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This program showcases some of the best destinations in southern Thailand–from the quaint fishing villages and coconut farms of Ko Yao Noi, to some of the most popular destinations in the region. Learn about traditional culture and local industries, and consider how the local people have adapted to tourism. Explore the pristine waters, lush tropical jungles, and towering limestone cliffs of southern Thailand. Plunge into the emerald waters of Koh Phi Phi as you snorkel and scuba dive beautiful coral reefs while earning your PADI Open Water Certification. Challenge yourself rock climbing at the stunning cliffs around Railay Beach, and finish the experience at the world-famous beaches of Phuket.

Dates listed reflect travel time departing from and returning to the USA. International clients click here.

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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Program Profile


  • 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 Airport Coordinator will help you check-in for your flight. Here you’ll meet your Flight Leader who will escort you all the way to Thailand! 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! Upon your arrival into one of the world’s most modern airports, you will immediately get the feeling that you have arrived in a place that is far different from the United States. Thailand is known as one of the most welcoming countries in the world and is affectionately nicknamed the Land of Smiles.

    This afternoon, we will have delicious pad thai and some tropical fruits ready for you to snack on while the rest of your group arrives at the airport and you all prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. Then you will catch the afternoon flight down to Phuket, Thailand’s biggest island on the Andaman Coast.

    Upon arrival, vans will take you directly to the hotel, just a short drive from the airport. Palm trees, tropical air, fresh fruit, and orchids will all help welcome you to southern Thailand! Tonight will be relaxed and easy, giving you plenty of time to recover from the long journey. After checking in to your room and showering, you will sit down for a relaxing foot massage and a delicious Thai meal. Then you can relax and rest up for the trip ahead.

  • Day 4

    After breakfast at the hotel, you will hop in the vans and transfer directly to the pier where you will catch the ferry to Ko Yao Noi. Known for it’s relaxed atmosphere, Ko Yao Noi is the ideal place to get acquainted with the culture (and cuisine) of southern Thailand. Here, you will witness what daily life is like in a place that has not been substantially changed by tourism, and one that is certainly “off the beaten path”. Get settled at your bungalows and begin getting familiar with your new friends.

  • Day 5

    The best way to fully appreciate the unique landscape of this area is on the water, and today will be touring the island by sea kayak. Cruise around the inlets and reefs, float past mangrove forests, and watch local fishermen at work. Enjoy time on deserted beaches, taking in the sweeping views. After a nice day on the water, relax with a traditional Thai massage before a nice dinner.

  • Day 6

    Today, you will be exploring the island by bicycle. Koh Yao Noi is home to mature rainforests and mangroves, sleepy fishing villages, coconut farms and rubber plantations–all of which you will experience on a bicycle tour around the island today. In the afternoon get ready to try your hand at cooking Thai food, the perfect way to get familiar with a whole new world of delicious cuisine. You will learn a bit about Buddhism in Thailand – cultural context that will be very important for you throughout your program. Then, relax at your bungalow as you watch the day come to a close before another beautiful tropical sunset.

  • Day 7

    First thing in the morning, you’ll head straight to the pier to catch the boat to Phuket and onward to Koh Phi Phi. As you dock at Phi Phi Island and get a better look at the clear shallow water and beautiful white-sand beaches, you’ll begin to understand why this is one of the most popular island destinations in all of Asia. And because this is not the high season for tourists, you won’t have to worry about the overwhelming crowds tainting the experience like they can during the high season.
    After checking into the hotel and getting settled in, you will take a tour of Maya Bay by local boat to go for a swim and see the beauty of Koh Phi Phi from up close. After that excursion, all students who are taking the PADI open-water certification class (or the Advanced Open Water course, for those already certified) will go to the dive shop to get fitted with equipment. Students who are not diving will have some time to enjoy the beach.

  • Day 8 - 9

    Over the next few days, all students who are studying the PADI Open water or Advanced Open Water courses will be busy completing their PADI certifications, and students who are not diving will spend their days snorkeling, island hopping, exploring caves, hiking to serene viewpoints, and relaxing on the beach with our staff. You will reconvene as a group in the late afternoon to share the day’s adventures. In the evening, there may be a pick-up soccer match on the beach, a sunset hike, or a Frisbee or volleyball game. You’ll find that a long day of diving or hanging out at the beach takes a lot of energy, and you can expect to sleep well each night.

    After a couple of days here, you will really begin to get into the groove of island life. During your down time, our team of staff will encourage you to learn as much Thai as you’d like, and before long you may even find that you can order your own fruit shakes and favorite dishes at dinner! Relax, enjoy, and don’t forget to take plenty of pictures and write a few words in your journal – you will look back fondly on these days for years to come.

  • Day 10

    In the morning our PADI students will finish their final Open Water Certification exam. Celebrate your accomplishment with a delicious lunch topped off with a fresh fruit shake. Enjoy your final day on Ko Phi Phi before you depart for Krabi tomorrow.

  • Day 11

    After breakfast, say goodbye the beautiful beaches and crystal clear shores of Phi Phi Island as you board the ferry to the craggy karsts of Krabi province. By early afternoon, you will be docking at Railay Beach, another one of Thailand’s most popular beach destinations and one of the top rock climbing destinations in the world. Railay Beach is actually part of mainland Thailand, but because of the imposing peaks, there is no way to get there by land. The only creatures who do manage to get there without a boat are monkeys, which can be seen in the trees near the beach. When you happen upon these curious primates feel free to take pictures and enjoy their playful nature, but beware – don’t get too close or get involved in their monkey games because they can be very unpredictable. Your staff will be there to reinforce this each day, but come prepared! After getting checked in, take a walking tour of the surrounding beaches to get the lay of the land, and begin scoping out some of the impressive rock formations that you will be climbing tomorrow.

  • Day 12

    Today will be your chance to try rock-climbing the towering cliffs of Railay and Tonsai Beach! If you have never tried climbing before, this is one of the best places to learn. The countless routes available here offer something for every ability level. Before you begin, your expert guides will slowly bring you up to speed on the key safety points and all of the fundamentals you need to know. Your leaders will make sure you understand the equipment, how to belay, and all the basics of the sport.

    Once you’re ready to go, begin the ascent of the cliffs overlooking the clear water. Once you reach the top, take a break, look back, and enjoy the spectacular view. This is world-class rock climbing at its best, and you may just find that you’ve found a new sport that is right up your alley! In the evening, share photos from the day’s adventure while getting ready for another action-packed day tomorrow!

  • Day 13

    This morning you will have a chance to take it a bit easy after a busy week. Relax at the beach with a book, enjoy an ice cold coconut or fruit shake, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of Railay Beach.
    In the afternoon, you will study the ancient art of Muay Thai–Thai kick-boxing! Get ready to learn a bit of self-defense, discipline, and Thai culture all while getting a great workout. Practice will focus on form and technique, and will center around bag and pad work. After a long day, enjoy a relaxed evening with your group – you have earned it!

  • Day 14

    Today you’ll leave Railay Beach behind as you embark on a private boat tour to nearby islands that dot the coast. Hop on and off the boat to swim, snorkel, and explore small deserted beaches. Southern Thailand is home to many fish and coral species, and the crystal blue water and stunning scenery will make for some amazing memories. After a full day, head back to the bungalows for dinner and chill time on the sand.

  • Day 15

    Today you will say goodbye to Krabi and hop the ferry back to Phuket. Upon arriving at Phuket, you will transfer directly to Kata Beach, one of the nicest beaches on Phuket. Get settled in and head down for a swim in the turquoise waters with your new friends before taking some time to reflect on the experience thus far with you new friends. Get some well-deserved rest before your last full day of Island Hopping tomorrow!

  • Day 16

    For your final day, your will head out to see some of the highlights of Phuket. In the morning, you will visit a sea turtle conservation project to learn about the efforts currently underway to help these gracious creatures bounce back in the region. After lunch, you will visit the famous viewpoint of Laem Phromthep for some sweeping views of the Andaman Sea. Next, see the Big Buddha, one of the most famous Buddhism monuments in Phuket. In the evening, you’ll see the Siam Niramit show that tells the story of Thai history and culture, and one of the largest stage productions in the world and a great way to cap of your Island Hopping experience

  • Day 17

    After breakfast, you will transfer to the airport in Phuket for your flight back to Bangkok, where you will either connect to your next Rustic adventure or join the group flight home. 

    **All students on our group flights arrive home on Fridays, regardless of whether they return to JFK or LAX. **

  • Day 18

    Arrive home on our Singapore Airlines group flight! We hope you’ll remember this adventure for a long time to come – Chock Dee and see you next time in Thailand!

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

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.

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.


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.

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

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

Additional and Optional Items:

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

Important Reminders

  • SE Asia is a conservative culture with ancient customs based mostly on Buddhism. Dressing respectfully is very important. You will not be allowed to wear short shorts and low cuts tops. Everyone will be expected to respect the people and culture by dressing appropriately.
  • Carry-On Luggage cannot weigh more than 7 kilos (15 lbs.)
  • Check-In Luggage cannot weigh more than 15 kilos (33 lbs.)
  • If your bags weigh more than the amounts specified above, the airlines in Southeast Asia will charge you an excess baggage fee for every kilo over the allowed limit. In past years, we have had students incur significant charges for excess baggage. These fees must be paid in cash at the check-in counter (no USD accepted), so this is a situation that we always try to avoid!
  1. a
    Phuket, Thailand

    Welcome to Thailand and to the gateway of some of SE Asia’s most pristine beaches.

  2. b
    Koh Phi Phi (islands), Thailand

    Picturesque limestone islands with Crystal clear turquoise water meets white sand beaches against a backdrop of massive limestone cliffs and jungle. We will get a seaside lunch, enjoying the bounty of the sea and swim into the evening. This is the area where students doing their PADI certification will be.

  3. c
    Railay, Thailand

    A known rock-climbing Mecca, Railay is full of limestone cliffs and beautiful beaches. Students will spend time learning the basics of rock climbing while snorkeling and kayaking in the crystal clear waters of the surrounding smaller islands.

  4. d
    Koh Yao Noi (island), Thailand

    A smaller, isolated island not known to many tourists. Koh Yao Noi is known for its conservation and preservation practices. Students will kayak through mangroves, bicycle around rice fields and take in this natural paradise.