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Thailand is an extremely popular tourist destination that is full of a huge number of wonderful and unforgettable experiences. Whether you want to live like a local, see the sights, relax on a beach or party hard, Thailand will have something for you. However, it is important to remember to ‘travel right’ when you visit these unique islands. From expensive hotels to elephant sanctuaries, there is a lot of darkness that may be hiding behind these dreamlike experiences. There are some phenomenal places that will benefit the locals, the wildlife and your experience, and the key to traveling right is to do it responsibly.
To help you get the best out of your trip in the kindest and most ethical way possible, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Getting up close and personal to Asian elephants is something that every Thai tourist wants to do. In Thailand, you will come across animal sanctuaries, parks or orphanages full of ‘domesticated’ wild animals that cannot be released into their natural habitat. While some of these sanctuaries are legit and take care of their animals properly, many will encompass a wide range of activities, from riding to circus-like shows, which involve cruel methods to ‘break’ the animals’ spirit. If you want to experience Thailand’s wildlife, you must research and avoid making incorrect assumptions about these parks.
Choosing your beach wisely is an important part of being a responsible traveler in Thailand. Many beaches have experienced damage from waste and development, to the point where many consider them to be unsavable. Thailand has an amazing coastline and 1400 islands, so there will many that remain completely natural and free from development.
You should also stay in sustainable and eco-friendly accommodation, so that you support and contribute towards the right businesses and keep them afloat. As well as this, remember to use resources carefully, as it is common for islands to have limited resources.
Unfortunately, poverty levels are high in Thailand. The high cost of living, alongside the shockingly low minimum wage, makes it hard for many workers to have a decent life. Workers’ rights aren’t always put in place and just because a hotel looks amazing, it does not mean that they are ethically or morally kind. The best thing you can do to support the local people is to leave tips for serving staff, drivers, chambermaids and porters, even in all-inclusive resorts. These small contributions may not seem like much, but they will make a big difference to how much they take home to their family.
In order to make things enjoyable and easier for you and the people you meet along the way, you’ll want to get immersed in the local culture. This includes learning the native language, which is Thai. You can learn the basics online, which will get you further than you think. The citizens will appreciate the effort and will instantly warm up to you, making it easier to make your way around the country. Developing cultural self-awareness and learning how to value and appreciate diverse views, but in an ethical way, is important when it comes to being a responsible traveler, as it shows others respect and gratitude.
Being vigilant and doing your research into an experience or accommodation facility beforehand is essential to getting the most out of your trip to Thailand in a responsible and ethical way. One person making the right decision may not seem like much, but if everyone followed their lead, then the dark trades would go out of business and cease to exist. When you travel right, you will be safer too.