Rustic Pathways has been operating student travel and community service programs in Thailand for over a decade. With 60 full-time employees from incredibly diverse backgrounds, our connections here ensure access to places that aren’t open to most visitors, allowing for truly special experiences. With our legendary Ricefields International Service Base in the northeast, the Hill Tribe Orphanage Project along the Burmese border and a number of other bases throughout the Hill Tribe region, our year-round facilities are proof of our commitment to the communities and people we love and support in Thailand.
We custom design our Journeys to meet your school’s requirements, so please contact us to discuss the type of experience you are looking for. As a general guide, here are some of the potential elements of your Journey through Thailand:
Rustic Pathways has developed various long-term partnerships with communities and local organisations in Thailand. Some of our service projects that you could support include:
Veterinary Assistance: Vaccinate and provide basic medical care for dogs and cats in local villages and dramatically improve their overall health and life expectancy. Provide humane care to struggling and neglected animals through our veterinary outreach project and make a real difference!
Bobbing and Floating: Provide basic safety instruction to local village children in how to float, bob swim and perform basic water rescues in a fun and cheerful setting.
Meals on Flip-Flops: Learn how to prepare healthy and nutritionally balanced Thai meals and cook local Issan specialties under the direction of our chefs. Share time with Thai villagers as you deliver food to them, and gain unique insight into the hearts and histories of these inspiring people.
Buddhist Life Service: Share time with resident monks both young and old at the temples nearby The Ricefields Base and hear their teachings on practical Buddhism. Maintain temple grounds and structures used as community centres which are in need of maintenance, refurbishment, paint or repairs.
Orphans and Open Arms: Play Thai and Western games, donate school supplies, and share in the fun with a group of warm-hearted, underprivileged orphans. Teach English through games, songs and art at one of the local orphanages Rustic Pathways supports, and know you made a real difference.
Teaching and Tutoring: Teach English, math, sports, music and art at one of the several elementary and high schools surrounding The Rustic Pathways Ricefields Base. Empower students rising out of their humble circumstances by assisting them in a practical manner as they work to improve their English.
Hands in the Dirt: Design and build an organic farm, work in the fields, and share in the fun while meeting local farmers and learning about their lives & customs. Plant and tend to native Thai herbs, organic vegetables, fruit trees and orchids among other crops on local farms while learning about rural life.
Welcome Homes: Learn basic construction skills while buildings modest houses for needy families in the rural villages, which surround The Ricefields Base. Share the building experience with your friends and the appreciative families who will have the chance to call these houses their homes.
Swing Sets & Colouring Books: Play with some of the cutest kids in the world! they absolutely fall head over heels in love with our students and make it hard to say goodbye. Build and maintain playgrounds and play areas at local schools and temples to enhance the lives of local kids for years to come.
Nong Khai Boys Home: At the Nong Khai Boys Home Youth Leadership Exchange service project you will have the choice between leading an art project, teaching English, or playing sports. The boys who live there are always excited to see us, and their enthusiasm is contagious.
Rustic Pathways Children’s Home: This facility is a great base for students to participate in service work in the host village as well as in the more remote villages in the surrounding mountains. As globalization spreads into Rural Thailand, the various hill tribe groups are looking for ways to integrate and adapt to the changes taking place. Activities could include – Teaching at the local Baan Rai school, put on a camp of games and activities for the local children, and get to know the children at HTO.
English Camps: Host a fun-filled English camp for bright and eager young students in a hill tribe village not too far from the Children’s Home. Educational opportunities are limited out in the villages, and the chances to practice English from a fluent or native speaker are few and far between. You may even be the first foreigner some of your students have ever seen!
Village Life: Help your host family in their remote village with a number of everyday chores. This could include farming in rice fields, gardening, taking care of the village animals, or gathering fresh foods or bamboo from the jungle. Almost everything villagers consume comes from their own work or the environment around them, and today will be an excellent opportunity for you to experience a way of life that is fast disappearing. Bond with your hosts as they open up their lives to you – and don’t worry if they chuckle a little over your lack of skill with climbing a tree or planting rice; it’s all in good fun!
Elephant Conservation: Partnered with some of the most sustainable and animal-friendly conservation centres in Thailand you will learn about elephant conservation and become a certified elephant handler during your stay at the facility. Bond with your mahout, a Thai elephant keeper, as you bathe, feed, and care for your elephant throughout the week. Ride into the jungle for an overnight camp and volunteer at the elephant hospital. Learn about the importance of the elephant in Thai history and culture as well as what you can do to conserve this wise and loving species.
Travelling Soccer: Travel to remote villages and run soccer camps for local kids that work on leadership, social skills, English vocabulary and of course soccer skills!
Thailand’s past has left a country that is rich in history yet disadvantaged in many other ways. Travelling with our local staff will provide students with first-hand insights into life in this country. You may like to incorporate some of the following experiences into your Journey:
Tribal Issues: The hills of Northern Thailand border the Karen and Shan highlands in Myanmar and northern Laos. For hundreds of years these verdant mountains have been a place of refuge and a migration destination of ethnic groups from all over Asia. The settlement of these remote, isolated valleys by hill tribe groups has created an amazing fabric of ethnic diversity that is unique in the world. It is here that we will explore some of the issues that these communities face in a rapidly changing world. This intensive hands-on seminar-based experience will introduce you to ethical journalistic interview techniques, but will also give you the chance to step into the shoes of those people living in these villages.
Explore Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai was once the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom of northern Thailand, and is an important hub for non-profit, aid, and community-based organizations. Admire the grace of its temples and the grandeur of its surrounding mountaintops, knowing that this fascinating city houses many of the world’s foremost organizations that work for human rights, community health and wellness, and economic development.
One Tambon One Project (OTOP): In this government-sponsored program, each participating tambon (subdistrict) registers a particular locally made product, like honey, straw baskets, silver handicrafts, or woven fabrics. The product wears the OTOP brand and can be sold in marketplaces around Thailand. Enjoy looking at and maybe buying some of these fantastic local goods, knowing your money is going directly to the community that produced them!
Cooking Classes: Led by traditional Thai cooks from the surrounding villages, students get the opportunity to learn how to make some of Thailand’s most famous dishes. With delicious curries, succulent spring rolls and much more on the menu, you will be able to take your newfound knowledge of Thai cooking home with you to impress your friends!
Refugee Camp: Embark upon a once in a lifetime journey – a visit to Mae Ra Moe Luang Refugee Camp. Delve deep into a crash course in Burmese history, refugees, and the upcoming camp experience. This is a very exciting time to be working with Burmese people, as the nation is just beginning to emerge from decades of isolation under military dictators. Within this gorgeous setting, however, are 16,000 Karen refugees whose options in life are extremely limited. We will visit one of the college’s in the camp as well as run games and activities for the children.
Medical Service in Villages: Get certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR and practice basic clinical skills in the communities surrounding the Ricefields Service Base in north-eastern Thailand. Learn about rural healthcare through hands-on medical evaluations alongside trained professionals in a village clinic. Take home tangible skills, accredited certifications, and a greater understanding of community-based medicine.
Adventure and challenge is inherent to every Journey, however, if you are looking to physically challenge your students through a specific activity, you may opt to include:
Thai Fear Factor: Sample some local delicacies that will keep you guessing about the contents as you help your team succeed. The winner will get a prize…perhaps his or her own bag of salted crickets to eat on Hong Night Out!
Waterfalls & Buddha cave: Take a afternoon or day trip to explore and swim in some of Northern Thailand’s beautiful waterfalls and caves dedicated to the great one, Buddha.
Elephant Rides: Take a ride on Thailand’s most revered creature, the elephant! If you’ve never had the chance to ride one of these gentle giants, prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience. Massive and powerful, yet still nimble, elephants navigate the crowded jungle with surprising ease and grace. They are also intelligent and playful. Chances are you will be quite taken with yours by the time the ride comes to an end.
Rafting: Floating down the river on a bamboo raft, you will appreciate the simpler, lifestyle that locals enjoy in this part of the world.
Koh Phi Phi: Plunge into the emerald waters of Koh Phi Phi as you snorkel and scuba dive beautiful coral reefs while earning your PADI Open Water Certification.
Rock Climbing: Challenge yourself rock climbing up and down the cliffs of Railay. Beach in Krabi with professional guides in a stunning setting.
Island Life: During your stay on Phi Phi island you could participate in any number of activities including – pick-up soccer match on the beach, a sunset hike, or a Frisbee or volleyball game. This area is also a great place to go sea kayaking, and interested students can try this as well.
Muay Thai: Improve your fitness level, learn self-defense techniques, and immerse yourself in welcoming Thai culture. Train with former Muay Thai champions and aspiring professionals from around the region. Experience the welcoming, empowering team-centered culture at this friendly camp and at the Ricefields Base. Top it off by catching a championship bout from ringside seats at an iconic Muay Thai stadium.
Futsol & Soccer Matches: Visit a couple schools and universities to play a game of futsol or soccer with the local students.
There are various accommodation options that we can offer in Thailand; it depends on how “rustic” you would like your Journey to be.
Hotels: A variety of 3, 4 & 5 star hotels in cities and towns
Homestays: Students can homestay with local families in remote villages throughout Thailand.
Ricefields Base: Set just outside Udon Thani city, The Base includes a number of houses decorated in traditional Thai style, common areas for relaxing and playing games, a swimming pool, a gym, a family of water buffalo, and, of course, rice fields!
Rustic Pathways Children’s Home: Looking out from the facility, admire the lush rice paddies and a swift river adjoining the property. A rolling range of mountains dotted with temple tops and pagodas will form the perfect backdrop to the scene. Built in the traditional Thai-style, the base consists of a main building that houses most of the group activities and meal times as well as ceremonies and dances. Students stay with homestay families from the surrounding village that Rustic Pathways have extensively vetted and been using for many years.
Guesthouses: Some guesthouses that we stay at across the country are solely reserved for our operations at certain times of the year. This style of accommodation is basic yet comfortable and usually consists of shared rooms with private bathrooms.
Please chat to us if you have any special requests that you would like included in your Journey. There is nothing too big, small, or out-of-the-box that we can’t handle.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start designing your Journey! We would be delighted to partner with your school to support the global education of your students.