Interested in HoT?

HoT Summer

July 19 – Aug 9, 2023

Apps are due by the end of February 2 (Ground Hog Day).


Soc 180: Hands on Thailand (HoT) will be a phenomenal adventure that will broaden your horizons in the best ways!

Want to eat yummy pad thai in Thailand? a plate of delicious pad thai, so inexpensive and so good, from a great restaurant at the back of a magnificent temple!

Can you picture yourself with incredible ELEPHANTS at a beautiful sanctuary?

Have a fun and fascinating conversation with monks?

Want to be amazed?

Want to find out how sanuk (to enjoy; have fun; striving to achieve pleasure from whatever one does) is such an important philosophy in Thailand?

With the Hands on Thailand program, you can do all this and much, much more!

“There’s a reason people fall in love with Chiang Mai.” — Christina Liao

Thailand is an amazing country and Chiang Mai is an especially fantastic city with sooooo much to offer its lucky visitors. Chiang Mai is officially designated a UNESCO Creative City and has applied to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In 2013, Monocle magazine declared Chiang Mai one of the world’s “most loveable cities”. Condé Nast Traveller rated Chiang Mai in 2020 as the “world’s friendliest city“. CM was ranked by a British-based organization as the 4th most tranquil city in the world. Travel + Leisure and U.S. News also rank CM among the best places to visit in Asia. It has been listed as the 6th best city to “start a new life in 2022.

“It’s really hard to beat Thailand as a foodie destination.” Gilbert Ott

Chiang Mai is ranked as the safest city in Southeast Asia by the Crime Index and Safety Index by City 2023. Travel Safe Abroad summarizes its findings with “Chiang Mai is perfectly safe and its dangers come down to petty crime and scams” and adds “Chiang Mai could generally be considered a safe city for women.”

“Thailand is my favorite country on Earth for a number of reasons. The stunning beauty of the place, amazing food, low cost of living, and friendly locals all make for a dream destination.” Ryan Biddulph

“Hands on Thailand has been an opportunity full of grand adventures and long lasting memories!”  Serena

Here are the basics to get you started with this unique opportunity at San Jose State University:

There are no prerequisites for this course; anyone is eligible* (any major, any level; recent grads/new SJSU alumni welcome). Soci 180 is 3 units and will be graded on a Credit/No Credit basis. HoT may count for your study-abroad, service-learning, cross-cultural, or elective requirement; check with your department.

Service-learning opportunities is one of the criteria Money Magazine used to rank SJSU in 2020 as America’s “#1 Most Transformative University”.

“[Hands on Thailand] broadened my perspective on the way I view the world and myself in general. It was definitely a life changing experience.” anonymous


“This is perhaps the biggest cliché of them all, but I will say it anyway: my trip to Thailand totally changed my life.” Rachel Hart

Without tests, quizzes, research papers, essays, books, or presentations, we will immerse ourselves in the beautiful 725-year-old northern city of Chiang Mai, work with local organizations, make a difference in the community, meet interesting people, tour local craft factories, visit Buddhist temples and Hill Tribe villages, shop at local indoor and outdoor markets, eat scrumptious Thai food in its homeland, stay at an elephant sanctuary with a big veg buffet meals, learn about Thai culture and ourselves, and who knows what else, then reflect on our experiences together while there, and return home transformed from an amazing adventure with great stories and photos, intriguing insights, new friends, a stronger resume, more confidence, and a strong sense of meaning, purpose, and accomplishment.

“Despite being a small city, it’s amazing how many different things there are to see and do in Chiang Mai!” Bruno Andrade

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity!

There will be a minimum of twelve and a maximum of sixteen students. We will have 2 pre-departure group meetings/orientations at SJSU for enrolled students, so we can all meet each other and discuss our upcoming exciting adventure.Do more of what makes you happy!HoT will be totally EPIC (Exciting Possibilities In Chiangmai)!

“Travel truly is worth any expense and being in Thailand has taught me more about its way of life than any book ever could.” Ryan E.

HoT is specifically organized to provide unique structured opportunities for students to immerse, participate, and learn, while also being purposely organized to allow for unstructured time for personal exploration, growth, and development in Chiang Mai. HoT will include enough time and a safe space for serving, exploring, reflecting, learning, laughing, growing, eating, and relaxing.

Hands on Thailand is one of the most fascinating, most meaningful, best value, yet least expensive study abroad opportunities at SJSU with the best food! And elephants.

The U.S. Department of State affirms that “International travel can be educational, uplifting, and empowering.” Studies have shown that service learning and study abroad experiences have various personal, social, educational, and professional benefits. The Harvard Business Review, for example, reports that “social science studies have shown that international experiences can enhance creativity, reduce intergroup bias, and promote career success.”

HoT Summer 2023 will cost $2695, which includes: 3 units of SJSU credit ($750); SJSU mandatory administrative program fee ($200); SJSU mandatory health insurance fee; 21 nights in a nice hotel (double occupancy rooms with mini-fridge and with breakfast buffet included, free wi-fi, air-con, pool, and an open-air lobby with koi pond, computer, newspapers, couches, etc.) in a cool neighborhood; at least 3 fun, location-specific field trips to: several craft factories with veg lunch, a visit to a beautiful elephant sanctuary with buffet veg meals, and a day of hiking in the countryside and to a waterfall with bamboo rafting and veg lunch in a village; an introduction to mindfulness meditation; a conversation with young monks at a local temple/Buddhist university; delicious group veg meals; all required course materials; a carbon offset; a contingency fund (just in case); and possibly some surprises! All details are subject to availability and change.

All group excursions, group events, group activities, group transportation, and group meals are included at no additional cost.

Additionally, airfare may cost about $800-$1800, or more, depending on purchase date, dates of travel, departure city, airline, itinerary, oil prices, corporate greed, etc. Students should arrange their own flights from any city to Chiang Mai (CNX), though some of us may wind up on the same plane in and out of SFO and CNX, making sure to be in Chiang Mai by the first day of the program through the last morning of the program. Students should NOT purchase air tickets until after they are officially accepted into HoT and after we get the official administrative OK, unless they are refundable. HoT alumni have spent between $400-$1000 on personal expenses while in Thailand.

Next steps:

  1. Complete the SJSU application online (click the “Apply Now” button on the page).
  2. Submit the supplemental questionnaire (SQ) to Dr. Dan Brook only.

Please submit your online application and supplemental questionnaire as soon as you’re able to (you don’t need a passport to apply), so we can demonstrate support for this program and have a better sense of the enrollment numbers. Summer HoT will likely fill up by Halloween.

Your application will not be complete and will not be considered until both parts are fully filled out and properly submitted. After the class is full, accepted applicants will be placed in a wait pool.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, thoughts, or concerns and I’ll be happy to address them.a yellow lantern that says: We Love Chiang Mai in English and ThaiGo  Global  while earning SJSU credit, exploring a beautiful city, meeting cool people, making new friends, eating scrumptious food, having ridiculous amounts of fun, seeing wondrous sights, experiencing Thai massage, interacting with rescued elephants and other animals at a sanctuary, making new discoveries, smiling and laughing a lot, putting your hands on Thailand through experiential service learning and doing good in the community, overcoming challenges, finding new opportunities, visiting temples, bamboo rafting down a river, chatting with monks, visiting local craft factories, getting invaluable experience, boosting your resume, making connections, gaining spiritual insight, enjoying Chiang Mai and Thai culture, and  e x p a n d i n g  your consciousness!

“I went to Chiang Mai, Thailand this summer and fell in love with Thailand. … I believe international travel is one of the most important aspects of becoming a well-rounded person.” — Cristina M.

“Volunteering is the most authentic way to experience a place and meet locals.”  Anmol Arora

“While volunteering, I thought I would be the one giving back, however what I was given was more than I could’ve ever imagined.” Kalli D.

“My heart is forever altered, elevated, and purified by volunteering. My mind is strengthened and enhanced with wisdom, ultimately improving my mental health and leading to improved physical health.  There are many benefits derived by giving. To give is a form of receiving.” Cassidy P.

[Professor Brook is a] great motivational speaker. Puts things into perspective, not his perspective but our own. He frames questions and ideas regarding the smallest/insignificant things in a way that makes them relevant, personal, and mind-blowing. He makes me think in new ways provoking new ways of thinking to form in my mind. Perfect professor to travel to Thailand with, or any other country!”  anonymous

{For many more student reviews, check here.}

Get lost in Chiang Mai,
so that you can find yourself anywhere.

You’ll experience (and enjoy!) more in 3 weeks
than many people do in 3 or more years.

Invest in yourself, make your summer count, make a difference,
make good friends, and make it memorable.

a golden naga, or serpent, guarding a temple

For lots more info, check the FAQs About HoT, HoT Info Guide, and Syllabus, as well as the pages for HoT Media and Student Reviews.

And, you can always contact me.

Check out the SJSU Study Abroad HoT page here.

Course, program, syllabus, schedule, website, text, & photos

© DB 2023 Common Era (2566 Buddhist Era).

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