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2017 Thailand 21 Day Elephant Expedition

2017 Thailand 21 Day Elephant Expedition

2017 Thailand 21 Day Elephant Expedition

Program Type:Smithsonian Open Enrollment iconOpen Enrollment Learn More

Dates: July 9 - July 29, 2017  |  Tuition: $4,199 Tuition Details

Enroll Now Make a Payment

Dear Families – Welcome to the homepage for the 2017 Thailand 21 Day Elephant Expedition! If this is your first time on this page, please read through the categories under Pre-Enrollment to learn more about this unique travel opportunity, or peruse the other categories as you like. Once you have enrolled, please check out the Post-Enrollment information. Around one month before departure, we will post the remaining information under Program Prep to review on a call with the entire group. We hope you will join us on the adventure of a lifetime in Thailand!

Program Highlights

  • Volunteer at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center
  • Visit the Mae Cham Elephant Sanctuary
  • Explore the Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • See Koh Talu Sea Turtle Conservation
View Full Itinerary

Smithsonian Student Adventures was created through a collaboration of the Smithsonian Institution and Walking Tree Travel. Although this video is branded as Walking Tree Travel, it encapsulates the mission and spirit that is present in all SSA programming.

Important Program Details

Click on the sections above to learn more

Program Itinerary

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
1USA - ThailandFly from the USA to Bangkok, Thailand.In Flight
2Chiang MaiSawatdee ka! Welcome to Thailand! We'll arrive in Bangkok for a connecting flight to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival, we'll rest after our long day of travel and hold an orientation meeting and cultural introduction.Payap Dormitories
3Chiang MaiWe will wake up bright and early to enjoy breakfast at a traditional market, visit temples and spirit houses located throughout the city, and end your day shopping at the popular Sunday Walking Street Market.Payap Dormitories
4Chiang MaiToday we'll head outside of the city to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center and the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation, where we'll learn about medical care and conservation efforts for elephants. Payap Dormitories
5Chiang Mai Today we will break from our normal "elephant activites" and learn the art of Thai cuisine. After a delicious Thai cooking class, we will eat a traditional northern Thai meal and enjoy a cultural performance. Payap Dormitories
6Mae ChamWe will be picked up early today and will head to an elephant sanctuary in Mae Cham. We will stop off at a few beautiful waterfalls along the way. Upon arrival we will meet rescued elephants, cats and dogs! Homestay
7Mae ChamToday we will experience being a mahout for the day. We will walk with the elephants through the forest, prepare their treats, and help bathe them in the evening.Homestay
8Mae ChamWe will head into the town of Mae Cham to visit a local school. We'll return to the sanctuary in the afternoon to help feed, bathe and take care of the animals. Homestay
9Mae Cham - Chiang MaiWe'll spend the morning saying goodbye to our new friends before heading back into Chiang Mai.Payap Dormitories
10Bangkok We'll take an early flight to Bangkok and spend the day exploring the capital on a longtail boat ride through the small canals of Chao Phraya River. We'll visit the Grand Palace and the famous religious temples of Wat Pho and Wat Arun .Bangkok Guesthouse
11KanchanaburiToday we'll travel to Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary. We will be stopping off along the way at some important historical sites in Kanchanaburi. We’ll meet our homestay families and learn about elephant conservation and what the community is doing to help. Homestay
12KanchanaburiWe will work in the tree nursery, visit a local school, and help the park rangers build a check dam. We will also drive to River Kwai Noi to meet with OurLand Team and go over river floating activity and safety. Hike to OurLand Conservation Center, learn about their conservation projects and activities.Homestay
13Kanchanaburi - Sai Yok National ParkToday we'll team up with local community members and students in a tree planting event to help sustain local farmers and provide a larger habitat for the wild elephants.Homestay
14KanchanaburiAfter an early morning boat cruise, we will make our way to an elephant sanctuary close by. We will meet the elephant herd, feed them delicious treats, and bathe with them in the river. In the late afternoon, we'll head to Sai Yok National Park, where we'll swim in the river, bathe in a waterfall and sleep in a houseboat underneath the stars. House boat
15Kui Buri National ParkWe will wake up bright and early and head to Kui Buri National Park. Once we arrive, we'll go on a tour of the park and have our first opportunity to see elephants in the wild!Kui Buri Resort
16Kui Buri National ParkAfter an early morning safari tour, we'll begin our service project, working alongside park rangers to help construct check dams and watering holes. In the late afternoon, we'll take a tour of the surrounding farm plantations and relax at our guesthouse.Kui Buri Resort
17Kui Buri National ParkToday we'll go on a hike through the national park, studying the park's ecosystem, and keeping our eyes open for any wildlife!Kui Buri Resort
18Koh TaluToday we will break from our normal "elephant activites" and learn the art of Thai cuisine. After a delicious Thai cooking class, we will eat a traditional northern Thai meal and performance. Talu Island Resort
19Koh TaluToday we will snorkel and kayak, take part in coral and sea turtle conservation, and go squid fishing!Talu Island Resort
20Bangkok On our last full day in Thailand, we will spend the afternoon relaxing on the island before we make our way back to Bangkok. If we have time, we'll visit one of Bangkok's famous malls, see a Thai movie, buy any last minute souvenirs, and have our last meal together!Bangkok Guesthouse
21Bangkok - USASay your goodbyes to Thailand, we're off to the U.S.A! Your Own Bed

Philosophy Of Travel

Our mission is to inspire the next generation to become global leaders by taking an active interest in the world around them. With a dedication to learning, along with an enduring passion for exploring the world, Smithsonian Student Adventures designs transformative and meaningful travel programs that uncover the authentic culture of each destination and inspire students to take action in their local and global community.

Smithsonian Student Adventures stands for a more open, curious, and compassionate approach to travel. We partner with select schools around the world to provide memorable small-group experiences, and invest in cultivating and maintaining longterm relationships with our partner communities. If you are interested in our organization and philosophy of travel, click here to learn more about us.

Accommodations

SSA partners with locally-operated, three star or equivalent hotels that are clean, safe, centrally located, and provide modern amenities. Below are a few examples of our partner hotels. Although these are our preferred providers, they are subject to change based on availability. Your final itinerary will provide complete information on your accommodations in the cities you will be visiting.

Bangkok: www.bcgh.org/

Chiang Mai: http://ihouse.payap.ac.th/

Kanchanaburi: www.elephantnaturepark.org/elephant-haven-sai-yok-kanchanaburi/

Kui Buri: http://baanraikongmun.com/

Koh Talu: www.taluisland.com/

Chiang Rai: www.benguesthousechiangrai.com/

Standards of Behavior

SSA provides fun, safe, and meaningful programs for our travelers. In order to achieve this goal, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
  3. Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
  5. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
  6. Breaking group rules

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of a travel program. Please take the time to review these rules as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them before choosing to travel with SSA.

Tuition & Fundraising

Tuition Includes:
all accommodations, basic travel insurance, 3 meals per day, drinking water, ground transportation, group activity and entry fees, full time leadership team and taxes and tips.

Tuition Excludes:
 International airfare, baggage fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed on the itinerary.

We believe that cost should not prevent enthusiastic students from having the opportunity to join an SSA program. We are pleased to offer opportunities for fundraising and payment plans to help make this goal a reality. Please visit our Tuition and Funding page to find out more about tuition, fundraising, payment options, referral discounts, and more.

Passport & Visa Check

US CITIZENS
Passport must be valid for six months after the final day of your travel program, including one open visa page.
No Visa Requirements for US Citizens traveling to Thailand.

NON US CITIZENS OR THOSE TRAVELING FROM A COUNTRY OTHER THAN THE USA
Non US citizens should check with their country’s embassy abroad to verify vaccination and visa requirements.
US citizens traveling from a country other than the United States should check the State Department website (www.travel.state.gov) for more information regarding additional visa or vaccine requirements.

Please contact SSA for further information regarding vaccination and visa requirements.

Health and Safety

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. SSA will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

VACCINATIONS
Vaccination information and requirements can change frequently. Because of this, and for more information, we suggest that you consult your local travel clinic and/or family physician for specific details.

Travel Insurance

Our experience has taught us that international travel can sometimes be unpredictable. As such, SSA will purchase basic secondary travel and medical insurance for all SSA travelers via Travel Insured International. This service provides the following coverage at no additional cost to our participants:

PLAN COVERAGES

$500 Return Airfare for Trip Interruption
$750 ($150 per day) Trip Delay of six hours or more
$500 (Three or more hours) Missed Connection
$1500 ($250 per article) Baggage/Personal Effects
$300 Baggage Delay – 24 hours
$25,000 Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
$100,000 Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Emergency Assistance Non-insurance Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services Included

Once you have been accepted onto your program, SSA will be in touch regarding this insurance and other additional options (see below).

ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL COVERAGES

The following additional optional coverage upgrades are available upon request for an additional premium charge to the traveler. For further information on the premiums associated with these optional coverage enhancements, please email your inquiry to our travel insurance program administrator, Hayashi Insurance Solutions: travelinsurance@jshinsurance.com

– Trip Cancellation Coverage – Reimburses the traveler up to the trip cost insured up to a maximum of $10,000 per person if the trip must be cancelled for unforeseeable life events including but not limited to; medical/health reasons, bereavement, etc.

– Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) – Reimburses the traveler for 75% of the non-refundable trip cost. Cancellation must be made 48 hours or more prior to scheduled departure. Must be purchased at the same time as initial plan purchase and prior to final trip payment. *This benefit is not available to residents of New York State.

The Plan is administered by Hayashi Insurance Solutions (CA DOI 0F61680) a licensed Insurance Agency authorized to transact this insurance under the express authority of Travel Insured International, Inc. and its representatives, and on behalf of Walking Tree Travel, Inc. The Plan contains insurance benefits underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company. Fairmont Specialty and Crum & Forster are registered trademarks of United States Fire Insurance Company. The Crum & Forster group of companies is rated A (Excellent) by AM Best Company 2015. The Plan also contains non insurance Travel Assistance Services that are provided by an independent organization, OnCall International, and not by United States Fire Insurance Company or Travel Insured International. Review the Plan Document for complete terms, including benefits, conditions, limitations and exclusions that apply. Coverages may vary and not all coverage is available in all jurisdictions.

Global Leadership Curriculum

Walking Tree Travel has developed a curriculum that helps SSA travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame their experience, and prepare them to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and in the future. For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the Walking Tree Travel Global Leadership Curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More

Language Resources

DUOLINGO

Want to learn a new language and be better prepared for your travel program? Duolingo is the easiest, most entertaining way to start learning and using a new language right away! The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to communicate with locals in your host country and help your fellow travelers navigate a foreign environment.

Tap the Duolingo owl to get started, or download the app to your mobile phone.

duolingo owl logo

Group Flight Information

In an effort to make the flight booking process as smooth as possible, we have partnered with STA Travel. This partnership provides our participants with discounted fares through STA’s contracts with the top airlines to help our travelers get the best possible rates.

STA Travel will help our families and travelers book their round trip travel between their home city and our host countries. We are excited to offer this premium service to our participants so that we can focus on what we do best – providing meaningful adventures around the world, and STA can focus on helping our 

Open Enrollment participants are responsible for booking and paying for their own international flights. You have two options for making your flight arrangements, which are outlined below. With either option, we strongly recommend you book with STA, which you can do by calling their dedicated line at 877-777-8717. 

1. (Preferred) Book a seat on the chaperoned international group flight.

Each Open Enrollment program has a suggested, chaperoned, group flight that will depart from a designated departure city in the United States and arrive to the destination country. Participants on these flights will have the support of our on-scene Airport Liaison as well as an accompanying Program Leader, on-flight. The Airport Liaison will help gather, coordinate and direct the arrival and departure of our participants in the airport and the Program Leader will accompany the group to and from the host country while on the flight. The vast majority of our travelers choose this option. 

Here’s how to proceed:

Call our dedicated representative at STA Travel at 877-777-8717 to learn about your booking options.

  • Tell the agent you are a Smithsonian Student Adventures participant, the full name of the program you are traveling on and your program travel dates. They will walk you through the details of your flight options.
  • Once you know your flight options, you can book directly with STA or on your own to travel to the host country.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Should you elect not to travel on the suggested, chaperoned, group flight please email your complete flight reservation to yusra@SmithsonianSA.com
  • Enjoy the support and ease that comes with this new partnership!

Program participants should meet the airpot liaison at the below airline check-in counter three hours before the international flight. If you are traveling on a connecting Delta flight from your home destination, you will meet your flight chaperone at the boarding gate for your international flight. If you have trouble locating the group, please contact Smithsonian Student Adventures.

                                                  -CHAPERONED GROUP FLIGHT INFORMATION-

DEPARTURE FROM USA
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight: 881
Date: July 9, 2017
Departs: Los Angeles, California (LAX) at 12:55am
Arrives: Hong Kong, China (HKG) at 6:45am on July 10, 2017

Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight: 705
Date: July 10, 2017
Departs: Hong Kong, China (HKG) at 8:00am
Arrives: Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) at 10:05am

RETURN TO USA
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight: 616
Date: July 29, 2017
Departs: Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) at 6:40am
Arrives: Hong Kong, China (HKG) at 10:25am

Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight: 884
Date: July 29, 2017
Departs: Hong Kong, China (HKG) at 12:55pm
Arrives: Los Angeles, California (LAX) at 11:10am

2. Book your own flight to the host country.

For this option we require travelers to arrive at the same time, or earlier (no more than 3 hours), than the suggested group flight’s planned arrival. We ask participants not to arrive later than the suggested group flight’s time of arrival. If travelers arrive on their own prior to the rest of the group we will arrange to have the second Program Leader or the Country Director meet them as they land in the host country. 

With either option, we strongly encourage you to book your flights through STA, but it is not required. 

STA operates a full 24/7 emergency line and can support you with issues from date changes, cancellations, or general crisis management support wherever you are in the world. To contact them, please call 800-836-4115.

A NOTE ON FLIGHTS
Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event SSA is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries.  Notwithstanding, our travelers’ well-being and safety is always our number one priority in all facets of our operations and programming, so please know that in case flight delays or cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will keep family members updated on developments as we are able.
Important note: Please make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.
BAGGAGE POLICY
SSA is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage
or for lost or stolen luggage. We strongly encourage all travelers to pack a carry-on bag if possible, or to at least put all valuables and a change of clothes or two in a carry-on along with all important medications and basic toiletries such as a toothbrush, deodorant, glasses, contacts etc.
UN-ACCOMPANIED MINORS
Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm whether this is required on your flight.

Leader Profile

SSA will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have a support staff in our host countries that are available to the group for additional help when necessary. Please read below to see who will be part of the support team on your program.

Group Roster

Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name is spelled exactly how it appears on your passport. For edits, email lacey@SmithsonianSA.com.

 

Community & Project Details

This is where your host community information will appear, along with your community project, if applicable to your program

Communication & Blog

The easiest way for students to keep in touch with family and friends at home while traveling will be using Wifi (available at most hotels and some restaurants) via Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.

SSA tries to keep families and friends updated as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, they should direct all general inquiries to info@SmithsonianSA.com. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S.

Here is the link to your blog: -Coming Soon-

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.

Thailand Packing List

CLOTHES:

10 pairs of underwear​
6 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)​
4 t-shirts (some quick dry)​
2 long sleeve shirts​
1 sweater​
1 rain jacket or strong poncho (it will be the rainy season in July)
1 swim suit​
2-3 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light (no short shorts please)​
2 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)​
1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer and guys a polo or button up shirt with jeans for
such occasions. Please have the skirt reach your knees)​
1 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes​
1 pair of sandals ​
1 pair of work gloves​
1-2 pairs of work pants
1 hat
1 sarong (something to cover knees when entering Temples and holy places *this may be purchased in country)
rain boots (for volunteer activities – *we encourage you to be purchase these when in country for cheaper)

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

Sunscreen (you will use a lot)​
Mosquito repellent (you will use a lot)​
Band Aids and Neosporin​
Hand Sanitizer​
Medication in properly marked original container
Anti-diarrhea medicine

MISCELLANEOUS:

Sunglasses​
Journal and pen​
Book​
Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)​
Power Converter (220 volts AC)​
Alarm Clock and watch​
Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra
items etc.)​
Durable water bottle​
1 quick-dry towel​
Flashlight/headlamp​
Batteries​
Deck of cards or other portable games​
Host family gift for each host family
Pictures of family, friends, home​
STUDENT ID​
Thai/English Dictionary

***Please keep in mind that the villages we will be staying in are generally more conservative. The people usually wear long covered up clothing and do not appreciate seeing a lot of exposed leg, cleavage, or bare shoulders.

Tuition Details

more tuition information Tuition excludes:

 International airfare, baggage fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed on the itinerary.

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