Thailand: From Ancient Temples to Bangkok

Language and Cultural Discovery

Journey through the diverse wonders of Thailand, from bustling markets in Bangkok to ancient Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai and the ancient ruins of Sukhothai.

Language

Community Service

Certificate

Wildlife

Rugged Travel

Outdoor Activity

Homestay

Temple Stay

DEPARTURE

July 1, 2019

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Program Description

Your Experiment begins in the northern mountain city of Chiang Mai, home to hundreds of ancient temples. You will visit the city’s famous sites, explore lively street markets, discover Buddhist temples, and take in the tropical landscapes as you get to know your group. Get a taste for Thai food culture with a cooking instructor who will help you shop for the freshest ingredients at a local market, then teach you how to whip up traditional Thai dishes with the items you buy. Discover an important part of Thai culture as you stay overnight at a Buddhist temple and learn about the art of meditation. Introductory Thai language lessons will prepare you to communicate with your host family during your homestays.

The northern region’s lush tropical valleys and highlands will be your backdrop as you embark on outdoor activities such as trekking and zip-lining. Visit an elephant sanctuary to experience these majestic creatures as you feed and bathe them. You will also visit the historic city of Ayutthaya, a former capital of Siam and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before traveling to the seaside town of Hua Hin to explore breathtaking beaches.

As your Thai adventure continues, you will live with a family in a lowland northern village in Chiang Mai province and then with a hill tribe in Chiang Rai province. Together, you will work on a community service project, such as teaching English to young children, helping build a natural water dam, or assisting with reforestation work. You will continue to develop your Thai language skills as you interact with locals.

At the conclusion of this program, each participant will earn a community service certificate noting the number of hours of community service completed.

PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

Prerequisite:

None

Dates:

July 1, 2019 - July 31, 2019

Program Fee:

$5,830.00

(does not include airfare)
Group Airfare Cost:

$1,297.00

Depart/Return City:

Los Angeles

Orientation:

Chiang Mai, 5–7 days

Homestay:

Northern Thai village outside of Chiang Mai*, 9–11 days; Lisu hill tribe community in Chiang Rai province*, 3 days

Other Accommodations:

Guest houses

Sample Itinerary

  •  
    Days 1-7

    Orientation in Chiang Mai

    • Learn about the history and culture of Thailand and learn about Buddhism
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities and group discussions, such as exploring Chiang Mai through a scavenger hunt and tasting Thai food, taking pictures and interacting with locals.
    • Explore bustling street markets and Buddhist temples such as the Doi Suthep temple and the magnificent Winter Royal Palace.
    • Attend Thai language classes at a local university and learn about Buddhism in Thailand.
    • Take a cooking class and learn how to cook various Thai dishes. At night, enjoy a traditional Northern Thai Khantoke dinner with dance performances
    • Attend a meditation workshop at a retreat centre, to learn about mindfulness and stay overnight at a temple

    During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located guesthouse, or hostel and a temple

  •  
    Days 8-14

    Homestay and Community Service

    • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a Thai family and community
    • Explore your host community and the surrounding area with your group, including visiting the local market, enjoying an exquisite waterfall in the Prao district, and exploring and helping farmers on a rice plantation.
    • Participate in a community service project such as building a house and planting trees at a temple and teach English and a local school.
    • Bike to neighboring villages, cook meals with your hosts, help in the fields, and learn Thai folk dancing

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample communities include Baan Mae Bon and Baan Ton Chok Sri Khum.

  •  
    Days 16-18

    Travel and excursion in Chiang Mai

    • Transfer to  Chiang Mai for two days to enjoy Thai activities  where you might go zip lining , visit San Kampaeng Road, called the  “handicraft highway , to explore and buy intricately designed  pottery, stoneware, jewelry and wood carvings.
    • Visit the San Kamphaeng hot springs , the Chiang Mai Zoo and take part in an elephant mahout program at the Baan Elephant Park- a park that rescues elephants from inhuman conditions , to learn about the importance of elephant conservation and ethical tourism.
  •  
    Days 19-21

    Homestay in Baan Doi Lan Village

    • Become immersed in the lives of Lisu hill tribe family and community
    • Participate in daily activities with your host family and explore the lush jungles of Lisu Village
    • Teach children english at a local school and practice your Thai language skills.
    • Go hiking along the mountains and surrounding villages and enjoy the rich landscape.
    • Visit the Doi Chang coffee plantation, ‘Thailand’s coffee paradise’ to observe Arabica coffee planting and processing by coffee growers from all parts of Thailand and surrounding countries.

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample communities include Baan Doi Lan and Chiang Rai.

  •  
    Days 22-28

    Thematic Focus and Travel in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, & Hua Hin

    • After a day in Chiang Mai travel on to Bangkok, to enjoy the vibrant sites of this metropolis. Visit the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun and explore the bustling markets, while sampling Thai food.
    • Explore the Siam Square in Bangkok – a shopping and entertainment amalgam in the Siam district.
    • Transfer to Ayuttaya , the ancient capital of Siam and a UNESCO World Heritage site . Here, bike around the Ayuttaya historical park and the famous floating market. 
    • Stay at the seaside town of Hua Hin, where you will spend time on the beach and visit the Chang Hua Mun royal project – an experimental farm where a range of experimental crops. Walk through the green hills and past picturesque paddies or cycle through the vast crop fields.

    During this period, you and your group will stay in guest houses and hotels.

  •  
    Day 29

    Thematic Focus and Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Bangkok

    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program
    • Enjoy a final Thai meal and some last-minute shopping

    During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

  •  
    Day 30

    Departure

    Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • Ina Chu

    Hailing from sunny San Diego, Ina Chu decided in high school that she needed a change of scenery and moved 3,000 miles across the country to attend Boston University (BU) in Massachusetts. During her time at BU, Ina studied abroad in Germany, served as a resident assistant, and landed a journalism internship that took her to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After graduating with a dual degree in German and journalism, she joined the Peace Corps in rural Thailand, where she worked side by side with locals to create community projects. In fall 2014, Ina returned to beautiful Boston to attend graduate school at Harvard University. In her free time, Ina enjoys good food, music, reading, traveling, and playing outdoors.

  • Lauren Williams

    Born and raised in rural Southern Illinois, Lauren Williams had her first taste of international travel at the age of sixteen, when she had the opportunity to backpack throughout Western Europe as an international Girl Scout representative. She then attended Elmhurst College where she pursued degree in biology with minors in chemistry and art. The summer after freshman year, Lauren went to Europe to study the healthcare systems of Austria, Germany, England, France, and Italy. During her sophomore year, she studied with SIT Study Abroad in Australia, where she conducted field study projects on the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef as well as independently researching wildlife rehabilitation at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. Upon graduation, Lauren received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Northern Thailand for a year. She taught at a small school in Chiang Rai and interned at a hospital in Chiang Mai during summer recess. Lauren is a veteran leader of The Experiment’s Thailand program, having led Experimenters in Thailand in both 2013 and 2014. Lauren is currently a second-year medical student at Rush University in Chicago.

Student Voices

  • I went to Thailand expecting to be happy with my summer, but came out with so much more than happiness. I experienced a new way of thinking about life, and overall a new world. This trip was definitely an eye opening experience. I learned a lot about how I deal with new situations and new environments and I think that is going to follow me around when I visit new places.

    --Alexandra
  • During my incredible week homestay experience I was able to share a home with a wonderful, kind, family with two twin daughters Ing and Ang. I’ve never had any sisters in my life so all of the sudden I had two little sisters with never ending energy spreading their love everywhere they went.

    --Willa
  • The things I learned and the people I met are memories I will hold onto forever. My leaders were also amazing and did everything they could to have the best time possible. From visiting the grand Palace to going to the meditation retreat to zip lining and visiting an elephant reserve I gained so much knowledge about Thailand and everything it has to offer.

    --Torie
  • Six months later, and my experience in Thailand still affects me. While my friends spent their summers doing all types of interesting things, no one had an experience like mine. The friends I made, the people I met, and the culture I experienced remain with me in my daily life.  My love of traveling has taken me all around the world but until my Thailand trip, I had never had such an authentic abroad experience.
    Let’s start with the people! Everyone I met in Thailand was incredibly kind and warm. Our homestay families welcomed us into their homes and during my two-and-a-half-week stay, I received several gifts and was made to feel at home.
    Communicating with my family was not easy. My Thai was better than their English, which is saying a lot considering that the only Thai I knew was from our two lessons we had in Chiang Mai before going to our homestays. Bonding with someone who speaks a completely foreign language is not easy, but simply experiencing their way of life was fulfilling.
    I made some amazing friends on my trip as well. Now, several months later, I still communicate with all of them and find myself laughing about our inside jokes or daydreaming about our time together. In fact, back at home in my daily life, Thailand memories are my salvation through the stress of a difficult course load, extracurriculars, and college applications.
    I could talk for hours about all my memorable experiences from the trip, but I would like to recount one of my favorite memories, which was with my host family.
    One night as I was eating dinner on the floor of my homestay house, as is customary in Thailand, my family, as usual, tried to keep on feeding me after I was too full for anything more. As usual, they told me to “gin” or eat.  I responded by saying “Im lao” meaning I’m full but still they tried to feed me.
    Finally, I responded with “Im lao, katong” and placed my hands on my stomach.  Now katong in Thai means fat or, as I and my friends from EIL translated it, “food baby.”  At the mention of katong, my family all burst out laughing, and I joined in.
    This may seem like a small moment, but for me it was the time when I felt more connected with my family and as I sit here writing about my experience now, I have a wide smile on my face and am flooded with all the other little memories of my homestay that made the experience so worthwhile.

    --Julia

Pre-departure Documents

Summer 2019

Congratulations on your upcoming Experiment summer on the Thailand: Buddhist Traditions & Thai Culture program. Visit our pre-departure page for information about our expectations, communications, and travel planning. In early 2019, our summer international information will be published in a secure page, found in the Parent Portal.

In early spring, the following program-specific documents will be linked to this page:

Many questions can be answered by reviewing these materials, but please do not hesitate to contact us if further information is required. To submit or update your domestic travel and emergency contact information, please login in to the Parent Portal.

Important Passport and Medical Information

If you do not yet have a passport, or if you have not applied for one, you should do so immediately.

If you have not had a physical with your doctor since June 2018, make an appointment as quickly as possible, as your health form must be filled out based on a current physical.

Please bookmark this web page for easy use in the future.