Summer High School Programs in Thailand with Rustic Pathways

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About

Join Rustic Pathways in Thailand, where we’ve been running cultural immersion and service adventures for over 15 years. Thailand boasts a wide variety of programs ranging from one to three weeks long. Students can choose one program or easily connect programs across the country and Southeast Asia. Whether you are looking to immerse yourself in rural village life, learn about elephant conservation, or have an island hopping adventure, you’re bound to find an ideal experience in Thailand.

“When you go and you stay in a small village and learn how people live, it stays with you. You don’t take anything for granted anymore and you’ll never see things the same.”
--Brian Haggerty, Thailand Country Director

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.

Reviews

97%
based on 61 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 8
  • Value 10
Showing 31 - 45 of 61
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Callie
10/10

Life changing experience

My time in Thailand with Rustic was unforgettable. It was my first time out of the states ever. I felt incredibly safe and immersed in the culture all at the same time during my entire trip. Every day I learned something new or had a new interaction with a local or elephant. I got to go to the children's home, teach at locals schools, visit a refugee camp, go white water rafting, try new food, go to an elephant retreat, visit local markets, learn to make bamboo products, weaving, learn Thai culture, and so much more. I can't explain how much this trip has impacted my life and the way I see the world.

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked to teach the local children more.
Yes, I recommend
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Sabrina
10/10

Amazing

This summer I did three programs with Rustic Pathways in Thailand. I started off with Island Hopping and Diving, then I did Intro to Community Service, then I did the Wilderness First Responder Course. In total, I spent a total of five weeks in Thailand with Rustic. It was by far the best summer of my life. The staff, the other students, and the activities were all amazing. Island Hopping and Diving was the perfect adventure trip and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an adrenaline trip. For the last two programs I spent my time at the Ricefields base. The Ricefields base was amazing to say the least the service projects are not only meaningful but they are also fun and everyone their makes you feel at home. There is a cafe there run by Burmese staff and they are the most amazing people you will ever meet. Durning my stay at the Ricefields I got sick and ended up spending the night at the hospital (it was very nice). There was staff with me the whole time and everyone at Ricefields even signed a get well card for me. I am already planning my next sumer with rustic and I am even trying to go back to the Ricefields base. I would honestly recommend rustic to anyone.

How can this program be improved?
its honestly amazing
Yes, I recommend
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Lynn
9/10

Amazing

The Ricefields Base and the classroom facilities for my program was absolutely great. I was definitely never hungry as there was always snacks provided. The itinerary was also contained a good balance of learning, service, and free time. Finally, the staff were extremely friendly, especially the Burmese staff.

How can this program be improved?
Personally, for my program, I definitely wished that there was more service time or interactions with kids. In addition to that, although it is understandable that because my program was to learn WFA, we would spend most of our time at the base. However, I think it would've been nice to be able to have more excursions in order to interact with and learn more about the local community.
Yes, I recommend
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Jess
10/10

The Beauty that is Rustic Pathways Thailand

The nerves that I experienced going into this trip cannot be described, I knew no one and I did not know what to expect. The first reason for my nerves was completely irrational, I made best friends that I am closer with (in the space of one week) than my friends back home that I have known for years. Placed in a situation where no one knows each other, that's when your true self comes out as you look for those who are similar to you. I never realized how in sync I could be with a girl who lives in a completely different continent and how relatable another from, again, a completely different continent. The making of these two incredible friends is something that I will always thank Rustic Pathways for. As much as I made two close friends, we had a group of us that were constantly together. Every night we played Uno and told different stories of our life, as well as, laughing at many different slang words from our relative countries. The second reason for my nerves was completely correct, I had no idea that his trip would be so enjoyable and heart touching. With the relaxed environment in which you stay there is mo stress and you are truly able to embrace all that is around you. You learn things from religion, food, how to help others in the most beneficial way and about culture. It was beautiful and I am so grateful to have experienced what I did and been given the opportunity to go.

How can this program be improved?
I'm sorry, this program is perfect.
Yes, I recommend
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Sarah
10/10

At Rustic, I was the me I wanted to be.

This is one of my greatest life experiences and I would recommend it to anyone looking for adventure. I felt very safe and had an incredible time, but found joy in giving to the community as well. Though we worked during the days, the nights were packed with fun activities such as Hong Night Out or Thai Massage. The staff was approachable and very young/hip. The Laos weekend trip is very worth the money. You will visit even more scenic landscape than in Thailand and get the more touristy side.

How can this program be improved?
I feel the rules should be a little less strict and the staff more friendly than enforcer-like. I felt like they didn't completely trust me even though I was not doing anything suspicious/wrong. Only towards the end did I really form bonds with the staff. They did a great job.
Yes, I recommend
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Tabor
10/10

Elephants and Amazing Thailand

Traveling to Southeast Asia several times prior to my Rustic Trip, I didn't think I would be that surprised to see a familiar place and familiar faces. However the Rustic events and in depth detail of the day to day itinerary opened my eyes to a new place. A new side of Asia I hadn't seen before and I still love it but even more now. I had the joy of a lifetime this summer and wish I wasn't turning older or would definitely be saving up for a new trip. I remember being very scared at first on my safety for my trip, but for newcomers, there wasn't a single second that I felt unsafe on the trip. The leaders all know what they are doing and know their way all around the specific places we travel to! It was one of the best trips of my life and I will NEVER forget a single second of it.

How can this program be improved?
Better communication between the Thai and other leaders. There was very much confusion at times on what the day would hold.
Yes, I recommend
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Christy
10/10

Re: Disorganized

I wrote the previous review about RP and the billing and itinerary mistake. We were settled into the idea that our daughter wouldn't be able to make the Thailand trip when a RP representative called us. They wanted to do everything possible to help us so our daughter could go on the trip. Ultimately, they were extremely generous and ended up waiving a bunch of fees and helping us with our program costs such that we are now in fact able to send our daughter. We were shocked really that they went so far above and beyond to help us out. The rep that we talked to was so nice and helpful. We are so grateful for their help and appreciate the great lengths they went to to fix the mistake and make it right.

Yes, I recommend
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Mariah
10/10

The Land Of Smiles

The moment you step into Thailand you think "woah, culture shock" Rustic gave me an experience in Thailand that I would have never had the chance to experience otherwise. In my vet program I got to witness amazing things that I would have never seen in the U.S and I have only rustic to thank for that. My second program I got to really see the differences between my culture and the culture of the Thai people. We got to go to a local market in Mae Sariang which even greatly differed from the street markets in Chiang Mai. In the different villages in Thailand, you will truly see people who are always smiling, regardless of the hardships they have. Thailand truly is the land of smiles. My counselors and peers on both programs in Thailand were really what made my trip amazing. It was amazing experiencing so many things with strangers and becoming so attached to someone in just 10 short days. Rustic is the best program I have ever found, and I am beyond excited to return next summer on a new adventure.

How can this program be improved?
Length! I wish I could stay forever
Yes, I recommend
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Julia
10/10

Rustic Pathways Children's Home

I've spent two summers in a row visting the Rustic Pathways Children's Home (Hilltribe Orphanage Project). Both years the staff were amazing and I met the best friends I've ever made in my life. Additionally, the kids in the schools and living at the home are some of the greatest people I have ever met. They are funny, smart, and genuinely the nicest kids in the world. Both years, it was a life changing trip that I will never forget. Spending three weeks at this home in total, I have become so thankful for the life and education I have at home. Visiting the Burmese Refugee camp had much to do with that as well. Many of the kids living there chose to leave their families in Burma in order to have access to education. I have a huge amount of respect for everyone I met at the refugee camp, because they were so friendly and kind even though they are living in refugee camps with a fence surrounding them. That overnight trip at the camp was a huge awakening for me. Anytime I catch myself complaining about going to school, I think about the kids I met who are so thankful to even have access to a school that teaches above 6th grade. I will never forget my time at Hillltribe, I love everyone I met there, and my heart will always be in Thailand.

Yes, I recommend
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Melyork
10/10

Rustic excellent handling of medical emergency!

I'm mom to twin girls that just completed our 4th summer traveling with Rustic Pathways. They started at age 14 having signed up for something including Meals on Flip Flops in Thailand. That year was the summer of unrest and demonstrations in Bangkok so trip was altered to spend more time in Laos. They had most exciting adventure ever. I suggested the girls never travel on same trip at same time so they would not depend on each other too much and make new friends. They had traveled the world extensively before Rustic with grandparents but had always stayed at 5 star resorts and safari camps. I spent a lot of time between college and marriage wandering around Africa and South East Asia with a backpack a friend and no itinerary learning about different cultures and I can say I learned more than all years of school combined. I wanted them to meet locals and somewhat live life of a villager which had never happened on trips when younger. They were both nervous about not taking a friend, hearing rumors of trips being "clicky" and having just turned 14 the month before travel. They both met lots of friends from all over US and are still in touch with some. They both had amazing summers and could not wait to go back. The next year they did Service in the Clouds and connected to something in Cambodia, can't remember exact name. After that, India was new favorite country an they are patiently waiting until out of high school so we can go during nice weather,November-March and I can introduce them to the friends and the India I know and love. Last summer they wanted something a little more "rustic" and chose Ghana. It was pretty hard-core but exactly what they were looking for. Last month was their last Rustic trip as they will be seniors in high school. We signed up for Burma trip but it got canceled in May due to ethnic cleansing and unrest occurring in most of the country. Changed to Frontier Photography visiting Thailand, short hop into safe area of Burma and Laos. They went together this time and had so much fun seeing local rustic guides they met summers before. Now to the point of my review! One of my daughters slipped, hit head, was unconscious for about 5 minutes and came to having seizures. She has no history of anything like this. When they tell you to buy evacuation insurance DO IT! I always have and nothing has ever happened so this year I bought cheapest $25.00 per kid from Frontier Medex. Rustic started calling me right after she fell asking for insurance info. etc. They happened to be a 3 hour van ride from Luang Prabang which had nearest hospital and landing strip. I cannot even describe the mode of professionalism and urgency Rustic went into. They had 2 western staff and 2 local staff with the group when this all started. Kevin Connally who is American but lives in Bangkok and speaks the different local languages was with her in van ride as she continued to seize, have difficulty breathing and hallucinate. Each trip has one or more staff trained as medic for these type of situations. Bryan Haggerty who is head of all SEAsia operations continued to call updating on condition, hospital arrival etc. They had a jet headed to Laos asap to evacuate her to Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok. No small feat considering permits, different countries etc. They literally called me to let me know when jet took of from Bangkok, landed in Laos, when Addie was in the air, upon arrival to ER. They have a global safety director named Gabe who took over and helped figure out fastest way for me to get to Bangkok. From what I gathered talking to all the staff with Addie in ICU when I arrived, this serious of an incident rarely if ever happened but they were extremely prepared and knew exactly what to do for her receive urgent care. The 3 young guys, Brent, Bryan and Kevin were there to help me out with everything. Brent was waiting for me at Bangkok airport when I arrived and took me to hospital.They gave me a local cell with their numbers programmed so I could call anytime. They would spend night with her when I needed a hotel break for some sleep. The trip was over and kids were back in US but they stayed in Bangkok helping us try to figure how to get her home. It took my Mom flying to Bangkok for my support, my husband in US working with Frontier, numerous amazing doctors and nurses and 15 days in hospital for us to finally get her home. So, my summary is I would trust Rustic staff with my kids lives any day and Frontier Medex came through like champs. This is what I got for $25.00- Medic jet with 2 doctors aboard for 3 hr. round trip to get her out of Laos. 3 days in ICU, CAT scan, 24hr EEG, and many more tests. 12 days in private hospital room nicer than any 4 star hotel, A neurologist, infectious disease specialist that is with World Health Org. that embassy sent and a psychiatrist that had excellent English skills. Frontier paid for 2 doctors, 1 nurse, Addie and me to fly Korea air business class to Dallas TX. where the Thai docs handed her off to docs at Childrens Medical Center. All I had to pay was 4000.00 deductible for entire bill. We just arrived back in US 2 days ago and she is still hospitalized but rapidly improving and Rustic and Frontier are still in touch checking on us. I love Rustic Pathways!

How can this program be improved?
That I could go on Rustic trip at 49 yrs old!
Yes, I recommend
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Lily
10/10

Come with Nothing, Go Home Changed

I did "Come With Nothing, Go Home Rich," a Rustic program where you bring only 5 items in your suitcase and spend 3 weeks doing service work in villages. We bought all of our necessities in Thailand at the beginning of the trip. I was surprised to see how few clothes and toiletries I actually needed to last me the month. In the villages, we had breakfast at around 7:30 and worked at our service site all morning. The service work usually involved mixing cement (by hand) to build freestanding buildings or to lay ground. We took a break in the middle of the day (the hottest hours being from 1-3), and then worked into the evening. We ate dinner at around 6:30 with our group, the American trip leaders, and our 4 thai staff. Bedtime was usually early, as we were always exhausted. Being in the villages was spectacular. We got to live like and with the villagers, in some cases in a homestay! The children in the villages were charming and energetic; some of them helped us at our work site! In between villages, there was always a thrilling activity planned. We rode elephants, took a muay thai lesson, and hiked among many other activities. It was an unforgettable three weeks!

How can this program be improved?
I wish it were longer!
Yes, I recommend
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Marcus
9/10

More Service!

Whilst I believe the teaching service length was suitable (6-8 hours) I would have been happy to do an extra day of service at the Library we went to to help build it! But accommodation was good, food good and the whole experience otherwise unbeatable! Would be happy to do more service with less free time!

How can this program be improved?
Less free time, more service!
Yes, I recommend
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Jinan
10/10

Medical Service Certification Program

The program was wonderful! We had the chance to get certified in CPR and WFA all while having fun and volunteering. Our normal day-to-day schedule would change, but it basically involved volunteering in the morning, learning in the afternoon, and a fun activity with the rest of the Ricefields base at night. On weekends, we visited local temples and malls. The base was big and beautiful, the staff was very friendly. We also had the chance to make new friends from all around the world.

How can this program be improved?
The only problem was the insects! But we were living in the outdoors so it only made sense. Just be prepared for lots of mosquito bites!
Yes, I recommend
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Rpathways
10/10

3 weeks

All my weeks included completely different experiences, yet all were positive ones.Visiting temples in Bangkok, getting to see the beauty, and learning about the culture was a great . So was riding elephants through the jungles of Thailand,washing them, and eating with bugs. Washing dogs, and removing tics from them, and patching up wounds is a completely different, yet no less rewarding experience. Overall I had a great time in all 3 of my weeks there.

Yes, I recommend
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Lillian
10/10

Best Summer Ever

I had such a fabulous summer with Rustic Pathways and can't wait to sign up to go on another program with them!! The local and western staff were amazing. I met so many people from all over the world that I can't wait to visit. I hope that everyone had as great of an experience as I did!

How can this program be improved?
More towels and hot showers.
Yes, I recommend

About Rustic Pathways

Travel and volunteer abroad with Rustic Pathways to one of many exotic locations.

We take students on unique, rewarding, and safe programs to some of the world's friendliest and fascinating countries. Immerse yourself in a new culture, work on...