Leadership and Cultural Development in Thailand

Spend a culturally rewarding few weeks in Bangkok and Chiang Mai while being challenged and building on your teamwork and leadership skills! Your time will be split between lectures, site visits and team building activities. The last few days are spent volunteering at a local village.

Program Overview

Spend a fun and fulfilling few weeks in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand being challenged and building on your teamwork and leadership skills! Your time will be split between lectures at the Mahidol University International College, site visits and team building activities, with the last few days being spent putting these new skills into practice by volunteering at a local village.

Stimulating lecture topics may include Ethics in Asian Culture, Organisational Behaviour in Asia, Human Resource Management in Thailand / Asia, Cultural Behaviour, Entrepreneurship in Thailand / Asia, and other similar topics surrounding leadership and concepts relevant to Asia. Site visits are planned to follow the themes discussed in the lectures, and some of those may include visits to the Australian Embassy, NGOs and locally-based international businesses, among other organisations.

As part of the program, there is a volunteer project at a small local village to assist with community development. Volunteer work may include small construction projects and education for local school children. This will be combined with informal discussions with local leaders who are not only involved with the growing tourism industry of the area, but are also working closely with local and national NGOs.

This program has been built to help students hone the skills needed to become not only great leaders, but also great team players. With these types of skills being so crucial for career-building, this program is great for anyone!

Program Details:

  • Activities: Students will spend their first few days in Bangkok, either attending lectures, site visits, or participating in team building exercises. The last 3-5 days will be spent volunteering in a small, local village about an hour from Chiang Mai.
  • Availability: Two intakes per year (only) in January and July. Each intake will have a maximum of 20 students and a minimum of 10 students enrolled to run the program. Places are given on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Duration: 15 days
  • Timetable: Days will vary, but generally the morning will be spent attending lectures, and the afternoons will be for site visits. These days will be broken up by facilitated team building activities and one or two free days. When in the small village in Chiang Mai, student’s time will be spent volunteering.
  • Location: Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Excursions: Lectures and excursions have been included in this program. You may visit an array of different organisations, from hotels working with both Asian and Western customers, to the World Bank and others.
  • Support: 24-hour on-site support from Site Coordinator and Site Director
  • Minimum Age: 18+
  • Language: English, with a basic Thai language class upon arrival


  • Experience life in beautiful, busy, exciting Thailand between a major bustling city, a medium-sized city and a small, local village
  • Attend lectures at the highly rated local Thai university – Mahidol University
  • Help out the local community in a meaningful, fulfilling way
  • Visit both Thai and international organisations
  • Take part in activities (trekking, rafting, etc.) that are designed not only to promote team building, but cover cultural awareness as well
  • Make lasting contacts and friendships with the people you meet

Sample Itinerary

Draft Schedule:

Day 1: Arrivals

Day: Meet CISaustralia staff at the airport and transfer to accomodation.

Day 2: Health and Safety Orientation with Thai Cultural Values Training

Morning: Health and Safety training, officially meet the staff and learn about the important dos and don’ts while in Thailand, as well as other useful tips for the program.

Afternoon: Complete the CISaustralia Cultural Values Training, take time to recognise your own diverse cultural values and how they affect us day to day. Then move on to learn about important Thai cultural values and how they impact communication styles, decision making and other aspects of Thai culture, complete the training with case studies.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Welcome Dinner

Day 3: Team Building

Morning: Travel outside Bangkok to stay in a traditional Thai homestay. This simple but beautiful Thai home is located on the canals that surround the famous floating market at Ampuwa.

Afternoon: Settle in to the homestay and learn about the traditional way of life here. Activities may include learning Thai cooking and making traditional snacks.

Evening: Take a boat trip on the canals to see the fireflys and visit the floating market for dinner as well as to try some great Thai snacks.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Team Building

Morning: Wake up early to give Alms to monks on boats to make good karma. Visit the famous train market.

Afternoon: Travel to Zipline location in the mountains, zipline and cross the treetop obstacle course.

Evening: Return to Bangkok housing.

Meals: Breakfast

Days 5-9: Guest Lectures and Site Visits

Morning: Guest Lectures at Mahidol University International College, Thailand’s highest ranked university. Previous lectures have included:

  • Cross Cultural and Global Management
  • Transformative Leadership in a Global Context
  • Think Global, Speak Local for Effective Marketing Communication
  • Leadership and Ethics in Asia
  • Cross Cultural Communication
  • Entrepreneurship in Thailand
  • Ethics in Asian culture
  • Ethics in Buddhism from a former Buddhist Monk
  • Human Resource management in Thailand / Asia
  • Organisational behaviour in Asia – ‘An Asian / Western comparative approach’

Afternoon: Site Visits to local companies, organisations, government bodies, with themes focused on leadership and culture. Previous site visits have included:

  • Tesco Lotus supermarkets
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Yan Hee International Hospital
  • Australian Embassy to Thailand
  • Local Public Health NGOs

Meals: Breakfast

Day 10-11: Free Days

Days: Talk to staff for recommendations of local sites to explore.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 12: Travel to Chiang Mai

Morning: Check out of accomodation and fly to Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand and explore one of Thailand’s most famous locations.

Afternoon: Travel to a Thai homestay in the mountains surrounding Chiang Mai, and settle into the this small Thai village.

Meals: Breakfast

Days 13-14: Volunteer Project

Day: Use your newfound knowledge and leadership skills as a volunteer in the community. Past projects have included construction at the school, teaching English and community development.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 15: Return Home

Day: Check out of the homestay, say goodbye to your hosts and travel back to Chiang Mai. Then fly back home via Bangkok.

Meals: Breakfast


Students will attend several site visits to both local and international organisations. These visits are designed to complement the topics discussed during lectures. Adventure – and culture-focused excursions – may include trekking, rafting or other outdoor pursuits.

Some excursions and business visits will be as per the itinerary. Possible examples include: community-based tourism organisations, social enterprises, hotels or hospitality organisations, the Australian Embassy, Thai Government offices, NGOs, World Bank, Austrade, larger international firms, and the UN. All excursions and visits are finalised 4-6 weeks in advance of the program start date.

Dress Code

Thailand is a very modest country. Thai people very rarely wear revealing clothing. The way that you dress reflects the respect that you are giving the person you are meeting with. When you attend meetings with any government official, hospital, office, organisation, school or any important event, your clothing will be noticed and it will reflect on both you and your host. People that dress inappropriately will not receive the respect and seriously affect CISaustralia’s ability to work with our partners. Thai people often refer to things that are ‘riap roy‘ or appropriate and complete, and it is very important that all students visiting Thai organizations are riap roy. When they are talking about riap roy clothing for men they mean: polo shirts or collared shirts, nice pants, and decent shoes. Women can wear dresses or skirts that are at least to knee length. No matter the shirt or dress, shoulders must always be covered and never show a large amount of chest area. For both men and women. short or long sleeves and khaki or black pants are riap roy.

Smart-casual is mandatory for participants working/meeting with schools, government offices, government officials, local NGOs, attending immigration, for important events or meetings (any professional conference, funerals, weddings) or anywhere you can expect to be representing CISaustralia in a formal manner. It is best to start off with a good impression and think about relaxing after you have been in the country for a few weeks. Much of this is common sense and is something that is appropriate at home and in Thailand.

Men: Smart-casual dress – khaki or black pants and polo shirts are acceptable – NO JEANS. Have comfortable, toe-covered shoes for business, university and school visits/meetings (something more than a sandal). Please make sure any clothing is appropriate for a work situation – please no bright colours, no Hawaiian shirts. Come dressed as you might expect in an office at home. We realise this is Thailand and it is hot, but the more you look like you are on vacation, the more you will be treated as a tourist.

Women: Smart-casual dress  pants and t-shirts/dressy shirts are fine, so long as it’s modest. Dresses and skirts are acceptable, must be knee length or longer, please NO JEANS. You must have your shoulders covered at all times and no cleavage. Sandals and flip-flops are okay for weekends, but wear comfortable, toe-covered shoes for business, university and school visits/meetings (something more than a sandal). Please make sure any clothing is appropriate for a work situation – no bright colours, no summery dresses or shirts. Come dressed as you might expect in an office at home. We realise this is Thailand and it is hot, but the more you look like you are on vacation, the more you will be treated as a tourist.


From its ever-busy cities, historic temples and palaces, and pristine, postcard-like coastlines and beaches, Thailand is a one-stop shop that has a bit of everything. Whether you thrive off of busy streets with countless vendors and outdoor dining, or prefer walking among thousands of years of history, or relaxing on a stunning beach, Thailand has something for you.

The program starts in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, a bursting metropolis with a population of 6+ million. Known for its lively night life, outdoor dining, and opulent shrines, it is a hub of finance, business and culture, and was named “World’s Best City” by Travel + Leisure for four years in a row.

Chiang Mai, to the north of Bangkok, will be visited towards the end of the program. A historic city that dates back to 1296, Chiang Mai sits beautifully amongst the highest mountains in the country and has over 300 Buddhist temples. With a population of 100,000+, it is a nice contrast to the packed streets of Thailand’s capital city.

Time in these two cities combined with time spent in a small Thai village, located about an hour away from Chiang Mai, will ensure that students experience many different facets of Thailand.


In Bangkok and Chiang Mai, a 3-star hotel will be provided with same gender / shared rooms. During the volunteer activities in the rural village, accommodation will be more simple. All rooms on the volunteer experience will have basic bathrooms, hot water, a fan, mosquito nets and beds. Participants need to be flexible when living with local communities – as conditions are basic. Daily breakfasts and some group dinners will be provided, with students having plenty of free time to explore and buy their own lunches and dinners.

Why Volunteer with CISaustralia

CISaustralia believes strongly in supporting volunteer initiatives across the world that promote sustainable and long-term societal, environmental and economic change to benefit and empower local communities.

While the term volunteering is widely known and accepted, we prefer to use the term Experiential Service Learning. This better relates to our philosophy surrounding close community engagement as well as a focus on projects that have a long-term approach and a range of positive impacts for both communities and our students. Over 98% of CISaustralia participants receive academic credit for their program abroad, which fosters a more culturally immersive and deeper reflective experience.

CISaustralia volunteering programs contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which aim to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. While not every program will achieve all seventeen of the UN goals, your role as a volunteer will have a positive impact by doing work that really matters. We partner with organisations that have in-depth, first-hand knowledge and close relationships with local communities. Prior to your departure, our team in Australia will prepare you with extensive resources so you feel supported every step of the way. You will also be supported throughout your entire overseas program by our fantastic and experienced in country staff. 

Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience, enabling you to learn and grow on many personal and professional levels, to broaden your perspective on the world and to become a global citizen. CISaustralia prides itself in having the strongest global partners who are socially responsible and equally committed to their local communities and ethical practices. We love what we do at CISaustralia and are here to provide you with the support you need to successfully volunteer abroad – so that you can contribute to positively changing the lives of others, and yourself, along the way. Get ready for an exciting once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Read more: Why Volunteer Abroad with CISaustralia?

Program Fee & Dates

January 2020 (2 weeks)
Two intakes per year (only) in January and June/July. Each intake will have a maximum of 20 students and a minimum of 10 students enrolled to run the program. Places are given on a first-come, first-served basis.
Application Deadline09 October 2019
Arrival Date09 January 2020
Departure Date25 January 2020
Program Fee A$ 3,699
OS-HELP A$ 9,399
June 2020 (2 weeks)
Two intakes per year (only) in January and June/July. Each intake will have a maximum of 20 students and a minimum of 10 students enrolled to run the program. Places are given on a first-come, first-served basis.
Application Deadline11 March 2020
Arrival Date11 June 2020
Departure Date27 June 2020
Program Fee A$ 4,499
OS-HELP A$ 9,399


Program fees include the following:
  • Project placement and supervision
  • CISaustralia support services before, during and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial advice
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Medical and accident insurance
  • Pre-departure guide and session
  • On-site orientation
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off (on specified program dates within designated times)
  • Accommodation – mix of 3-star hotels and some rural village accommodation while on the volunteer project
  • Meals – breakfast daily and some dinners
  • Internal domestic flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – return
  • Some excursions and business visits – as per itinerary
  • 24/7 on-site support – Site Coordinator, Project Leaders and Continent Site Director
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Completion

Please note: $150 of each volunteer’s program fees will be made as a donation that goes directly towards the local village in Chiang Mai. These donations assist the village with ongoing projects, provide construction materials and help with ongoing development in the community.

What is not included:

  • Flights to/from Thailand
  • Visa fees
  • Police check (if required)
  • Vaccinations (if required)
  • Meals (unless mentioned above)
  • Extra travel/excursions (other than those mentioned above)

Program must have a minimum enrolment of 10 students each intake for the program to run. The program is limited to (capped) at 20 students.

Dates are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the dates in your acceptance paperwork and you are confirmed on the program.

CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partners.

Adventure Awaits

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