Tag Archives: snorkelling

Activities To Avoid in Thailand

Read on to find out what activities to avoid in Thailand and what ethical experiences you should do instead. Having lived in Thailand for 5 years and travelled here extensively, this Thailand travel blog is to help you find out the dos and donts in Thailand and a better way to travel without harming wildlife, the environment and to be careful where you spend your money so it doesn’t harm local people too.

Is it possible to have ethical animal experiences in Thailand?

Thailand is a place of beauty, adventure and there are so many amazing activities to try here, that after three years of living here, I am still finding new activities and places to visit. Unfortunately there are also a number of activities that have given rise to exploitation, both in regard to wildlife and people. Tourists do have the power to bring about positive change and, particularly in a country like Thailand, where many locals are keen to reap the benefits of tourism, it is important for tourists to do their research into putting their money into ethical activities involving both people and wildlife.

The truth about elephant riding in Thailand

Many tourists want to ride elephants when visiting Thailand but first hopefully they can ask the following questions and do some research into elephant abuse in Chiang Mai and Phuket. Is it ethical to ride an elephant in Thailand? Where can we ride rescue elephants in Thailand? Is riding an elephant bad for its back?

Riding an elephant is animal abuse. Tourists ask me where to ride an elephant in Thailand, where is the best place for elephant riding and about elephant riding costs and please just stop there. The truth about elephant riding is that it is animal abuse. All elephant riding with seats is a widespread form of animal abuse in Thailand, it deforms the back of the elephant and elephant riding is cruel.  Alternatives to elephant riding include visiting an ethical elephant sanctuary or seeing wild elephants in Thailand.

Ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand

When I first visited Thailand in 2013 I could only find 2 elephant sanctuaries that refused to offer elephant riding. Nowadays many sanctuaries are refusing to offer elephant riding and it is the tourist demand that has made this change. Your actions can make a difference so let’s make decisions that will help protect elephants rather than harm them. My favourite alternative to elephant riding, and I recommend as even better than a sanctuary is to see wild elephants in Thailand which is, after all, where they belong. Seeing wild elephants in the jungle is one of my bucket list experiences and you can see them in a national park just a few hours from Bangkok – Khao Yai National Park.  Read here for more details  about how to visit Khao Yai National park – one of my favourite national parks in Thailand that has a good chance of seeing wild elephants in the jungle.

If you want a more luxury experience to see rescue elephants near Bangkok then my favourite is the I Love Phants Lodge, a rescue centre not only for elephants but many other Thailand animals who were taken from the entertainment industry or the pet trade. Read my I Love Phants Review here and find out why I always recommend this ethical elephant sanctuary near Bangkok which helps elephants in Thailand.

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Feeding the elephants some sugarcane at Hug Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand   

The truth about tigers in Thailand: Ethical Tigers Thailand?

Is it ethical to visit Tiger Kingdom in Thailand?  Where can I take photos with tigers in Phuket or Chiang Mai? Are tigers drugged in Tiger Kingdom?

Probably one of the top experiences of what NO to do in Thailand. The cruel truth is that there is no such thing as an ethical tiger experience. Tigers are wild, dangerous animals and belong in the jungles of Thailand, not in some sort of petting zoo, in a concrete enclosure for selfies with humans. To visit a tiger temple in Thailand or take pictures with tigers means you are participating in animal abuse.  The infamous tourist temple “Tiger Temple” fortunately has now been closed down but there are many other “sanctuaries” appearing. When Tiger Temple was investigated, they found dead tiger cubs in a freezer and allegations of missing adult tigers thought to have been sold on the black market to China for tiger bones. This scandal is on top of the commonly held assumption that these tigers are drugged in order for tourists to take photos with them. I personally feel that the claim that people can get close to them because they are domesticated tigers brought up around people does not have any ground.  Getting into a cage with a grown adult tiger is dangerous, no matter how the animal was raised and therefore the drugging theory is highly likely. Read more about the truth about Thailand’s tiger temple on the BBC website.

Dos and Donts in Thailand : Do visit a tiger rescue centre

If you want an ethical tiger Thailand experience then head to Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) a rescue organisation and the best rescue animal sanctuary in Thailand. For how to see rescue tigers and elephants near Bangkok then read this article. 

Dos Donts Thailand : Don’t support sex tourism

The dark side of Thailand’s sex tourism industry

I strongly recommend avoiding going to a pingpong show, sex show or participate in any activities relating to the sex industry. Thailand is a hub for human trafficking and there is no knowing how the women, men and even children in these industries are treated. 610,000 people are thought to be enslaved in modern day slavery in Thailand. (Source Maps | Global Slavery Index) and some of these unpoliced, illegal industries have been found to ‘employ’ underage prostitutes, indicating child abuse and exploitation. Is this really where you want your money going?

Dos and Donts in Thailand: Culture

Respecting Thai culture should be an important consideration when visiting on vacation or backpacking. Sunbathing in the nude, women going topless on a beach and males riding around on scooters without shirts is not considered appropriate or respectful behaviour by the majority of Thai people. Spain this is not. Most of Thailand is fairly conservative, whether the locals are Buddhist or Muslim and getting your baps out on the beach is not acceptable here. It is important to be respectful when visiting other countries where the culture is very different to our own.

activities to avoid Thailand

Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe

Dos and Donts in Thailand – The Ocean

Another important rule in Thailand is about being respectful to the ocean. Standing on coral reefs damages them and coral reefs are already under severe pressure from climate change and rising ocean temperatures. Coral is extremely fragile and if you touch it, not only could you end up injured, but you are killing this vital eco-system that the ocean relies upon. Please be extremely careful of where you are stepping in the sea and inform any other visitors of the same. Many tourists stand on coral because they are ignorant of the fact they are damaging it. Please spread the word and don’t be shy about letting other tourists know not to stand on coral. Tour operators should be informing tourists so make sure to include them if their boat of tourists are not behaving respectfully towards the ocean.

activities to avoid Thailand

Dos and Donts in Thailand: Touching wild animals

There are regular news stories in local papers here in Thailand about people touching turtles or Instagram photos of people holding up a starfish. That is a wild animal and you are disturbing it. Remember to always be respectful of wildlife.

activities to avoid Thailand

Whale Watching in Thailand from a respectful distance – an amazing and ethical experience to have, just an hour from Bangkok! Read my article here about how to see whales in Thailand.

Dos and Donts Thailand – Photo Opportunities with wild animals

Do not take photos in the markets or streets with ‘pet’ monkeys or gibbons. These are animals that belong in the wild and should not be used in the tourist industry in this way. Often teeth are painfully removed to ensure the animal does not bite people and they are often wearing nappies and chained up.

activities to avoid in Thailand

Dos and Donts Thailand – Fishing

Overfishing is one of the biggest threats to our ocean globally and in particular in Thailand where Marine National Parks are not even fully protected with no take zones. Be a part of the solution, protect fish, only fish sustainably and if you cannot be sure it is sustainable (which we rarely can) then don’t add to this problem. See the recent Bangkok Post article about a Dutch tourist arrested for fishing parrotfish.

activities to avoid in Thailand
Every time I go snorkelling or diving I usually find Nemo, help protect him and his habitat

And for things NOT to miss in Thailand check out this Thailand blog post

For more information regarding Thai culture and how to be respectful read this article

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12 Reasons To Never Visit Thailand

Here are 12 reasons why you should never visit this awful country! The first time I visited Thailand was 4 years ago and after all these terrible activities I’m still unsure why I moved back to Thailand 3 years ago. Please avoid visiting Thailand because you may just get addicted…

  1. You will mostly likely get sunburnt while snorkelling the clear waters off of paradise islands

For more on Thailand’s best islands check out this post

reasons visit thailand
Snorkelling around coral reefs

2. You will be peer pressured drunkenly into eating scorpions on Khao San road (cue blurry photo)

For less gross things to do in Bangkok, check out these lists

Top Things to Do in Bangkok

50 Things to Do in Bangkok

reasons visit thailand
Yep, don’t remember this…but I have the photos to prove I did indeed eat a scorpion.

3. You’ll spend 7 days worth of Thai street food dinners on one cocktail at a swanky Bangkok skybar

reasons visit thailand
Cheers to Bangkok, my big bad adopted city

 

4. You will most likely vomit after drinking too many fuck-it buckets. If you don’t then I am extremely impressed with you. But your liver is doomed., especially if you go to the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan

5. You’ll get a hangover from drinking cheap Chang every evening and decide maybe a Leo beer is worth the extra 10 baht. We nickname it a ‘changover’.

For budget Thailand ideas, read this

reasons visit thailand
Beaches and sunset beers. Avoid at all costs.

6. You’ll get so used to cockroaches in Thailand you won’t feel bothered by them any more… (just me?!). The big ones that run at your feet and the small ones hanging out by your toothbrush in the (slightly) dirty hostel, you are officially a real backpacker now. For wild animals you actually want to see, check out this post

7. In rainy season you’ll stroll through puddles the height of your knees trying not to think about what might be floating around in there

8.You’ll get stuck in Bangkok traffic and wonder how 8 million people can live like that! For the best and most efficient ways to travel around Thailand click here

reasons visit thailand
View from my window. It’s awful

9. You’ll risk rabies for a cuddle with a stray puppy. Read here for other things to avoid doing in Thailand

10. You will think you can ride a motorbike and then get a rude awakening along with a trip to the doctors clinic…and a bill!

Read this for the best ways to travel around Thailand

11. You will get seasick on a boat and possibly think you are about to die,  probably on the way to Maya Bay ” The Beach” beach where there never seem to be enough life jackets for everyone… #youcanswimthoughright

For alternate paradise island destinations read here

reasons visit Thailand
Cruising along the Gulf of Thailand on boats on my way to spot some whales!

12. You will fall in love with this country and move back here one day!

Especially these stunning holiday destinations around Thailand

Travelling Thailand Essentials

For when you do decide to travel Thailand, consider these items to help deal with the above issues:

I’m a recent convert to the humble backpack as you can always fit in a bottle of water comfortably (that just never happens with my handbags!) I love this turquoise Everest Backpack from Amazon
2. Alternatively, if you might be here in rainy season (May-October) then I recommend a dry bag as you will definitely get caught in a thunderstorm at some point! I love these dry bags Dry Bag (5L) from Amazon

3.  Mosquito spray is definitely one thing I recommend buying at home before you arrive in Thailand as I have never been able to buy stronger than 15% DEET here. Try this Repel 40% DEET Pump SprayRepel Insect Repellent 40-Percent DEET from Amazon

For more Backpacking Essentials read this post full of useful and practical items for your next trip to South East Asia

Reasons Visit Thailand 

Thailand: Top 10 Adventures and Activities!

Visiting Thailand? Here are the top 10 adventures and activities that you can do here, written by someone who lives here! Thailand has so much to offer, especially when you dig a little deeper than just the beach parties and Khao San Road in Bangkok!

1. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary. One that rescues elephants and offers no riding! (Hug Elephant Sanctuary I strongly recommend!) Read more here about why you shouldn’t ride elephants and how you can support ethical animal placesReasons to visit Thailand

2. Go to the jungle – Khao Yao National Park is one of my favourite places to visit for activities and adventures like hiking, jungle treks, camping and wildlife spotting. Read more here about Khao Yai and other places near to Bangkok to visit

activities and adventures Thailand
I was lucky enough to spot three wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park. This was an alone adult male.

Or if you want to venture slightly off the beaten track then read my post here about the activities you can do in Thailand’s amazing National Parks

3. Party on a paradise island like Koh Phi Phi or if timings work out head to Koh Phangan for the world famous Full Moon Party…read here for advice for the Full Moon… I should know I’ve been to 5!

adventures activities Thailand
Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe

4. Visit a Bangkok skybar, avoid the incredibly expensive Lebua Sirocco Tower and head to Vertigo or Octave instead. Just as impressive a view and (slightly) more purse friendly.

activities and adventures Thailand

 

5. Go market shopping at Chatachak Weekend market. It’s open Saturday and Sunday and has probably everything you will ever need to buy in your life. Haggle with a smile and be open to getting lost in the middle (items tend to be cheaper there than around the road on the outside).

6. Activities to have to include visiting at least one Buddhist temple. In Bangkok, I love Wat Pho with it’s huge golden reclining Buddha and colourful stupas. Read here for more Bangkok adventures and activities (I live here!) or if you are heading to Northern Thailand like Chiang Mai then do not miss the White Temple in Chiang Rai, it’s a stunning sight to see.

adventures activities Thailand
White Temple in Chiang Rai

7. Eat Thai food. Street food, mango smoothies, desserts, the list goes on. Be adventurous and try some new dishes, sometimes in pays off

adventures activities Thailand
Just not when you’re drunkenly trying scorpions on Khao San Road in Bangkok…

8. Snorkelling Trips are an absolute must do activity. The coral and the fish are worth seeing in all their colours and they trips are great value for money, often full days including a pretty island spot for lunch too. Beware that national park fees will be added in some places so check when you book the tour.

adventures activities Thailand
Snorkelling in Koh Chang

9. Try scuba diving for the first time. Koh Tao, while not the beauty that it once was for diving, is still one of the cheapest places in the world to get qualified as an Open Water diver with PADI or SSI. Be warned, once you start you will be spending all your money on diving around the world in the future. If you’re already qualified or keen to do more then read about the best dive spots in Thailand here

adventures activities Thailand
Dive around tropical coral reefs

10. Get exploring Thailand by island hopping around 100s of islands. Take ferries or kayaks and enjoy anything from party islands to tranquil and deserted spots all around Thailand’s coastline. For (almost) all island summaries check out my blog post on Thailand’s Best Islands here. 

adventures activities Thailand
Beaches on Koh Phangan
Top 3 Things to Enjoy your Adventures and Activities in Thailand
      1. GoPro HERO4 BLACK Never miss a moment above or under the water with a Gopro. I’m obsessed with mine and love the results it produces, particularly diving and snorkelling shots
      2. A bag like this Dry Bag (Green, 5L) to keep all your valuables dry on boats and in monsoon season. Also it generally keeps things sand free too!
      3.  Don’t forget your mosquito spray. I’ve yet to find strong repellent in Thailand so recommend buying in advanvce from somewhere like Amazon Repel 40-Percent DEET

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