Eat your way through Thailand! From the street food mecca of Bangkok to local delicacies at a floating market, from the intricate cuisine of the north in Chiang Mai to granny-prepared meals at homestays, get ready for the best eats of your life!
Get your hands dirty at an organic farm as we learn first-hand about alternative modes of food production.
Gain an intimate perspective on daily life in northern Thailand as we live with homestay families and trek through lush hills and endless greenery.
Develop a critical perspective towards food production and consumption through hands-on experience and dialogue with local friends and partners!
Fees + Community Contribution
$3,045 USD + $720 USD
$3,170 CAD + $750 CAD
January 3 – February 11, 2018
May 23 – July 1, 2018
July 12 – August 20, 2018
*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.
Following airport pickups, our group will be introduced to Thailand’s bustling capital, Bangkok. In a citywide scavenger hunt we’ll get to know the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this modern yet distinctively Thai city. Your program leaders will take you on a food crawl through Bangkok’s Chinatown, the epicenter of street food culture in the city. We will also be meeting with a local chef who’ll give us the rundown on the essential elements of Thai cuisine. Temple hopping and a crash course on Thai language basics will, of course, also be part of the agenda!
Floating Markets and Rural Livin’
From the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, our group will journey to the countryside of Nakhon Pathom. Spending a few days camping along the Thai Chin River, we’ll take day trips to visit the Lam Phaya Floating Market and partake in a bike tour that will see us weaving through and stopping at Central Thai farming communities. We will get a sense of rural Thai life and learn about food production from the source! All, of course, while trying delicious local delicacies.
Organic Farming Adventure
Taking an overnight journey to the province of Chiang Mai, we’ll waste no time as we head into the lush green hills and get settled in at an organic farm. Stripped down to the basics, we will learn hands-on about principles of organic gardening, seed sharing, and self-reliance. Our lessons will be contextualized in a local Thai environment, as well as in the bigger picture of global food production.
Cooking and Exploring in Chiang Mai
No jaunt to northern Thailand is complete without a stay in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai. Ancient temples, mouth-watering cuisine, and a funky modern vibe are just some of the reasons we love this city! We will partake in a two-day cooking class and then hit the streets to see if what we’ve whipped up compares to the real deal. Visiting museums, temples, markets, a nearby waterfall, and just exploring the city’s winding streets will give us a good sense of all that Chiang Mai has to offer.
Into the Hills with the Mirror Foundation
From Chiang Mai, our group will take a short bus ride to the neighbouring Chiang Rai province. There, we’ll meet with our partner, the Mirror Foundation – a Thai NGO working towards improving the livelihoods of underprivileged ethnic minority groups in the country. Guided by of our friends from Mirror, we will visit remote villages nestled in the lush hills of northern Thailand, sleep in homestays, and learn about the cultures and traditions of local hilltribe communities. We will look specifically at the struggles of maintaining a traditional lifestyle while integrating into a modern market-based agricultural society.
Fun with Gentle Giants!
After an intense week of trekking and living remotely, our crew will stay in the city of Chiang Rai. Famous for its night bazar and northern-style cuisine, we will take some time to take it easy and enjoy the ambience of this quiet town. The highlight in Chiang Rai will certainly be a visit to a nearby elephant sanctuary at Elephant Valley Thailand, where we will have the chance to learn about an important conservation project aiming to put an end to the mistreatment of elephants in the tourism industry. We will, of course, also have a chance to meet the resident elephants and hear their individual stories from the dedicated staff.
Independent Travel Time
A staple of all Operation Groundswell programs is Independent Travel Time (ITT). You can travel independently if you desire, but we encourage everyone to travel in pairs or small groups. This is the ideal time to learn more about your specific interests, volunteer, travel, or just relax. Southeast Asia is bursting with gems! From the pristine beaches of southern Thailand to the ancient temples of the mighty Angkor Empire, from hiking into the territory of the northern hill tribes in Chiang Rai to the unreal views of Ha Long Bay, there’s no shortage of things to do here!
**Please note that you are not under the auspices of the organized program during ITT. Team members will be given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice.
Disorientation in Bangkok
The group will reconvene for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’ prior to flying home. This will take place in Bangkok, back where all the fun began! We will discuss our accomplishments, how we can stay in touch, and what future projects we can collaborate on before we go off on our way!
A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region
Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day
All lodging and accommodations throughout the program
Three local meals a day
All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions
All group transportation on the ground
Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience
Support from OGHQ whenever you need it
Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!
Relax on the pristine beaches of southern Thailand and relish in the stunning landscapes these islands have to offer.
Take an epic multi-day slow boat journey down the Mekong into Laos.
Travel back in time, exploring the mystical ruins of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With OG, you live like the locals. Traveling as much as we do on this program, there are a number of different styles of accommodation. In cities, we stay at clean, safe, and secure guesthouses. In the countryside we will be camping, staying at homestays, or sleeping in pre-arranged group accommodations. Cold bucket showers are common while continuous electricity can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! Though Western comforts should not be assumed, you can expect to challenge yourself by stripping down to the basics.
After hearing about OG while sweating in a sauna in northern Ontario in 2010, and subsequently going on a Southeast Asia program, Sidney quickly got hooked on backpacktivism. Since then. he has led four years of programs in Southeast Asia. His favorite part of the job (if he had to choose) is getting people to fall in love with this part of the world and understanding it through a critical and educational lens. Sid lives in Bangkok where, besides operating as Regional Director for OG, he is pursuing a Masters in Tourism Management. Previously, Sid was an archaeologist, a passion he continues to cultivate when time permits. Eating is another big hobby, which is easy to maintain in a place like Thailand.
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