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Get certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR and practice basic medical skills in the communities surrounding the Ricefields Service Base in northeastern Thailand. Learn about rural healthcare through hands-on medical assessments alongside trained professionals in a village clinic. Then, explore the world of holistic medicine while you learn the basics of Thai massage, reflexology, and other ancient wellness techniques. Take home tangible skills, accredited certifications, and a greater understanding of community-based medicine.

Program Profile

Country
Thailand
Community Service Component
Next Level
Community Service Focus
Education, Community Health
Get to Know
The People
Lifestyle
Settle in at the Base
Travel Component
Stationary Program

2017 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 13 June 30 Available
July 11 July 28 Available

Connecting Programs

Schedule two or more programs in a row to create your ideal Rustic Pathways experience.

This program connects especially well with:

  • Day 1

    Relax and prepare for a world-class trip on Singapore Airlines. Before traveling you will receive your pre-departure packet, which includes 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 flight. Your Flight Leader, in conjunction with your Flight Liaison, will escort you all the way to Thailand! Rustic Pathways’ Flight Leaders are most often schoolteachers or good friends of our organization who happily fill this role for us each year. Once you’re checked in, feel free to relax and get acquainted with your new friends before boarding your flight to 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

    Sawat dee and welcome to Thailand! Rustic Pathways staff will welcome you in Bangkok with an assortment of Thai food, fresh fruit and drinks to snack on until your flight up to Udon Thani. In the meantime, stretch your legs and enjoy modern Suvarnabhumi airport before boarding another plane to Baan Chiang Yuan, home of The Ricefields Service Base. The slow-paced northeastern Thai lifestyle will welcome you even before you arrive as you drive by cozy wooden houses, through winding side streets, and past the gorgeous temple next door. Set just outside Udon Thani city, The Base includes a number of houses decorated in traditional Thai style, common areas for relaxing and playing games, a swimming pool, a gym, a family of water buffalo, and, of course, rice fields!
When you arrive, the Western and Thai staff will help you to find your room (hong) and get a sense of your surroundings. Once you have met your new hong mates and hua naa hong (room leader), you can grab a snack, jump in the pool or take a refreshing shower.
In the afternoon, staff will lead you to the local market where you can sample local foods and familiarize yourself with Baan Chiang Yuen. After a buffet-style dinner, we will hold a formal orientation and explain everything you need to know about our community service project and day-to-day life at The Base. You will have the rest of the evening to make yourself at home, meet some new friends, play a game of pick-up soccer, or recover from jetlag. Welcome to life at The Ricefields Base!

  • Day 4

    Days begin early in the village of Baan Chiang Yuen, and you will likely wake up to the sound of the morning gong calling the monks to collect alms throughout the village.
 After breakfast our local staff will lead an introduction to Thai culture so you can begin to feel more at home. Then you will take a short walk to tour the local temple, where a friendly monk will likely give you a bracelet for good luck in a traditional string ceremony. After the temple tour, head to the Chedi House for the formal introduction to the program. 
Lunch is be served at The Base, and you will get the chance to sample the exotic and diverse flavors of Thai food, plus a few reliable American staples. After lunch you will begin with your first Wilderness First Aid class.


    In the evening, the Thai staff will lead a series of Thai games that always generate friendly rivalry between the different teams and help create new friendships. We won’t ruin the surprise, but students often want to hose off and jump in the pool together after the final race. After dinner, help your hong win the No Reservations game as you sample some local delicacies. The days are always busy here, and you will probably sleep well after a day of hard work. Lap fun dee, na! (Sweet dreams!)

  • Day 5

    For the next two days you will be studying hard on your WFA degree, which includes a combination of classroom time and hands-on work in the field simulating situations. Your expert instructors will provide you with the information you need to develop your skills in first aid, CPR, and emergency response. You’ll have training in situation assessment, determining appropriate response in an emergency and providing basic first aid and CPR. The Saturday night activity will vary, but you may enjoy a pool party, game night, capture the flag, or a photo scavenger hunt around the village.

  • Day 6

    Today you will continue working hard on your WFA degree, and by the end of the day you will be surprised at how much you have learned over the weekend. Sunday evening you will have some extra time reserved to study hard for your final exam tomorrow afternoon.ow!

  • Day 7 - 9

    In Thailand, community clinics are where the real service happens! When not visiting one of the four clinics we partner with, you will help set up temporary clinics in local villages in the early morning so that elderly and non-mobile patients have access to routine screening. While there, you will provide screening that will help prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and bacterial infection. Assist the local nurses with basic medical care and learn the art of working in community-based clinics. While applying your newly developed medical skills, you will be supervised by expert local staff that will help provide context and answer any questions you might have.
 After lunch on Monday, you will finish off your classroom hours studying for your WFA and take your final exam for the course.
On Tuesday night, take a trip to the Udon Thani night market. You and your friends will have ample time to shop for presents and souvenirs among the small stalls filled with local fashion and handicrafts. Make sure to try one of the fruit smoothies or a Thai iced tea!
 Also on Wednesday night, since it is your final night at Ricefields, we will have a Thai BBQ, pool party, bonfire and goodbye dance. Thai dancers come from the village to perform and teach traditional Thai dancing before we turn on the Western music and show the local staff how we dance at home. You will leave early the following morning, so make sure to pack your bags.

  • Day 10

    After a final day of medical service in the morning, you will catch an evening flight to Chiang Mai to begin the next part of your adventure. The one-hour direct flight will have you touching down in Chiang Mai before you know it, and you’ll get settled in to your guesthouse to get a good rest for a few busy days ahead.

  • Day 11

    Welcome to Chiang Mai! Arriving from Udon Thani, you will immediately notice that the landscape and weather is quite a bit different here. Chiang Mai has become known as a regional hub of the healing arts over recent years, and you will spend the next several days exploring what Thai massage, reflexology and Chinese medicine are all about. Before getting down to business, however, you will have today to get your bearings and see some of the sites that Chiang Mai has to offer. In the morning, you will head out on a morning hike up the corner of Doi Suthep to a beautiful waterfall and viewpoint. Next, hop in the vans and continue up the mountain to Wat Pra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai’s most famous temple and landmark. Take some photos of the views below and follow your guides as they show you how to walk around the incredible golden stupa at the top–three times, to be exact–to build your merit for the week ahead. On the way down the mountain, you’ll stop off at a waterfall where you can cool down a bit before heading back to the hotel for some down-time.

  • Day 12 - 14

    Over the next three days, you will be be studying the basics of Thai massage, reflexology, and Chinese medicine. Each day will begin with either yoga or a meditation session to help you relax and focus on the matters at hand, and you should also expect some classroom time combined with hands-on training. Having just studied the Wilderness First Aid course, it should be very interesting to see a completely different approach to health and treating the body. All of these disciplines have roots going back thousands of years, and there is surely an incredible amount to learn–don’t be overwhelmed, however, as the goal over these three days is to understand the basics so that you understand how medicine has been practiced in this part of the world since ancient times. Don’t be surprised if some of the lessons that you learn–and some of the simple massage techniques–stick with you for a long time to come!

  • Day 15

    Today will be dedicated to the art of Thai cuisine. You’ll begin by touring a local morning market and an herb farm, where you will learn how to choose the many ingredients that you will need for cooking your feast today. You will then cook a whole range of your favorite Thai dishes, learning how to modify each taste so the food comes out just how you like it. You’ll be surprised at how easy some dishes are to make, and your teachers will be sure to let you know how you can replace hard to find ingredients once you get home. In the afternoon, you will take an overnight excursion into the mountains. Pack your bag for the night and get ready for one last adventure with your new friends!

  • Day 16

    On your last full day in Thailand, you will see a holy cave, a “sticky” waterfall, and one of the tallest mountains in Thailand, Doi Luang in Chiang Dao. You will see one of the area’s coolest waterfalls, a holy cave, and enjoy a fantastic lunch and closing discussions with your group. In the evening, you’ll return to Chiang Mai to grab some souvenirs for your friends and family back home from the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.

  • Day 17

    This morning you will say your goodbyes to your local staff and other trip leaders and head to the airport. Safe travels home, and we hope that the knowledge that you have gained on this trip will serve you well for a long time to come!

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

  • Students on this program will get the training and knowledge to perform various medical skills, and then go into the field for some hands-on experience. This is a chance to learn invaluable skills to help the world while staying and playing at our legendary Ricefields Base.

  • You will stay at our legendary Ricefields Base in Udon Thani, Thailand. Students can expect to stay with 4-6 other students in their room. Generally, boys sleep in one zone, while girls sleep in another area. The rooms all have comfortable mattresses and air conditioning, which is only turned on in the early evening.

  • Yes. The certifying organization is a very reputable American wilderness medical association.

  • Your course instructors will be certified instructors from America with significant medical expertise and experience. These are the same people who teach these courses throughout the US.

  • The Ricefields Base offers laundry services at the student’s expense.

  • There are mosquitoes. They’re usually not too bad, but you will want to have a long sleeve shirt and long pants in the evenings. Also bring a small bottle of insect repellent containing DEET.

  • You will have opportunities to shop at the epic Udon Thani market. You’ll see all kinds of souvenirs and fun stuff to buy, so budget accordingly. Prices in Asia are on average significantly cheaper than in the West, but be wary that a lot of great deals can add up. Markets and local crafts are huge part of Thai culture and a great way to support the local community. Here are some approximate, sample prices (listed in US dollars) that should help you prepare a budget: hand-woven scarf = $3; hand-woven shoulder bag = $6; T-shirt = $6; small wood carving = $5; soccer ball = $10

  • It’s hot, and humid in the day and a little cooler in the mountains at night. Daily downpours are short and give way to sunny skies. Be prepared for heat and dampness. Synthetic fiber clothes are great because they dry fast much faster than cotton can.

  • Phones are always available on an emergency basis. Yes – you will have access to the internet, but we do try to encourage our students to use the internet only for a limited time, and only for corresponding with their family and friends. Students can pay for their internet usage, laundry, and phone calls directly out of their allowance account.

  • Each trip is staffed by a combination of western (American) and Thai leaders, and in most cases each team will include a nationally licensed guide, a western man and a western woman. We never have fewer than one staff member for every five students.

  • In short, yes. During most weeks there will be about 20 Western (mostly American) staff, and about 30 Thai staff, so there are plenty of us around. We’re usually the ones trying to organize a walk around the village, a pick-up soccer or ultimate Frisbee game, or a movie night. And you can expect your Hua Na Hong (The Boss of your Room) to make sure you keep your room in good shape, your air conditioning stays off during the day, and that you’re up and at ‘em bright and early each morning!

  • The cooking staff at the Ricefields Base are well accustomed to preparing food that our students like. Expect dishes to include a great assortment of mild Thai food, lots of fresh fruit, and plenty of favorites at home. They also do a great job of offering vegetarian options at every meal! Almost all dietary concerns can be accommodated, but please alert us of any relevant restrictions beforehand just to make sure.

  • We will be drinking all bottled water. Bottled water is safe and readily available.

  • Udon Thani has a hospital with reliable medical care that caters to hundreds of Westerners every year.

  • Because safety is our number one priority, all of our programs have staff that is certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

  • Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for medical recommendations based on the area where the student will be traveling (Thailand). You can also check the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov for more information.

  • This decision is best made by you, your family, and your family physician. For up to date information to help your decision please visit the World Health Organization website (http://www.who.int/en), the Center for Disease Control website, and consult your physician. The Ricefields Base is in Udon Thani, an area generally considered to have very low risk levels of malaria.

  • All flights departing from and returning to the United States will have flight leaders. In the event a student is connecting from another country, they may or may not have a flight leader. In such instances, we generally have coordinated with the airlines to escort the students from check-in through customs, and delivered to a verified Rustic Pathways staff member.

  • All of our programs within Asia connect seamlessly. All trips begin and end on Thursday, thus allowing for easy connectivity and convenience.

  • Sorry, not quite yet!

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!
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.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.

Carry-On

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

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Chargers
  • Camera
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal. A wheeled bag is acceptable if it can be carried like a duffel bag over rough terrain.

Clothes

  • Socks (2-4)
  • Underwear (7)
  • Pants/capris (1-2, lightweight)
  • Knee-length shorts (4-5)
  • Athletic shorts/leggings (1-2)
  • T-shirts (6-8)
  • Long sleeved shirt (1-2, lightweight)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Rain jacket
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Flip-flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (for sun)
  • Quick dry towel

Toiletries

(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm w/sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Small packs of tissues
  • Razor/shaving cream

Miscellaneous

  • Headlamp/flashlight with extra batteries
  • A bag for dirty clothes

Optional

  • Portable games (Bananagrams, cards, etc.)
  • Pictures of family and friends to share with your new friends in Thailand
  • Travel pillow

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!
  1. a
    Udon Thani (Chiang Yuen Village)

    Welcome to Thailand! You’ve reached the northeast region and home to the Rustic Pathways Ricefields Base House. Students will spend their days learning the basics od medical service and first aid while conducting medical exams with our local clinic partner.

  2. b
    Nong Khai, Thailand

    A tiny border town on the Mekong River across Laos, this is home to many markets, temples and restaurants that serves as a day trip for all programs based at the Ricefields.