If you're looking to fully immerse yourself in a culture unlike your own, this program is a great fit. As a student who had studied abroad and visited 15+ countries, I could still never really say that I had been completely uncomfortable. And don't be nervous by my use of the word "uncomfortable"- because my "uncomfortable" experiences in life were my most fulfilling. This trip isn't your typical study abroad adventure. I had the opportunity to sleep in a Thai cabin in the middle of the jungle (~2 hours from major city Chiang Mai) on a floor mat, surrounded by girls who became some of my truest friends (and not going to lie, a lot of bugs- but the mosquito nets will protect you!).
The work wasn't glamorous or easy. But the reward is something I will carry with me for my entire life. We were working on the site of the kindest man I have ever met who strives to educate Thai people on sustainable living. However, they have very little resources. Despite this, they cooked for us 3 times a day, provided fresh filtered water and great games/discussions for us in the evening. For one week, we constructed a community church/meeting center for their small village where people could gather to learn, pray and communicate.
Over the weekend, we had two free days. Our project leader was kind enough to (at our request) book a hostel for us in Chiang Mai for Saturday night. We got in a van Saturday morning, and went to the city where we got to shop at markets and get fish pedicures! We explored the restaurants and nightlife a little bit at night as well. Sunday our leader took us to visit a temple, and we headed back to our volunteer site.
The second week, we had a little more fun- we paired off and each created lesson plans for different classes at a local elementary/middle school. The kids in this village are nothing like those in the US- teachers in Thailand are treated like royalty. They are appreciated, loved and respected. I had a class of adorable first graders, and even though we pretty much just learned the alphabet each day (they forget quickly at that age), I still felt like I was making an impact. When we gave them breaks, they all tackled me in hugs and brought me outside to play with them. No, they didn't play with video games, iPads or anything of the sort. They had sword fights with sticks fallen from the trees, they braided flowers into my hair and they kicked around a soccer ball. And they were having the time of their lives. I brought my iPhone one day to play the Chicken Dance song, and they were completely mesmerized by the strange device. It was really refreshing, and humbling to see the joy in their eyes as they played with the toys that the natural world gave them- sticks and flowers.
After our two week volunteer trip, I had also signed up for the adventure tour. This was the really fun part. We traveled throughout the country to about 6-8 different hotels, participating in a different adventure every day. My favorite was the zip-lining course (it's super safe and fun, I promise!). I also got to Xorb ball, white water raft, get a Thai massage, go to an elephant park, and much more. The elephant lessons are really eye-opening as well- there is a lot of controversy over the domestication of this beautiful creature, but at the elephant park you get to bathe, feed and touch the elephants in a safe place where they can roam free.
There is a lot of free time as well. Shopping is extremely inexpensive, so leave extra room in your bag! You need to respect the culture with your clothing during your volunteer portion for sure, but it's a little more lenient in the cities. The food is great, but prepare for spice (or make sure you tell them you don't like it ahead of time). I would recommend reiterating and mentioning any allergies you listed to your host family/leader upon arrival to verify they've been accounted for.
Overall, incredible experience. Don't be afraid to sign up alone, either. This program puts you with people you may not normally hang out with, but those people are the ones who are going to teach you the most about yourself. I left this trip a more appreciative, confident person with memories and friends that will last a lifetime.