5 Tips to Be a Respectful Traveler in Thailand
Thailand is a beautiful country with warm, kind souls, making its “Land of Smiles” title well-earned. It’s also no wonder that the country draws in thousands of visitors per year, thus making the tourism industry one of their biggest economic contributors.
Tourists actually play a huge role in shaping Thailand’s culture and environment, especially since there are so many that come and go. At the end of the day, you’re visiting someone’s home, so it’s important to be respectful of the spaces you inhabit. Thailand’s reputation as a popular travel spot won’t be going anywhere, so here are five tips on being a respectful traveller during your trip:
As a tourist, you should do your part in conserving the country’s natural resources. If you’re someone who brings around reusable bottles and cutlery on a daily basis, you should aim to do so when you travel as well. If not, just be mindful of how much waste you’re building up. You might want to buy a huge water bottle to last you a few days, for example, instead of tons of smaller ones.
Pick ethical tour groups
Lots of tourists flock to elephant sanctuaries during trips to Thailand. However, the problem is that some tour groups end up mistreating the animals and exhausting them for the sake of entertainment. The Guardian’s report on ethical elephant sanctuaries actually lists that riding elephants is more harmful than helpful, as it’s a sign that the sanctuary forces their animals to entertain tourists. Always double check reviews before booking a trip to such places.
Respect local laws
While some movies portray Thailand as a gambler’s den, the opposite is actually the case. Since Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport, this is the only time that locals are allowed to gamble. Locals who know how to bet end up studying the sport well in order to maximize their wins and do so in a legalized way. Understanding such laws allows you to respectfully engage with the people around you, while also allowing you to avoid any sticky situations.
Learn a few key phrases
Picking up a few Thai phrases shows locals that you’re making an effort to connect with them, which is something that won’t go unnoticed. Learning how to say thank you, hello, and goodbye can help you get along with the people you meet throughout your trip, and you can even ask them to teach you a few new phrases to add to your arsenal.
Be open to new experiences
Last but not least, you should use your time in Thailand to try something new. There’s nothing worse than traveling with a picky tourist — you’re in a new country, so why not take advantage of all the exciting things it has to offer? Whether it’s eating spicy cuisine or visiting one of the country’s many temples, have an open mind and don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. And if you end up not liking it, then just keep it to yourself.
Just like you wouldn’t mess up your friend’s home after they’ve invited you over, so too should your travels be focused on enjoying new surroundings without leaving a bad mark on the country.
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