Thailand, the Land of Smiles, has firmly cemented itself as one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet.
With39 million people visiting the Southeast Asian nation in 2019, the word is well and truly out on just how magical Thailand really is.
International tourism to Thailand really started back in the 1970s, when travellers made their way here along the old ‘Hippie Trail’ from England.
This paradise was their reward after months of tough overlanding, with swaying palm trees, white-sand beaches, hospitable locals and some of the tastiest food imaginable.
Today the magic is still alive and well in Thailand, and withso many incredible places to visit, it’s the kind of place you can visit again and again and always discover something new.
The impacts of the tourism industry on Thailand haven’t always been positive though, and with the growing number of people coming every year, there has been a number of issues arise.
As avwin.com德赢 ，对我们所有人而言，重要的是要保护我们访问的国家，包括环境，文化和野生动植物。
- 可持续旅游in Thailand – The Ultimate Guide
- The Thai Government’s Own Initiatives
- Wildlife Activities
- 文化和习俗 - 尊重当地人
- Unethical Attractions Involving People
- Protecting the Environment
可持续旅游in Thailand – The Ultimate Guide
We’ve been fortunate enough to spend almost an entire year travelling and living in Thailand, and it is honestly one of our favourite countries in the world.
As part of our travels we’ve seen the best, and worst, of tourist behaviour and impacts here, which is why we have published this guide.
我们是大倡导可持续旅游,we are pleased to see it’s not just a global trend, but a movement that even the Thai government is taking very seriously.
Before you decide to travel to the Land of Smiles, make sure you read up on these tips and ideas on how to travel to Thailand responsibly.
The Thai Government’s Own Initiatives
In recent years, the Thai government has seen the impacts of tourism, both positive and negative, and have taken a firm stance to improve sustainability throughout the Kingdom.
It’s uplifting to see a government take what may seem like drastic measures to protect their own environment and culture, and they have become an example to other Asian nations on how sustainable tourism can really be beneficial.
To read more about this, be sure to check out their dedicated website,7 Greens.
Every year the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation takes extreme measures to protect the most heavily-visited regions of the country by closing them to tourists.
当泰国关闭玛雅湾时，这是最大的例子Koh Phi Phi，在电影《海滩》中出现时，这是出名的。
Over the years Maya Bay became a victim of its own beauty, with millions of tourists flocking into the narrow cove.
They are doing similar things to other popular destinations, often during the rainy season when the environment is at its most fragile, and are seeing excellent results.
This ban is in effect in Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi, Trang, Samui, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Chon Buri, Rayong and Trat.
The other big initiative that the Thai government and local businesses have introduced as of August 2018 is banning single-use plastics from all 154 national and regional parks around the country.
What is ecotourism? It is defined as:“针对异国情调的，经常受到威胁的自然环境，旨在支持保护工作并观察野生动植物的旅游业。”
Environment Conservation Projects
Here are some of our favourite conservation projects focusing on the environment:
New Heaven Reef Conservation
Based on the spectacular island of Koh Tao, theNew Heaven Reef Conservation, this organisation runs marine-specific courses and projects to protect and study the underwater world in the Gulf of Thailand.
According to their website,“TRASH HERO是一种充满活力的，以志愿者为主导的运动，可以驱动世界各地社区的变化，激励和支持他们清洁和预防塑料废物。”
So next time you’re in Bangkok, get in touch with them and join the crew for a waste clean-up.
By far the best elephant sanctuary and conservation project in Thailand,大象自然公园自1998年以来一直致力于保护大象。
Founded in Chiang Mai by the incredible Thai lady, Lek, ENP now has a number of projects around the country, as well as in Cambodia and soon Myanmar.
Soi Dog Foundation
TheSoi Dog Foundationhas made it their mission to protect the thousands of stray dogs that are found all over Thailand and to end the dog meat trade in Southeast Asia.
You can help out by donating to their cause, or volunteering when in Bangkok or Phuket.
The project rescues and rehabilitates these gorgeous, yet endangered, monkeys and then reintroduces them into protected natural habitats.
You can visit their facility in Phuket if you book ahead.
Thailand is home to a number of impressive wildlife species, which many tourists naturally want to see when they travel to the country.
These beautiful, intelligent and enormous creatures live deep in the jungles of Thailand, and have been a part of local culture for centuries.
But did you know there is an estimated 3800 captive elephants in Thailand, with perhaps less than 1000 in the wild? (资源)
One popular activity is to ride an elephant in Thailand, however, this is actually a very irresponsible thing to do for a number of reasons.
- The process of ‘breaking’ an elephant in order for it to be safe around tourists is extremely distressing.
It is extremely important that you永远不要骑大象，无论您认为这会“有趣”或“酷”，以及never visit an elephant show他们被迫执行技巧。
Spending time around an elephant is an experience you will never forget, and is something you absolutely should do while visiting Thailand, but please do so in an ethical and responsible way.
We highly recommend the following sanctuaries:
- 大象自然公园in Chiang Mai
Another popular attraction for first-time visitors to Thailand are the ‘Tiger Temples’ that offer the chance to get up close and personal to a tiger.
As tempting as it is to get your selfie with a tiger, the truth is that what happens behind the scenes at these places doesn’t always have the tigers’ best interests at heart.
The World Wildlife Fund estimated that there are only 189 tigers in the wild (资源），不幸的是，在野外见到一个人的机会非常苗条。
It’s not all bad news though. Tigers have recently been caught on tracking cameras in the far north of the country, showing that they are starting to make a comeback thanks to the Thai government’s restrictions on poaching and illegal logging.
There are currently no ethical tiger sanctuaries in Thailand.
There are five different types of monkeys in Thailand, and you will find them everywhere.
If you head to the south of the country they are extremely prominent around the islands, especially in places like Krabi.
Seeing them is always quite exciting, however, just like elephants, many macaques in Thailand have been captured and forced to perform tricks and shows for tourists.
READ MORE: Be sure to read our comprehensive guide to travelling Thailandhere.
Thailand has every style of accommodation you could ever imagine, from world-class 5-star resorts to basic bamboo shacks.
However, on an eco level, the 5-star resort might be worse than the bamboo shack when it comes to looking after the environment.
This can be for a number of reasons, whether it is due to overtourism, large resorts not being able to control their environmental footprint properly, or putting an emphasis on profits.
和度假胜地越大,影响越大。That’s why it’s important to look for eco-friendly accommodation when you travel in Thailand.
So what makes a hotel or guesthouse eco-friendly?
We wrote a dedicated post onhow to choose sustainable accommodation here, but let us give the main pointers again.
This is what a hotel can do to try and be more eco:
- Limiting energy consumption
- Limiting water consumption
- Using renewable energy
- Promoting environmental education
It seems pretty straightforward, and in all likelihood, you’re probably doing a lot of these things in your own home as well.
But when it comes to the hotel industry, it’s easy to do what is known as ‘greenwashing’, where they claim to be eco-friendly by doing a few things like telling guests to watch their water use, but then don’t do anything else on their end.
Bangkok Tree House
位于曼谷城市丛林深处的字面丛林中，Bangkok Tree Houseis one example of an accommodation that is not only doing their part to protect the environment, but also providing a unique experience for their guests.
Bangkok Tree House is also fully committed to being green, and they’ve minimised their carbon footprint in every way possible.
They also use vertical gardens to grow their food and vegetables, and recycle or reuse all of their materials.
Soneva Kiri - Koh Kood
The island of Koh Kood is the go-to destination for lovers of luxury, and the swaying palm trees over powder sand beaches is a real drawcard.
If you do visit, we recommend staying at the number 1 eco-resort on the island –Soneva Kiri.
They are also completely carbon natural.
Rabeang Pasak Treehouse Resort– Chiang Mai
If you’re travelling on a budget but still want to do what you can to support ecotourism in Thailand, it’s worth checking outRabeang Pasak Treehouse Resortin Chiang Mai.
The property is made up of sustainably-built treehouses just outside of the city, set in a stunning forest landscape and with a focus on minimising their footprint.
The facilities are basic, but you’ll fall in love with the simple way of living surrounded by the sound of nature.
文化和习俗 - 尊重当地人
You may feel that sustainable tourism is all about protecting the environment and wildlife, but there is another element that needs to be considered – the human element.
The predominantly-Buddhist nation is built on the ethos of kindness, hospitality and respect, and as soon as you touch down here for the first time you’ll know exactly what we mean.
People bow (known as wai) to greet to each other with a warm “Sa wa dee”, and they finish each sentence with “ka” or “krup”, depending on whether they’re addressing a male or female, as a sign of courtesy and respect.
A visit to a Buddhist temple also gives a unique insight into the beliefs of the Thai people, and one of the best things you can do is simply sit and watch as they pray and make their offerings to get a better understanding into what Buddhism is about.
It’s important to open your heart and mind to these local customs when you travel to Thailand.
Things may be different to what you’re used to at home, but isn’t that the joy of travelling?
Here’s a breakdown of the most important ones.
Always Show Respect to the King
Do not show any disrespect towards him or the Royal Family (in fact it is against the law to do so) by talking negatively about them.
Anything with their likeness on it is also considered important, such as the local money that has the King’s portrait printed on it, so be careful not to cause any damage to this.
As an example, if you drop a note, do not step on it with your feet to stop it from blowing away, as this is considered disrespectful. Instead pick it up with your hand.
When visiting a Buddhist temple, always face the Buddha and don’t turn your back towards him.
The proper way to exit a temple is to walk backwards to the door, turn at the last minute.
Watch Where You Point Your Feet
The feet, being the lowest part of the body, are considered to be dirty, and as such make sure you never point your feet towards somebody on purpose.
这就是为什么泰国人倾向于坐在他们的脚上或双腿上，而不是坐在他们面前的脚坐在他们面前的原因 - 确保他们不会将它们指向另一个人或佛陀的原因。
Do Not Touch a Person’s Head
The opposite of the feet, a person’s head is considered to be the most important part of the body, and it is disrespectful to touch somebody’s head.
Show Respect to the Monks
When you see a Buddhist monk, whether it’s in a temple or out in public, always show respect to them.
Ways you can do this is to bow when they walk past, try to keep your head level below theirs (remember, it’s the most important part of the body), and giving up your seat for them.
As an example, when you’re at the beach it’s ok to wear swimwear, but when you leave the beach make sure you cover up.
Do not wear a bikini or no shirt into a store or restaurant, and don’t walk around town showing excess skin, as this may make some locals feel uncomfortable.
As a good rule of thumb, look around at what the locals are wearing. If they’re not in a bikini, you shouldn’t be either, no matter how hot it is.
As an extension of dressing modestly, if you are entering a temple, make sure you wear appropriate clothing.
Do Not Raise Your Voice
Even if you’re feeling frustrated at a lack of communication, or feel as though you may be getting taken advantage of in a transaction, keep your cool and speak in a normal tone.
You will achieve nothing by screaming at somebody, and you will lose all respect.
Always be polite, and the locals will be the same to you.
Try to Learn a Few Thai Words
The Thai language is notoriously difficult to learn for English-speakers, and nobody expects you to become fluent in Thai during a holiday.
Just pick up the basics, such as hello, thank you, how much, goodbye, and perhaps try to count to 10.
Barter, but Don’t be Extreme
If you are shopping for souvenirs in a market, it’s normal to barter, but don’t go over the top and try to negotiate an extremely cheap price.
Unethical Attractions Involving People
On an ethical level, there are a number of tourist activities and attractions that exploit the wonderful local people of Thailand.
As a general rule of thumb, be very cautious about joining any cheap tour that involves a visit to a minority tribe, involves children, and sexual exploitation attractions such as the infamous Ping Pong Shows of Phuket and Bangkok.
These are some of the most important ones to avoid.
In the north of Thailand, the famous long-neck tribes from the Karen and Kayan ethnic minority communities have been a unique example of where a tradition has been exploited for tourist reasons.
Many travellers want to come to these remote villages to see the practice of women putting rings around their necks to elongate them.
In fact, many of these communities have expressed a desire to stop putting themselves through such a problematic modification of their bodies, but there is one reason to continue it – tourist dollars.
Over the years the concept of ‘voluntourism’ has become popular for many visitors who wish to give back to the communities they are visiting.
While this is a noble idea, and for the most part people’s hearts are in the right place, there are issues with this type of tourism.
The biggest concern is when it comes to visiting orphanages.
Unfortunately there are a number of children who have been orphaned in Thailand, and it’s only normal to want to help them.
Instead the best way to help is to donate money and supplies through reputable charities.
Protecting the Environment
Minimise Your Plastic Use
Make sure you add these to yourThailand packing list:
- A reusable water bottle. Not only can you usually refill these from large jugs at your accommodation, Thailand also has reverse osmosis machines on almost every city block so you can get drinking water for as low as 1THB per litre.
- A carry bag. Don’t take a plastic bag when you shop, and instead bring your own cloth one.
- Metal cutlery. You’ll most likely beeating a lot of delicious foodon your trip, but don’t just always grab the plastic cutlery available. Throw your own in your bag and save on waste.
Do Not Litter
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be amazed at how many tourists we’ve personally seen thrown their rubbish on the ground or off the side of a boat.
No matter how much of an inconvenience it is to carry until you find one, do not contribute to polluting the earth by being careless.
Take Public Transport Where Possible
Carbon emissions from airplanes and vehicles are quite high around the world, but you can minimise your own carbon footprint a few different ways.
Second, always go for public transport where possible. Take a public ferry or songthaew instead of renting a private boat or car.
Oceans and Marine Parks
Take extra care when spending time in the stunning Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand.
Also try to avoid any overcrowding of popular destinations. The last thing we need is another Maya Bay catastrophe.
您可以保护海洋的其他一些方法never touch sealife or coral.
Overtourism is where the amount of visitors a place receives reaches a level that is no longer sustainable from an environmental or societal viewpoint.
We’ve dived deeper into overtourism and ways you can combat this inthis detailed guide,但是我们的d like to give some ideas here on how this applies specifically to Thailand.
Travel Off the Beaten Path
Rather than spending all your time in the most popular destinations in Thailand, consider visiting places that fewer tourists get to.
例如,清迈是绝对令人难以置信的nd definitely deserves a few days to explore, but when you’re finished here you can visit the lesser-visited Mae Hong Son.
Finally in our sustainable tourism in Thailand guide, we will touch on the concept of community-based tourism.
Community-based tourism is where a visitor spends time in a local village and spends their money directly with vendors and small businesses rather than big operators or companies.
Just like getting off the beaten path, we recommend you visit places that don’t see as many tourists and booking accommodation and activities directly with businesses.