Summer High School Programs in Thailand with Rustic Pathways

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About

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.

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 71 reviews
  • Impact 9.5
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 8
  • Value 10
Showing 46 - 60 of 71
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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Ana
10/10

Rustic Pathways Thailand

Traveling to Thailand with Rustic Pathways was incredible. I had Rustic leaders named Hannah and Kevin who were both incredibly kind and so much fun to be around. We traveled from Chiang Mai, to the Pai Valley, to Mae Hong Song, to Bangkok. We rode elephants, met the Long Neck Karen people, stayed with a Thai family, stayed in beautiful hotels, visited numerous beautiful temples including the Grand Palace in Bangkok, we swam in gorgeous waterfalls and visited beautiful caves. The kids I met were from all over the world and so much fun. The trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

How can this program be improved?
Some of the food was a little iffy but it was definitely worth it
Yes, I recommend this program
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Mikaila
10/10

Hill Tribe Orphanage

This program is amazing. I met some really good friends on this trip while being immersed in the Thai culture. The trip provides you with many opportunities to see the Thai lifestyle: I went to a village overnight, taught at a school, and went to local markets. It was just awesome in general.

If you are looking for a fun yet enriching program, do this.

How can this program be improved?
I really can't think of anything right now
Yes, I recommend this program
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teentraveler
10/10

Hilltribe is my other home

My experience at the hilltribe orphanage could not have been better. The small group really bonded with each other and with the Thai students. You are always doing activities and have many opportunities to spend time with the natives. Everyone on my trip wished the trip could have been long. Amazing experience!

How can this program be improved?
Some safety discrepancies between US safety standards and those abroad. For example: washing our hands with gasoline after painting a school
Yes, I recommend this program
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Nancy
10/10

Trip of a lifetime for my daughter

My daughter went on the Come with Nothing trip to Thailand last summer, between her Junior and Senior year of high school. She went not knowing anyone, with only a small backpack on her back. When we said good bye to her at JFK airport she also had 102 degree fever but she wasn't going to let that stop her from embarking on this trip. This was not an easy trip, it was more of a journey, 3 weeks of discovery about other people, places, and what you are made of.
This trip challenged her intellectually, emotionally, and physically. To be completely immersed in such a different culture than your own and to be able to work alongside the villagers was such a growth experience. She got to live and work in 3 remote villages and also spent 2 weeks at an orphanage in Thailand.
I have another daughter, twins, who went on one of the India trips last summer as well. I wish they had taken the trip with Rustic earlier in her high school years so they could have done a couple trips.I wish they would do these trips for parents! I would love to take one too! These trips were life-changers, the company is fantastic, and my daughter have made friends that they will stay in touch with for life (my daughter has already visited two friends from these trip on her college visits).
I have recommended Rustic to anyone who will listen and I would send my kids anyone without a moments hesitation.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Emily
9/10

Adventure of a Lifetime!

My trip to Thailand with Rustic Pathways changed my life. But I guess you really can’t to go on such an extraordinary adventure and experience so many amazing things from half way around the world, and expect to return the same as the person you were when you left. There is so much to learn from different cultures and people that I feel I have truly grown as a person from experiencing them. It has given me a love for learning that I never had before; I am so interested in the world around me and want to do all I can to make a difference in it!
I met many great people and made close friends from all over the world while on my trip, and I still keep in touch with them today. I didn’t know anyone going into my trip, and I’m so grateful now, looking back, that I chose to go alone. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and I made new friends that I wouldn’t have if I had gone with my friends from back home. It has been especially helpful for me this year as Student Body President of my high school because I’ve already learned how to meet and talk to new people and find ways to serve them. I have learned what true leadership is, and that I can accomplish great things in this life! Traveling with Rustic Pathways has given me confidence in myself and a passion for service. I’ve found that I’m much happier when I’m helping others and thinking of their needs rather than my own. This has been useful as President to get other kids involved in serving so that they can feel the same great feeling that I do. It has inspired me to find ways to have an impact on other’s lives through serving them and being a positive role model.
One of my favorite things about Rustic Pathways is how well they combine meaningful service with a vacation of a lifetime! My trip was a perfect mix of service and adventure. You see what life is like for the people who live there as you work and serve among them, instead of just watching it through the eyes of a tourist. Rustic Pathways gets you into the natives’ homes, planting rice with the local farmers, and cooking meals for the elderly and sick. I have a whole new perspective of the country and culture through serving the people. I learned more, felt great about the work I was doing, and made a difference in others’ lives. For me, a service trip was the best thing because I didn’t want to travel all that way without doing something meaningful. I left a part of my heart in Thailand and I feel more homesick for Thailand than I did for home!
I have to say that of everything I miss about Thailand, the thing I miss the most is a seven year old orphan named Pah. We had the chance to visit and teach at a boys’ orphanage and work with the cutest kids in the world! We gave them balloons, which were a big hit, but probably not the best idea because soon I was being mobbed by thirty kids whacking me with balloons! I still look back on that day and can’t help but laugh. Pah and I were best friends from the moment we met. He was either in my lap, on my back, or hanging on to my legs the entire time we were there. I still think of him and wonder how he’s doing.
My Rustic Pathways trip was well planned, and gave me unique opportunities that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else. It was organized, but not overbooked. I can’t believe all that I got to do in just three short weeks! Reading about places in a textbook can only get you so far, but experiencing them for yourself is unlike anything else. Rustic Pathways has the BEST leaders who truly care about each student! They go above and beyond to get to know each student personally and make their trip extra special, just as they did for me. They are responsible and fun and I felt completely safe the whole time I was away from home.
My trip with Rustic Pathways gave me a new found confidence in myself and opened many new possibilities. It just plain made me pumped about life! Whenever I get down on myself and think I can’t do something, I just remember, “Wait a minute, Emily! You went on adventure half way around the world without knowing anyone. You got this!” I absolutely loved my trip with Rustic Pathways and I promise you that you will too. Thank you, Rustic, for taking me on the greatest adventure of my life!

How can this program be improved?
Hmm, the only thing I think would change about my trip would be our travel days. Traveling across the world is long and tiring anyways, but our layovers and connecting flights were sometimes 12 hours long. On the way to Thailand, we arrived in the Singapore airport at 2 in the morning, and sat on the airport couches for 7 hours waiting, with nothing to do because everything was closed for the night. I understand how many flights they're arranging, but if they could find a way to make travel time run smoother, that would be great!
Yes, I recommend this program

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...