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Embark on this classic backpacking trip through unique and off-the-beaten path locations throughout Southeast Asia. You will have the opportunity to experience rural village life in some of the most beautiful corners of Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Thailand. Remember, this is a highly-rewarding, travel-intensive itinerary, so pack light and get ready.

With our No-Stress Travel Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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2018 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 19 July 13 Available
July 10 August 3 Available

Program Profile

Countries
Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam
Community Service Component
Next Level
Community Service Focus
Infrastructure, Education
Get to Know
The People, The Sights
Lifestyle
A Little Bit of Everything
Travel Component
On the Go!

  • Day 1

    Departure Day

    Relax and prepare for a world-class trip on Singapore Airlines. Before traveling, you will have received your pre-departure packet, which will include your Rustic T-shirts, luggage tags, country books, airline tickets, and important contact information.

    Once you arrive at your international departure city, our Flight Liaison will help you check-in for your international flight. Your Flight Leader will then escort you all the way to Laos! Once you’re checked in, feel free to relax and get acquainted with your new friends before boarding your flight to Asia!

  • Day 2

    Travel Day

    Today is lost as you cross the international dateline. Fear not – you will get this time back on your way home.

  • Day 3

    The Adventure Begins

    Sabai dee, and welcome to Southeast Asia! Hop a final short flight up to Luang Prabang, Laos, where ancient temples, colonial architecture, a rich history, and unmatched beauty have earned the entire town UNESCO World Heritage status. Tonight you will stay at a guesthouse in town to relax after your journey.

  • Day 4

    Luang Prabang and Around

    After breakfast, you’ll sit down with local Laotian teenagers, serving as a conversation partner.  While learning about their lives, interests and dreams (and sharing about yourself), you’ll also help these local students improve their English fluency and confidence by giving them an opportunity to practice speaking.  

    In the afternoon, adventure awaits you at the seven-tiered Kuang Xi Waterfall. You will get some Laotian lunch before donning our swim suits and diving in the crystal blue water. Get a water massage at the base of the waterfall as fish swim around your feet and occasionally take a little nibble (don’t worry, it’s therapeutic).

    At sunset, climb up the Phosri Mountain in the center of the city for a panoramic sunset the over the Mekong.   Enjoy a Laotian dinner on the riverfront and explore the night market where traditional silks and jewelry abound.

  • Day 5

    Head North to the Mountains of Nong Khiaw

    Today you get an early start, helped along by famous Lao coffee and tea, and head four hours north to Nong Khiaw, a laid-back town on the Nam Ou river.  Once you arrive, settle in to your bungalows before setting off a trek. Reach the top viewpoint for an stunning view of lush, limestone cliffs and peaks.  After dinner, relax to the sound of the river rushing by and get into the groove of northern Laos living.

  • Day 6

    River Cruise and Kayaking!

    Get ready for Laos adventure day!  Pedal around this gorgeous mountain town by bicycle or an easy stroll. You will also have time to explore Pa Tok cave, which was the seat of the local government during the Vietnam War when the villagers in this area needed shelter from the conflict.  Next you’ll hop on a boat for pleasant cruise down the Nam Ou river.  Make your way to Muang Ngoi, a remote, friendly town about an hour away.  Here you’ll get the chance to kayak on the easy flow of the river.  Later in the afternoon, get back in the boat to return to your bungalow in Nong Khiaw.

  • Day 7

    Transit to Vietnam

    Leave northern Laos behind as you weave through the windy roads back to Luang Prabang.  This afternoon you’ll say goodbye to your new Laos friends and fly to your next stop, Vietnam!

    Upon arrival, you will check in to the hotel before hitting the town for a Vietnamese feast! Formerly the capital of French Indochina, today Hanoi is a bustling symbol of modern Vietnam. It is a fascinating fusion of East and West, old and new, with tree-lined lakes, aromas of delectable street food wafting from every direction, and rivers of motorbikes. The city hums with frenetic energy.

  • Day 8 - 9

    Into the Mountains

    Today, you will depart for Ngoc Son-Ngo Luong Nature reserve, several hours outside of the city and into the mountains of western Vietnam. Trek through the lush landscapes that are home to various ethnic minority groups. Along the way you will pass beautiful viewpoints and waterfall before arriving at a Muong village which will be your home for the next two nights. Immerse yourself learning about the daily life of those who live in the mountains of Vietnam, and along the way you will be able to compare village lifestyles in the other countries that you visit on your Backroads adventure.

  • Day 10

    Onward to Ninh Binh

    Say goodbye to your host family as you depart and head to breathtaking, Ninh Binh.  In the afternoon, you will cruise through the beautiful surroundings by bicycle, stopping along the way to take some incredible photographs. You will certainly sleep well tonight!

  • Day 11

    Trang An Grottoes to Hanoi

    Today, you will explore the limestone karst wonderland that is Trang An. Take a bamboo boat down a winding river and explore hidden caves along the way. In the afternoon, you will be back in Hanoi to see some of the sites around town in the evening. You’ll also have the chance to peruse the many souvenir shops in the Old Quarter before sitting down for a nice dinner.

  • Day 12

    Hanoi Highlights to Yangon

    This morning, you will explore some of the many sites in the city of Hanoi. In the late afternoon, you will head to the airport to catch your flight to Yangon, the capital of Myanmar (Burma).  The old British colonial buildings of Yangon are striking, highlighting the diversity of landscapes we will be encountering in such a short space of time on your Backroads adventure. As you drive through the streets of Yangon, take a look around. Formerly one of the most isolated nations in the world, Myanmar is slowly making strides to open itself up, which makes this an exciting time to be here! Admire the thanaka-daubed faces of local women, the handy way the men knot their longyis, and the dignity of saffron-robed monks as they all pass each other on the streets. Pass by teashops, noodle stalls, and marketplaces – this is Myanmar!

    After settling into the hotel and freshening up you will explore the city. Tonight you will get your first taste of delicious regional food and head to Shwedagon Pagoda. This is the most holy shrine for the people of Myanmar where the central chedi contains eight strands of the Buddha’s hair. You will see how the locals worship and get an introduction to Buddhism in Myanmar. You will circumambulate the central chedi and make offerings for good luck. You will be feeling right at home here in no time at all.

  • Day 13

    Head to Shan State

    In the morning you’ll fly from Yangon to Heho, the heart of the southern Shan State.  Upon arrival, you will take a short, gorgeous bus ride across the rolling hills of farmland to Kalaw — a town that once served as a retreat for the British back in colonial times. This afternoon, you will tour the town and learn a bit about the fascinating history of Kalaw and its diverse population.

  • Day 14

    Hiking to Kalaw

    Today allows you to explore the natural beauty of Kalaw with a short hike to the nearby reservoir or viewpoint, passing through forests and beautiful landscapes. Explore the local markets before coming back to shower, recoup, and eventually eat a delicious traditional dinner before sleeping soundly after a long day of trekking.

  • Day 15

    Inle Lake and Onwards to Bagan

    Early this morning you’ll drive from the hills of Kalaw down to the shores of Inle Lake! This natural lake has bounty of marine life that supports many self-sufficient communities accessible only by boat and is relatively untouched by the influences of modern development. You will see the fisherman in action, casting their nets, laying their traps just as they have for thousands of years. In addition to Shan, Pa-Oh and Bamar ethnic groups, there are the Inta, famous for standing and rowing their boats with one foot while balancing on the other. It is an amazing sight that would make any yoga teacher jealous.

    If the afternoon, leave Inle Lake behind for the tranquil archaeological zone of Bagan. You will be amazed at how much the landscape changes after just a one-hour flight. Your hotel here is built amid 1,000-year-old ruins!

    While in Bagan you will explore thousands of ancient pagodas and temples. This city is one of the great marvels of the ancient world, and with our local staff and friends you will get a completely unique experience of this wonderland. These ancient temples were built at the height of the Burmese empire in from the 7th to 13th centuries, but have been relatively abandoned since the empire collapsed after repeated Mongol invasions. You will have ample time to wander, explore, and lose ourselves in the maze of intricate stone structures. In addition to the archeological tour, our staff will introduce you to the locals, you will hear their stories and see what life is like in this sleepy town surrounded by the legends of antiquity.

  • Day 16

    Bagan, Bagan, Bagan!

    You will continue to explore the wonders of Bagan. The morning includes sampling tea in a traditional tea shop and a chance to sit down for a conversation with students from a local language center.

    In the afternoon you will hop on a boat across the Irrawaddy River to an island, home to multiple members of ‘Team Myanmar’. Meet their families, browse the childhood photos and get involved in a game of ‘cane ball’ (volleyball with your feet).  Best of all, sit down for enjoy one of the tastiest traditional meals you can find, cooked by our team’s family! Head back across the river to explore the ancient pagodas, winding through the dusty roads on bicycles and trucks! End the day with another stunning sunset from the top of a pagoda.

  • Day 17

    Service and a Bonfire!

    Today will be a mix of service and exploration. Kick off the day learning about our service partner, their story, background and objectives.  Today’s projects could include tasks towards improved access to water, supporting the initiatives of a local language center, or meeting trainee students from a restaurant supporting disadvantaged youth.  

    In the evening you’ll head back towards your hotel for a special treat, a bonfire surrounded by stars and pagodas!

  • Day 18

    Bus to Mandalay and U Bein Bridge

    Grab your bags and hop on the bus to Mandalay. Don’t fret, you’ll break up the four-hour trip with stops, hanging out in one of the many tea shops and talking about the Mandalay’s rich history, while sampling some of the many snacks on offer, by far the most popular pastime.

    Your last stop in Myanmar, Mandalay was the last royal capital before the British invaded the city in 1885. The royal palace and many other magnificent temples are still intact. You will visit U Bein Bridge, which is said to be the longest teak bridge in the world. Take in the view from on the bridge or on a boat, capturing one of Myanmar’s iconic images.

  • Day 19

    Morning Alms, Fly to Bangkok

    Waking up early you will see the daily ritual of saffron-robed monks heading out of the temples in the morning mist to collect alms and bless their patrons. You will make an offering and accept good merit before flying to Bangkok, Thailand.

    Upon arriving in Bangkok, you will be picked up by our chartered bus and head directly to Chatuchak Weekend Market, known to be the largest outdoor market in the world. Peruse the nearly-infinite stalls in search of souvenirs, trinkets, and more. The hustle and bustle of colorful crowds buying and selling is quintessential Bangkok. There is delicious Thai food at every corner and maze-like alleys of neat products for sale. Having shopped to your heart’s content, you’ll then return to your hotel for the night so you can rest up for the beach finale!

  • Day 20

    Fly to Phuket, connect to Ko Yao Noi

    This morning you will have some extra time to sleep before heading to the airport to catch your flight to southern Thailand. The one-hour flight will bring you to Phuket, one of Thailand’s most well-known tropical destinations. Upon arrival, you will connect directly to Ko Yao Noi, where you will settle into the groove of life in Southern Thailand. After checking in to your hotel, you will have some time to relax at the ocean and enjoy a traditional Thai massage – the perfect way to unwind after what has been a busy couple of weeks across Southeast Asia thus far.

  • Day 21 - 22

    Exploring Ko Yao Noi by Bicycle and Kayak

    Over the next two days, you will explore the island by bicycle and by kayak, learning about the local industries and way of life along the way. You will pass through coconut farms and quaint fishing villages, stopping to swim, meet people, and sample delicacies along the way. There will also be plenty of time for relaxing on the beach and enjoying the time with your new friends here at Koh Yao Noi – which will be just what the doctor ordered after all that you have seen and done over the past twenty days.

  • Day 23

    Free morning, then ferry back to Phuket

    The final day of Backroads! It is time to reflect on the your adventures; it seems like only yesterday that you were exploring the back alleys of Hanoi, and now you are on a beach in paradise. You have travelled to many of the “bucket list” sites in SE Asia, met the locals, experienced many different cultures, explored ruins, and tasted exotic treats. Today you will explore some of the most beautiful spots in southern Thailand on a full day boat tour. Bring your swimsuit, sunscreen and sunglasses as you set sail to explore the islands by traditional longtail boat. You will go to some of the more remote beaches, snorkeling at beautiful reefs along the way. In the afternoon, you will take a boat back to Phuket where you will have your closing ceremonies and one of the most famous shows in Thailand, Siam Niramit, an epic story about the history of Thailand.

  • Day 24

    Departure Day!

    In the morning your group will depart for Bangkok. If you are continuing on another Rustic adventure you will meet your group there, and everyone else will continue the trip home. Bon Voyage!

    ** Please be aware that students traveling to LAX will have an overnight layover in Singapore on the way home, during which our staff will take them to a hotel not far from the airport. Students will be checked through to LAX from Southeast Asia, and the flight departs from Singapore at 9:25am. All students on our group flights arrive home on Fridays, regardless of whether they return to JFK or LAX. **

  • Day 25

    Welcome Home!

    Return home and tell friends and family about your incredible experience on Backroads!

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email thailand@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • We recommend a 25-35 liter backpack due to the amount of traveling. Hard-case luggage with wheels has proven to be difficult to carry from place to place on this trip. Please travel with a backpack that you can carry around.

  • As a reminder we ask that you carry 2 copies of you passport information page and 6 passport sized photographs.

    Laos and Vietnam: You will receive a Visa on Arrival when entering in o these countries. You will need 2 passport photos at the Immigration checkpoint for each country.

    Burma: You are required to obtain an Tourist e-Visa prior to departure. Be aware that this is only good for 90 days from when it is processed, so don’t apply too early!

    Students from the United States will be issued Tourist Visa on Arrival to Thailand. Students from other countries should check with their consulate.

  • In remote areas of Southeast Asia, crime rates are extremely low. These are small, friendly communities where everyone knows each other, and they truly act in communal fashion.

    While in major cities we advise our students to be aware of pick pocketing, especially in the markets. It is also always wise to double check money when receiving change to ensure it is correct. Traffic in major cities in abundant and when walking around we take caution to be aware of moving vehicles. Unlike western countries, pedestrians don’t always have the right of way in SE Asia.

  • There will be opportunities to do laundry about once a week. Typically laundry is brought to local vendors or hotels that provide services for $2-4 per kilogram.

  • We recommend bringing $120-150 per week. This money can be used to buy souvenirs at markets, make donations at temples or aid-based organizations, snacks along that way and laundry.

  • It’s hot and humid in the day and a little bit cooler at night. Daily downpours are short and give way to sunny skies. Be prepared for heat and dampness. Synthetic fiber clothing is great because it dries fast.

  • It is common to have a 6 student: 1 staff ratio. There will be 2 western staff (1 male and 1 female) as well as 1 or 2 local guides.

  • Yes. There will be clean, sanitized drinking water available at all times. Water from faucet is okay to brush teeth with but not from drinking. Be sure to carry along your reusable water bottle to stay hydrated!

  • Yes. Students can expect to have access to the Internet twice per week, though the connection may not be strong. Though students are allowed to travel with cell phones they are not encouraged to use them. Staff will have cell phones that students can use to call home if necessary.

    We encourage students to “live in the present” and to “disconnect” from the digital world. We want students to experience the culture of the places we visit. It is common for trips to set times allocated for Internet use.

  • Yes. Although we will visit remote areas, there is either electricity supplied or solar power. It is recommended however, that students charge their electronics while staying in guesthouses in the major towns / cities.

  • When you’re in each country you will be traveling around by vans and/or buses, trains and boats. You will take short flights in between each country.

  • Southeast Asia is known for delicious delicacies and cuisines, and you’ll be sure to sample a wide variety of dishes in each country. One thing is certain – rice is a staple part of the diet in each country. Be sure to try Laarb in Laos, Bun Cha and Pho in Vietnam, Laphet Thohk (Green tea salad) in Burma and Pad kra pow in Thailand. Whether you like spicy or food on the more mild side they have it all is Southeast Asia.

  • Despite the name of the program, accommodations on this trip are actually pretty comfortable. Students should be prepared to home-stay in a village for a night in both Laos and Vietnam, and the rest of the time they will be staying in simple-but-clean guesthouses and hotels.

    In Laos, you will be staying at the Laos Base House on the Mekong River. Accommodations are traditional village houses with thatched roofing and made entirely out of wood. You will sleep on a padded mat underneath a mosquito net. There are shared western style toilets with hot water showers.

    In Vietnam, you will stay at a modern guesthouse with air-con rooms with hot showers while in Hanoi. For your Sapa portion of the trip, you will sleep in a traditional home-stay in a remote mountain village. Expect to sleep on wooden floors underneath a mosquito net. Expect bucket showers and a squat toilet.

    While traveling through Burma, you will be staying in guesthouses with western toilets and showers though do not expect to have air-con rooms.

    Be prepared to spend a night in a bamboo hut and take a shower by pouring a cold bucket of water over your head along the way!

  • You will take part in a few service initiatives while visiting villages. In Laos, you will conduct education enrichment programs with school children in a mountain village. At your home-stay in Vietnam you will help local villagers in their fields and learn about the agricultural practices of this region. In Burma you will be working on a small, remote island helping the community generally and working with the children on their English.

  • HX Global provides the most up to date information regarding the countries you’ll be visiting. We recommend visiting their website at http://hx-global.com/ or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov.

    We also suggest consulting with a travel doctor prior to your travels for further information.

  • Malaria and Dengue Fever are present in Southeast Asia. Mosquitoes are abundant whenever the rain starts and in the early mornings and at dusk. Protection is the best prevention. Please bring along mosquito repellent with DEET (20-30% is recommended). Packing light weight long-sleeve shirts and pants to wear during the “mosquito hours” is also a great form of protection. Students will be provided with mosquito nets for sleeping while in home-stays and at Base Houses.

  • Communication with the locals you will be meeting will be key on this program and can be done in a variety of ways. A lot of people in the larger towns speak English to a certain level of degree. Your local guides will teach you common phrases to use every day. It can be a lot of fun practicing these phrases and trying to use your own style of sign language as well! People will be interested in hearing about your culture as you are in theirs. In addition, our talented local staff speak these native languages and will serve as your gateway to these cultures, translating and explaining what people are saying.

  • This trip connects seamlessly with other programs throughout Southeast Asia. Connecting is a great idea if your travel plans allow for it!

Here is a detailed packing list for your trip to Southeast Asia this summer. Remember that you will be responsible for carrying your belongings everywhere you go, so PACK LIGHT! If your bag weigh more than 35 pounds you have probably over-packed!

Weather in Southeast Asia
The summer time is known as the “rainy season” or the “green season” in Southeast Asia–days are generally hot and humid, with brief and refreshing showers that keep everything lush and green. Temperatures cool off once the sun goes down making for pleasant evenings. Because of the heat, you will need to drink a lot more water than you are used to drinking to stay hydrated!

Important Notes About Your Luggage
Everything should fit into one checked bag since you will be moving around and will be traveling by car, boat, bus, etc. A backpacking backpack will work best, but we strongly recommend that you do not use wheeled bags as they are cumbersome when moving around villages, and take up lots of space at homestays. Do not forget to bring a small backpack as a carry-on that you can use to fit your daily gear. The clothing that you bring should be able to get wet, dirty, and/or destroyed during service work and program activities. Make sure everything you pack in your carry-on complies with the carry on regulations of the TSA: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

Temple Visits
When visiting temples you will need to dress appropriately. Wearing clean, modest clothes that cover the knees and shoulders is a must. Being respectful is the name of the game!

A Note to Females About Attire in Rural Southeast Asia
Southeast Asian cultures are very conservative. Despite the hot climate, you will almost never see women with their shoulders exposed or wearing low cut shirts or short shorts. As we seek to respect and preserve the culture of the communities we work with, we strongly urge you to dress respectfully. Students and staff must realize that when they dress improperly, they are embarrassing everyone around them. If you are not wearing proper attire, you may need to change your clothes or abstain from the service project of the day.

To dress respectfully in Southeast Asia, please don’t wear short shorts, low cut tops, or tank tops while out in public areas. In most cases, shorts that cover just above the knees are fine. As mentioned above, yoga pants and leggings are not appropriate.

Laundry
Access to laundry can vary, but you will have access to laundry at least once a week while on the program. Expect to pay between $8-$22 per load.

Carry-On

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

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money/ATM card
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pens (2)
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle
  • Medications
  • Additional community service forms
  • Visa documentation
  • Outlet power converter (for transit only! Thailand uses the same plugs as
  • the USA–just make sure all electronics are compatible with 220v)
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
  • Extra t-shirt and underwear

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter backpack is ideal. Duffle bags and rolling suitcases are not recommended for this program.

  • 2-3 pairs of lightweight pants, jeans (hot!) or capris. Activewear/yoga pants are acceptable while being active (or while on the Base), but not suitable at the village, market, temple, etc. Many of our students and staff end up in “elephant pants” very soon after they arrive, so don’t fret if you need help in this area–inexpensive solutions await you in country!
  • 2-3 pairs of shorts/skirts Shorts and skirts for the women must go to the knees or longer!
  • 8-10 pairs of underwear – Quick-dry material is best
  • 3-4 pairs of socks – lightweight cotton or quick dry athletic socks are best.  
  • 5-7 tops (t-shirts and sports shirts)-they can be cotton, or quick dry shirts like capilene or polypropylene. Tank tops are generally not acceptable unless for time at the pool/beach. Keep in mind you will find cool T-shirts and clothes at markets you will be visiting throughout the summer, which can supplement the tops you bring over.
  • 2-3 light, long sleeve t-shirt–breathable is best for the sun and certain areas of the region can get buggy or chilly (if you’re lucky!) at night
  • 1 lightweight hoodie–most likely needed on flights, in movie theaters, and in airports. Most people will be fine without one.
  • 2 swimsuits –for females, two piece suits are fine but no skimpy bikinis please.
  • 1 Sarong/shawl/lightweight towel (not white!)–Many accommodations will have towels for you to use, but it is handy to have something of your own for sitting poolside or visiting a waterfall
  • A nice casual outfit–for special end of program dinners.

Important Items

  • Flashlight or headlamp (rechargeable batteries are preferable)
  • Ultra-lightweight rainproof jacket–fear not if you don’t have one, ponchos are widely available and do a better job!
  • Hat–for the sun
  • Comfortable flip-flops or crocs–Footwear that is easy to clean and easy to take on and off. You’ll be amazed at how often you’ll be taking on and off your shoes. Cheap flip-flops and crocs are widely available in Asia for a fraction of the cost.
  • Closed-toed athletic shoes – shoes that dry quickly, that you can hike short distances in and that protect your feet are best. Shoes will get muddy and dirty, so don’t get too attached to your footwear.
  • A color photocopy of your Passport.

Toiletries:

Most general toiletries are available throughout the region. We suggest packing all items that could leak in a plastic or ziploc bag

  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and soap – you may want to bring biodegradable or natural soap and shampoo, but they are not required
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Insect repellent–we suggest a natural option or something with DEET
  • Hydrocortisone/anti-itch cream or after bite
  • Hand sanitizer -1 small bottles. We don’t want you getting sick this summer!
  • Contact lenses and solution (widely available and inexpensive in SE Asia)
  • Sunscreen + Aloe Vera (good quality sunscreen is not readily available in SE Asia and is expensive!)
  • Feminine hygiene supplies-tampons are not widely available in SE Asia. Past staff have suggested trying a diva cup. We recommend you bring what you think you will need for the duration of the summer.

Additional and Optional Items:

  • Phrasebook, guidebook
  • Lip balm
  • Deck of cards
  • Digital camera – Waterproof style shock resistant cameras are great for our trips.  Again, do not depend on your phone–we encourage our students to disconnect from their phones while on program.

Important Reminders

  • SE Asia is a conservative culture with ancient customs based mostly on Buddhism. Dressing respectfully is very important. You will not be allowed to wear short shorts and low cuts tops. Everyone will be expected to respect the people and culture by dressing appropriately.
  • Carry-On Luggage cannot weigh more than 7 kilos (15 lbs.)
  • Check-In Luggage cannot weigh more than 15 kilos (33 lbs.)
  • If your bags weigh more than the amounts specified above, 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), so this is a situation that we always try to avoid!
  • You will have 2-3 chances to do laundry on this trip, please pack light!
  1. a
    Luang Prabang, Laos

    This city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the former capital of Laos Kingdom. A mountainous region where the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers converge, it is well known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries with a rich history of French colonialism.

  2. b
    Nong Tok Village, Laos

    A remote Khmu ethnic village located about 45 minutes outside of the town of Luang Prabang.

  3. c
    Hanoi, Vietnam

    Formerly the capital of French Indochina, today Hanoi is a bustling symbol of modern Vietnam. It is a fascinating fusion of East and West, old and new, with tree-lined lakes, aromas of delectable street food wafting from every direction, and rivers of motorbikes.

  4. d
    Sapa, Vietnam

    Sapa is in the northern mountains of Vietnam, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giáy, Pho Lu, and Tay live. Students will trek into these mountains for a home-stay experience and partake on a service project to support community infrastructure.

  5. e
    Yangon, Burma

    The former capital of Yangon and the country’s largest city with a population of over 5 million. Students will visit the famous Shwedegon Pagoda and explore this vibrant city.

  6. f
    Bagan, Burma

    An ancient city that from the 9th to 13th centuries was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

  7. g
    Inle Lake, Burma

    A freshwater lake located in the Shan State, it is the second largest lake in Burma and one of the highest at an elevation of 2,900 feet (880 m).

  8. h
    Mandalay, Burma

    Mandalay was the last royal capital before the British invaded Burma in 1885. The royal palace and many temples are still intact and is now famous for the numerous monasteries that are home to one of the largest populations of practicing monks in SE Asia.

  9. i
    Bangkok, Thailand

    The capital of Thailand and the economic center of SE Asia with a population of over 14 million. This is home to the historic Grand Palace, famous river canals, and some of the best cuisine in the world. Students will visit the Chatuchak market, which some says is the world’s largest outdoor market.

  10. j
    Koh Phi Phi (islands), Thailand

    Picturesque limestone islands with Crystal clear turquoise water meets white sand beaches against a backdrop of massive limestone cliffs and jungle. We will get a seaside lunch, enjoying the bounty of the sea, and swim into the evening.

  11. k
    Phuket, Thailand

    Final destination and departure airport.