Responsible tourism: Thailand small group vacation
Most of the hotels on our trip are locally-owned and -operated. Approximately half of the hotels in which we stay on this trip are made from local materials, such as bamboo and palm leaves. Our jungle bungalows, tree house hotels and floating lake huts in Khao Sok and Doi Saket are eco hotels that use limited electricitySince the trips are run in the dry cooler months the lack of air conditioning is never an issue. The design of each bungalow, hut and treehouse varies considerably, often at the whim of the owner, but for the most part they do not clash with the lovely rural surroundings. Our jungle bungalows in Khao Sok actually has a very interesting story from the 1970's on how it got started and was essentially the first 'eco-hotel' in SE Asia before 'eco' was even a thing and on the ride to Khao Sok we will give a short history of the hotel and how Khao Sok was very lucky to become a national park and how it escaped the destructive hands of the logging industry.
The floating lake huts we go to is one of the last remaining lake huts that is still family owned and operated. This also has an interesting story behind it and the guides will be happy to share it with you on the transit to the lake huts. The lake huts do not have electricity and you will be given a lantern for light when it gets dark. The bathrooms are on the main land and shared and there is no hot water and are self sustaining. Welcome to the jungle!
Since there will not be any restaurants in some of the areas we visit, we will have dinner prepared by a local family and made of whatever ingredients are local and in season.
On our trips you are given choice in your daily schedule and we also make sure to have a selection of activities that helps rather than hinders the environment. For example, in Railay Beach you will be given the option of participating in a beach clean up that happens once a week and you will also be given a choice to participate in a cooking class where proceeds go to providing food to the most needy in Bangkok. Many of the activities you can choose from leave zero carbon footprint and all of the activities are with locals who know the area rather than with big companies who are trying to exploit the surroundings for profit.
The carbon footprint in minimal on this trip. We will spend 4 days in Railay which is a completely walkable 'town' with no cars in the area. In Khao Sok and in Doi Saket all of our acitvites are either on the premises or close to so we will not need to use transport. In Chiang Mai we use tuks tuks to get around and 'red buses' which is the local transport.
Thailand has been a popular destination for many travelers for more than a decade. Most travelers stick to drinking bottled water and because of this, the plastic waste epidemic is very apparent in Thailand. Plastic bags and bottles litter too many of the beaches and rivers all around Thailand.
You are probably wondering what can be done to prevent this. Luckily, there has been some really positive action taken relatively recently. All of the 12 hotels and guesthouses in which we stay on this trip have now started using glass water bottles with the exception of the hotel we stay at in Bangkok. Everyone will have two glass, refillable water bottles in their rooms. You can either fill your own water bottle up with this water or pour the water into the glasses provided to you by the hotel. You will get two water bottles placed in your room daily by the hotel staff. Also, if you want more, you can just go to the reception and ask. They are always happy to oblige. This small action is making a huge impact on the plastic waste epidemic in Thailand.
There are also some ways that our travelers can help. We ask that when you go to a store to buy something, just put whatever you bought into your backpack or daypack rather than into a plastic bag. At the start of your trip, we will even teach you a few essential Thai words. One of them will be : "It's OK". This way, when you have purchased something and the clerk starts to put it in a plastic bag, you can tell him or her "It's OK" in Thai and help to reduce the amount of plastic waste!
Our local guides know all of the best kept secrets and off the beaten path sites to help our travelers experience the best that Thailand has to offer. They will always recommend the best local establishments and places of interest based on your interests and their personal favorites, so you know you're getting an authentic experience. In this way, the local economy is stimulated and the Thai people also benefit.
Our travelers will visit a wonderful elephant conservation outside of Bangkok that rescues elephants from horrible circumstances and is one of the largest conservation sanctuaries in Thailand. This cause is one that is very close to our hearts and we have become regular donors to keep such a worthwhile cause alive.
We think the best way to support a community is to buy local to support vendors and business owners who often work endless hours to support themselves and their families. Luckily, our lengthy experience in Thailand as well as our very knowledgeable local guide can tell you where to get local hand-made items from small business that are run by locals and who are trying to make their locality a better place. One of our favorites is cafe 'Free Bird' in Chiang Mai, which donates much of its profits to Burmese refugees.
We stay uniquely at small locally owned accommodations, boutique style hotels, which are owned and run by local citizens. Unlike the large chain hotels and resorts, the owners and workers of the accommodations see more direct financial benefits. We also urge our travelers to try to speak and interact with the workers and owners at their accommodations to get a feel for life in Thailand and to inspire cultural exchange and education.