Cultural Immersion & Community Service in Southeast Asia

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Leaving all worries behind when crossing into the Kingdom of Cambodia
All about perspective
Not always appropriate but sometime being silly makes the best stories.
Southeast Asia Programs | Operation Groundswell
Southeast Asia Programs | Operation Groundswell
Southeast Asia Programs | Operation Groundswell
Southeast Asia Programs | Operation Groundswell


You might’ve heard of this region’s 30 cent street pad thai, deep-fried tarantulas, and bucket-fuelled dance parties. Sure enough, all of this exists, but there’s so much more.

Thailand is a country that seamlessly blends modernity with its deeply rooted cultural traditions. Cambodians are moving past their tragic recent history to forge a brighter and more equitable future. Both countries face many challenges – Thailand struggles with ongoing political divisions and widespread inequality and Cambodia is ranked as one of the world’s poorest nations. While thousands of backpackers stream through this part of the world, few are put in touch with these realities.

Our Southeast Asia programs are designed to dig beneath the surface of how this region is commonly experienced. From dedicated activists promoting sustainable farming practices to young break-dancers empowering a new generation of Cambodians, join Operation Groundswell to discover a Southeast Asia you had no idea existed.

  • Explore an 800-year-old ancient temple complex and get to know our friends in Banteay Chhmar as we learn about community-based tourism and heritage preservation.
  • Dive deep into the Cambodian countryside as we help to build a permaculture centre designed for local farmers who are combatting drought and promoting sustainable agricultural practice.
  • Volunteer at the Elephant Valley Project in Cambodia, an ecotourism project that provides an alternative approach to elephant care, rehabilitation, and conservation.
  • Live with homestays in northern hill tribe communities to learn about one of Thailand’s most successful volunteer- and community-based tourism initiatives.
  • Feast your way through the streets of Chiang Mai, trying savory, sweet, and spicy delights… and everything in between!

Financial Grants Available!

Our financial grants program can cover 15-25% of your program fee. Simply apply for an OG program and contact our financial support team. Visit our website for more information!

Questions & Answers


based on 16 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 10
  • Fun 8.9
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.9
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Yes, I recommend this program

OG does Southeast Asia right

I've traveled in Thailand as a typical backpacker and I've traveled in Thailand as an OG backpacktivist. There's no doubt as to which will provide you with a real sense of what life in SE Asia is really all about beyond the beaches, tour buses, and cheap alcohol. The most memorable moment was probably hanging out with a rad group of Cambodian breakdancers and hip hop artists from an NGO called Tiny Toones that uses music/art/education as tools to empower street kids in Phnom Penh. They are so incredibly fun, welcoming and inspiring. And I really felt that the leadership retreat we collaborated on with them made an impact.Staying in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, talking to monks and spending a day learning how to cook Thai food was also very interesting and fun. The friendships you build and memories shared with your fellow travelers on the trip make it all the more amazing.