As you may know, Thailand ecosystem is in danger since over tourism and global warming are thriving. It is our duty to protect the fauna, flora and local community while helping you to discover Thailand’s minors’ destinations.
But first, what is a responsible tra5?
According to Global Sustainable Tourism Council, it refers to “the behavior of travelers aspiring to make choices on their trip according to sustainable tourism practices”. To put it simply, it is when, as a traveler, you decide to choose a sustainable travel agency which offers sustainable products. You are conscious that your trip will make positive and negative impacts in your destination. Our company offers a range of sustainable products such as homestay experience, where the community created the whole product and will perceive most of the income. Also, we are part of Thai Responsible Tourism Association, SET Social Impact and finalist of Mekong Destination. Choosing our product produce good impact to the community and its way of life.
Great ! You achieved the first step. Now, what should I do as a traveler ?
STEP 1: GET TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THAILAND
Many people think that being responsible means booking a green certified hotel with green activity. Actually, they are not wrong, but they are not totally right. They lost one of the most important parts: the philosophy. When you travel to another country, learn about the history, the customs, their culture… This way, you will be able to blend and connect more with the local people.
Knowing where you are going to stay, what to see and the transport options (bus, train or even bike) will help you having a first “experience” of Thailand. The more you learn about Thailand, the more you will live (be active) and not participate (taking pictures just for the sake of it) in your trip.
STEP 2: LEARN THE LANGUAGE AND MANNERS
Before coming, learn a few words that will make your conversation partner smile.
Hello -> Sawasdee kha (for women) // Sawasdee khap (for men).
Thank you -> Khop Khun Kha (for women) // Khop Khun Khap (for men).
How are you ? -> Sabai Dee Mai ?
I am well, thank you -> Sabai dee, khop khun kha (for women) / Sabai dee, khop khun khap (for men).
Yes / No -> Chai / Mai Chai
Bring a little Thaï phrasebook in your language, to be fully immersed during your trip.
2.1 Good manners
- Thai wai -> it is a slight bow with arms pressed together as done while praying. People perform a wai when they say Khop Khun (thank you) or Sawasdee (hello).
- To call a taxi/bus, extend your arms around 45 degrees from your body and wave your hand a few times while looking at the bus or taxi.
- If you want to show something, use your right hand only.
- Always ask before taking a picture.
2.2 Bad manners
- Do not point things with your feet as it is considered very rude. Thai people consider feet as something dirty.
- Do not use chopsticks, spoons, or forks to point at people.
- Do not speak while eating or chew/slurp to loudly.
- Do not touch or pass anything over anyone’s head. Thai considers the head as sacred.
STEP 3: PARTICIPATE IN THE LOCAL ECONOMY
You are now in Thailand. All these foods, monuments and activities are waiting for you. Every time it is possible, choose local over international brand/products/services. During your stay, buy local products and services such as artisans, locally owned businesses, and local guides.
When buying a product, you can bargain. It’s a must do in Thailand. But be aware, that keeping down the price too much could lead to a negative impact on the vendors’ livehoods. What you must remember is that you can bargain (only in markets !) but know the limits. Don’t do aggressive bargaining.
Tips we can give you is to select a product and shop around to see the different prices. Then, see those prices in your currency. If you are happy about it, then buy it. Know that the real price is 30-40% below than what they propose. If you need more information about it, you can ask your hotel, or even better a local !
Keep your eyes open, when suspicious, always ask about goods origin and avoid buying product made from threatened natural resources.
Another must do is giving tips. As a tourist, it is normal to tip your drivers and other persons who helped you during your stay. Attention, we do not say that is mandatory, but when you are satisfied about a service, tip it if you want.
Last one is Tuktuk, which is THE transportation that every tourist wants to take pictures with. Be aware of the scams where, during the driving, they will kindly ask you to stop at a gem shop. They will promise that you are not forced to buy anything and can leave the shop after wandering a few minutes. This situation will lead you to either lose time or lose some money for worthless products.
STEP 4: RESPECT THE ENVIRONEMENT
Thailand is known for its environment and the incredible possibility of relaxation and discovery to tourists. Even though you are here for a short time, be aware of your resources’ consumption. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Depends on your accommodation, disposing your garbage, minimizing your water and energy consumption, will benefit to the country. For example, take a shower instead of a bath. Do not let the air conditioning running, while you are away. Switch off the light, if you are no longer in the room.
Want to be thanked by the ocean ? Buy a coral friendly sunscreen. It is pricier than regular sunscreen, but it will not harm the coral reefs and protect your skin.
Also, something that we don’t discuss enough is the plastique usage. In Thailand, everything is wrapped into a plastic. You will certainly encounter absurd situation where each single banana is wrapped into a plastic. During your shopping in the local market, try to use your backpack as much as possible and reusable bag as well.
As you will go deeper into your journey, you will surely visit a national park and/or a local village. You are supposed to bring back with you, every piece of waste you created. Bring a special bag during your visit to collect your waste. This way, you will not disrupt the fragile ecosystems and help the nature and/or the community to preserve their environment. Plus, respect all the rules they will give. If there is a trail to follow, don’t be Indiana Jones and respect it. Trails are here to protect the wildlife and the humans as well.
Another responsible behavior is reusable water bottle. As we all want to drastically reduce the usage of plastic, reusable water bottle is a long-term solution. When you know that a plastic bottle takes hundreds of years to decompose itself, threat the environment and marine life; buying a plastic is doing more damage than anything.
STEP 5: DISTRIBUTE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
There are many advantages to become a responsible travel.
As a tourist, you always show pictures and share the most memorable memory to your friends and family. A responsible traveler will do the same but with more information about the rules to follow and the impact of its trip. For example, you can emphasize the fact that despite applying sustainable travel “rules”, you were able to live a wonderful trip. That, sometimes, choosing a sustainable travel company is costing the same than a regular one. Compared to a regular travel, you had, indeed, more connection to the local people and was able to fully immerse you. Overall, you obtain a richer holiday experience
Being a responsible travel is having common sense. Be aware of your surrounding and open your heart to the Land of Smile. Take it easy and remember that your journey is here to open yourself more to the others. There is a wise sentence from Hans Christian Andersen. It says “Traveling is living”.