Ecotourism Tourism is one of the main risk factors for the conservation of biodiversity and this is why the sector has the imperative to limit negative impacts on the ecosystem by taking up the strategic challenges that can be traced back across or globally towards sustainability policies. Ecotourism should not only be considered as a type or a particular form of vacation, but rather as an attitude or state of mind that should be adopted by all who visit places of particular natural beauty around the world.
In reality, ecotourism means showing total respect and maximum attention for flora and fauna. The Government of Thailand and its people are particularly pleased to welcome visitors with this view, especially when they are about to visit protected areas. Established as one of the world’s most rewarding destinations for eco-tourism, Thailand owes its popularity to the extraordinary variety of its natural attractions ranging from pristine islands and beaches to lush mountains and hills, from tropical jungle to rivers and waterfalls, and last but not least, its warm and blue sea. Indeed, there is no better way to appreciate sustainable tourism than to entertain and share activities with local people.
Learn about the natural environment and the animals that inhabit it, go to the market with the local population, cook, help in the fields, go fishing, being supportive in the entertainment of children are activities that enrich the spirit and experience of those who practice them, favor cultural exchanges and mutual knowledge. Thailand is the ideal country for this type of cultural immersion and provides all the ingredients – natural, cultural and ethnic – to deliver an unforgettable experience. The visitor can find in the parks the ideal place to spend a rewarding stay with an excellent quality / price ratio. It is in the parks, moreover, that tourism “is good” for the environment, supporting local communities and preserving ancient traditions while respecting biodiversity. Thus, transforming itself from a threat to an opportunity for growth and structural improvement.
Near natural and marine parks, local populations have been invited to actively participate in responsible tourism, showing them the benefits of preserving the environment rather than exploiting and degrading it. Mountain biking, rafting, walking & camping, bird watching, elephant trekking, night safaris, scuba diving and rock climbing are just some of the activities that can be easily organized in every region of the country, on your own or with the support of agencies. local travel agencies specializing in ecotourism and local authorities. The TAT, for example, promotes cycle-tourism activities in the most evocative places in the country, such as in the Sukhothai Historical Park.
Thailand is endowed with a lush rainforest, which stretches for 28, 5% of the territorial surface, hosting a very rich biodiversity. Most of the national parks, under the control of the Royal Forest Department, have numerous hiking trails for all nature lovers and campsites for those who want to stay overnight in protected areas. Trekking excursions can be organized in all mountain areas. Doi Luang Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai, Phu Soi Dao in Uttaradit, Thung Salaeng Luang in Phetchabun and Phitsanulok, Phu Kradung in Loei and Khao Luang in Nakhon Si Thammarat are just some of the places to explore.
The favorite activity of small groups of travelers is bird watching, which is becoming more and more popular. The Bird Preservation Society of Thailand helped promote public awareness of this activity. hosting a very rich biodiversity. Most of the national parks, under the control of the Royal Forest Department, have numerous hiking trails for all nature lovers and campsites for those who want to stay overnight in protected areas. Trekking excursions can be organized in all mountain areas. Doi Luang Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai, Phu Soi Dao in Uttaradit, Thung Salaeng Luang in Phetchabun and Phitsanulok, Phu Kradung in Loei and Khao Luang in Nakhon Si Thammarat are just some of the places to explore.
In the North of Thailand
The far north of Thailand is renowned for its intense natural beauty. An area of forested mountains, rivers, waterfalls, tropical jungle and fertile rice fields that offer countless opportunities for exciting and fun eco-tourism activities. The CBTI (Community-Based Tourism Institute), a non-governmental institute for sustainable development is among the supporters of a new type of tourism halfway between anthropological travel and ecotourism. It is called Community-Based Tourism (CBT), or “community-based tourism”. There are over 60 programs across the country, from the southern islands to the northern mountains and the Doi Inthanon park project is one of the most successful and interesting (www.royal-inthanon.com / www.thairoyalprojecttour.com).
The aim is to work with the locals, so that local community’s benefit from the positive effects of tourism: the profits remain with the community so that they can be used to preserve the places and improve their offer. The program also offers opportunities for many of the minorities, such as the Karen or the Hmong, for too long the area of the Golden Triangle has been subjected to the cultivation of drugs, then distributed to the rest of the world, a phenomenon that heavily altered the lives of the peasant populations. The decisive intervention of King Bhumibol Adulyadej made it possible to emancipate those lands from illicit trafficking with exceptional results. The uprooting of opium crops has led to the cultivation of new products that today also have a beneficial ecological impact: rice, flowers, vegetables and fruit. In this context, initiatives have been introduced to convey the growing tourist flows in a way that has less impact on the environment. Thus “community based” tours are more and more frequent in which tourists are hosted in native houses to be put in contact with the lives and rhythms of the locals, stimulating a cultural exchange that is based on participation.
Popular activities in Chiang Mai province include white water rafting, bamboo rafts, canoeing, kayaking, elephant trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing and bird watching. From Chiang Mai you can book excursions to the northern areas of the city, where you can discover rural realities that are managed with far-sighted attention. Thus “community based” tours are more and more frequent in which tourists are hosted in native houses to be put in contact with the lives and rhythms of the locals, stimulating a cultural exchange that is based on participation.
Mae Hong Son
Less touristy than other areas in the North, Mae Hong Son is a terrific alternative for those people looking for a place off the beaten track. Famous for its mountainous landscapes, waterfalls, caves and tribal villages, it is the ideal destination for trekking, small adventure trips and for lovers of landscapes dominated by wild hills at whose feet there are often immense valleys and suggestive. The province of Mae Hong Son, which is located west of Chiang Mai and borders the eastern flank of Myanmar, occupies an area of 12,681 square kilometers, characterized by breathtaking mountains crossed by hidden valleys, a true Paradise on Earth. Due to the conformation of the territory, Mae Hong Son is one of the most isolated provinces in Thailand and for this reason it retains its original identity. Hidden in its enchanting valley and surrounded by hills often shrouded in morning fog, this small town is one of the most enchanting places in the entire North. The predominantly Burmese-style temples, a picturesque lake, a privileged hilltop location, a bustling morning market offer a good opportunity for leisurely excursions, while the good choice of hotels make it a base for excursions to the surrounding territories.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is known above all by lovers of culture and ancient ruins. The Historical Park can be easily visited on bicycles. Sukhothai offers, however, alternative natural wonders worth exploring. Waterfalls, caves, mountains and a vast biodiversity can be admired in the two national parks, Satchanalai National Park and Ramkhamhaeng National Park. A philosophy with a green thinking is the one on which the Organic Agriculture Project is based: an experimental farm in Sukhothai, which applies international organic principles in crops. Pesticides, fertilizers and chemical additives, artificial colors and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are not used in the acres available to the project. Visitors are also involved in the cultivation of rice, protagonists at work in a fertile setting alongside the farmers. The abundance of these places has been known since the time of the first monarch Ramkhamhaeng (1279-1298) who described the region with the phrase: “This kingdom is good. In the water there are fish and in the fields there is rice ”. The farm’s products, which in addition to rice include legumes and fruit, are destined for various companies including the Sukhothai Heritage Resort. The visit of the fields includes the commitment to collecting activities as well as a visit to the museum on the property: here there are traditional tools and part of the ancient ruins of Sukhothai. The farm promotes a healthier lifestyle while respecting the environment and, for this reason,
In the North East of Thailand
The province of Loei, although little known as a tourist destination, offers many natural attractions, including numerous national parks. Each of these parks offers trekking routes even for several days at very affordable prices. Some eco-tourism activities can be practiced in Nong Khai, especially in the remote areas near the border with Laos. The Phu Wua Wildlife Sanctuary is located right along the border with Laos and is one of the most beautiful places in the province. The park is only 31km from the Bung Kan district boasts a rare natural heritage and truly formidable waterfalls.
Nakhon Ratchasima province, located in the southern part of the I-saan region, offers some of the wildest and most beautiful parts of the region as well as the best ecotourism offers in the country. Kao Yai National Park created in 1961 is considered by many to be among the most fascinating natural parks in the world. UNESCO World Heritage Site is located northeast of Bangkok. It consists of 542,000 hectares of forest, jungle and grassland and is spread over rolling hills. It is an area of magnificent natural beauty and, protected within its borders, we find bears, tigers, elephants, monkeys, deer and numerous species of birds and butterflies. Along the numerous trekking routes and low environmental impact itineraries, visitors have the opportunity to discover a wonderful variety of wild flora and fauna. Mountain biking has recently become a very popular means of transport among park guests, a different way to enjoy the beautiful nature. There is no shortage of sleeping options. PB Valley Winery Khao Yai Farm (http://www.khaoyaiwinery.com/) in addition to welcoming guests in some comfortable villas, has introduced an exciting new eco-tourism activity that promises to be fun for the whole family: in addition to the consolidated Wine Tasting Tours and the grape harvests, visitors can now also enjoy horseback tours around the vineyards and gardens of the park. There are also well-equipped guesthouses available to visitors with an incredible view of lush hills. Or you can sleep in the raised houses of the local families, clean and equipped, for those looking for direct contact.
East Coast and Koh Chang
The group of islands that form the archipelago of Koh Man, protected by the Khao Laem Ya / Samet National Marine Park, are home to unspoiled natural environments and the possibility of camping and organizing trekking. On the island of Man Nai is the Turtle Sanctuary while the islands of Man Klang and Man Nok have isolated beaches and very well-preserved coral reefs. Khao Wong National Park is home to many attractions, such as waterfalls, nature trails, more than 80 caves some of which are truly impressive, a campsite and a visitor center.
Located on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand (South China Sea), 310 km from Bangkok, Koh Chang is part of the Mu Ko Chang National Park, which includes 52 islands, of which it is the largest. With its 429 sq km it is, after Phuket, the largest island in Thailand. It is rich in green wild nature, marine flora and fauna. Its most beautiful beaches are found along the western side, while traveling from north to south there are generally more remote and less crowded beaches. At the southern end is the Diamond Sand, in the middle Hat Khlong Phrao and Hat Kai Bae. Further south there is an area animated by backpackers at Lonely Beach, or Hat Tha Nam, where it is possible to stay in characteristic lodgings placed in the trees.
Tourism on the island has grown in recent years thanks to its extraordinary natural beauty, the creation and consolidation of the existing infrastructures. More than 70% of the mountainous area is covered with virgin forest. There are numerous secluded beaches with the classic characteristics of a tropical island, white sand, palm trees, blue and warm sea. All this makes Koh Chang an ideal escape from the problems of the mainland. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, the island offers the opportunity to experience exciting adventures in the hinterland such as trekking in the virgin forest or riding elephants in the centuries-old jungle, inhabited by wild boars, Javanese mongooses, reptiles, small fallow deer and over 60 different species of birds.
Ban Salak Phet and Ban Rong Than – These are two fishing villages located southwest of Ko Chang. The remote Salak Phet has long served as shelter for boats during storms. Today the village is famous for its abundance of fresh fish and comfortable accommodation with local families, where tourists can best share local traditions. It is also possible to rent boats at a good price to explore the archipelago and snorkel. A charming resort in the south of the island, not far from Ao Salak Phet, Hat Sai Yao offers an extensive sandy beach, ideal for swimming. There is also a viewpoint overlooking the other islands, such as Ko Laoya and Ko Wai, and the fishing village of Ao Salak Phet.
West Coast – Krabi and Phang Nga
Few places in Thailand offer as much quantity and quality of agro and eco-tourism activities as in Krabi province. Sport climbing, kayaking, scuba diving, camping and hiking are practiced here to name just a few. In addition, the area offers the possibility of finding less touristy and quiet areas, cheap accommodation and landscapes that are among the most spectacular in the world. Ecotourism activities in Phang nga, for example, are numerous, especially for adventure lovers. Areas of fertile forests, mangrove jungle, gentle wooded hills, limestone stacks emerging from the warm sea water: legacy of the ancient coral reef dating back to 200 million years ago! Small paradisiacal islands bordered by white beaches characterize this area. We can organize trips, walks, camping.
For bird watchers we recommend the National Parks of Khao Lak / Lam Ru, Mu Ko Similan and Mu Ko Surin where it is possible to spot rare bird species.
For camping go to Phang nga Bay and Laem Prakarang, the latter is a lovely place with a peaceful beach fringed with pine trees. Laem Prakarang is also called “Coral Reef Cape” due to the number of dead corals transported from the sea to the beach. In Phang nga Bay it is possible to take part in boat (houseboat) excursions in the beautiful Andaman Sea, lasting one day or more. The boats are very comfortable, and the excursions include barbecues, drinking water, and safety equipment.
Elephant Trekking Elephant
trekking is one of the most popular activities in this area. In Tambon Sorngprak, between the cities of Phang nga and Amphoe Kapong, the Ton Pariwat Wildlife Preservation Center was born, which includes an area particularly rich in streams and waterfalls. Here, in addition to rafting, you can explore the lush nature and wildlife on the back of an elephant.
Hat Khao Lak Excursions is becoming more and more popular especially among European tourists who enjoy nature hikes. Numerous excursions are possible including trekking along the beaches between Khao Lak and Bang Sak. Some paths lead to abandoned beaches where you can enjoy wonderful and reserved moments. It is also possible to travel along the paths by bicycle. Other wonderful treks can be organized in addition to Khao Lak / Lam Ru National Park, Koh Miang in Similan Islands National Park, Mu Koh Surin National Park and Sa Nang Manora Forest Park.
The 7 Greens
Over the past 30 years Thailand has made great efforts to preserve its wonderful territory. The Kingdom is suffering from the rapid environmental degradation to which it is subjected, caused by the recent prosperity of the country and its established popularity as a tourist destination. A change has been taking place for some years in the Thai tourism sector. This change, although not yet visible in all areas of the country, is called Eco-Sustainable Tourism and is based on the concept of the “Seven Greens” which are:
- Green Hearts: to urge visitors to protect and preserve all the places they visit.
- Green Logistics: for the development of transport related to tourism that respect the environment more, thus minimizing the impact on ecosystems.
- Green Destinations: to promote ecological tourist sites.
- Green Communities: to support eco-sustainable communities whose purpose is the conservation of the environment, local traditions and traditional lifestyles.
- Green Activities: to promote tourism-related activities that do not damage the life of local communities and the integrity of the surrounding environment.
- Green Service: to encourage all tourism companies to achieve high quality standards in total respect for the environment.
- Green [Plus] +: to encourage Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among operators, encouraging them to actively cooperate with the local communities in which they operate. For example, avoiding taking any action that could cause damage to the environment, actively participating in the various initiatives in the area in support of tour operators, developing renewable energy and products that preserve the environment.