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Fall 2024 applications are closed.

The Program:

Thailand has long been a famous tourist destination and it’s not hard to see why. Known as the “land of smiles”, visitors revel in the country’s incomparable pad Thai, idyllic beaches, full moon parties, and sacred spaces. But Operation Groundswell’s “Rise of Alternative Tourism” program digs below the surface of conventional tourism to examine its pitfalls and the emergence of new community-led alternatives that focus attention on local income generation, environmental sustainability and/or social justice. 

Journeying from the bustling capital of Bangkok to the cultural mecca of Chiang Mai and tiny “hill-tribe” villages in the country’s northern reaches, we’ll interact with different forms of tourism through community engaged-activities and critical service-learning while asking ourselves and each other about their impacts, who benefits, who doesn’t and what potential the alternatives hold for the people of Thailand.

Travel with other students, a UTM staff member and our partners from Operations Groundswell

This is a Co-Curricular experience. For more information please click here


The Trip: Fall Reading Week

Approximate Travel Dates: Friday, October 25th, 2024 - Sunday, November 3rd, 2024

Why Participate 

  • Embrace the chaos and complexity of modern Bangkok – from the delights of Thai cuisine to the beautiful temples and pagodas, and the harsh realities in the urban slum of Khlong Toey. 

  • Get up close and personal with the endangered Asian elephant while we talk about the ethics of animal tourism at Elephant Nature Park. 

  • Stay with local families in a hill tribe village and learn about one of Thailand’s most successful volunteer and community-based tourism initiatives. 

  • Immerse yourself in the unique landscape and culture.

  • Establish connections with fellow students, staff and faculty. 

  • Add international experience to your resume.


Sample Itinerary* 

Accommodation: Hotel, hostels, cabins, homestays 

Transportation: Private Shuttles, Taxis, Public Buses, and Tour Busses.

Meals: Hotel, and Local Restaurants, Communities 

OG: Our partners at Operations Groundswell will lead you through a truly immersive experience filled with planned daily excursions, educational programming, and opportunities to interact with the local community.

The following is a sample schedule and is subject to change:

Day(s): 1-3

  • Settle into our home in downtown in Bangkok’s historic Rattanakosin district. 
  • Explore the diversity of Thailand’s big bustling capital and acclimatize to the sights, sounds, smells, and flavours of the country. 
  • Escape the crowds of the world’s most visited city and join our friends from the Sikha Asia Foundation and Hivesters for a day of exploration in some of the Bangkok’s lesser-known neighborhoods. 

Day(s): 4

  • Stop at the World Heritage Site of Sukhothai
  • Rent bikes and get to know a little Thai history!
  • Discuss issues surrounding tourism at ancient sites like these.

Day(s): 5-7

  • Journey to the northern province of Chiang Rai where we will be met by our friends from the Mirror Foundation. 
  • hike through tropical forests, visit remote communities and learn how the Mirror Foundation works with local villages to make positive change.
  • Visit Santa Anita which is home to a unique association of coffee producers. 

Day(s): 8

  • Head into town and take some time to get to know the city of Chiang Rai Famous for its night bazar and northern-style cuisine. 
  • Visit the nearby Elephant Sanctuary (Elephant Valley Thailand) where we’ll learn about a conservation initiative trying to put an end to the mistreatment of elephants in the tourism industry. 

Day(s): 9-10

  • Drive to Chiang Mai, often referred to as the cultural capital of Thailand due to its well-preserved historical character and a vibrant, modern yet distinctively northern Thai cultural identity. 
  • Spend time visiting glittering spiritual sites, sitting down and talking with monks to learn about Theravada Buddhism, and art of Thai cooking! 
  • Conclude the adventure where it all began, in Bangkok.


Estimated cost of International Component 2024-2025: CAD $4200-4500. 

What is Included: Flights, transportation, accommodation, meals, in-country activities associated with the course, and trip-cancellation insurance. Funding Available! 

What is NOT Included: Course fees, fees associated with supplemental travel insurance, additional optional tours/activities while abroad, visa applications, medical exams, vaccinations, and any other additional costs. 



Bursaries will be awarded based on demonstrated financial need (not linked to OSAP) as shown in your funding request in your UTM Abroad application. Read more about funding here!

If you have applied for a bursary- You will hear back about your bursary application at the same time as your trip application.


Payment Schedule 

PaymentAmountDue Date
1st Installment$250.00With Application
2nd Installment$950.00June 16, 2024
3rd Installment$950.00TBD
4th Installment$950.00TBD
5th Installment$950.00TBD
6th Installment $100-450*TBD

*Payment dates will be updated once our extended application deadline passes.

*Final Installment will be determined based on the final trip cost.


Need To Know 

  • The cost and itinerary are subject to change. 

  • Applicants must submit an application for admission into the course to their respective departments and will be required to abide by the corresponding UTM Abroad application requirements and deadlines to participate in the international experience. 

  • Fees must be paid in full by the required deadlines.

  • To prepare for the trip, students attending will participate in the mandatory pre-departure and safety abroad sessions which occur in person on campus. 

Book a Global Learning Advising appointment through CLNx, email us at