A firm favourite with tourists, Thailand is well-known for its glorious white sand beaches, diverse landscapes and exciting nightlife.
But while the beaches of Phuket or the urban sprawl of Bangkok may be the first places that spring to mind when you think of the southeast Asian country, the Tourism Authority of Thailand wants you to look a little further.
“We are encouraging tourists to visit emerging destinations and travel during the weekdays to decongest those destinations, while also reducing environmental and cultural wear and tear.
“We hope to create travel experiences that will not only be meaningful for travellers, but also for the local communities and the environment.”
So if you’re planning to visit this magnificent country in 2023, where should you go? Whether you’re interested in community-based tourism or looking for a secluded wellness retreat, here are some of the top spots in Thailand for the conscious traveller.
Where can I go for community-based tourism in Thailand?
“We are promoting low carbon destinations throughout the country,” says Tourism Authority Thailand. These include: “Koh Mak in Trat, which has been recognised as Thailand’s first low-carbon destination.”
Sitting off the coast of the southeastern province of Trat, Ko Mak island looks like a four-pointed star when viewed from above. Surrounded by colourful coral reefs and golden sand beaches, tourists can catch a boat to the island from Krom Luang pier in Laem Ngop.
Green tourism in Ko Mak
If you’re looking for a quiet island getaway, then Ko Mak is the place for you. Not only is it easy to cycle around the island, as it’s much smaller than its neighbours Koh Chang and Koh Kood, there are also several initiatives in place to help tourists reduce their carbon footprint. These include water-saving schemes and a carbon footprint calculator.
These schemes saw Ko Mak named as one of the top 100 destinations in the world 2022 by Green Destinations, who recognise good practice in the travel and sustainability sector.
While much of the island is covered by sprawling coconut plantations, the glorious beaches are relatively undeveloped. Set yourself down on the soft white sands of Ao Suan Yai beach and you’ll be able to see the neighbouring islands in the distance.
For a beach destination with a bit more going on, head to Ao Kao Beach, where you’ll find resorts, restaurants and cafes alongside the glittering sand.
To experience the wild, sprawling mangroves, catch a boat to the neighbouring island of Koh Chang, where there are a number of walkways that will take you through the verdant swamps.
Where can I find health and wellness tourism in Thailand?
While Thailand may be best known for its natural beauty, health and wellness tourism is growing in the country, explains Tourism Authority Thailand.
“In Thailand, there are a wide range of destinations that deliver a unique wellness experience, namely Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan.”
Ko Samui, Thailand’s second largest island (after Phuket) is home to a huge array of wellness resorts to help you escape the frantic pace of 21st century living. Whether you’re looking to detox, learn more about yoga and pilates, or simply relax by the pool, there’s a huge range of options on the island.
If all that relaxing gets too much though, there are plenty of adventure activities on offer in Ko Samui too. From sunset sailing tours to diving day trips, the gulf of Thailand is teeming with coral reefs and rich marine life, making it a major draw for scuba divers.
Ko Samui isn’t the only island worth exploring for wellness tourists though, explains TAT.
“Phuket is home to world class medical facilities and services, and countless wellness spas and resorts which can be found at major tourist destinations.”
While it might be Thailand’s largest and most famous island, if you’re looking for a holiday that has it all, no matter the season, Phuket is still the place to be.
“Thailand is an “All-year round Destination”. No matter when you visit, you can always enjoy Thailand and our many unique season-related activities.”