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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.

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 June 28 Available
July 3 July 12 Available
July 17 July 26 Available

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

  • 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!

  • Day 7 - 8

    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 9

    Today, you will start preparing food for your final service project of the week, which involves learning how to cook tasty Thai cuisine. The kitchen team at the Base will teach you how to prepare some home-cooked Thai food which will then be delivered to some nearby members of the Chiang Yuen community who have been struggling with their health recently. In addition to learning how to prepare a few delicious Thai dishes, you will experience how appreciative the people in the community are to know that they are not forgotten as they receive their complementary meals.

    After lunch, you will head north to explore the fascinating statue garden of Sala Kaew Kuu, one of the most famous park’s of it’s kind in the region. Located in Nong Khai, not far from the banks of the Mekong River and the Lao border, this is place was built by a famous Thai artist, and features his many interpretations about Buddhism and Buddhist history. One thing is for sure – it is quite unlike anything else that you’ll see anywhere else! Once you’ve seen all that there is to see at Sala Kaew Kuu, you will visit the Smuggler’s Market right on the banks of the Mekhong river. Snap a couple photos of across the river of the Lao landscape, and peruse some of the interesting goods for sale at the market before sitting down for a riverside lunch. In the afternoon, return to the Base for some well deserved down time and the chance to step out for some pickup soccer or takraw, or take a swim in the pool! After dinner, it’s time to begin saying goodbye to your new friends at the Ricefields Base, and the first order of business is the Bai Sii ceremony. Without question, this is one of the most endearing traditions in northeastern Thailand, and you certainly be feeling the well wishes and warmth from the local people as they send you on your way with dozens of strings adorning your arms. Enjoy the final night with your new friends around a campfire at the Base.

  • Day 10

    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!

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! We recommend using a medium-sized wheeled duffel bag or a backpacking backpack as your checked luggage. 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!

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 or daypack is ideal as it will be used for hiking/ 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 duffel bag or backpack is ideal.

Clothing Items

  • 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.
  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.