Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know about coming to stay at New Life.

Accommodation

1. What is the accommodation like?

All rooms are single ensuite rooms with a bed, ceiling fan, desk, and chair. Sheets, pillow, blanket, and towel are provided. It may be possible to arrange a twin room. Please check with us. We do not have double rooms. Discounts are not offered for participants in the volunteer or guest programs who opt to share a room. Participants of the resident program cannot share rooms.

A very limited number of rooms have air-conditioning units for an extra 200 baht per night. Please enquire when you book.

2. How long can I stay at the foundation?

There is no fixed maximum term of stay although three months is typically the longest. Extensions and requests to stay on a long-term basis are subject to the discretion of the director and staff, and are subject to room availability.

For residents we advise a stay of 90 days to fully benefit from our program.

3. Can New Life accommodate people with disabilities or in a wheelchair?

Unfortunately our facilities are not able to accommodate wheelchairs. However, if you have a disability and would like to come and visit, do contact us to see if we can make arrangements to make your visit more comfortable.

Food

1. What kind of food do you serve?

Our community is mindfully vegetarian. Although our cooks do not cater to individualised diets you are free to supplement your meals to your needs (e.g. meat, fish, gluten-free, etc.). However, we ask that you purchase and prepare extra items yourself. Lunch and dinner are usually Thai-style meals, with curry, stir-fries, fresh salads, and brown rice. Breakfast is typically comprised of oatmeal, muesli, yoghurt, cereal, organic eggs, and lots of fresh fruit.

2. Is the drinking water safe?

Yes, we have a state-of-the-art filtration system. Please bring a refillable water bottle with you.

3. Can you accommodate gluten-free, lactose-intolerant, or other special diets?

Due to the large number of people in our community, our cooking staff are not able to cater to special dietary requirements.

Daily Schedule

Weekdays

06.30 Morning activity: yoga or meditation
07.30 Silent breakfast
08.30 Morning community meeting
09.30 – 12.00 Life coaching (for residents) / community work
12.00 Midday activity: e.g. body scan
12.30 Lunch
14.00 – 16.00 Workshop (for residents) / community work
16.30 Afternoon activity: e.g. Intro to meditation, yoga, meditation
17.00 Steam bath (twice a week) / AA meeting in town (Tuesday & Friday)
18.30 Dinner
19.30 Evening activity: film, speaker’s meeting, support group, etc.
21.30 Noble silence until 08.30 the next morning

Saturdays

06.30 Morning activity: yoga or meditation
07.30 Silent breakfast
08.30 Morning community meeting
09.30 – 11.00 Community work
11.30 Trip to Chiang Rai
12.30 Lunch
18.30 Dinner
22.00 Noble silence until 08.30 on Sunday morning

The schedule may change slightly from time to time. Please check the blackboard in our Awakening Hall for the most up-to-date information.

MANDATORY ACTIVITIES:

All periods of noble silence are mandatory for all community members. 

New community members are required to attend an ‘Introduction to Meditation’ workshop their first week.

Additional mandatory activities include:

Residents: Five sessions of 06.30 morning activity per week from Monday to Friday; all morning community meetings Monday to Saturday; all morning community work sessions (1 session per day, Monday – Friday); all 14.00 workshops; all life coaching sessions.

Volunteers: Five sessions of 06.30 morning activity per week from Monday to Friday; all morning community meetings Monday to Saturday; all community work sessions (2 sessions per day, Monday – Friday).

Guests: Five sessions of 06.30 morning activity per week from Monday to Friday; all morning community meetings Monday to Friday; 1 community work session per day (Monday – Friday).

All residents, volunteers, and guests also do one community work session on the weekend. Breakfast shift counts as an extra shift and is not included in the usual community work sessions. All other activities are optional.

Leisure and Recreation

1. Is there time off from the program to go sightseeing?

On Saturdays the foundation organises a shopping trip to Chiang Rai city for several hours. Community members can organise optional Sunday outings. Both are optional. If you decide to participate, we ask you to contribute a small amount to share the cost of fuel and activities.

Breakfast is served at 08.00 on Sundays.

2. What kinds of excursions can we go on?

Some examples of Sunday excursions include trekking, waterfalls, hot springs, museums, and other cultural and natural attractions.

3. Do you have a gym?

We have a fitness area with some donated equipment. Feel free to add to it if you wish! We also have a steam bath and a salt-water swimming pool.

4. Is massage available?

There are massage therapists available in the village or in town.

5. Are there jogging/walking trails nearby?

There are many beautiful lakes nearby to walk or jog around.

Location and Travel

1. Where are you located and how do I get there?

The foundation’s address is No. 49, Moo 1, Don Sila, Wiang Chai, Chiang Rai, THAILAND.

The name of the village is “Baan Samarnmit”.

You can reach Chiang Rai by bus or plane from Bangkok or Chiang Mai.

The foundation is about 20 km from Chiang Rai city. At the bus station you can take a Tuk Tuk or a ‘Sawng Taeow’ or a taxi. The trip should cost around 300 baht, depending on your bargaining skills. From the airport you can take a taxi, which should cost between 300 and 600 THB, depending on which company you use.

2. Buses: Buses from Bangkok take around 12-14 hours. Buses from Chiang Mai take around 3.5 hours. Tickets are only available from the bus station. Buses to Chiang Rai depart from Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok, and from Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai.

3. Plane: The plane trip takes an hour from Don Mueang airport (this is the domestic airport in Bangkok). Low cost carriers that fly to Chiang Rai include Air Asia, Lion Air, and Nok Air. You can also fly with Thai Airways or Bangkok Air from Suvarnabhumi airport (also takes about one hour), but tickets cost more.

4. Trains: There is no train to Chiang Rai. The nearest train station is in Chiang Mai, which is 3.5 hours away by bus.

5. Taxi: The phone number for a taxi in Chiang Rai is +66 (0) 53 793 555

NB: To get a taxi from the airport, please go to the taxi booth situated near the exit.

Further information and map

Miscellaneous

1. Is New Life a “green” facility? Do you recycle and compost?

We maintain as a green a facility as we can. We have a recycling centre and composting all our organic waste and manure from the ducks and cows. We are a plastic bag free zone, so please bring your own reusable cloth bag or borrow one of ours.

2. Are there any poisonous creatures in the environment?

Scorpions, spiders, and small snakes do live nearby but are rarely seen. They don’t want to interact with us any more than we do with them!

3. Are electronics allowed, e.g. laptops, iPods, iPads etc? If not are there shared computers accessible to everyone and do you have Internet access?

There is free WIFI in the dining hall. Personal electronic devices are allowed but everyone is encouraged not to abuse this privilege or use them to “check out”. We ask community members to be very mindful of making noise, and to use headphones when they play music in their rooms. We discourage you from using headphones during community work so that you can focus completely on the task at hand, and engage meaningfully with your team members. We have community computers available in the dining hall with access to the Internet. It is against our rules to use devices at breakfast during noble silence time.

4. Do you need a special adaptor or transformer for a power source? Does Thailand use 110v or 220v?

In Thailand the power sources use 220v; an adaptor is needed if yours is different. A transformer is required for any heating tools (hairdryers, curling irons, etc).

5. Is there a big mosquito/malaria problem?

Mosquitoes are usually only an issue at dawn and dusk. Malaria is not generally a problem in our area. Bringing repellent is highly recommended.

6. Do you have any musical instruments available?

We have a couple of acoustic guitars and percussion instruments.

7. Is smoking permitted at the foundation?

Only within the designated smoking area located away from community-shared areas. However, if you are a smoker we encourage you to use the supportive environment of the foundation to reduce your cigarette consumption (or quit altogether!).

8. Do you have laundry facilities?

There is a communal washing machine that you can use for free. Otherwise, it is possible to have your laundry done by shops in the village.

9. What is your insurance policy?

We require everyone staying at the foundation to organise their own health and travel insurance. Kindly make your own arrangements, and send proof before arrival. In the event that you are not covered by an insurance policy and you experience illness and/or injury, New Life Foundation will not be held liable.

The Program

1. What is a Life Coach?

Somebody to help support you and provide feedback as you identify the issues you would like to explore while you are here.

2. What kind of meditation do you practice?

Shamatha (“calm-abiding” or “concentration” meditation), Vipassana (“insight” meditation), body scans/relaxation meditation, Metta (“loving-kindness”) meditation, hugging meditation, singing meditation, and more.

3. What kind of Yoga do you teach?

Vinyasa, Hatha,  Ashtanga, Yin, and more, depending on which instructors are residing at the foundation at that given time.

4. What is ‘Mindfulness’?

In brief, mindfulness entails living in the present moment as opposed to the past or the future.

5. What if I don’t know how to meditate/do yoga/etc?

Then we will teach you! Newcomers to these activities are welcome. We have patient instructors who will guide you according to your practice level.

6. Do you offer the 12-steps program?

There are twice-weekly opportunities to attend 12-steps AA meetings in Chiang Rai. There is also an NA meeting in Chiang Rai on Sundays.

9. What is the Enneagram?

It is a model of human personality which is principally used as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. In our program we utilise it to aid self-understanding and self-development.

10. Can I join the resident program if I don’t have addiction issues?

Yes! Many members of our community come to address anxiety, burnout, depression, stress, PTSD, and other challenges. Many also come just to learn more about themselves, and to rethink the direction they want to take in their lives.

11. Do you have a substance detoxification program?

No. Because we are not a primary treatment centre for addiction, residents need to be substance-free at least 15 to 90 days prior to beginning the program, and for the entire duration of their stay. This includes benzodiazepines (such as Valium or Xanax) and/or other opiate-type medications. The minimum sobriety period will be decided on a case-by-case bases during the application process. We will administer tests upon arrival. While you are here, we perform random drug tests and room checks. If you fail a test, have been found to be using, or in possession of contraband substances, you will be asked to leave immediately. No refunds will be issued under these circumstances. This includes not reporting doctor prescribed medications.

11. Which parts of our program are mandatory?

All periods of noble silence are mandatory for all community members. 

New community members are required to attend an ‘Introduction to Meditation’ workshop their first week.

Additional mandatory activities include:

Residents: Five sessions of 06.30 morning activity per week from Monday to Friday; all morning community meetings Monday to Saturday; all morning community work sessions (1 session per day, Monday – Friday); all 14.00 workshops; all life coaching sessions.

Volunteers: Five sessions of 06.30 morning activity per week from Monday to Friday; all morning community meetings Monday to Saturday; all community work sessions (2 sessions per day, Monday – Friday).

Guests: Five sessions of 06.30 morning activity per week from Monday to Friday; all morning community meetings Monday to Friday; 1 community work session per day (Monday – Friday).

All residents, volunteers, and guests also do one community work session on the weekend. Breakfast shift counts as an extra shift and is not included in the usual community work sessions. All other activities are optional.

All residents, volunteers, and guests are expected to join the morning practice. Community members are free to choose between meditation or yoga except on Wednesdays, when the whole community meditates together. Sessions are suitable for beginners as well as advanced practitioners.

12. What is noble silence and why do you practice it?

Between 21.30 and 08.30 we invite all our members to practice noble silence. The silence can be very nourishing, an excellent opportunity to slow down and observe what’s happening in our minds. On Saturday evening noble silence starts at 22.00. Our WIFI is also turned off during this time.

13. Do I have to do community work if I come as a resident?

Yes. Everyone contributes to the community. Being of service is part of the program and therapy. We use community work as a valuable opportunity to practice mindfulness and learn about sustainable living.

14. If I have serious back injury or other disability, is there work that I can do that is appropriate for my condition?

Of course – please contact us to discuss this.

15. Can I offer a workshop if I have a specific skill that I could offer to the community?

Yes, it may be possible, depending on whether it fits into our program and schedule. Please discuss this with our team when you arrive. We have had people hold everything from psychology workshops to juggling, massage, and recycling classes.

16. Do I have to disclose any history of addiction or any other disorder or illness?

Disclosure Policy: Our staff, life-coaches, therapists, and community-members are trained in mindfulness practice, talk therapy, and self-development. There are no doctors or psychiatrists onsite. We do not provide services to support treatment for individuals with active eating disorders, severe psychiatric or physiological disorders or illnesses, a history of verbal or physical aggression or psychosis, or who wish to undergo detoxification or taper off psychiatric medications. Should any of these categories apply to you, we require you to disclose this and any other pertinent information (including history of addiction, mental illness or disorder, and medications currently being taken) in your application to stay. Please also let us know of any prior applications to stay OR about any previous visits, if you have been here before. It is not possible to stay at New Life if you are taking benzodiazepines (such as Valium or Xanax) and/or other opiate-type medications. In the event of nondisclosure of any such information, we reserve the right to ask you to leave without issuing a refund. This applies to everyone who comes to stay at New Life, regardless of whether you are a guest, retreat participant, volunteer, or resident.

Rates and Payment

Rates are applicable from 19 September, 2016. Contributions are per adult, per night. Currency conversions are an approximate guide only. $ = USD.

1. Resident rates:

a) Reduced rate: 1300 THB per night (≈ $38 / €33 / £29). This discounted rate covers our most basic operational expenses. It is only possible to pay the reduced rate if you are staying 30 nights or more.

b) Standard rate: 1500 THB per night (≈ $43 / €39 / £33). This rate covers general operational expenses and maintenance of facilities. If staying less than 30 nights (i.e. if joining as a resident for stress or burnout), it is only possible to pay the standard rate or above.

c) Supporting rate: 1800 THB per night (≈ $52 / €46 / £40). This rate covers general operational expenses, maintenance of facilities, and helps to contribute towards the scholarship program, offering those without the means a chance to join our program.

d) Scholarship: We offer financial assistance to those who need it. Applications are considered in terms of financial need and funds availability. Please enquire by email as to how our scholarship program works.

Air-conditioning: A limited number of air-conditioned rooms are available for an extra 200 THB (≈ $6 / €5 / £4) per night. It is only possible to pay the standard rate or above if you wish to stay in an AC room.

The minimum commitment to the resident program is 14 nights or more if you are looking to address stress or burnout or 30 nights or more if you are looking to address anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship, or addiction issues.

IMPORTANT: Please note that it is only possibly to join the program for less than 30 nights if you are not experiencing depression, anxiety, or trauma, suffer from an eating disorder, or have a recent history of addiction.

2. Volunteer rates:

If you stay 14 nights or longer – 600 THB per night (≈ $18 / €16 / £13)
If you stay 1-13 nights – 750 THB per night (≈ $22 / €20 / £17)
Air conditioning (limited number of rooms) – extra 200 THB per night (≈ $6 / €5 / £4)

3. Guest rates:

950 THB per night (≈ $28 / €25 / £21)
Air conditioning (limited number of rooms) – extra 200 THB per night (≈ $6 / €5 / £4)

4. What is covered in the rates?

Three vegetarian meals per day and accommodation for all community members. Life coaching and regular afternoon workshops are included for residents, as well as all morning, afternoon, and evening activities. Volunteers may join in most activities except for life coaching and workshops free of charge. For residents and volunteers, optional Saturday and Sunday excursions, trips into town, any transportation costs, retreats, and special workshops are not included. Fees listed are per adult, per night. Discounts are not offered for participants in the volunteer or guest program who opt to share a room. Participants of the resident program cannot share rooms.

5. What are your payment conditions?

Booking prior to arrival

Once your application has been accepted please make payment within 48 hours or your booking will be automatically cancelled.

Feel program is not suitable

If you arrive and find that the program is not suitable for you, we will offer a full refund (minus transaction fees) within the first 5 nights of your stay. After this time, any refunds are subject to our cancellation policy. Applicable to first-time visitors of the foundation only.

Changing arrival or departure date

Once you have paid, your booking is secure. If you decide to change your arrival or departure date after this, our cancellation policy will apply.

Failing to meet requirements at check-in or during your stay

You will be asked to leave the foundation. No refunds will be issued under these circumstances.

Extensions

Extension requests are not considered firm bookings. Payment should be made within 48 hours of the request in order to secure your room or the extension will be automatically cancelled. If there is a waiting list for rooms, the extension should be paid for immediately in order to confirm your place on the list.

Ongoing payments

If you are booked for more than 30 days, your next payment will be due at the latest 14 days before the beginning of the next period of stay. Your booking is only confirmed once it has been secured with payment.

Time away during your stay

It is not permitted to change your status in order to reduce your room rate during time away. If you decide to leave the foundation for any reason during your booked stay (e.g. weekend away, holiday, visa), the cancellation policy is not applicable and the full nightly rate will apply.

Sharing rooms

Residents are required to have their own separate rooms. Discounts are not applicable to guests or volunteers who opt to share rooms.

Changing program statuses

Status changes are subject to availability. Program changes must be approved by our staff. Residents who wish to change programs should first seek confirmation from the life coaching team prior to submitting their request to the office. Balances will be carried over between programs.

Late or non-payment

Please make all payments on time. In the case of late or non-payment, we reserve the right to release your room for new bookings. If you do not vacate your room on the last day for which it has been paid, we will ask our cleaning staff to remove your belongings.

If you fail to settle your balance before you leave, we will notify the police and immigration authorities. Late or non-payment will impact future extension requests and/or applications.

Non-attendance

No refunds are possible for missing or not attending life coaching sessions, workshops, or any other activities.

Cancellation policy

Applicable both pre- and post-arrival. Transaction fees apply. If booking through Book Yoga Retreats (BYR) or Book Meditation Retreats (BMR), BYR and BMR website booking conditions apply for cancellations prior to arrival. Cancellation policy not applicable to time away.

 

6. How do I pay?

We accept Paypal and TransferWise payments.

In certain circumstances it is possible to do a bank transfer. Please contact info@newlifethaifoundation.com for further directions.

In limited cases we can accept payment on arrival in cash. Please enquire.

How to pay with TransferWise

Pay with Paypal

Please note that we do not have a credit/debit card reader at the foundation, so once you have arrived, all payments need to be made in cash or with Paypal / Transferwise.

7. Why is there a fee charged for volunteering?

We have positions open for long-term volunteers who typically stay for six months or more, and who have special skills or who fulfill highly necessary duties, tasks, or responsibilities within the community. These long-term volunteers receive free room and board for the duration of their stay at New Life. Long-term volunteer positions are limited, and are usually filled by people who have been short-term volunteers with us for a while.

For short-term volunteers, the foundation asks a small contribution in order to help cover the costs of your meals and accommodation. This also allows our non-profit organisation to continue to offer scholarships to those in need. Our volunteer program offers much more than exchange of work for food and accommodation. Short-term volunteers only work four hours a day, and there are always many free workshops and activities that you can join outside of working hours. The packed daily schedule includes meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, drum circles, dance, movie nights, support groups, and much more. The number of sessions that volunteers can join is unlimited.

Substances and Medication

1. Is there a doctor or psychiatrist available ?

Disclosure Policy: Our staff, life-coaches, therapists, and community members are trained in mindfulness practice, talk therapy, and self-development. There are no doctors or psychiatrists onsite. We do not provide services to support treatment for individuals with active eating disorders, severe psychiatric or physiological disorders or illnesses, a history of verbal or physical aggression or psychosis, or who wish to undergo detoxification or taper off psychiatric medications. Should any of these categories apply to you, we require you to disclose this, and any other pertinent information (including history of addiction, mental illness or disorder, and medications currently being taken) in your application to stay. Please also let us know of any prior applications to stay OR about any previous visits, if you have been here before. It is not possible to stay at New Life if you are taking benzodiazepines (such as Valium or Xanax) and/or other opiate-type medications. In the event of nondisclosure of any such information, we reserve the right to ask you to leave without issuing a refund. This applies to everyone who comes to stay at New Life, regardless of whether you are a guest, retreat participant, volunteer, or resident.

2. Do you accept volunteers, guests, or residents who are taking controlled medications?

This needs to be discussed with the therapeutic team prior to enrolling in the program. Please provide details of all medications (including name, dosage, reasons for prescription, and length of time you have been on medication) in your application so that we can respond appropriately regarding whether or not we can provide the support that you need.

3. Do you have a substance detoxification program?

No. Because we are not a primary treatment center for addiction, residents are expected to be substance-free at least 15 to 90 days prior to beginning the program, and for the entire duration of their stay. This includes benzodiazepines (such as Valium or Xanax) and/or other opiate-type medications. The minimum sobriety period will be decided on a case by case bases during the application process. We will administer tests upon arrival. While you are here, we perform random drug tests, and room checks. If you fail a test, have been found to be using, or in possession of contraband substances you will be asked to leave immediately. No refunds will be issued under these circumstances. This includes not reporting doctor prescribed medications.

4. How many days do residents need to be substance-free and alcohol-free?

The minimum sobriety period will be decided on a case by case bases during the application process. It is typically between 15-90 days. This includes benzodiazepines (such as Valium or Xanax) and/or other opiate-type medications. We will administer tests upon arrival. While you are here, we perform random drug tests, and room checks. If you fail a test, have been found to be using, or in possession of contraband substances you will be asked to leave immediately. No refunds will be issued under these circumstances, this includes not reporting doctor prescribed medications.

5. Do you supervise medication tapers?

No, especially not for antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or other opiate-based medications. If you are currently taking benzodiazepines or other opiate-based medications, we require you to be a minimum of 15 days substance-free prior to beginning the program.

6. If I am a volunteer, retreat participant, or guest, do I need to be substance- and alcohol-free?

Yes. We are a recovery community, and require you to be substance- and alcohol-free for the duration of your stay at New Life. Please note that is not possible to stay at New Life if you are taking benzodiazepines (such as Valium or Xanax) and/or other opiate-type medications. If you are unsure of whether or not your medication is acceptable, please contact us to check.

We administer random drug and alcohol tests to all community members. If you fail a test, have been found to be using, or in possession of contraband substances, you will be asked to leave immediately. No refunds will be issued under these circumstances. This includes not reporting doctor prescribed medications.

This rule applies to everyone who comes to stay at New Life, regardless of whether you are a guest, retreat participant, volunteer, or resident.

Things to Bring

1. Clothing: Casual clothing, i.e. a combination of shorts, t-shirts, trousers, sandals, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, swimsuit. In the cool season (November – February), you will need something warm for the evenings/early morning. For agricultural work, building, or if you would like to go on the trekking excursion, then please bring sturdy shoes.

2. Recyclable bags: We are aiming to become a plastic bag free zone, so please bring a reusable bag. If you don’t have one you can buy or borrow one of our New Life reusable bags.

3. Cups and/or water bottle: We provide free drinking water, but no cups or glasses, so please bring a cup, mug, and/or refillable water bottle with you.

4. Medication: Please bring any required personal medications, especially if you think your prescription might be difficult to fill.

5. Coffee and tea: We do not provide coffee or tea so please bring your own. Herbal tea bags tend to quite expensive in Thailand so it is worth bringing some from your home country.

6. Torch: Useful as the foundation grounds can get very dark at night.

Visas

1. What kind of visa do I need?

You can apply for a tourist visa at a Thai embassy in your home country or in a country outside of Thailand. If you have a proper 60-day tourist visa it may be possible to apply for an additional 30-day extension from within Thailand. If tourist visa extensions are required, there is an immigration office in Chiang Rai city at which you can make your application. The cost of the extension application is 1900 THB. Please note that we do not issue invitation letters for non-immigrant visa applications.

2. Visa exemption

Some foreign nationals can get a 30-day visa exemption stamp if entering Thailand by air. If entering Thailand by land, it is possible to get a 15-day or 30-day visa exemption stamp at the closest border checkpoint in Mae Sai, only 1.5 hours away from the foundation. Whether you get 15 or 30 days’ visa exemption depends on your nationality.

The Thai immigration department no longer allows back-to-back visa exemptions or tourist visa stays. If you are planning to stay in Thailand for longer than 15 days (if entering the country by land) or longer than 30 days (if entering the country by plane), we strongly advise you to apply for a proper tourist visa in your home country or in a Thai embassy outside of Thailand.

The exact requirements of the visa and the length of time you will be able to stay in Thailand depends on your country of citizenship. Please contact your home embassy or consulate directly for further information.

Visa rules and requirements are subject to change. For the most accurate and up-to-date information we recommend that you check the website of the Thai consulate or embassy in your home country and the Thai Ministry of Foreign affairs website.

 

Weather

1. What is the climate in Chiang Rai?

Chiang Rai has a tropical savanna climate with dry winters.

2. When is the hot season?

The hot season lasts from March to May with an average daily high temperature above 33°C. The hottest month of the year is April, with an average high of 34°C and low of 22°C.

3. When is the cool season?

The cool season lasts from November to January with an average daily high temperature below 28°C.

4. When is the rainy season?

The rainy season starts from around July, and lasts through to September or October.