|Dates:||July 1 – July 28|
|Arrive:||Los Angeles, CA|
|Depart:||Los Angeles, CA|
|Grade||9th, 10th, 11th & 12th|
(Students Grouped According to Age)
*Airfare for group flight from Los Angeles additional
Learn More About Us
You May Also Like
- Learn to Feed, Bathe, and Care for Magnificent Elephants
- Work Alongside Conservation Experts to Care for Asian Elephants at Local Sanctuaries
- Whitewater Raft through Rice Paddies and Lush Mountain Forests
- Earn Your SCUBA Certification while Diving Brilliant Coral Reefs
- Help Eager Thai Students Practice English through Games and Play
- Learn to Prepare Local Delicacies in a Thai Cooking School
- Experience an Immersive Overnight in a Buddhist Monastery
- 50 Hours of Community Service
Over the past century, Thailand’s elephant population has decreased significantly—from as many as 100,000 at the start of the century to a mere 4,000 today. ARCC students in Thailand work to help elephant populations bounce back from the effects of illegal logging, encroaching urbanization, and poaching. Our spotlight service project in Thailand takes place at two different elephant sanctuaries where we assist local naturalists and wildlife biologists in rehabilitating and caring for elderly, disabled, abused, and orphaned elephants. As we bathe, prepare food, and restore habitat for these magnificent creatures, we share intimate interactions and lend a hand in sustaining one of the world’s most cherished species.
Immerse yourself in Thailand’s remarkable diversity as you embark on a journey through exotic jungles, bustling city streets, tropical island waters, and lush rice fields. Bond with rescued elephants as you feed, bathe, and explore with them. Learn about their history and biology from local conservation experts while working to protect wild elephant populations in their native land. Whitewater raft the Maetang River after volunteering in a remote hill tribe village. Learn to cook traditional Thai delicacies. Spend the night among monks at a Buddhist monastery and explore the temple wonderland of Chiang Mai. SCUBA dive spectacular multi-colored coral reefs and teach English to children in a local primary school through games and activities. Ensure a safe future for the elephants and learn the value of contributing a country rightly named The Land of Smiles.
Bangkok Exploration & Buddhist Monastery Stay
We begin our Thailand Summer Service Program in Los Angeles and board a plane to Bangkok, where we receive a Thai language and cultural orientation from our Thai hosts. During our time in Bangkok, we stroll through lively markets, visit the revered Grand Palace and Reclining Buddha, and cruise the canals on a traditional Thai long boat. We spend a night at the Suwantawanaram Buddhist forest monastery where we learn from monks about Buddhist customs. An overnight train ride takes us to the ancient walled city of Chiang Mai.
Nature Reserve and Elephant Sanctuary
Our elephant conservation journey begins at a respected nature preserve and self-sustaining eco-village tucked away in lush, forested wild elephant habitat. We float the jungle river into this protected land, which serves as a corridor for wild elephants and a variety of other native wildlife. Over the next four days we discuss elephant conservation with visiting biologists and veterinarians, visit local farmers to learn about human-elephant conflict, and work on habitat restoration projects within the nature preserve itself. We also spend time at a nearby elephant sanctuary learning to care for, feed and bathe these majestic creatures. If we are lucky, we may catch a glimpse of wild elephants, boars, deer, and other small creatures from the preserve’s observation tower.
Hill Tribe Village Service, Whitewater Rafting, and Cooking Class
Glimpsing Thailand’s true cultural origins, we travel north to the high country where tribes have managed to retain their own language, customs, mode of dress, and spiritual beliefs for centuries. Once in the village, we help with much-needed infrastructure projects such as building bridges, community houses, or renovating and improving the local school. We spend three days living in a village guest house, and lend a helping hand in the community while learning about Thai culture first hand. Our time with the hill tribe comes to a close with an exciting day of whitewater rafting on the Maetang River before our return to Chiang Mai for a full-day Thai cooking class where we prepare tasty Thai dishes like spring rolls, Pad Thai, and papaya salad.
Elephant Nature Park and Erawan Falls
Our time at Elephant Nature Park allows us to build upon our new knowledge of Thai elephant conservation and immerse ourselves in the daily routine of the elephant sanctuary. Our three days here allow us to gain perspective around the different approaches to elephant conservation work and tourism throughout the country. Before departing, we visit a spectacular national park renowned for its aquamarine pools linked by cascading waterfalls.
SCUBA Diving on Koh Tao
Reefs teeming with exotic fish, sea turtles and soft corals lure us to Koh Tao, our island home for the next five days. In these 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 to dive, alternative water activities are available.) We then travel by train back to Bangkok for a final celebration and bid a warm goodbye to The Land of Smiles.
“Thailand exceeded my expectations. The locals were so hospitable and welcoming.”— Sami W., ARCC Student
“I’ve never had an experience like this. Riding elephants, going to night bazaars, and SCUBA diving is not ordinary summer. ARCC has made another simple summer EXTRAORDINARY!”— Taylor P., ARCC Student
“Connor could not say enough about the trip – his group, the leaders, the culture, the activities. It was all he hoped for and more!”— Parent of Connor W., Salt Lake City, UT
“She is a different person… very much for the better. She is carrying a calmness and perspective that she didn’t have before the trip. She learned so much about herself and her ability to work with others.”— Parent of Edie D., Malibu, CA
“ARCC has given me the opportunity to travel the world, explore and immerse myself in new cultures, and meet incredible people along the way. My experiences with ARCC have changed my life and have most importantly showed me that I can make a difference in this world.”— Jillian B., Lloyd Harbor, NY, ARCC Student
Group Journal Excerpts
Below you will find several Group Journal excerpts, written by ARCC students during their summer program with ARCC:
A Day in the Life of a Monk
Happy 4th of July! We are in Thailand! Today we traveled from Bangkok to the monastery where we toured the monks’ 30-acre farm, spoke with the monks and celebrated with Thai children after dinner. We learned a ton from the monks including: they follow over 200 precepts, are very strict vegetarians and maintain a very…
A River Runs Through It
Leaving Chiang Mai, we traveled to the artsy little town of Pai, and spent the night in some beautiful riverside bungalows. We explored the local markets and enjoyed the hammocks strung up in our courtyard. The next day we began our two day rafting adventure with an orientation and safety talk at the raft company’s…
What is the packing list for this program?
Each program has a specific packing list that has been designed to fit the program’s activities, length, climate and cultural differences. Please click here to view the Thailand: Elephant Experience packing list.
What is the weather like in Thailand?
Most of Thailand, with the exception of the mountainous regions in the north, can be described as hot and humid. Day-time temperatures in the summer months usually fall in the mid-80’s, with an average humidity of 66% to 82%. In the northern hill-country, where we will be trekking, temperatures can fall into the 50s, and it can get quite chilly in the evenings. Also, while it is not quite the rainy season in Thailand when you will be there in July, it has been known to rain frequently in the areas that we travel.
What are the service projects like?
ARCC has been operating programs in Thailand for several years, and we have built relationships with a variety of individuals, small communities and organizations who enjoy hosting ARCC student groups. On this program, we participate in two elephant service projects, one at a Conservation Center and the other at a Rehabilitation Center. We also spend time living and working in a remote Hill Tribe village. The specific service projects that each group will work on in this village depend on what is most needed in the community at the time. Projects could include building a bamboo bridge for safe access to the school in wet season, a village meeting house, a playground, or making renovations to a school. We also spend several days teaching English to local schoolchildren.
What kind of health precautions should I take before traveling to Thailand?
Thailand is a relatively clean and safe place to travel. However, ARCC does recommend that you take some health precautions before your trip to Thailand. When you enroll in the program, you will receive more complete information on pertinent travel vaccinations and immunizations. Please also refer to the Traveler’s Health section of the CDC website. Our leaders carry a full first aid kit, and are all certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR).
Where will we sleep?
During this program we sleep in a variety of accommodations: small hotels, beach bungalows, guesthouses, dorm style bungalows, a monastery and overnight trains.
What is the transportation like once we are in Thailand?
We use a variety of transportation on the Thailand: Elephant Experience program. We travel by train in overnight sleeper coaches, private busses, ferries, and local busses.
What is the food like?
We will have the opportunity to sample traditional Thailand cuisine such as noodles (like Pad Thai), curries, spring rolls and fresh fruits. We will also be taking a cooking class to learn how to cook all of our favorite dishes!
How much spending money should I bring?
For Thailand: Elephant Experience, ARCC recommends that you bring an additional $300 of spending money. You should bring this money in the form of cash (small bills are best) and also bring an ATM/debit card with you. Thailand uses the “baht” as currency and there are approximately 32 Thai baht to every US $1.
As with any international program, we strongly recommend talking to your bank about its international withdrawal policies to avoid any surprise fees or card cancellations.
Do I need a passport?
Yes, all students traveling to Thailand need to have a valid passport. Please make sure the passport expiration date is at least six months after you travel. Passport applications are available at the post office. If you do not already have a passport, you should apply for one as soon as you enroll in this adventure. It normally takes six weeks to process a passport application.
Do I need a visa?
No. US and Canadian citizens do not need a visa for this program (unless you plan on staying in Thailand before or after the program).
What is the time difference between Thailand and the USA?
All of Thailand falls within a single time zone. While on your program in Thailand, the time will be 11 hours later than New York (Eastern Time), 12 hours later than Chicago (Central Time), and 14 hours later than San Francisco (Pacific Time).
Do I really need to bring a backpack, or can I bring a rolling suitcase on this program?
Although you will not be doing traditional backpacking on this program, it is important that you bring a backpack as your main piece of luggage. During the program the group will be navigating through airports, on and off buses, up and down stairways, and taking short hikes on unpaved paths. The group will be able to move much more efficiently if everyone is carrying their belongings on their back.
What kinds of goods and supplies can we bring to donate for the people we meet?
We have the chance to live amongst some people who have the very basics for survival. With education being a tool to better their lives, basic school supplies are welcomed with open arms. Pens, pencils, notepads, and books are widely accepted. Soccer balls are also an incredible way to cross the cultural border and share smiles. Because of limited space on our vehicles ARCC would ask that every person to bring no more than a gym bag of goods to donate.
What is the difference between Thailand: Elephant Experience and Thailand: Hill Tribe Impact?
Our Thailand: Elephant Experience program is not only two weeks longer, but is geared towards students who are eager to work more closely and extensively with elephants and gain a deeper understanding of elephant conservation in Thailand. Students on the Elephant Experience program volunteer at two different elephant conservation projects, while the Thailand: Hill Tribe Impact group visits one to allow for more varied service work during their two weeks in country. Students on our Thailand: Elephant Experience program also pursue SCUBA certification.