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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 Anxiety Escrow 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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2017 Departures

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

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. Today will be all about Thai massage. After breakfast, you will head out of town to one of Chiang Mai’s most respected massage schools, located at traditional Thai home in a rural village. Here, you will begin your full day of Thai massage training. You will cover the basics of this ancient art form, and learn about its many benefits. At the end of the day you will receive a certificate recognizing your achievements.

  • Day 12

    Today, you will head out of town for a day of learning about Thai herbal medicine. Just north of Chiang Mai, you will arrive at a facility and farm that has become one of the leading centers for Thai herbal medicine in the region. Learn the history of herbal medicine in Thailand, how these plants are grown and harvested, as well as their many uses for both humans and animals. This facility is also home to a unique elephant retirement project, and you will have the chance to interact with the many older elephants here while learning about how they are cared for. After a full day out of town, you’ll stop for dinner at the Ohkaju Organic Thai Farm restaurant for a tasty dinner.

  • Day 13

    The tradition of Chinese medicine began thousands of years ago, and today you will have the unique opportunity to learn a bit about the basics of this fascinating practice. Having just recently completed your WFA, learning the way that Chinese medicine approaches the health of the body and it’s main functions will be quite interesting. Your instructor for the day will be Doctor Rungrat at the Mungkala Clinic in Chiang Mai, one of the most respected doctors in the region. After a morning with Dr. Rungrat, you will come away with a piqued interest into these ancient arts.

    In the afternoon, enjoy some time at the hotel pool before continuing with the holistic theme of the day as you join an afternoon yoga session. In the evening, get ready to explore the Sunday Walking Street Market which takes over the Old City each Sunday. Enjoy shopping for funky souvenirs, delicious snacks, and a foot massage while stopping to check out some of Chiang Mai’s oldest temples by the beautiful evening light. Once you’ve had your fill, you’ll retire to your hotel to get a good rest for the busy days ahead!

  • Day 14

    First thing today, you will begin the ride out to the Rustic Pathways Children’s Home–about four hours from Chiang Mai–stopping at some points of interest along the way. After getting settled into your accommodations at the Children’s Home, sit down for a nice lunch as you get to know the Children’s Home team. First thing in the afternoon, you’ll tour the expansive grounds of the Children’s Home, learning about the many ongoing initiatives here and getting familiar with the project itself.

    This afternoon, you will be delving into the world of Thai cuisine and learning how to produce your own feast of decious and healthy Thai food. The first stop will be to the fresh market, where you will learn how to identify and choose the many unique ingredients in Thai cuisine. Your instructors will also be sure to give you ideas on how to replace some of the hard-to-find ingredients once you return home. Once the shopping is complete, you will return to the Children’s Home and begin preparing some of your favorite dishes which you will enjoy for dinner this evening. Our staff will show you how to modify each taste so the food comes out just how you like it, and you’ll be surprised at how easy some dishes are to make! After enjoying the fruits of your labor, you’ll have the rest of the evening to join in some of the ongoing evening activities at the RPCH as you get to know the Thai students who call this special place home.

  • Day 15

    Today will be dedicated to the ancient art of Muay Thai kick-boxing. Muay Thai is known around the world as a well-respected martial art and self-defense system, and today you will have the chance to life a day in the life of a real Muay Thai fighter. Rising early with warm up activities to get loose, you will then begin learning the basic moves and begin practicing them with pad work.

    After lunch, we’ll show you a Muay Thai movie before beginning the second session of your training. After your double-session of training, you can expect to have had a solid workout for the day, and you should have a decent handle on the basics of this ancient art.

    This evening, we will have a small celebration to mark the last night at the Children’s Home.

  • Day 16

    On your last full day in Thailand, you will see a couple of the area’s coolest waterfalls 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!

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.