Guiding Philosophy

Palms Australia’s Encounters are ethically run small group tours that provide curious travellers with authentic, hard to come by immersion experiences in Timor Leste, Samoa, and Myanmar and Thailand.

We believe that the communities in which we work are the architects of their own development. This locally driven development philosophy extends to tourism opportunities. We enjoy sharing local development initiatives with curious and adventurous travellers and work with host communities to curate a positive, genuine, and sustainable experience for hosts and guests.

Each of Palms’ Encounter tours is limited to just eight guests. Over the tour, guests are invited to see the work of local organisations in addressing the causes of poverty and explore the challenges of rural development. To see first hand this inspiring work will create a profound appreciation for the dedication and authority of local communities over their own development.

You will explore sites of rebellion and repression in Timor Leste or relax in the pristine natural pools of Samoa. In each tour, you will be welcomed into local guest houses and treated to delicious local cuisine. The tastes and flavours of the local culture will change as you travel to new villages.

Palms Encounters are a unique offering of both personal reflection and group enrichment.


The vibrant green and blue of the Samoan islands paint a stunning backdrop to the diversity of this Pacific nation. Samoan culture is distinct from that of other Pacific islands. The way conservative values and progressive practices blend together and support a sense of community gives travellers insight into heritage and expression.

Our itinerary takes travellers through some of Samoa’s most beautiful natural wonders and visits the local organisations working to reduce poverty in their communities. Travellers will gain first-hand experience of the challenges facing access to education and the innovative solutions of local educators to address these challenges.

Your tour guide will share their own experiences working in Samoa, with reference to cultural differences and how the environment and long history of Samoa has shaped these differences,

An Encounter experience to Samoa blends mindful relaxation with insightful cultural and social awareness. It is perfect for those groups who are planning an immersion experience for both a professional teambuilding exercise and for personal reflection.

Timor Leste

Despite being just over an hour from Darwin, Timor Leste remains Asia’s 3rd least travelled country. Following the brutality of Indonesian occupation, education and healthcare is poor and many Catholic orders and institutions work to support community development.

Experience the bustling capital of Dili and the tranquil mountains of Balibo as you are guided through remnants of Portuguese colonisation, sites of resistance against Indonesian invasion, and dedicated organisations working to combat challenges following independence.

Throughout your journey, you will visit Palms Australia’s local partners and see the work they are doing in their communities. You will have the opportunity to learn about the role Australians can play in reducing global poverty by supporting local initiatives.

An Encounter to Timor Leste is ideal for those who wish to explore more of Australia’s closest neighbours and who desire to witness how strength through community can contribute to lasting change.  


Though the capitals of Bangkok and Yangon are tourist hot-spots, we take travellers to the Thai-Burma border region to explore the challenges and innovations in some of Asia’s remote communities. Travellers will witness the countries and cultures on either side of the Thai-Burma border and reflect on the nature of boundaries that divide them.

Most importantly, you will visit the communities that exist between the borders: the refugee communities in Thailand who belong to the Karen ethnic minority of Myanmar. Many of these families have been granted ten year visas from the Thai government as they wait for assurances from the Burmese authorities as to their safety upon returning home.

On both sides of the border you will meet Palms volunteers and learn about the work being done by local organisations to address challenges in education and youth unemployment.

This experience challenges notions of culture, nationality and identity. This itinerary will excite those who wish to explore perspectives and cultural heritage as through the crossing of borders we gain an appreciation for the experience of those who live within them.


Palms Australia’s Encounter tours are a model of best practice for sustainable and ethical tourism. For 2020 and 2021, an all inclusive Encounter experience is $4,900 per person. This includes flights, transport, meals and accommodation. Tours are available for between 5 and 12 participants, depending on the destination.

The advantage to travellers of booking a group Encounter experience is that your flights will be arranged by our team at Palms Australia, providing travellers the opportunity to genuinely consider the communities they will encounter, without the practical distractions of managing travel.

Travel dates are arranged between Palms, travellers and the host communities that welcome travellers to explore their development projects. This helps us curate the most enriching experience for travellers as we can tailor an itinerary to suit your interests. Some dates may be unavailable as host communities, such as schools, may have breaks. Travellers who will be visiting schools must have a valid working with children check prior to travel.