A paradise of swaying palm trees, hospitable locals and some of the tastiest food imaginable. Here are our best tips on exploring The land of smiles in a sustainable way. Following the pandemic, we are thinking more about the implications of our travel choices. Before the pandemic tourism contributed to around 17% of Thailand's BNP and in 2020 it was down to less than 7%. Local communities are in need of economic recovery, the travel revolution is presenting new opportunities for rural areas as travellers become more open to exploring new ways of travelling and living.
More and more destinations are offering eco- and community-based tourism. One of them is Chang Thun, a small village in the lesser-visited Trat Province, where you can engage yourself in traditional practices and regional history while preserving the integrity of the local culture. The village’s residents run a number of activities, from trekking to weaving classes. All projects are owned and managed by community members, limiting the threat of exploitation, with income generated circulated back into the community to help preserve tradition. Also part of Trat province is Koh Phaluai, interact with the fishing community and witness the change brought about by solar power, and while you're there stop by Koh Chang for crystal clear scuba and snorkeling sites.
Rabeang Pasak Treehouse Resort outside Chiang Mai, is a tiny resort in the midst of a teakwood forest. Built from locally-sourced wood, the houses are in complete harmony with the surrounding forest and the owners help visitors make sustainable holiday choices by providing free bicycles to get around as well as vegetarian options for all meals. On your way there make sure to visit The Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary and rescue center for mistreated elephants nationwide that invites the public to learn about this endangered species and interact with them in a responsible way.
Deep in the jungle of Mae Wang you'll find the Thailand / Myanmar border, the inhabitants of this mountainous area are mostly Pwo Karen, and is home to the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, a Unesco world heritage site. Enjoy an immersive homestay to experience the matriarchal Karen way of life. The Pwo Karen have long been known for their elaborate weaving skills and colorful dress, made from cotton grown in the fields, dyed in traditional red, black and white, and adorned with traditional Pwo Karen elements such as silk, embroidery and seed appliquée. Also make sure to join a tour that allows you to collect vegetables and mushrooms to cook for your own meals. Hopefully you'll get the chance to try some “Talapaw”, a rice and meat porridge, or some "Da-poh-poh" rice with bamboo, pumpkin, and pork, seasoned with fresh herbs, onion and chili.
For our collection of textiles from Thailand, we partnered with Sop Moei Arts and the weaving women of the Pwo Karen. The Pwo Karen artisans craft handwoven cushion covers featuring textile traditions, such as playful pom-poms, which are prominent in Pwo Karen dress.
As always- explore responsibly, tread lightly.
The journey is the reward!
The journey is the reward!