Work alongside the traditional elephant caretaker as you embark on a journey to protect and care for elephants. Volunteer in a hill-tribe village and learn how to cook tasty Thai delights. Ensure a safe future for the elephants and learn the value of contributing to exotic Thailand with our summer programs.
Chiang Mai: The Northern Rose
This ancient city, surrounded by a moat and filled with over 300 temples, is known as the Northern Rose of Thailand, and dates back to the 13th century. Full of colorful markets, rich foods you’ll only find in Northern Thailand, women in long tube skirts and monks in saffron robes, Chiang Mai is the perfect start for understanding the richness of Thailand.
Here, you’ll speak directly with monks to understand Thailand’s main religion, Buddhism. You’ll scour markets for the best ingredients to use in a traditional Thai cooking class where you’ll make and enjoy Pad Thai, curries, sticky rice, spring rolls, and more. You’ll head into the hills for an exhilirating zipline and a majestic stroll through Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai’s most sacred temple.
Northern Highlands: Village Hill Tribe Service
In the northern and border regions of Thailand, various tribes still live in small communities where they have managed to retain their own language, customs, mode of dress, and spiritual beliefs. We’ll head to a remote village in the hills of Doi Suthep to meet with a Karen tribe we’ve called family for the past 7 years. We’ll continue ARCC’s work renovating a Kindergarten classroom once destroyed by a landslide, and provide a day-camp for the children in the community. We’ll teach them good hand-washing and dental care techniques, and they’ll teach us how to plant and harvest rice in the beautiful paddies that surround this special place.
Kanchanaburi: Elephant Jungles
Just 100 years ago, Thailand was home to over 300,000 wild elephants. Now, fewer than 4000 roam in ever-dwindling patches of jungle. Habitat and food loss, as well as the popularity of trekking camps, are to blame for these numbers, but many local conservationists are working to create solutions to save elephants, a national symbol in Thailand. We’re here to help. Our elephant conservation journey begins at a respected nature preserve and wildlife corridor tucked away in lush forest. With the help of scientists and conservationists, we build dams, create natural salt-licks in the jungle, and plant trees. We spot wild elephants from the tree house, and even spend a day playing with elephants in a no-ride sanctuary that protects captive elephants while they live out their lives free from chains. We leave with a good understanding of Thailand’s struggle to maintain wild elephant populations while taking care of captive populations.
Reefs teeming with exotic fish and soft corals lure us to Koh Nang Yuan, a small island kept private at night for only those staying in its inviting bungalows. In the island’s warm, crystal clear waters, we become PADI Certified Open Water Divers, or upgrade to PADI Advanced Open Water Divers. (All students wishing to SCUBA dive must pass a thorough diving physical and cannot have used an inhaler or suffered from asthma in the past three years. For those not wishing or unable to dive, alternative water activities are available.) We soak up the island sun and enjoy new friendships on the most beautiful beaches of Thailand.
Bangkok: Ancient Meets Modern
Before final goodbyes, explore one of Southeast Asia’s largest cities, where ancient traditions meet modern skyscrapers. Little old ladies sell noodles from carts in colorful markets while speed boats shuttle men and women to business districts along the Chao Phraya river. Practice Thailand’s martial art, Muay Thai, then enjoy a traditional Thai massage. Spend your final night on a chartered boat enjoying your last Thai tastes while floating past the sparkling Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and the Rama VIII bridge. Leave with an understanding for why Thailand is the “Land of Smiles.”