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Challenge yourself on one of our most rustic, service-intensive programs. Come with only one carry-on bag and five extra items. Once in country, you’ll shop for clothes and other supplies you’ll need at a local market. Then, head up to the Hill Tribe region of Thailand where you will visit three different villages. Live and work in the villages and complete construction-based projects such as building schoolhouses, bathrooms, and water wells. Learn about Karen life-style and traditions on this immersive and transformative program.

TRAVEL WITH FRIENDS, NOT THINGS

Rustic Pathways has long-term, sustainable partnerships with these villages, so you won’t be a stranger. In fact, these are incredibly welcoming communities. We’ve been down the dirt tracks that lead to these places, and met with the locals to develop a mutually beneficial plan for your stay. The families are excited to share their way of life with you and work alongside your group on projects that meets the needs of their community. They have generously offered a comfortable place for you to sleep and are awaiting your arrival!

LIVE LIKE A THAI LOCAL

You will visit three villages in northern Thailand, for about five days each. As you travel, you will reflect on what you have seen and heard, understand the needs of these villages, and work on both short- and long-term sustainable service initiatives. You will then work with the villagers and your leaders to make the service plan a reality. Build lifelong friendships in the villages where you work, and develop skills that will help you implement service projects back at home.

Discover what it is like to live in a small village far away from the influences of urban society. Your leaders will arrange clean food and water, but expect living conditions to be very rustic and simple. People here don’t rely on the same luxuries we are accustomed to, and students find their sincere approach to life refreshing, and love to spend time with these close-knit families. After just a few days, you will find that you have left behind the world you know. You will soon begin to groove to an entirely different beat here in the mountains of Southeast Asia.

GO HOME RICH!

This trip has a way of leaving lasting impressions and positive memories with students and villagers alike. You will likely go home inspired, with a desire to continue service long after you have left this program. The villagers will also be left with wonderful memories, and they will be grateful for all of the hard work and dedication you have put into these projects.

You’ll return home much richer than you arrived – and if you’ve used your heart and your head well, you will have given something substantial to three villages. You will not only go home a richer person in friendships and experience, but by doing your small part you will have grown as an individual and citizen of the world. You’ll never forget this trip!

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 12 July 6 Limited
July 3 July 27 Available
July 24 August 17 Available

Program Profile

Country
Thailand
Community Service Component
Advanced
Community Service Focus
Infrastructure
Get to Know
The People
Lifestyle
Live Like a Local
Travel Component
Moderate Travel Involved

Welcome to one of our most intense service programs in Southeast Asia! The program name is not a joke. If you come, you can only pack one light bag: pack one change of clothing, a lightweight sleeping bag/sack, your necessary hygiene items and medicines, and no more than five things you feel might be important during your trip. These might include a camera, a notebook, a tape recorder, or a book – it’s up to you. Just leave everything else at home. When you get to Thailand, you’ll be given a locally made backpack and $50 to buy clothing for the next three weeks. You’ll be surprised how far this money goes at the local market. You may also be surprised that many families in villages around the world live on less than $50 per month.

TRAVEL WITH FRIENDS, NOT THINGS

Rustic Pathways has friends in these villages, so you won’t be a stranger. In fact, you’ll be welcomed like family. We’ve been down the dirt tracks that lead to these places, and we’ve asked the villagers if you could visit. We’ve told them you would like to stay for a week, get to know them, and help out around the village – and they agreed! They have arranged a comfortable place for you to sleep, and have spoken at length about how excited the children will be to meet you. They’re all waiting for you to arrive.

LIVE LIKE A VILLAGER

You will visit three villages in northern Thailand, for about five days each. As you travel, you will reflect on what you have seen and heard, assess the needs of these villages, and work on designing both short- and long-term sustainable service initiatives. You’ll learn to make a plan, gather materials, work within a budget, and set a timeframe to complete the project. You will then work with the villagers and your leaders to put the plan into action. Build lifelong friendships in the villages where you work, and develop skills that will help you organize service projects back at home.

Step back in time and discover what it is like to live in a small village far away from the influences of modern society. Your leaders will arrange clean food and water, but expect living conditions to be very rustic and humble. People here don’t have many things, and students find their sincere approach to life refreshing, and love to spend time with these close-knit families. After just a few days, you will find that you have left behind the world you know. You will soon begin to groove to an entirely different beat here in the mountains of Southeast Asia.

GO HOME RICH!

This trip has a way of leaving lasting impressions and positive memories with students and villagers alike. You will likely go home inspired, with a desire to continue service long after you have left this program. The villagers will also be left with wonderful memories, and they will be grateful for all of the hard work and dedication you have put into these projects.

You’ll return home much richer than you arrived – and if you’ve used your heart and your head well, you will have given something substantial to three villages. You will not only go home a richer person in friendships and experience, but by doing your small part you will have made this world a better place. You’ll never forget this trip!

ARE YOU UP FOR THE CHALLENGE?

Come With Nothing, Go Home Rich is an intense experience that involves a lot of hard work. Generally, students who are not prepared for the rustic conditions on this program have some difficulty adjusting.

Despite being different from what you are used to, living standards in remote Thai villages are quite clean, and staff will make sure you are well informed in each village you visit. While the rustic conditions may require some adjustment, the vast majority of our students really enjoy the opportunity to live like local people in three different locations.

However, you can and should expect your comfort levels to be tested throughout the trip. We are not trying to scare you away, but the success of this program depends on having participants who are ready for this kind of experience. If you are expecting a comfortable, relaxing, five-star holiday, you will be in for quite a surprise when you arrive. Thus, we would like to state the facts clearly so all participants know what to expect:

  • Mornings come early in rural Thailand and you must wake up with your host family. They will be up preparing breakfast and getting ready for the day as soon as the first roosters crow and often before the sun begins to rise.
  • Personal space is very limited in many of the hill tribe villages that we visit.
  • You will find yourself in places that do not have Western-style toilets or showers for extended periods of time. You will learn to use the same facilities the villagers use – you’ll be using a “squat” toilet and showering with a bucket.
  • You will always be well fed, but picky eaters will not always have a lot of options to choose from. Students who do not eat the local cuisine (which is generally pretty simple and tasty) can expect instant noodles, eggs, peanut butter sandwiches, rice, rice soup, and fruit.
  • You will be out of cell phone and internet range for the majority of this program, and electricity may even be limited, as generators shut off in most rural villages at about 9:00 PM.

If you are not comfortable with any of the above facts than you should probably check out another program. On the other hand, if you are up for an adventure and seeking a dramatically different service experience that will fully immerse you in fascinating cultures and places, Come With Nothing, Go Home Rich is the program for you!

A NOTE TO FEMALE STUDENTS ABOUT DRESS CODE:

Women in hill tribe villages dress extremely conservatively, and we require our students to always be respectful and mindful of the local culture.

Throughout this program, you will be expected to show respect to the local people by wearing rather conservative clothing. Conservative dress will also prevent you from embarrassing yourself and losing face in the locals’ eyes. Since most days spent in the village will involve labor-intensive service work, you will also need to wear comfortable clothing that will protect you from scrapes and scratches.

Capri-style pants generally work the best. If they’re not your style, you need to do your best to find shorts that cover your knees. When you’re teaching in a school, you’ll need to wear a long skirt or wrap a sarong around your waist. In addition, low-cut tank tops are strongly discouraged everywhere (and never permitted in a school), and whenever possible you should cover your shoulders. These points are especially important to remember any time you enter a school, where you should always look as good as you possibly can. Although you may feel fine dressed in your normal clothes, you can quickly become a spectacle and do more harm than good if you are inappropriately dressed in these traditional places. Please respect this aspect of the culture and everybody will win!

Want to extend your summer adventure and spend some time living comfortably to contrast your weeks of sleeping on the floor? Consider combining your Come With Nothing program with our fantastic Amazing Thailand Adventure tour. This program also connects to our all other great trips in Southeast Asia, China, and India.

  • Day 1

    International travel days as you leave your home country bound for Thailand.

  • Day 2

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

  • Day 3

    Arrive into Thailand, meet other Rustic students on your program and get to know your trip leaders. After some snacks and a meal, board a domestic flight with your group to the northern city of Chiang Mai. Here your local staff will join you, take you to the Rustic Pathways Base House and then head out for your first traditional Thai meal. Welcome to THAILAND!

  • Day 4

    The focus of today will be getting you oriented to Northern Thailand culture, foods, lifestyles and the environment. Learn about Buddhism and its influence on the region while you visit a temple. Taste delicious curries, Thai treats and random foods as you walk around a food market.

    Today your trip leaders will also give you more insight into the villages you will be visiting, the projects you will be undertaking and the people you will be getting to know. You will be then be given your local backpack, shopping money from your $50 budget and then it’s off to the markets to buy your supplies.

  • Day 5

    Today is best known as acclimation day. You will continue to get to know Thailand by visiting markets and other cultural sights, however you will leave the city of Chiang Mai behind. Today you will travel out to the rural parts of Thailand and spent the evening in one of Rustic Pathways remote Base Houses. Tonight you will be sleeping on a mat underneath a mosquito net in a traditional style house.

  • Day 6 - 22

    After your acclimation day the group will travel to its first village.

    During the program, the group will visit 3 different villages, spending 4-5 nights in each village. The group will spend 2 nights in between villages that serve as rest days. On these rest days, trip leaders will prepare activities for the group.

    Below is the generic outlook of how these days may look.

    Village service and Homestay days:

    Spend 4-5 nights in a rural village and work on a service project in northern Thailand. Here’s what you can expect:

    • sleeping in a the household of local family with 3-5 other students
    • eating meals as group or with your homestay family
    • rising before 7 am and in bed before 9 pm
    • working on a service project (expect 5-7 hours a day of service)
      • teaching English, construction, landscaping, farm work, etc.
    • no western amenities (squat toilets and bucket showers) and limited electricity for the duration of your village stay
    • little to no English spoken amongst the villagers
    • no use of electronic devices (cell phones / I-pods / I-pads / MP 3 players)

    Travel / Rest Days:

    These two days are designed as travel / rest days to rejuvenate the body while also exploring the areas in between the village home-stays. These days may include temple visits, swimming in waterfalls, exploring caves, bamboo rafting and shopping in markets.

    You will sleep in a guesthouse or a Rustic Pathways Base House while traveling in between you village home-stays. We also designate times that students can access the Internet and do laundry.

     

  • Day 23

    Today will be your final morning in the village. After saying goodbyes to the villagers and the families you stayed with, you will begin your travels back to the city of Chiang Mai, thus completing your Northern Loop. Tonight you will sleep at the Rustic Pathways Base House.

  • Day 24

    Today is your final day in Thailand. Your trip leaders will prepare the day to make sure you get to experience all that you will miss about Thailand. Visit temples, shop at markets, taste on delicious snacks, get a massage…..the possibilities are endless.

  • Day 25

    This morning you will say your goodbyes to your local staff and other trip leaders and head to the airport.

    Notes about the itinerary:

    Every Come With Nothing trip operates differently from each other.  The everyday activities vary due to the fact that village life can be unpredictable at times.  On your trip you may be invited to village ceremonies: weddings, festivities, religious holidays.  Trip leaders also tend to plan surprise activities for our students over the duration of the program.  Generally speaking, we like the itinerary to be immersive, adventurous and sporadic, all while being educational.  One just never knows what may happen on a Come with Nothing program.

    The Come with Nothing route, informally known as the Northern Loop, travels through Mae Sariang, Khun Yuam, Mae Hong Son, and Pai. These areas are home to numerous hill-tribe ethnic groups including the Karen, Shan, Hmong and Lisu, along with Burmese natives. Students on this program will learn about the different cultures and customs of several ethnic groups and how they have adjusted and integrated into Thai society. Each of these ethic groups have their own customs and traditions, as well as their own language, thus affording students a unique experience.

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

  • Rustic Pathways has been to these villages and met with the elders already. They know that you are coming and are expecting you to come as well. We have friends in the villages and you will not feel awkward here. Usually, we stay in about 3 or 4 different houses, boys and girls are separate (boys in one house w/ the family and male leader, girls in another house w/ a female leader). Usually it is the village elder’s house and some of his friends and family or nearby neighbors. We all gather for dinner and eat at the same house. In the houses (either made out of bamboo or teak-wood), we sleep on simple mats under mosquito nets. In between villages we will be staying at small guesthouses and Rustic Pathways Base Houses along the way. All bedding and new mosquito nets will be provided for.

  • This trip has a capacity of 15 students. There will be 2 western staff (1 male, 1 female) as well as 1 or 2 local staff. We will also have our 3 van drivers (2 passenger vans and one small van for bags / equipment) with us at all times who also help out with dinners and other activities.

  • While in villages students will be eating local food prepared by our van drivers, villagers and students. We cook Thai food that the students are comfortable eating and also throw in a local experimental dish for the students to try out. Our staff does the best that they can to accommodate vegetarian and kosher diets, however students must expect strict adherence to be very challenging. Every year we have many students who are able to make it through the trip without bending their diets, and many who choose to eat the same foods that the villagers eat during the program.

    Rustic Pathways staff will support our students regardless of how they choose to eat while on the program. Additionally, our staff is quite good at cooking eggs and instant noodles just about every way you could imagine for students with conservative eating habits. However, students should understand that refusing to eat high quality food when it is presented by the villagers is sometimes perceived as disrespectful and can make them feel bad about the hospitality they are providing. Any effort show on the part of the students to express appreciation for the hospitality really goes a long way!

    While in villages students will be eating local food prepared by our van drivers, villagers and students. We cook Thai food that the students are comfortable eating and also throw in a local experimental dish for the students to try out. Our staff does the best that they can to accommodate vegetarian and kosher diets, however students must expect strict adherance We also cook vegetarian dishes as well. We have catered to Vegans before too and other dietary restrictions. In between villages we eat at local restaurants.

  • Yes. During this trip students will be drinking out of bottled water at all times. Before we enter a village, we visit the markets to buy our supplies. Depending on the amount of students on the trip and how many days we will be staying, we buy several large packs of bottled water. Kids write their names in permanent markers on the bottles to make sure they are drinking out of their own water bottles.

  • Yes. Student can either try to wash their clothes the local way in the village, or we will also have laundry stops during our days between villages.

  • Extra baggage for other programs will not be a problem. This program will start and finish in Chiang Mai, and students will be able to store bags at one of our Base Houses to grab before they leave the country or connect to a different program. Additionally, we always have more than enough room in our vans to accommodate these situations. Even if students will be joining other programs, we always encourage them to pack as little as possible, and we almost never have students regretting that they brought too much stuff.

  • We usually recommend about $150 / week. This money can be used to buy souvenirs in local markets. They will also need money for internet, laundry, phone calls home, massages and snacks for road trips.

  • There are clinics located throughout the region, and larger facilities in the larger towns near the villages in which we work, namely Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, Pai, and Chiang Mai. Health care in Thailand is generally very good, and visitors are always surprised at the level of care and the efficiency of the major facilities. Chiang Mai is home to several top-standard facilities which cater to foreigners.One of the best hospitals in all of Asia – Bumrungrad Hospital – in located in Bangkok. Students on this program will need to see a travel doctor/physician a couple of months before their departure to get recommended travel vaccinations. If you would like to do research on your own about travel risks, check out the Center for Disease Control website (http://www.cdc.org) to learn more about what vaccinations are recommended.

  • Yes. In between villages we will stop at internet. Although students are allowed to have cell phones, they are not encouraged to use them. Staff will all have cell phones which students can use to call home at reasonable rates.

  • Although it is rainy season in Thailand during the whole summer, the weather is still very nice. If it rains, it will usually rain hard in the late afternoon for 30-45 minutes and then stop and be sunny again. The weather in Thailand is also very hot and can be humid at times too.

  • Although it never seems as if there are a large amount of bugs, students must always be protecting themselves from them. It is important that students have bug spray (which we can buy in Thailand).

  • During the CWNGHR program, students will act like NGO’s (Non Government Organizations). After students settle into their homes, we have a meeting with the head of the village and several village elders. Here, we ask them questions about their village and where they feel they could use some help. The next day we tour the village and assess the needs keeping in mind Short Term Projects and Long Term Projects. They visit the school, local clinic, several houses, village water sources and any other areas we feel may need help. Short term projects can be teaching at the school, running a camp for the students, working alongside villagers in the ricefields, etc. Long term more sustainable projects can be building a library, toilets at the school, repairing the village’s water holding tanks, etc. All the projects are up to the students and leaders help guide them through the decision process. Students are also in charge of a $1,000 budget which they will need to distribute amongst the three villages and the projects we do. This money is used for donation materials (school supplies, medicines, farm equipment, etc) as well as supplies for our projects. We work as a team to and have discussions on how to use this money in the best way. This program needs students to be involved in the process and decision making.

  • Life in the villages is very simple, relaxing and slow paced. Many of these people are farmers and they spend long days in the rice fields or farms. Many elders stay at home with the young kids and lounge around all day. Students will be able to help out with family chores, cooking, cleaning, and a lot of game playing with the local children.

  • Bathrooms in the villages are very small and simple. All of them have squat toilets that need to be flushed by hand (pouring a small bit of water into the toilet). Also there are no hot showers in the villages. Showers are cold water “bucket showers”. There is a big tub of water where students take a bucket and pour the water over them. Don’t worry, everyone gets used to these types of showers and after a while they are fun (but they also make you appreciate a hot water shower in our guesthouse in between villages a lot more)!

  • You’ll be amazed at how far sign language and body gestures go. Also, don’t worry, you will have bilingual staff to help you communicate to the locals. Along the way, you will also be taking a few lessons in Thai that will help you get by and make friends with the locals.

  • In between villages we will be taking long road trips through winding roads in the mountains and countryside. These van trips are a lot of fun. Students are not allowed to bring their Ipods into the village, but they are allowed to use them in the vans so it’s a lot of fun making playlists and sharing music. We also stop in several towns and may sleep in a guest house or Rustic Pathways Base House. While here we may get massages, go to local markets, check emails, do laundry and get a tour of the town and local temples.

  • Drive lengths can vary, but may be up to 6-8 hours on our longest days. Don’t worry, we are always stopping for snacks, food and other surprises along the way!

  • Because of the intensity of this trip, we are looking for smart, mature, focused and active students who show good leadership skills and are committed to the community service projects that we will do in the villages. This trip has several meetings with NGO heads, government officials and village elders and we would like the students to be active in asking questions and listening. Also, during this trip we will be talking about some major issues such as refugees, migrant workers, malaria, sustainable development and more. The students will also be in charge of a $1,000 budget where they will be responsible for distributing this money how they see fit for different service projects. We would not want a younger student to feel lost, left out of discussions or feel that the program is too tough. Please understand that this is an advanced service project which is best suited for older students.

  • Yes. Although the villages that we visit are in very remote areas, there is either electricity supplied to the village or solar cells. Students can charge their cameras in the village if necessary. It is recommended however, that students charge their electronics in between villages when we stay at guesthouses and Rustic Pathways Base houses.

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 small bag or backpack is ideal.

  • 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

  • A note about appropriate dress: 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, respect the culture and respect the environment / community around you.
  • Carry-On Luggage cannot weigh more than 7 kilos
  • Check-In Luggage cannot weigh more than 15 kilos.
  • If your bags weigh more than this, 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!
  • DO NOT BRING BULKY HIKING/WORK BOOTS! These are not needed and will become a burden
  1. a
    Chiang Mai, Thailand

    The largest and most populated city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is the former capital of the Kingdon of Lanna. Its history dates back over 700 years. Students will explore ancient temples and shop at the famous Night Bazaar. Students sleep at the Base House in Chiang Mai and will begin their porgram orientation and shopping here.

  2. b
    Mae Sariang, Thailand

    Welcome to Thailand! Mae Sariang is a quaint little mountain town that is home to the Rustic Pathways Children’s Home. The RPCH serves as the first day / night of acclimation for students where they sleep in mosquito nets on wooden floors.

  3. c
    Rural Village - Mae Sariang (Dton Ngiew village)

    4 night stay at a remote village (will update once village is selected). Students will participate in an on-going service initiative aimed to improve the infrastructure of the local community and school.

  4. d
    Khun Yuam, Thailand

    Students will travel to this town to load up on supplies, spend one night at guesthouse and then prepare for their next village.

  5. e
    Rural Village - Khun Yuam region (Huay Hoong village)

    4 night stay at a remote village (will update once village is selected). Students will participate in an on-going service initiative aimed to improve the infrastructure of the local community and school.

  6. f
    Mae Hong Son, Thailand

    Traveling up to the northwest region of Thailand near the Thai-Burmese border, students will have rest / touring days to shop, vist ,ancient Burmese temples and do laundry.

  7. g
    Rural Village - Mae Hong Son (Mai Sa Pae village)

    4 night stay at a remote village (will update once village is selected). Students will participate in an on-going service initiative aimed to improve the infrastructure of the local community and school.

  8. h
    Pai, Thailand

    Student will travel to the main district of Pai. Here students will rest and explore hot springs/waterfalls, shop at markets and eat Western food, if they prefer.