Service Learning in Thailand

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Community-based work in the Land of Smiles

Gain meaningful and culturally immersive experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand by combining a service project with academic instruction and reflective thinking. This engaging service learning program will place you in a mutually-beneficial service project. Work alongside locals, helping to address a need in the local community while deepening your understanding about the community, the country, yourself, and ultimately your place in the world. You’ll also have plenty of time to explore Chiang Mai through various trips, tours, and cultural activities provided by our exceptional on-site staff.

What to Expect:

  • Language: English and Thai
  • Average Courseload: 3-4 US Credits (100-140 service hours)
  • GPA Requirement: 2.5
  • Visa Requirements: NONE Required!


  • Collaborative projects available in public health, education, community development and NGOs
  • Located in a welcoming mid-size Thai city, full of charm and adventure
  • Homestay experience to deepen immersion into Thai culture
  • Spend a day caring for elephants in an elephant sanctuary
  • Service learning course credit offered through online modules

Program Details

Jacksonville University

This program is accredited and transcripted by Jacksonville University (USA). Jacksonville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges to award bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Named an “America’s Best College” in the south for more than 10 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report, Jacksonville University is a premier private institution and long-standing academic partner of CIS Abroad.

Academic specifics are being finalized – please contact us for details.

Course load
This program typically awards 3 US credits as a service learning course.

Service learning projects vary from term-to-term and will account for local needs. Projects can be broadly categorized as the following:

Public Health
Community Development
Non-Profit Management
Public Policy

Why Life in Chiang Mai

Known to Thais as the “Rose of the North,” Chiang Mai is a breathtaking city surrounded by mountains and bisected by the Ping River. Visitors flock to experience the cosmopolitan atmosphere and delicious food unique to the region, and to venture out into the imposing mountains. The city resides on an elevated plateau approximately 1,000 feet above sea level.

Recently voted the world’s second-best city, Chiang Mai has a rich history and culture. Chiang Mai is home to 150,000 people, with a greater metropolitan population of around one million. This city has 700 years of ancient history and was a prominent place as the heart of Lanna culture. The fortressed Old City center was the former capital of the Lanna kingdom. This is one of the few cities in the world that still features an intact moat, which encircles the Old City. You’ll notice that the common mode of transport is to ride a songtaew (pronounced “song- tau”), or red truck-taxi. You’ll feel like a local as you zip around the streets. 

From Chiang Mai, you can explore the mountains and visit hilltribe villages, learn to cook Thai food, visit elephants, or go bamboo rafting. Other popular activities include hiking in Doi Inthanon National Park (home of Thailand’s tallest mountain), savoring tasty street food, enjoying the nightlife, and witnessing the city’s many festivals and cultural celebrations.


Live The Local Life

  • Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

    Chiang Mai’s most holy temple, constructed on the side of the mountain after an elephant carrying a relic of the Buddha died there. This beautiful temple is a must visit for Thai and foreigners alike.

  • Sunday Walking Street Market

    Chiang Mai’s biggest attraction, people from all over the region converge on the old city to sell homemade and unique northern style clothes, jewelry, art and other amazing souvenirs.

  • Elephant Programs

    Spend some time with these amazing animals and learn about efforts to look after them.

  • Trekking

    Chiang Mai is known for the surrounding mountains and their hilltribes that you can visit in a sensitive and responsible way for a truly unique and insightful experience.

  • Thai Cooking Class

    Enjoy a lesson about Thai herbs and vegetables, take a visit to a market to learn the names ,and then make several delicious dishes of your choosing.

Homestay in Chiang Mai


Students will live with a warm and welcoming Thai family in a private room.

Interns staying in Homestays can return to Chiang Mai every weekend and stay in a guesthouse. This enables to meet the other interns, participate in excursions and better explore the city. 



Homestays include two meals per day

Inclusions and Amenities

  • CommutePublic Transportation
  • MealsHomestay
  • Private Room

Shared Guesthouse in Chiang Mai


Depending on the location of the internship, a small number of placements require interns to live in guest houses with other interns. Interns will have access to a full kitchen and shared lounge areas.

Check out the photo gallery to get a sense of what the shared guest houses are like.


This option does not include meals. Instead, cook for yourself in the guesthouse kitchen!

Inclusions and Amenities

  • SharedBathroom
  • CommutePublic Transportation
  • Double Room
  • Kitchen Equipment
  • Study Areas

What's Included


Program fees are in US dollars and include the following:

  • Service Learning course fee and transcript
  • Service learning placement and supervision
  • Housing
  • Medical and accident insurance
  • Pre-departure and onsite orientation
  • Excursion(s)
  • Financial aid counseling
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Airport pickup service
  • On-site support
  • The Local Life cultural program

Program Excursions

While participating on a CIS Abroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in day trips at no additional cost. These trips are subject to change from term to term; listed below are excursions that have run in the past.
Elephant Sanctuary

Elephant Sanctuary

Enjoy a day of friendly appreciation of elephants at one of Thailand’s most respected elephant sanctuaries. You’ll learn about the sanctuary’s role in the protection of these great creatures, and maybe even get to take a swim with them!



A shorter day trip to visit the amazing mountains and national parks surrounding Chiang Mai, not only will you see some beautiful natural scenary, this is also a great opportunity to visit hilltribe villages in person and in a respectful and sustainable way.

Thai Cooking Class

Thai Cooking Class

During this excursion you will learn all about Thai fruits, vegetable, and herbs, visit the market and learn about the different ingredients and then make a few dishes of your own from scratch.

Site Director

Travel Tip:

Looking for a cool and exciting way to explore Bangkok? The whole city used to be based around canals, so jumping on a boat gives you a way to get out of the traffic and experience the real Bangkok.

Travel Tip:

Looking for a cool and exciting way to explore Bangkok? The whole city used to be based around canals, so jumping on a boat gives you a way to get out of the traffic and experience the real Bangkok.


David was born in the UK and moved to the US when he was 16 and completed high school and University in Colorado. As an avid traveler, his first thought on graduation was to travel to Asia. He volunteered and lived with a family in Kathmandu for 2 months before traveling to Thailand. He quickly fell in love with the country and for the last 12 years has worked as a teacher, as a development officer in NGOs, and has worked with volunteers and study abroad programs for the last seven years. He has an MA in Asia Pacific Studies and is fluent in Thai. He loves his work because it allows him to share his love of Thailand and its people with participants and at the same time support the great things that people all over Thailand are doing every day.

Your Support Staff

Amanda Murphy
Travel Tip:

Don’t overplan. Have a place to stay, pick a few major things you want to do, and then just get lost in the beauty of it all. If you plan too many activities, you miss out on stumbling into the most wonderful things that you’ll never forget.

Advising and Enrollment
Travel Tip:

You’ll be supported every step of the way!


Kaylee Klinger, our student advisor and 2x CIS Abroad alum, can help match you with a program that fits your academic and personal objectives. It’s not always an easy choice, but you can’t go wrong! Once you’ve decided, we’ll guide to you submit an online application.


Once you’ve submitted your initial application and the fee, you’ll be assigned a Program Enrollment Coordinator. We’ll work closely together to guide you through the enrollment process and prepare you for a life-changing experience!


Add to your program for no extra fee!

Earn a valuable micro-credential from CIS Abroad! Having a highly visible addition to your resume or LinkedIn profile can help you stand out from other job seekers. It’s a fast-track way to identify demonstrated skills that make YOU a more valuable contributor to an organization.

Learn more about the Working Across Cultures micro-credential

If you’re interested in earning this micro-credential, please message your instructor by the beginning of the second week of your program.

Dates & Prices

ADVISOR TIP: Please WAIT to book flights until you have received confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork. Dates posted here are subject to change.

  • Application Deadline: Jun 1
  • Arrival: September 1
  • Departure: November 11
  • Price: $5,990
  • Application Deadline: Nov 15 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: February 2 (Estimated)
  • Departure: April 13 (Estimated)
  • Price: $5,990 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Mar 15 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: May 31 (Estimated)
  • Departure: June 30 (Estimated)
  • Price: $4,390 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Jun 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: August 30 (Estimated)
  • Departure: November 9 (Estimated)
  • Price: $5,990 (Estimated)
Additional Information:

As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.

CIS Abroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.