in community driven service.

Laos

Traversing the Mekong by riverboat from Thailand to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, you’ll be struck by the lingering French colonial influence of the architecture and food. Here, you’ll spend a few relaxing days exploring the charming streets, shopping in the world-famous night market, giving morning alms to monks, and exploring the surrounding area. Next, we’ll head north to Nong Khiaw, where you’ll spend several days in a village working on an ongoing service project and learning about Hill Tribe life.

Cambodia

Next, it’s off to Cambodia, another rapidly modernizing Southeast Asian country with a fascinating past. In Siem Reap, the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat will help you understand the Kingdom of Wonder’s rich history. Here you’ll cruise the waterways of the Tonle Sap and “drop anchor” at a floating village for a few days of homestays and service. Traveling south, you’ll spend time in the countryside comparing traditional ways of life to all that you’ve seen in Southeast Asia. Your last stop in Cambodia is the booming town of Phnom Penh where a visit to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields will provide education about the suffering the Khmer Rouge inflicted on Cambodia.

Back to Thailand!

After a quick flight from Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh, your team arrives in Bangkok for a couple of adventure-packed days exploring the famous sights and sounds of this sprawling metropolis. From there, you’ll head south to swim, snorkel, kayak and climb your way through some of Thailand ‘s world-renowned islands and beaches at Koh Tarutao National Marine Park. Snorkel over beautiful reefs and learn about how local industries and ongoing conservation efforts are playing out in this tropical paradise.

Borneo & Bali

The final leg of your journey will be divided between the exotic islands of Borneo and Bali. Starting in Borneo, you’ll explore some of the environmental challenges faced by local communities in today’s resource-hungry global economy. Discover ancient rainforests, live in a homestay in an indigenous community, and traverse jungle rivers by boat. Snorkel pristine reefs, learn about reef restoration, and visit an orangutan rehabilitation center to further understand the complex issues facing wildlife and villages as they work to cohabitate. Your final stop is Bali, where you will live and work in a local community, learning about sustainable fishing practices and ocean plastic recycling initiatives.

Golden Lands and World Heritage includes a one week homestay. There is community service throughout all four countries the group visits and an emphasis on immersion into the cultures of the region through visits to communities with which Rustic Pathways has a longstanding and positive relationship.

The Golden Lands and World Heritage gap program was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. It was a privilege to get to know the amazing local and international staff who guided us through this experience. I really gained some invaluable knowledge and perspective that I plan to carry with me for years to come.

Quote by: Jaron Flynn Canoga Park, California

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think and remember you will find cool clothes to buy along the way, guaranteed!

Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.

Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.

Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.

CARRY-ON
A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Extra passport-size photos
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Outlet power converter
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Medication
  • Visa Documentation (if applicable)
  • All Flight Itineraries
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

CHECKED LUGGAGE
A 70-90 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.

Clothes

  • Socks (5)
  • Underwear (10)
  • Lightweight Pants (1)
  • Long Shorts* (2-3)
  • Collared/Dress shirt (1)
  • T-shirt (6)
  • Tank tops (2)
  • Long sleeve shirt (2)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit (2, must be culturally appropriate)
  • Rain jacket
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Base layers
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers (1-2 pairs)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Work gloves
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong

Toiletries (travel sized in ziplock bags – more available in country)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body Wash
  • Face Wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Feminine hygiene products (bring enough of preferred brand for duration of program)
  • Contacts
  • Contact Solution
  • Foam Earplugs
  • Personal Med Kit
  • Deodorant

 

  • Razor/shaving cream
  • Small packs of tissues

 

Miscellaneous

  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Watch/alarm clock
  • Large ziploc bags
  • Large garbage bags for wet/dirty clothes (1-2)
  • Bed sheet or sleeping bag liner (actual sleeping bag not needed)
  • Pillow Case

Optional

  • Donations: As a responsible travel provider, we firmly believe in giving back to the communities and countries where we operate. As part of our holistic approach to business, we ​run a 501c3 nonprofit that supports high priority projects year round. If you feel inspired to join our global community of travelers making a difference, please consider making a donation here.
  • Portable games (Bananagrams, playing cards, etc)
  • Musical Instrument (remember you have to carry this everywhere!)

IMPORTANT REMINDERS

Our Dress Code Expectations in Southeast Asia:

Southeast Asian cultures are very conservative. Despite the hot climate, people in these parts of the world show less skin than in many Western cultures, and you’ll rarely see low-cut shirts or short shorts in rural communities. As we seek to respect and preserve the culture of the communities we work with, we ask that our students dress conservatively while in the country. If you’re not wearing proper attire, we’ll ask you to change your clothes or abstain from the service project of the day.

To dress respectfully in Southeast Asia, please bring loose-fitting pants or shorts that cover just above the knees (think basketball length). Bring basic t-shirts that cover your shoulders, and please leave all tank tops, cut off shirts, low-cut, see-through, or crop tops at home. As mentioned in our packing lists, yoga pants and leggings are not appropriate because they are too form-fitting. The key is to show less skin and to stay cool by wearing loose-fitted clothing. Check out these tips about how to pack for culturally-immersive travel and why Rustic cares about preserving a conservative dress code on our programs.

Temple Visits. Personal hygiene is important in Southeast Asia, so when visiting temples we want to clean up more than while doing service. Wearing modest, clean clothes that cover the knees and shoulders is a must, as per usual. Being respectful is the name of the game!

Our Dress Code Expectations in Southeast Asia:

  • Community service appropriate attire includes T-shirts with no visible undergarments (tank tops will not be permitted) and shorts should be knee length to be respectful to the local culture and traditions. Leggings DO NOT count as long shorts. Long shorts must be loose fitting, like long basketball shorts, or cargo shorts. Sneakers will get muddy during service activities, so some students like to bring an extra pair.
  • Carry-On Luggage cannot weigh more than 7 kilos (15 lbs.)
  • Checked Luggage cannot weigh more than 20 kilos (44 lbs.) Less than 30lbs is ideal
  • If your bags weigh more than the above-stated amounts, the airlines in Southeast Asia will charge you an excess baggage fee for every kilo over the allowed limit. In past years, we have had students incur significant charges for excess baggage. These fees must be paid in cash at the check-in counter (no USD accepted), a situation that we always try to avoid! Rustic Pathways will not cover these additional costs.
  • Some students prefer hiking boots, and they are nice to have, but in the interest of packing light, it is fine to wear sturdy sneakers that will be comfortable for hiking activities.