• Thailand
1 - 4 weeks
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Age Min.
Age Max


Price Details
Costs vary depending on program and does not include international airfare.

Students traveling from the United States will travel on our escorted group flight from the United States, international participants can choose to take our group flight from the USA or arrange their own airfare.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Jan 09, 2023
Nov 20, 2019
79 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Rustic Pathways first offered Thailand programs in 1999, and the country has since become the hub of our Southeast Asia operations. We have an extensive team of incredible local staff who are experts at ensuring our students have authentic, transformative experiences. Thailand offers the widest range of Rustic programs, from gritty service trips and animal conservation programs to outdoor adventures and immersive cultural experiences.

Known as the Land of Smiles, Thailand will immediately welcome and captivate you. The local people are incredibly friendly and deeply enjoy sharing their Buddhist culture, spicy food, and love for laughter. There is a peacefulness about the country, and the scenery is always entrancing.

Video and Photos

Popular Programs

Student on thailand beach

Southern Thailand is home to idyllic beaches, pristine waters, rainforests and limestone karsts that have made it a world-famous destination. While popularity has brought international renown, this influx of tourism is starting to negatively impact the marine environment in popular places. Learn about the challenging dynamic between the industries that sustain local populations with the conservation of these fragile habitats, home to wondrous creatures that call these waters home.

Students visiting with buddhist monks

Prepare for the ultimate adventure of climbing, hiking, and exploring the natural beauty of Thailand and Laos. Discover beautiful waterfalls and keep your eyes out for monkeys and birds as you trek through the dense rainforest outside a hill tribe village. Go on a scavenger hunt by bike to temples, walk across a bamboo bridge, zip line in the forest canopy, and enjoy a swim at the beach, rock climbing, and snorkeling in this jam-packed, adrenaline-filled program.

Student washing elephant

How does it feel to walk with giants, the earth trembling under foot? A grassy, musky smell fills your nose and mouth. And a pair of deep, grey, knowing eyes pierce your heart.
You are a mahout — an elephant trainer. Actually, a junior mahout. It takes a lifetime to become a real mahout. This proud tradition is passed down, generation to generation in Thailand and for a short nine days you will take part in the rich history, traditions, and customs of this world.

Thai village view

Join a service expedition through remote Thailand to disconnect. You’ll have one carry-on-sized bag with a change of clothes, toiletries, medicine, and no more than five personal items (we’ll also give you $50 to buy the rest of what you’ll need during your program). Start in Chiang Mai before continuing into the mountains and jungles of Northern Thailand. Visit three villages for 4 days each and expect beautifully simple living conditions.

Program Reviews

4.96 Rating
based on 103 reviews
  • 5 rating 99.03%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0.97%
  • Impact 4.9
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.8
  • Value 4.75
  • Safety 4.9
  • Program Selection 5
  • Pre-departure Help 5
  • In-program Support 5
  • Impact on Student 4
  • Value 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 103 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

Review of the Hill tribe and elephant conservation program

My rustic experience was life-changing. I spent 18 in rural thailand, the first half of my trip I spent in a small village in Mae Sariang and then we went to an elephant sanctuary for the second half. It was so incredible to see different ways of life and be able to help out in places of need. When I came home from this trip, I immediately felt like a different person. I have become so much more aware of the world and how important it is to be thankful for everything you are given. It is an incredible opportunity to be able to visit and help out people in different countries in need. My perspective on life has developed substantially and Rustic Pathways can take full responsibility for that. I would most definitely recommend this program or any rustic program.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Definitely bugs! One night our leaders put a bunch of plates in front of us and offered us a taste of normal foods in that region
109 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Introduction to Community Service in Thailand

This was by far the most unique experience I've ever had when traveling.

Traveling abroad with Rustic Pathways taught me that coming out of my comfort zone to trying new things and learning more about myself can really develop who I am. I learned about traditional Thailand culture and values all while being able to help the community.

One of the most rewarding parts of the travel was being able to assist those in Thailand. My personal highlight was being able to teach English to grade-schoolers on one of our last days there and it was a memory I'll cherish forever. Another lesson that they really emphasize is the importance and power of self-reflection. The team at Rustic gives you a couple of opportunities to reflect with each other and it helps build character development and also a stronger bond between everyone.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
When I was at the elementary school, I was shocked. I did not realize how much privilege I come from when I saw kids play with holes in their socks and either broken balls or half-filled water balloons. Seeing this really motivated me to want to give back to this community.
116 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic Pathways SE Asia

Program: Wonders and riches of south east Asia.

Great experience that was full of immersive opportunities. Travelled from Thailand, to Laos, to Cambodia, to Vietnam. Everywhere we went we got to see famous sights, but not only that, we truly got to learn more about different countries cultures whether that was trying individual delicacies or adventuring through the countryside. On one memorable day we took a bike ride through the Cambodian countryside. It was a hot day, but a truly unforgettable experience.
In Chiang Rai, Thailand, we spent one day at an elephant conservation center. We splashed around in the water with baby elephants and got to help make the elephant's food.
Ultimately, Rustic Pathways in south east Asia was an amazing trip that including a diverse offering of activities and experiences.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Getting to see a monument a famous as Angor Wat in real life was incredible and surprising.
110 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Traveling to Thailand with Rustic!

Over the summer I went on a 26 day trip to Thailand and Laos with Rustic Pathways. I did the “Come with Nothing” program and it was the best thing i’ve ever experienced. Rustic Pathways made me feel safe and cared for throughout the entire duration of the program. We spent our time in the villages and lived with Thai families. Almost every day we had service. The service was challenging but it was worth every single second. Nothing will ever beat the fulfillment that you get from seeing your hard work truly pay off. The Rustic staff and the other kids in my group became my second family. I never expected to love a group of people so quickly. I would recommend and and all Rustic trips if you want to create amazing and life changing memories!

108 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

AMAZING Thailand

I went to Thailand this past summer to work with the Thai Elephant Conservation center and to explore Thailand. I went on the Elephant and amazing Thailand program. On this trip I explored my love for animals and the environment. I loved working with the mahouts helping bathe and feed the elephants. My favorite memory was giving my elephant, Pratita, a bath in the lake while my mahout splashed me with water.and I made incredible bonds with the mahouts and my elephant. Continuing my trip by exploring Thailand I was emerged into a new and exciting culture while making long lasting friends. I loved seeing the temples and trying new foods. I even tried friend bugs! I made amazing friends that I am still close with. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be open to new things! Be open to meeting new and unexpected friends. And be adventurous!
110 people found this review helpful.
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İpek Naz
Yes, I recommend this program

Why was my program unique?

My program was unique because it was specifically designed for wilderness first aid education and at first this made me think that it was a better suit for students who are interested in medicine. This was something that made me nervous at first because I don't want to study medicine in future :) However, as I went to Thailand and got to know the project and my friends better, I have understood that not only this program makes you love medicine, it also reminds its participants that WFA is an education that everyone needs to get, regardless of whether they are medicine students or not. Therefore, I advise the future participants to not feel insufficient for this program if they are not interested in medicine, because as a student who has her own WFA certificate right now, I feel really proud for challenging myself to do something that I had considered as boring in past. Also, one of the best things about this program was that we turned a disadvantage into an advantage. Normally, less people prefer these kind of projects that are focused on specific areas, such as WFA. Our program consisted of only 9 people, including me, while other community service programs could go up to 40 people. With expectations to meet a lot of people from all around the world, at first I was disappointed. However, later on, I have seen that not only this was a chance to get to know your friends more closely, it also made our connections much more lasting and intimate. Spending a full week with 8 people was a chance for me to get to know everyone of them closely and build stronger friendships. This taught all of us the importance of friendships and once again reminded us to appreciate how this program brought us together, since we are still in contact :)

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One of the most surprising things for me was the importance of family in Thai culture. This family is not the one consisting of a mother, father, and children but indeed is a neighborhood. In Thai culture, they never close their doors during daytime or even at night and people are always visiting their neighbors. When I asked my program leader if he knows everyone in the village that I have stayed in and if everyone knows him, he responded "Of course!". I have had the opportunity to observe this because as we were walking in the village, whoever's house we visited or from which street we walked, everyone greeted him and were really hospitable to us. In my country, leave alone greeting everyone, leaving your door open is really risky during daytime. Therefore, the environment in Thailand in which relationships were built on trust and love was something which really surprised and impressed me. Another thing that surprised me a lot was how Thai people in the region that I visited didn't have the opportunity to access some things that we take for granted in our lives; such as electricity or water. In the village that we visited and distributed food, old people were living in houses that didn't have electricity or running water. Also, they had very simple lives compared to ours which I would have never imagined if I was not on this program. Therefore, this taught me the importance to constantly appreciate the opportunities we have and try to share them with those who need it.
109 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Critical Issues Summit

This past summer, I spent 2 amazing weeks in Thailand. In the first week, I learned about the gender equality issues in Thailand through talking to professors, NGOs, and homestay in the country. The second week, we were in the Rustic base house where we met with people from Vietnam and Cambodia and learned about the topic they focused on which we later formed groups and created our own projects.
These 2 weeks have been lifechanging in many ways. I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried things I've never tried before. This trip also made me see the problems that we have more clearly and gave me a better idea of how I can help in my own way. It expanded my horizon and gave me the chance to see things from other people's perspectives as well.
I also loved how the group was really international and I was able to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds and formed some lifelong friendships during this trip.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
A piece of advice to future travelers it to be very openminded about everything and not to be afraid to step out of their comfort zone because that's when you can really have the best experience possible and have tons of fun.
104 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Best Trip Yet!

I have traveled with Rustic Pathways for two consecutive summers. They have simply been the best summers of my life. First I traveled to Australia where I was able to work in the famous Steve Irwin Zoo. This past summer I traveled to Thailand. While I was there I met some of the most amazing people and creatures. Although I love the luxuries that I take for granted every day such as air conditioning, comfort foods, and wifi, I did not miss them a bit on this trip. Rustic does not lie when they say that they will get the student on the trip fully enveloped into the local culture. Although for some it might sound gruesome, it is something that I honestly am very blessed to have been a part of. I firmly believe that without some of the people I have met and the experiences that I have had through Rustic, I would not be the person I am today.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The only advice I would give to future travelers (besides to bring plenty of bug spray) is to come into the trip open-minded. The traveler determines how much fun they will have on the trip. If they open themselves up to the group and become friends with people on the trip, then they will have an amazing, immersive experience.
107 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

This trip is very safe! Base houses are owned by RP, so it's is completely RP-Staffed. Trips that are not in base houses are still very safe and there will always be RP staff with you. I have never felt unsafe on any of my Rustic Trips.