The Joy in Everyday Life


Duration 10 days
Suggested group size 12 - 20 students / 2 Envoys Field Staff
Suggested ages 14 - 18
Experience Buddhist Backdrop & Tourist to Traveler


Seeking Sanuk: Finding the Joy in Everyday Life


Thailand is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, lively culture, delectable cuisine, and welcoming locals, making it an exceptional choice for educational programs. From the vibrant metropolis of Bangkok, boasting stunning temples and palaces, to the tranquil lifestyle in mountainous Chiang Mai, Envoys programs traverse the country, uncovering archaeological ruins of Buddhist temples embraced by nature and exploring the spiritual significance of various natural sites across Thailand.

“Golden temples whisper tales of history, while bustling markets pulse with the energy of contemporary life.“


“Ancient traditions dance with vibrant modernity, creating a tapestry of cultural richness.“


Impact Statement Everywhere we go, we carry a promise – to engage with respect, act with purpose, and leave a positive imprint. As envoys of our journey is more than travel; Our footprint is light, but our impact is profound, creating bridges of cooperation and mutual growth across the globe.

Day 1

Upon arrival, students are met by Envoys educators and participate in a safety briefing and a team-building activity to establish shared agreements. Following this, they venture out to explore the surrounding area and enjoy a welcome dinner, savoring the first taste of Thai cuisine on the trip.

Day 2

Our journey begins with a visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. At Wat Pho, students explore the 'reclining Buddha' and learn Thai massage basics. The day ends with a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River, offering nighttime temple views and scenic river scenes.

Day 3

We meet non-profits promoting LGBT equality and sexual health awareness. Then, we visit UNESCO Bangkok, learning about their regional education initiatives. Finally, a dinner performance of Bangkok's traditional 'shadow-puppetry'. We reflect on transforming from tourists to travelers.

Day 4

We visit Kanchanaburi, a WWII Japanese prison camp site, then go to the Bridge Over the River Kwai, Allied Prisoner War Cemetery, and take the "Death Railway" train. Back in Kanchanaburi, we explore the roots of Japanese atrocities, connecting them to global acts.

Day 5

Today, we explore the seven-tiered Erawan Waterfall. Students formulate questions and goals for interviews with Thai and foreign tourists. Back in Kanchanaburi, students craft their first "stories for home. We conclude the day by reflecting on our growth as travelers midway through the program.

Day 6

We go to Chiang Mai, the northern jewel of Thailand. After settling into riverside lodgings, we savor a traditional khao soi meal. Later, we visit the temple atop Doi Suthep, climbing the renowned "dragon steps" to the summit. We reflect on its similarities and differences to other religious places.

Day 7

We start with a historical overview of elephants in Thai culture, analyzing factors leading to elephant poaching. We discuss conservation efforts. At a local Elephant Conservation Center, students partner with elephants and trainers, learning about their care, including basics of elephant riding.

Day 8

After a morning at the elephant camp, we return to Chiang Mai. We meet with a local organization focusing on gender rights, understanding Thai efforts to empower women and enhance their participation in society. Later, we dive into one of Chiang Mai’s renowned activities, the artisanal night market.

Day 9

We conduct a program debrief and reflection workshop so students can process their experiences. Finally, we discuss the impact of the trip on our views of ourselves and the world, crystallizing the changes that have taken place and setting goals for continuing to learn.

Day 10

We conclude the program and transfer to the airport for our return flights home.

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Lenses of Inquiry


Seeking Sanuk

Sanuk is the pursuit of happiness through enjoyment, fun, and pleasure. Beyond mere enjoyment, sanuk fosters community and strong relationships. Essentially, sanuk is about living in the moment, relishing life, and spreading happiness—a fundamental aspect of Thailand's society.


Buddhist Backdrop

Through this lens, we explore Buddhism and how it deeply influences Thai culture, emphasizing personal discipline, respect for authority, and harmony. Temples serve as community hubs for worship, education, and charity, while Buddhist monks hold respected roles as moral guides and spiritual leaders.


Progressive or Pigeonholing?

Thailand is relatively LGBTQ+ friendly, compared to its regional counterparts. Acceptance is seen in Kathoey, or ladyboys, celebrated in various aspects. However, discrimination persists, particularly in conservative or rural areas, making gender examination crucial during our travels.


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