Ecotourists visiting Thailand will be delighted to meet like-minded people, in the form of tour operators, tour guides and other travellers whose main objective is to conserve the Thai environment for future generations. With a little foresight and preparation, it’s easy to play your part in making the future of Thailand’s tourism industry sustainable.
It’s worth spending some time before your visit learning about the local culture. In Thailand, this means things like taking shoes off when entering a house, dressing respectfully when visiting temples and knowing who and when to wai. In this way, you won’t offend locals inadvertently, and if you can learn a few words of the language, so much the better. A ‘Sawasdee krup’ (hello) or a ‘Khop khun kha’ (thank you) can go a long way towards forging new friendships.
bottle, so that you don’t need to buy bottles of water packed in single-use plastic. Also, a tote bag will come in handy for shopping, so that you don’t need to make a collection of plastic bags on your travels.
Choosing to travel around the country by public transport instead of in a private vehicle is another way that visitors can reduce their carbon footprint. Not only does this cut down on fuel use, but it also presents opportunities to meet local people, who might even invite you to their house to meet their family. Since a major reason for travelling is to broaden the mind, visitors should grab every opportunity to meet new people and embrace new experiences.
A great way to guarantee a new experience is to head off the beaten track, to a remote town or village where other travellers rarely go. This may sound difficult, but fortunately the Tourist Authority of Thailand has identified 55 ‘secondary destinations’ that have sufficient attractions and facilities to appeal to foreign visitors. A few examples are Mae Hong Son, Mukdahan and Satun.
Perhaps the best advice for ecotourists in Thailand, though, is to find an activity that you love that can also benefit the local community. If you enjoy diving, why not sign up for a project such as the New Heaven Reef Conservation Programme on Koh Tao (newheavenreefconservation.org)? Alternatively, contact the nearest chapter of Trash Hero (trashhero.org) to find out when they are planning a cleanup in your area.