Thailand, Asia -
Tham Dee Dai Dee
TEEN COMMUNITY SERVICE Trip AND Cultural Immersion PROGRAM
June 26 - July 17, 2019 // Very Limited Availability!
July 18 - August 8, 2019 // Limited Availability
Length: 22 Days
Length: 22 DaysCompleting Grades: 9-12
Completing Grades: 9-12Service Hours: 45-50
Service Hours: 45-50Arrive/Depart: Bangkok: BKK
Arrive/Depart: Bangkok: BKK Tuition: $6,195
Join us on a 22-day teen community service trip and cultural immersion program in Thailand! Tham dee dai dee.... We begin with a Thai proverb meaning, "If you do good things, good things will happen for you," as we travel to Thailand for 22 days of animal conservation community service, cultural immersion, and outdoor adventure. From the cultural hub of Bangkok to the picturesque seascape of an island in the Gulf of Thailand, up to the jungles in the northern region of the country, we leave little unexplored.
The confidence that was given to me on this trip will always be with me for the rest of my life.” - Jorge O., Thailand: Tham Dee Dai Dee
We teach English to Thai students in Bangkok while visiting temples, ancient cities, and flourishing markets. Then, our group heads to the island of Ko Samet where we engage in true seaside activities by snorkeling, paddling, and relaxing by the Gulf of Thailand. We get the rare chance to care for elephants at our jungle base camp. We help them bathe in the cool streams, feed them, maintain and clean their home areas, and other activities that will directly improve the lives of the elephants.
Keep scrolling to discover more about our teen community service trip and cultural immersion program in Thailand, Tham Dee Dai Dee!
Thailand // You Don't Want to Miss...
#1 Do Right By The Elephants
Elephants are revered in Thailand. In the northern hills, fortunate visitors are immersed in hands-on learning by helping care for them – trekking through the jungle, bathing them, cleaning their living areas, and helping out with their morning feeding. Most exciting is the chance to see elephants in their natural environment.
#2 The Beaches of Ko Samet
Quiet and relaxing, this beautiful island with powdery white sand derives its name from the cajeput trees that grow on the island, called “samet.” Also known as “Koh Kaew Phitsadan,” or the "Magic Crystal Island,” most of the archipelago is a national park to preserve the magical space for snorkeling and sea kayaking.
#3 Language Immersion
The schools here actually prefer that their teachers not speak any Thai and English is suppossed to be taught as the secondary language but teachers are hard to find. RLT students design lesson plans and teach English to local primary school students in Monastary schools. The goal is for the local students to be immersed in an English-language classroom, with no choice but to speak English with their teacher.
From the breathtaking Emerald Buddha to Wat Pho and Wat Arun, the centuries-old sacred spaces scattered throughout the country glow with ancient, enlightening energy.
#5 Sunday Walking Street, Chiang Mai
Each Sunday evening in Chiang Mai, the streets fill with local food, clothing, and crafts while musicians and street performers pulse positive vibes through the air. Many of the objects are handmade and give testimony to the skills and inventiveness of local people.
#6 Eat Lots of Pad Thai!
The national noodle dish is known throughout the world as being super-tasty! This trip is an opportunity to expand culinary horizons even further through the creation of delicious traditional Thai dishes. Of course, we sample many of these dishes along the way as well!
#7 Chat with A Buddhist Monk
Thai people are deeply religious. For the Buddhist majority (90%), religion underlies all activities and forms the backbone of their enduring culture. Bilingual Buddhist monks readily share their faith and self-centering meditation practices at a historic temple.
#8 The Grand Palace and Prakeaw, Bangkok
The spectacular Grand Palace undoubtedly is the city’s most famous must-see landmark. The beautiful gold-tipped series of buildings is more than 200 years old and it is definitely worth the trip.
45-50 Community Service Hours
Teach English to primary school students in Bangkok.
Participate in Elephant care and conservation in the Himalayan Foothills outside of Chiang Mai.
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total number of hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
Adventure: The climb to Doi Suthep, Long tail boat trip, Bangkok
Hike: Side by side with elephants through the jungle, Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park
Explore: Chatuchak Market, Ancient city of Ayuthaya, Thae Pae Gate
Snorkel: Crystal clear reefs of Ko Samet
Tour: The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun
Cultural Experience: Teachings from Buddhist Monks, Night Bazaar, Connect with Thai High School students
Classes: Meditation, Thai Cooking
Bike: Countryside around Huay Tung Tao Reservoir
We stay in a private bed and breakfast in Bangkok, a hotel on Ko Samet, and a lodge in Chaing Mai. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability. Toilets are western style at the hotels, bed and breakfast, and lodges.
Tuition (Airfare and baggage fees not included)
San Francisco (SFO)
A leader-escorted round-trip flight will be available (but not required) for those travelers who wish to fly with a leader. This flight will leave very early in the morning on the first day of the program. Please contact our office for details.
Additional in-country group flight is required and is not included in tuition.
Join in on the fun! Check out #ThaiRLT for a behind-the-scenes look at photos from past participants and leaders.
Labeled the “quintessential Asian capital,” Bangkok is where our escorted flight from San Francisco lands, unloading us into the culturally vibrant, tropical city. Our first two days of the adventure promise mesmerizing temples, mazelike markets, and the wondrous Grand Palace, home to the Thai king and royal court since 1782.
We orient to the landscape and familiarize ourselves with our service project. With our lesson plans prepared, we spend time teaching Thai children in primary schools. In the evenings, we explore the magnificent food, art, and architecture of the region both on foot and by boat (Think: dinner boat cruise through the ancient city of Ayuthaya).
Closing our English teaching work in Bangkok, we swap cultures, music, and ideas with bilingual Thai students our own age at a local high school before heading south to the gorgeous blue waters and warm sandy beaches.
We rest and relax on the island of Ko Samet, bobbing in the small sandy bays, surrounded by a thick jungle interior and aquamarine water. We snorkel and paddle our way throughout the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park, which makes up most of the island. We recharge our batteries in this unique space known for its lively reefs.
Ferrying back to the mainland, our adventure takes us north to the charming city of Chiang Mai, flourishing in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Here we converse with Buddhist monks in historic temples, learning mindful meditation, and increasing our awareness and appreciation of this ancient land. We spend dinnertime with our favorite local Thai chef and try our hand at creating authentic delicious Thai dishes. From the fresh markets to the pan, and eventually our plates, we enjoy every step.
Before journeying east to the jungle, we challenge ourselves to reach Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a temple on the mountainside with more than 300 steps leading up to a breathtaking view: the city to the front and the stellar gold-plated chedi to the back.
We find ourselves in the presence of the true jungle giants at the elephant basecamp. With the development of Thai economy, many elephants are no longer working to transport timber or crops and require safe spaces to live. We help care for these creatures by preparing food, feeding, and bathing them. We will also assist in activities that directly improve the lives of the elephants such as cleaning their living areas, cutting grass and sugar cane, and making medicine balls with herbs. The land sings around us as we conclude our service work assisting the animals and getting to know the families who live at the sanctuary.
In a bittersweet goodbye, we say farewell to our new (yet never to be forgotten) friends of the jungle and return to Chiang Mai for a traditional closing banquet and a magical trip to the night bazaar before heading home.
Arrival (Day 1-3):
Gather in San Francisco, CA, to board the escorted flight for Bangkok. Arrive in Thailand the next day, settle in and get the lay of the land.
Orientation & Explore Bangkok (Day 4-5):
Visit various temples, experience markets, and prepare for English teaching service.
English Teaching, Ancient City Visit, & Canal Tour (Day 6-10):
Teach English to local Thai children, exchanging lessons and culture. We spend our days both in the classroom and playing games, recognizing that childhood persists, regardless of place. Continue to explore surroundings by visiting the ancient city of Ayuthaya for a dinner boat cruise, winding through the unique canals to see Bangkok by water. Spend an afternoon with bilingual Thai high school students for a cultural exchange.
Ko Samet Beach Time (Day 10-11):
Ferry south across to Ko Samet and settle in at the resort for relaxation. Snorkel and paddle to make the most of the refreshingly warm Gulf of Thailand waters.
Chiang Mai Exploration & Cooking Class (Day 12-13):
Energized and back on the mainland, hop on a short group flight north to Chiang Mai to meet with Buddhist monks, learn about meditation in a historic temple, and hone Thai culinary skills.
Elephant Camp Orientation (Day 14):
We become familiar with the much-anticipated site of the final leg of our journey: the Elephant Camp. After a short drive out of Chiang Mai, arrive at jungle base camp. Meet the families of the sanctuary and elephants to be cared for in the coming days.
Bike, Swim, Explore Huay Tung Tao Reservoir (Day 15):
Explore the bamboo huts, green space, swimming holes, and quiet country roads around Huay Tung Tao reservoir. Move through wild spaces of rice paddies and rolling hills on foot and on bike.
Elephant Camp Service Work (16-20):
Learn about some of the tasks we will doing throughout our stay (bathing the elephants, cleaning their homes, helping to provide exercise) and begin to get our hands dirty! During the days, we spend time at the Elephant Camp, returning to Chiang Mai each evening to dine and rest.
Homeward Bound (21-22):
Say goodbye to our giant, new four-legged friends. Return to Chiang Mai for the famed night bazaar, a final banquet, and celebration before returning to San Francisco on the escorted flight.
International Traveler’s Health
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please visit the CDC’s website to read more about recommended vaccinations for travel to Thailand. The decision to get some, none, or all of the recommended vaccinations is a personal one, and should be discussed with your family doctor.
Thailand: Tham Dee Dai Dee Packing List
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
General Travel Info
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination back home on the last day of the trip.
In-country flight will be booked and invoiced by RLT, in addition to the tuition.
This program offers an optional leader-escorted flight for those families who are interested.
If you wish to have your participant fly directly into the starting location, please call the office for details.