Ecotourism in Thailand: A Guide

A comprehensive guide on how to minimize the impact of your Thailand’s holidays

Thailand Tourism industry is booming with huge consequences on the environment. This is a comprehensive guide on how to minimize the impact of your Thailand’s holidays employing practices of ecotourism and sustainable/responsible tourism.

Recommendations on the best Thailand National Parks, attractions and islands/beaches.

Introduction

Eco Tourism as a concept started to appear in Thailand in the late 1990s.

It is based on the belief that the tourist industry in Thailand should develop in a manner that minimizes negative impacts on local communities and the environment.
Eco Tourism in Thailand
A foundation of Thailand Eco Tourism is to ensure a positive interaction between hosts and visitors/tourists. Responsible travel in Thailand also promotes the respect for original inhabitants (ex. Chang Mai area hill tribe villages), the reduction of the environmental impacts of travelling.

An Eco-Tourism experience in Thailand can also be enhanced by the participation in volunteering to assist local villages/families or environmental agencies (ex. Lampang Elephant conservation center on the Chiang Mai Highway).

On the financial side Thailand Responsible Tourism should always benefit the final service provider and local communities contrary to an international booking agents or resorts.

How to minimize the impact of your Thailand’s holidays?

Nowadays you have many options to minimize the impact of your holiday and to make sure your money goes to the locals.

Here’s a list of suggestions:

How to minimize your traveling impact:

  • Avoid internal flights since they are destructive to the environment and usually benefit only some foreign multinationals companies
  • Use train travel when possible. Trains are very safe, clean and reliable in Thailand. They offer a great way to reduce your impact on the environment and at the same time offer a great way to engage with the real Thailand.
  • There are many sleeper trains running from Bangkok to Chang Mai in the north as well to Surat Thani in the south (going as south as Malaysia) enabling you to travel overnight without loosing precious time.
  • Use minibus that runs on natural gas. In case you need to use a minibus push for one that runs on natural gas.
  • Thailand government is promoting alternative fuels like natural gas and ethanol to replace gasoline so every push in this direction from the tourist industry will be even more beneficial.

Choose the most eco-friendly accommodation:

  • Avoid big resorts. This type of resorts waste huge amount of energy in construction/running, produce huge amount of waste and exploit local workers. At the same time they reduce your possibility to interact with locals and see the real Thailand.
  • Big resort centers like Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui are starting to resemble more and more overcrowded western resort beaches with little left to remind you of Thailand.
  • Sleep in a Homestay. Homestay project are gaining popularity in Thailand. Basically you will sleep in a traditional family home sharing meals and activities with your hosting family. This is a great way to sample the traditional Thai life while at the same time benefit local communities.
  • Homestay are slowly gaining popularity and it’s now possible to find reliable ones in every region and landscape. From historical cities like Ayutthaya to south jewel islands like Koh Yao Noi.
  • Sleep in National Parks Accommodation. When visiting marine on land-based National Parks sleep in the accommodation offered by the Park authority. You can chose between comfortable bungalows and tents closer to nature. All the profit will be used to sustain and improve the National Park conservation.
  • Accommodation in the most famous parks like Koh Similan National Park and Mu Ko Phetra National Park gets sold out pretty quickly and so for last minute booking try to visit/sleep in less famous ones like Koh Tarutao National Park in the deep south or Khao Sok National Park close to Surat Thani and Phuket.

Extra activities: Hill Tribe Villages Tour

If you wish to include a Tour to Hill Tribe Villages in the north of the country while visiting Chang Mai, Chang Rai or Pai choose only local small scale tour operators and make sure you double check the tour operator commitment to the environment and the wellbeing of local communities.