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Sustainable Tourism in Thailand – Full Eco Information

Thailand, the Land of Smiles, has firmly cemented itself as one of the vital standard vacationer locations on the planet.

With 39 million folks visiting the Southeast Asian nation in 2019, the phrase is nicely and really out on simply how magical Thailand actually is.

The worldwide tourism trade in Thailand actually began again within the Seventies, when travellers made their means right here alongside the previous ‘Hippie Path’ from England.

This paradise was their reward after months of robust overlanding, with swaying palm bushes, white-sand seashores, hospitable locals, and a few of the tastiest meals possible.

Right this moment the magic remains to be alive and nicely in Thailand, and with so many unimaginable locations to go to, it’s the type of place you may go to repeatedly and at all times uncover one thing new.

Locals welcome vacationers with open arms, excited to indicate their native tradition and customs to guests and to enhance their very own livelihoods by means of companies that cater to worldwide travellers.

The impacts of the tourism trade on Thailand haven’t at all times been optimistic although, and with the rising variety of folks coming yearly, there was quite a few points come up.

As a accountable traveller, it’s necessary for us all to do our half to guard the international locations we go to, together with the surroundings, tradition, area people, and wildlife.

READ MORE: Don’t miss our complete information to sustainable tourism.

Sustainable Tourism in Thailand – The Final Information

We’ve been lucky sufficient to spend nearly a whole yr travelling and residing in Thailand, and it’s actually one in every of our favorite international locations on the planet.

As a part of our travels we’ve seen the very best, and worst, of vacationer behaviour and impacts right here, which is why we’ve got revealed this information.

We’re huge advocates for sustainable tourism, and we’re happy to see it’s not only a international development, however a motion that even the Thai authorities is taking very significantly.

Earlier than you resolve to journey to the Land of Smiles, ensure you learn up on the following pointers and concepts on methods to journey to Thailand responsibly.

Girl Walking Down Pier
We’ll train you all of the methods to journey to Thailand responsibly.

The Thai Authorities’s Personal Initiatives

Lately, the Thai authorities has seen the impacts of tourism, each optimistic and unfavorable, and has taken a agency stance to enhance sustainability all through the Kingdom.

It’s uplifting to see a authorities take what might look like drastic measures to guard their very own surroundings and native tradition, they usually have turn out to be an instance to different Asian nations on how sustainable tourism can actually be helpful.

To learn extra about this, you should definitely try their devoted web site, 7 Greens.

Listed below are some examples of what they’ve accomplished lately.

Closing Widespread Vacationer Locations

Yearly the Division of Nationwide Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation takes excessive measures to guard essentially the most heavily-visited areas of the nation by closing them to vacationers.

The largest instance of this when Thailand closed Maya Bay, the island near Koh Phi Phi, which was made well-known when featured within the film The Seashore.

Maya Bay Crowds
Unsustainable crowds in Maya Bay. This island is now closed off to guests to permit the seashores to rejuvenate.

Through the years Maya Bay turned a sufferer of its personal magnificence, with hundreds of thousands of vacationers flocking into the slender cove.

The massive numbers of individuals resulted in extreme harm to the ecosystem, with marine life disappearing, waters turning into polluted and trash piling up.

The federal government closed entry to the island in June 2018, citing the necessity for it to get better.

They’re doing comparable issues to different standard locations, usually throughout the wet season when the surroundings is at its most fragile, and are seeing wonderful outcomes.

No Smoking

On a few of the hottest seashores in Thailand, the federal government has utterly banned smoking.

They noticed the harm cigarettes have been doing, with vacationers and locals leaving their butts on the bottom, and the smoke inflicting well being points, and determined to take away the issue utterly.

This ban is in impact in Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi, Trang, Samui, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Chon Buri, Rayong and Trat.

‘No Foam No Plastic’

The opposite huge initiative that the Thai authorities and native companies have launched as of August 2018 is banning single-use plastics from all 154 nationwide and regional parks across the nation.

And in 2020 Thailand took it a step additional by banning single-use plastic luggage, with an purpose to have these utterly eradicated from all shops by 2021.

Koh Muk Beach
The Thai authorities and native companies are dedicated to maintaining plastics out of the ocean.

Ecotourism in Thailand

What’s ecotourism? It’s outlined as: “tourism directed in the direction of unique, usually threatened, pure environments, supposed to help conservation efforts and observe wildlife.”

The idea of ecotourism in Thailand isn’t new, however it was at all times extra of a distinct segment providing in comparison with the standard resort-style journey that many guests would do.

Right this moment it’s a completely different story although, and increasingly companies are incorporating ecotourism practices into their merchandise.

You could find a wide range of conservation tasks in Thailand, centered on sustainable journey and surroundings and wildlife safety.

Setting Conservation Tasks

Listed below are a few of our favorite conservation tasks specializing in sustainable journey and the surroundings:

New Heaven Reef Conservation

Based mostly on the spectacular island of Koh Tao, the New Heaven Reef Conservation, this organisation runs marine-specific programs and tasks to guard and examine the underwater world within the Gulf of Thailand.

Trash Hero

Trash Hero is an initiative that has gone international however was began proper in Bangkok.

In line with their web site, “TRASH HERO is an lively, volunteer-led motion that drives change inside communities all over the world, motivating and supporting them to wash and stop plastic waste.”

So subsequent time you’re in Bangkok, get in contact with them and be part of the crew for a waste clean-up.

Wildlife Conservation Tasks

We’ll go into the wildlife actions additional under within the article, however there are some wonderful wildlife conservation tasks that you would be able to help when practising sustainable journey in Thailand.

Elephant Nature Park

By far the very best elephant sanctuary and conservation challenge in Thailand, Elephant Nature Park has been dedicated to defending elephants since 1998.

Based in Chiang Mai by the unimaginable Thai girl, Lek, ENP now has quite a few tasks across the nation, in addition to in Cambodia and shortly Myanmar.

You may go to Elephant Nature Park for a day, and even volunteer for as much as a month.

The Soi Canine Basis

The Soi Canine Basis has made it their mission to guard the hundreds of stray canines which are discovered throughout Thailand and to finish the canine meat commerce in Southeast Asia.

You may assist out by donating to their trigger, or volunteering when in Bangkok or Phuket.

Soi Dog Foundation
The Soi Canine Basis does the whole lot they’ll to guard these lovely animals.
The Gibbon Undertaking, Phuket

The Gibbon Undertaking is a incredible conservation initiative that may be discovered within the standard resort city of Phuket.

The challenge rescues and rehabilitates these beautiful, but endangered, monkeys after which reintroduces them into protected pure habitats.

You may go to their facility in Phuket in case you e book forward.

Wildlife Actions

Thailand is dwelling to quite a few spectacular wildlife species, which many vacationers naturally wish to see after they journey to the nation.

Basically, one of the best ways to remain accountable relating to travelling in Thailand is to not participate in any exercise that exploits wildlife.


Maybe the principle animal folks want to see in Thailand is an elephant.

These lovely, clever, and massive creatures stay deep within the jungles of Thailand and have been part of native tradition for hundreds of years.

However do you know there may be an estimated 3800 captive elephants in Thailand, with maybe lower than 1000 within the wild? (supply)

One standard exercise is to trip an elephant in Thailand, nevertheless, that is really a really irresponsible factor to do for quite a few causes.

  • An elephant, whereas very robust, has not advanced to hold weight on its again.
  • The method of ‘breaking’ an elephant to ensure that it to be secure round vacationers is extraordinarily distressing.
  • Elephants used for using are sometimes overworked and malnourished with a view to maximise their revenue margin.

This can be very necessary that you just by no means trip an elephant, irrespective of how a lot you suppose it might be ‘enjoyable’ or ‘cool’, and by no means go to an elephant present the place they’re pressured to carry out methods.

As a substitute, it’s far more healthful to go to a good elephant sanctuary the place the animals have been rescued and positioned in a protected pure surroundings to stay out their lives the best way they have been meant to.

Spending time round an elephant is an expertise you’ll always remember, and is one thing you completely ought to do whereas visiting Thailand, however please accomplish that in an moral and accountable means.

We extremely advocate the next sanctuaries:

  • Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
  • Surin Undertaking in Surin
  • Elephant Haven in Kanchanaburi
Elephant Nature Park
One of many wonderful elephants at Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.


One other standard attraction for first-time guests to Thailand are the ‘Tiger Temples’ that supply the possibility to rise up shut and private with a tiger.

As tempting as it’s to get your selfie with a tiger, the reality is that what occurs behind the scenes at these locations doesn’t at all times have the tigers’ greatest pursuits at coronary heart.

A tiger sanctuary in Kanchanaburi was raided in 2016 on account of suspected trafficking and unlawful breeding, and the Thai authorities finally seized all of the animals that have been on the property. (supply)

So the place are you able to see a tiger in Thailand?

The World Wildlife Fund estimated that there are solely 189 tigers within the wild (supply), so sadly the possibility of seeing one within the wild may be very slim.

It’s not all unhealthy information although. Tigers have not too long ago been caught on monitoring cameras within the far north of the nation, exhibiting that they’re beginning to make a comeback because of the Thai authorities’s restrictions on poaching and unlawful logging.

There are at present no moral tiger sanctuaries in Thailand.


There are 5 various kinds of monkeys in Thailand, and you will see them in every single place.

For those who head to the south of the nation they’re extraordinarily outstanding across the islands, particularly in locations like Krabi.

Seeing them is at all times fairly thrilling, nevertheless, similar to elephants, many macaques in Thailand have been captured and compelled to carry out methods and exhibits for vacationers.

Don’t help these exhibits, and as a substitute hope to see some monkeys within the wild.

READ MORE: Remember to learn our complete information to travelling Thailand right here.

Eco-friendly Lodging in Thailand

Thailand has each fashion of lodging you can ever think about, from world-class 5-star resorts to fundamental bamboo shacks.

On the subject of selecting the extent of luxurious you need, the restrict actually is simply your pockets.

Nevertheless, on an eco degree, the 5-star resort could be worse than the bamboo shack relating to taking care of the surroundings.

This may be for quite a few causes, whether or not it is because of overtourism, giant resorts not with the ability to management their environmental footprint correctly, or placing an emphasis on income.

And the bigger the resort, the bigger the influence. That’s why it’s necessary to search for eco-friendly lodging if you observe sustainable journey in Thailand.

So what makes a resort or guesthouse eco-friendly?

We wrote a devoted put up on how to decide on sustainable lodging right here, however allow us to give the principle pointers once more.

That is what a resort can do to attempt to focus extra on sustainable journey:

  • Limiting power consumption
  • Limiting water consumption
  • Decreasing waste manufacturing
  • Utilizing renewable power
  • Selling environmental schooling
  • Contributing income to inexperienced charities
  • Utilizing recycled and locally-sourced merchandise

It appears fairly simple, and in all probability, you’re in all probability doing a variety of these items in your personal dwelling as nicely.

However relating to the resort trade, it’s straightforward to do what is named ‘greenwashing’, the place they declare to be eco-friendly by doing just a few issues like telling friends to look at their water use, however then don’t do the rest on their finish.

We advocate you give the article above a great learn to get a greater concept of this, however for now allow us to showcase a few of the greatest eco-friendly lodges in Thailand.

Eco-Friendly Bamboo Raft House
All the time strive to decide on eco-friendly lodging when travelling in Thailand.

Bangkok Tree Home

Situated in a literal jungle deep within the city jungle of Bangkok, the Bangkok Tree Home is one instance of an lodging that isn’t solely doing their half to guard the surroundings, but in addition offering a novel expertise for his or her friends.

Their ‘nests’ stay excessive within the cover, and also you’re positive to fall in love with what they’ve constructed.

Bangkok Tree Home can also be absolutely dedicated to being inexperienced, they usually’ve minimised their carbon footprint in each means potential.

In addition they use vertical gardens to develop their meals and greens, and recycle or reuse all of their supplies.

Soneva Kiri – Koh Kood

The island of Koh Kood is the go-to vacation spot for lovers of luxurious, and the swaying palm bushes over powder sand seashores is an actual drawcard.

For those who do go to, we advocate staying at the number one eco-resort on the island – Soneva Kiri.

That is the one place the place you may splurge out for an unparalleled expertise (every villa comes with personal infinity swimming pools and a private butler), realizing that your cash is supporting community-based tourism and defending the surroundings.

Soneva Kiri places their income in the direction of coral restoration tasks and supporting native communities, elevating near $6 million for folks in want.

They’re additionally utterly carbon pure and a pillar of sustainable journey.

Rabeang Pasak Treehouse Resort – Chiang Mai

For those who’re travelling on a finances however nonetheless wish to do what you may to help sustainable journey and ecotourism in Thailand, it’s price trying out Rabeang Pasak Treehouse Resort in Chiang Mai.

The property is made up of sustainably-built treehouses simply exterior of the town, set in a shocking forest panorama with a concentrate on minimising their footprint.

The eco pleasant services are fundamental, however you’ll fall in love with the straightforward way of life surrounded by the sound of nature.

Tradition and Customs – Respecting the Locals

Chances are you’ll really feel that sustainable tourism is all about defending the surroundings and wildlife, however there may be one other ingredient that must be thought of – the human ingredient.

One of many huge rewards of travelling the world is having the possibility to find out about new cultures, and in Thailand, the tradition is likely one of the most fascinating you may encounter.

The predominantly-Buddhist nation is constructed on the ethos of kindness, hospitality and respect, and as quickly as you contact down right here for the primary time you’ll know precisely what we imply.

Smiling Thai Locals
The most effective recollections you’ll have from travelling round Thailand is the smiling locals.

Individuals bow (often known as wai) to greet to one another with a heat “Sa wa dee”, they usually end every sentence with “ka” or “krup”, relying on whether or not they’re addressing a male or feminine, as an indication of courtesy and respect.

A go to to a Buddhist temple additionally provides a novel perception into the beliefs of the Thai folks, and probably the greatest issues you are able to do is just sit and watch as they pray and make their choices to get a greater understanding into what Buddhism is about.

It’s necessary to open your coronary heart and thoughts to those native customs if you journey to Thailand.

Issues could also be completely different to what you’re used to at dwelling, however isn’t that the enjoyment of travelling?

There are a variety of distinctive customs that Thai folks have that it’s best to take into accout and respect when visiting the nation.

Right here’s a breakdown of an important ones.

All the time Present Respect to the King

The King of Thailand is essentially the most revered individual within the nation, and Thai folks love him dearly.

Don’t present any disrespect in the direction of him or the Royal Household (in actual fact it’s in opposition to the regulation to take action) by speaking negatively about them.

Something with their likeness on it’s also thought of necessary, such because the native cash that has the King’s portrait printed on it, so watch out to not trigger any harm to this.

For instance, in case you drop a word, don’t step on it along with your toes to cease it from blowing away, as that is thought of disrespectful. As a substitute, decide it up along with your hand.

Do Not Flip Your Again In the direction of Buddha

When visiting a Buddhist temple, at all times face the Buddha and don’t flip your again in the direction of him.

The correct solution to exit a temple is to stroll backwards to the door, flip on the final minute.

Thai Monk Walking
Thailand has a captivating tradition.

Watch The place You Level Your Ft

The toes, being the bottom a part of the physique, are thought of to be soiled, and as such ensure you by no means level your toes in the direction of any individual on goal.

That’s the reason Thais have a tendency to sit down on their toes or cross their legs, moderately than sitting with their toes unfold out in entrance of them – to verify they don’t level them at one other individual, or Buddha.

Do Not Contact a Individual’s Head

The other of the toes, an individual’s head is taken into account to be an important a part of the physique, and it’s disrespectful to the touch any individual’s head.

Present Respect to the Monks

If you see a Buddhist monk, whether or not it’s in a temple or out in public, at all times present respect to them.

Methods you are able to do this are to bow after they stroll previous, attempt to hold your head degree under theirs (keep in mind, it’s an important a part of the physique), and giving up your seat for them.

Gown Modestly

Thai persons are very modest and will be considerably conservative. So it’s best to ensure you at all times gown appropriately.

For instance, if you’re on the seashore it’s alright to put on swimwear, however if you go away the seashore ensure you cowl up.

Don’t put on a bikini or no shirt right into a retailer or restaurant, and don’t stroll round city exhibiting extra pores and skin, as this may occasionally make some locals really feel uncomfortable.

As a great rule of thumb, go searching at what the locals are carrying. In the event that they’re not in a bikini, you shouldn’t be both, irrespective of how sizzling it’s.

Cowl-Up in Temples

As an extension of dressing modestly, in case you are coming into a temple, ensure you put on applicable clothes.

This contains masking your shoulders (girls can normally get a sarong on the door to take action).

Do Not Elevate Your Voice

Thai folks hate confrontation and elevating your voice and yelling is likely one of the most disrespectful issues you are able to do.

Even in case you’re feeling annoyed at an absence of communication, or really feel as if it’s possible you’ll be getting taken benefit of in a transaction, hold your cool and converse in a traditional tone.

You’ll obtain nothing by screaming at any individual, and you’ll lose all respect.

All the time be well mannered, and the locals would be the identical to you.

Attempt to Study a Few Thai Phrases

The Thai language is notoriously troublesome to study for English-speakers, and no person expects you to turn out to be fluent in Thai throughout a vacation.

However locals will likely be very appreciative in case you at the very least put somewhat little bit of effort into talking their very own tongue.

Simply decide up the fundamentals, akin to hey, thanks, how a lot, goodbye, and maybe attempt to rely to 10.

Barter, however Don’t be Excessive

If you’re searching for souvenirs in a market, it’s regular to barter, however don’t go excessive and attempt to negotiate a particularly low-cost value.

You would possibly suppose it’s a recreation, however keep in mind that the native must make a residing too, and some {dollars} right here and there’ll assist them out much more than it should you.

Thai Monks Giving Alms
All the time present respect to everyone in Thailand.

Unethical Points of interest Involving Individuals

On an moral degree, there are a variety of vacationer actions and sights that exploit the fantastic native folks of Thailand.

As a basic rule of thumb, be very cautious about becoming a member of any low-cost tour that entails a go to to a minority tribe, entails kids, and sexual exploitation sights such because the notorious Ping Pong Exhibits of Phuket and Bangkok.

These are a few of the most necessary ones to keep away from.

Lengthy-Neck Tribes

Within the north of Thailand, the well-known long-neck tribes from the Karen and Kayan ethnic minority communities have been a novel instance of the place a convention has been exploited for vacationer causes.

Many travellers wish to come to those distant villages to see the observe of ladies placing rings round their necks to elongate them.

However what few folks realise is that this custom causes excessive well being issues.

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In actual fact, many of those communities have expressed a need to cease placing themselves by means of such a problematic modification of their our bodies, however there may be one purpose to proceed it – vacationer {dollars}.

If it wasn’t for worldwide vacationers spending cash to go to their tribes, they’d cease the observe and return to their regular lives.

One other situation is that a lot of the cash from these hill tribe excursions don’t really go to the native communities. As a substitute they’re saved by the operators, and the villages make their cash by making an attempt to promote handicrafts.


Through the years the idea of ‘voluntourism’ has turn out to be standard for a lot of guests who want to give again to the communities they’re visiting.

Whereas it is a noble concept, and for essentially the most half folks’s hearts are in the suitable place, there are points with this kind of tourism.

The largest concern is relating to visiting orphanages.

Sadly there are a variety of youngsters who’ve been orphaned in Thailand, and it’s solely regular to wish to assist them.

However except you’ve got expertise with youngster care in these actual environments and are planning to remain for a very long time, a day journey to an orphanage isn’t one of the best ways to do that.

As a substitute one of the best ways to assist is to donate cash and provides by means of respected charities.

Koh Mook Boys Smiling
Smiling boys trip a moto-taxi in Koh Mook.

Defending the Setting

Thailand actually is likely one of the most lovely international locations on the planet, and it has nearly each kind of panorama you can want for.

If you resolve to go to, it’s necessary to minimise your footprint and defend this spectacular surroundings.

Listed below are the very best methods to just do that.

Minimise Your Plastic Use

Whereas Thailand is taking steps to take away all single-use plastics by 2021, you are able to do your half as nicely by bringing your personal reusable gadgets.

Be sure to add these to your Thailand packing record:

  • A reusable water bottle. Not solely are you able to normally refill these from giant jugs at your lodging, Thailand additionally has reverse osmosis machines on nearly each metropolis block so you may get consuming water for as little as 1THB per litre.
  • A carry bag. Don’t take a plastic bag if you store, and as a substitute carry your personal fabric one.
  • Steel cutlery. You’ll most definitely be consuming a variety of scrumptious meals in your journey, however don’t simply at all times seize the plastic cutlery out there. Throw your personal in your bag and save on waste.

Do Not Litter

This one is fairly self-explanatory, however you’d be amazed at what number of vacationers we’ve personally seen throw their garbage on the bottom or off the facet of a ship.

Below no circumstance do you have to ditch your garbage wherever however in a bin.

Regardless of how a lot of an inconvenience it’s to hold till you discover one, don’t contribute to polluting the earth by being careless.

Take Public Transport The place Attainable

Carbon emissions from airplanes and automobiles are fairly excessive all over the world, however you may minimise your personal carbon footprint just a few alternative ways.

To start with, don’t take any extra flights than you completely need to. For instance, moderately than flying from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, why not take the prepare?

Second, at all times go for public transport the place potential. Take a public ferry or songthaew as a substitute of renting a personal boat or automobile.

Third, and even higher for the surroundings, stroll or hire a bicycle to get round.

Oceans and Marine Parks

Take further care when spending time within the gorgeous Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand.

Plastic and trash usually leads to the oceans, killing marine life and polluting the ocean for future generations.

Additionally attempt to keep away from any overcrowding of standard locations. The very last thing we’d like is one other Maya Bay disaster.

Another methods you may defend the oceans are to by no means contact sea life or coral.

This contains standing on reefs when snorkelling or swimming, and never accumulating souvenirs from the ocean.

Kanchanaburi Raft Houses
Thailand is gorgeous. Let’s do the whole lot we will to maintain it that means.

Avoiding Overtourism

Overtourism is the place the quantity of holiday makers a spot receives reaches a degree that’s not sustainable from an environmental or societal viewpoint.

We’ve dived deeper into overtourism and methods you may fight this in this detailed information, however we’d like to present some concepts right here on how this is applicable particularly to Thailand.

Journey Off the Overwhelmed Path

Somewhat than spending all of your time in the most well-liked locations in Thailand, take into account visiting locations that fewer vacationers get to.

For instance, Chiang Mai is totally unimaginable and undoubtedly deserves just a few days to discover, however if you’re completed right here you may go to the lesser-visited Mae Hong Son.

Down within the south get out of Phuket and take a look at Trang or Koh Mook as a substitute.

The advantages of getting off the crushed path is that you just’ll have the possibility to spend time in locations that not as many worldwide vacationers see, and also you’ll unfold your vacationer greenback to communities that basically want it.

Lastly in our sustainable tourism in Thailand information, we are going to contact on the idea of area people primarily based tourism.

Area people primarily based tourism is the place a customer spends time in an area village and spends their cash instantly with distributors and small companies moderately than huge operators or corporations.

This easy mindset and motion when travelling can have super advantages for a area people and economic system, and in a rustic like Thailand it is vitally straightforward to do.

Identical to getting off the crushed path, we advocate you go to locations that don’t see as many vacationers and reserving lodging and actions instantly with companies.

You may spend the evening in native guesthouses or eat at native eating places to assist inject your cash instantly into the native communities. There are numerous methods to strive area people primarily based tourism!

Happy Couple Koh Mook
Help the local people if you journey.



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