We think that one of the most amazing experience you will ever have is the opportunity to live and work in a Thai hilltribe village. We strive to ensure an authentic experience that respects the local community and ensures that they benefit from the work you are doing. Loop works with two hilltribe communities that are both approximately a two hour drive from Chiang Mai. Both communities are situated in beautiful mountainous terrain and both offer the type of warm welcome and community participation that is essential for a productive, rewarding, and safe experience.

Your group will be assigned to either the village of Ban Lao or Maekong depending on weather, number of students, and village need. The village communities are similar and regardless of which village your program takes place in, you will enjoy similar living conditions and activities. Most importantly, in both of these communities, the school is the center of village life and the "Teach to Travel Experience" will be based there. You and your group will live near the school while using a simple building nearby as our dormitory, just for Loop Abroad students. Fold-out mattresses are laid on the floor with comforters and sleeping bags over them, and mosquito nets are tied from the ceiling to cover the beds. It is far from glamorous, but it is comfortable and safe. In the mountains, evenings can get chilly, so be sure to bring sweatpants and a sweatshirt or jacket for hanging out in the evenings and sleeping.

Meals are cooked by the staff and are composed of a variety of Thai food, with plenty of vegetarian and non-spicy options available. There is one main store in Ban Lao (think concession stand at a little league baseball park) and the selection is limited, so you'll want to be well-stocked on any Western treats or necessary toiletries before arriving. You will have time to stock up in Chiang Mai!

There is bottled drinking water available, running water for washing hands, and Western-style toilets. There are showers that work just like home, which are located in the back of the dorms. Again, not glamorous. But it feels pretty good after a hot day!

In general, villages like Ban Lao and Maekong are fairly conservative in their dress. While in the classroom, we all must cover our shoulders and knees, and not wear anything too low-cut. Clothes don't need to be fancy - a tee-shirt and yoga pants is perfectly acceptable, as are long shorts (that cover the knees). Outside of the classroom, shorter shorts and tank tops are acceptable, as long as they are not particularly low-cut, high-cut, or tight.

Once school ends for the day at 3:30, it's time to interact with community in other ways. Evenings make great study and classroom time. Reach out to the children and families of the village, spend time with them during your free time, and become a part of the tribe. There is limited wireless internet, and it can be very slow. There will be lots of board games on hand to play with the village kids and we'll have Scrabble, Boggle, cards, and other favorites on hand. It's also okay to bring an extra couple books, some art supplies, or a favorite game to play.

The weather is generally hot, and it often rains in the evening for about an hour. It will be at least 80 degrees most days. It's not excessively buggy, but you should plan to wear mosquito spray at all times.

We try to really be a part of the community, so you might have the opportunity to participate in all kinds of projects. Of course there's time to be on your own or with your new Loop friends, whether going on a sunset walk, taking photos in the village, or just hanging out the evenings. But we want to get out and interact with the community too!

So whatever the people of Ban Lao or Maeklong are doing, we're doing! It could be planting seedlings in the nursery, or picking herbs in the organic garden, or helping with a community forestry project. It could be tending the coffee and tea plants or trying your hand at helping to plant rice in the rice paddies. It could be learning to play a new instrument, helping to paint a building or mend a fence, or caring for bunnies or puppies who need some attention. It could be receiving a blessing from the village shaman or helping to cook dinner. You will certainly be busy!