5 Thailand Destinations Ecotourists Will Love

| July 28, 2019

People travel for a variety of reasons, like soul searching, having an adventure, escaping stress or heartbreak, or simply relaxing and rejuvenating. In addition, traveling has become more accessible and affordable in recent years. Thus, more and more people are finding reasons to hop on boats, buses, trains, and planes to visit new places.

These days, another big reason for traveling is ecotourism. In simple terms, ecotourism involves visiting natural environments, which are often pristine, exotic, or threatened. The goal is to support conservation efforts for these areas and draw focus to more sustainable tourism.

In Thailand, there are plenty of destinations for ecotourism. One of the most popular is Kaeng Krachan National Park, which is the biggest national park in Thailand. It’s famous for its large number of butterflies and birds, with about 300 and 420 species, respectively. There are many other Thai ecotourism destinations besides, and in this guide, we’ll introduce you to some of them.

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Kui Buri National Park

The elephant is Thailand’s national symbol. If you want to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat, you can visit Kui Buri National Park. It’s considered the best place to see elephants in Thailand, with a 99% chance of sighting all year. Apart from elephants, you can also see gaurs, golden jackals, deer, Burmese hares, and wild boars in the park. Rarer species include white-handed gibbons, leopards, and Asiatic wild dogs. Kui Buri National Park is also home to some common species of birds like the Asian openbill, Indian roller, crested fireback, and cattle egret. It’s worth noting that the park doesn’t have as many animals compared to Kaeng Krachan National Park. However, if you’re new to ecotourism, it’s a lot easier to spot animals at Kui Buri because of the large and accessible open areas.

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Koh Larn Island

Koh Larn Island or simply Koh Larn (or Ko Lan, เกาะ ล้าน) is a small island about 7.5 kilometers off the coast of Pattaya. It’s covered with low tropical forests and has six main beaches for tourists to visit: Samae, Tawaen, Tien, Nual, Tonglang, and Tayaiy. Most beginners will love Tawaen Beach due to its gradual slope and swimming areas that are separated from boating routes.

A popular activity for ecotourists here is the sea walk, wherein you’ll be submerged in the water about 15 feet deep while wearing a helmet to supply you with air. You can walk on the ocean floor to get up close and personal with various species of fish and other sea creatures. If you’re not prepared for a sea walk, you can also snorkel and swim with colorful fish.

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Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park, located in Chiang Mai province, is also known as “The Roof of Thailand.” It is named after King Inthawichayanon, who wanted to preserve the forests in northern Thailand. The park is famous for its many waterfalls like Mae Ya, Mae Klang, Siri Than, and Mae Pan. In addition, because it’s part of the Himalayas, you can also catch spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset at Doi Inthanon.

Another popular activity at Doi Inthanon National Park is birdwatching. There are currently 362 recorded bird species in the park. This number is second only to Kaeng Krachan. Some of these bird species include green-tailed sunbirds, ashy-throated warblers, maroon orioles, bar-throated minla, and speckled wood pigeons. The best time to visit is around March to July, when the birds are migrating to and breeding in the area.

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Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Khao Sam Roi Yot is Thailand’s first marine national park. Its name means “the mountain with three hundred peaks,” in reference to the limestone hills in the park. Moreover, about 37% of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is covered by freshwater marshes. This makes the park the largest wetland area in the country.

Among the most popular attractions in Khao Sam Roi Yot are Phraya Nakhon Cave with its huge open chambers, and Thung Sam Roi Yot Marsh with its mangrove forests teeming with wildlife. There are also beaches in this national park, as well as picturesque limestone islands and trekking trails. Birdwatchers will also love Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park since it is home to about 300 local and migratory avian species. Here, you can see Malayan plovers, white-bellied sea eagles, eastern marsh harriers, and purple swamphens, among many other bird species. If you want to see waterbirds, visit between the months of January and February.

There are also some mammalian residents in Khao Sam Roi Yot, although they live in inaccessible areas. If you’re lucky, you may catch sight of mainland sweros, slow lorises, crab-eating macaques, and Irrawaddy dolphins near the coast.

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Chang Thun Village

Tribal visits and homestays are popular in Thailand, but these have been criticized mostly due to ethics and sustainability concerns. If you truly want to visit tribal villages, make sure it’s somewhere that preserves the local culture and helps the natives. One such place is Chang Thun Village, the first of the seven communities in Trat considered as “eco-museums” promoting community-based tourism.

Here, one can immerse in the traditional customs of the villages and tribes, as well as learn about the region’s rich history. All these activities are managed by local community members, thus ensuring that the culture is preserved and threats of exploitation are prevented. Moreover, the income is circulated back into the village to help the members thrive and preserve their traditions.

Traveling is a worthwhile hobby. When you factor in advocacies like ecotourism, then it becomes even more rewarding not just for the traveler but also for the planet. Bon voyage!

 

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About the Author:

Current: Editor of At-Bangkok.com, Managing Director at dp-Studio Co. Ltd. Past: Lecturer, Instructor at School of Architecture King Mongkut University of Technology, Architect at RNL Architect, Architect at Roth Sheppard Architects Education: School of Architecture Chulalongkorn University Bangkok Thailand (B.Arch) School of Architecture University of Arizona USA - School of Architecture University of Colorado, Denver USA (M. Arch)
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