From Thai temples to Civil War battlefields: transformative trips for 2019

Wat Rong Khun

With 2019 quickly approaching, University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Studies is gearing up for educational travel experiences across the country and across the globe. The first half of the year features trips to Thailand and Laos (Feb. 16-March 8) and Civil War sites in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. (April 24-May 1). Each offers guided tours, delicious meals, high-quality lodging, and the memories of a lifetime.

Natural and spiritual wonders

Patuxai monument
In Vientiane, Laos, visitors can see monuments such as Patuxai.

The Thailand and Laos trip begins with three days in Bangkok, a bustling city filled with temples, monuments, markets, and other landmarks. Another highlight is a visit to Luang Prabang and surrounding villages, which provide a unique glimpse into local customs and spiritual practices. Other stops include Vientiane, Laos’s temple-rich capital; Sukhothai, Thailand’s spiritual epicenter; and Wat Rong Khun, an art exhibition in the style of a Buddhist temple. All are excellent places to learn about Thai culture while reflecting upon one’s own life and aspirations.

The itinerary also includes many chances to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of nature. In Kanchanaburi travelers will ride a train through a jungle and stay at a floating, electricity-free eco-lodge on the Kwai Noi River. After that, they’ll admire an orchid farm near Chiang Mai and ride bamboo rafts on the Mae Taeng River. A two-day cruise on the Mekong River is an opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery, including that of two ancient caves: the Tam Ting and the Tham Phoum. There’s even a visit to a resort where visitors can get up close and personal with elephants.

Historic capital cities

The Civil War: Two Capitals is a trip through time and history in the Union capital of Washington, D.C., and the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Guided tours abound, providing rich learning opportunities at Fort Stevens, the Summer White House, and beyond. Travelers will complete the Union portion of the trip with greater knowledge of what Washington was like during wartime. In Richmond they’ll spend time at the Mariners’ Museum, the Confederate White House, and more, gaining a more nuanced understanding of the Confederacy and discovering ways the Civil War influenced World War I.

Cannon in Gettysburg
Travelers will view battlefields and more at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Battlefields are another important component of this trip, which includes sites from the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Peninsula Campaign, the Siege of Petersburg, and the Battle of Appomattox Court House. In addition to exploring battlegrounds at Gettysburg National Military Park, travelers will learn from expert guides, tour a museum, and walk Pickett’s Charge there.

There are even chances to get acquainted with the war’s most famous figures. For instance, the group will visit Ford’s Theatre, the site of President Lincoln’s assassination; trace assassin John Wilkes Booth’s escape route; and have dinner with actors portraying Robert E. Lee and his wife, Mary.

For details about these trips and other chances to travel the world with the UW–Madison Continuing Studies, see the Educational Travel webpage or contact Doug Whittle at doug.whittle@wisc.edu.

Featured photo: Wat Rong Khun, an art exhibition in the style of a Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand.