Eco Friendly Thailand Where To Go?
Updated: Jan 22
When I think of Thailand, I think of bustling markets, beautiful beaches, island hopping, the best street food, ancient temples and local happy faces. Thailand is known as the land of smiles. The culture is incredibly diverse and there are activities to suit everyone. It is very easy to get around and perfect for solo travellers, couples and families. With over tourism an issue there are small areas becoming more eco friendly. I have highlighted two of the best cities and two of the best islands where you will be able to travel as green as possible. A big thing to remember when travelling around Thailand is Animal welfare, please do your research (more blogging to follow). DO NOT participate in anything that includes animals being used for entertainment or animal riding. There are a lot of so called 'sanctuaries' that are unregulated, do not fall for these traps. There are also a lot of street dogs and cats, mostly very friendly and cute. If you see an injured animal please contact the local animal centre for help or if you see someone hurting an animal politely ask them to stop and contact the local animal centre.
City: Chiang Mai
STAY Green Tiger House A boutique style hotel attached to a 100% vegan cafe. The room is bed and breakfast and breakfast is served in the cafe, including locally grown coffee, smoothies, fruit and muesli, homemade coconut yogurt or a traditional Thai breakfast set. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the hot water for showers is supplied from solar panels and toiletries in the rooms are refillable bottles.
DO Hire a bike Take a guided bike ride around Chiang Mai and stop at some of its honoured temples, Wat Chiang Mai being the oldest, Wat Chedi Luang being the tallest, Wat Umong whose main feature is a system of maze like tunnels.
Shop locally Visit the night market to try some local street food.
Pamper yourself Get a traditional Thai massage from an ex prisoner. A programme run where women prisoners due for release are taught life skills and have a fully functioning massage parlour, supervised closely. The programme has been set up to teach ex inmates skills to help them find their way once they leave prison.
EAT You will not run out of places to eat around Chiang Mai. It has over 30 vegan eateries to choose from. If you want something traditional try Jin Qi, a small local Thai restaurant. Missing home and want western style food? Try Munchies Vegan fast food. It even has 'fish & chips' on the menu. If it's something healthy you crave try Nourish, Smoothies, Buddha bowls and kombucha, all healthy and delicious.
City: Bangkok STAY Akyra Thonglor Hotel A luxury 5* hotel set right in the centre of Sukhumvit one of the main roads in Bangkok. Within walking distance to the main attractions, this hotel is the first hotel in Asia to be totally free of single use plastic. You will receive a stainless steel bottle on arrival to refill at one of many water stations in the hotel. Boutique style rooms, a rooftop pool and a restaurant, not totally vegan, but serving adapted food including fresh local produce & salads.
DO Float around
Visit the floating markets, leave Bangkok city behind and visit the local markets in a nearby countryside area. Have the chance to buy fresh fruit and veggies and taste the local coffee all served from a small floating shop.
Visit the different Soi's (roads) Use the public transport system for a city tour. The Skytrain is very a very convenient way to travel around, admire the city views and hop on and off at each stop checking out Bangkok's different districts.
Go for an evening cocktail at one of Bangkok's rooftop bars for a view of the city sky. My personal favourite is Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel.
EAT Again Bangkok has some great vegan cafes and restaurants. My personal favourite that we went back to time and time again was May's Veggie Home, serving mock meats, spiced vegetables, tasty curries, noodles and ice cream. The herbs and spices used to create the delicious taste are like no other. Veganerie Concept is a vegan bakery and cafe, has all the sweets you can think of, waffles, milkshakes, muffins, cookies, cheesecake etc, etc. It also sells sandwiches and salads.
For Raw food check out Rasayana Raw Food Cafe, yummy cold pressed juices, eggplant lasagne and pizza. I was totally obsessed with the Banoffee pie with home made cashew cream.
Island: Koh Mak
STAY Goodtime Koh Mak
A small quiet island that has made a pledge towards eco tourism, working alongside nature and not against it. The island is protecting the environment and only providing tours that will not cause harm to the eco system, they even limit the amount of tourists the allow on the island. The Goodtime Hotel is a health and fitness focused stay. Separate Thai style houses set in pretty gardens, close enough to the beach and totally tranquil. There is an outdoor gym, swimming pool and a restaurant on site serving local produce.
DO Muay Thai Try traditional Thai boxing. For guests staying at Goodtime they offer Muay Thai courses for beginners and professionals on site. Maybe even do a one off class to get a sweat on, you will use muscles you never knew you had.
This island has the perfect crystal clear water and little spots of coral and you are sure to see some cool marine life. Hire snorkelling equipment alongside your kayak for an afternoon and explore your way around the island.
Give back Join a beach clean up. Every Saturday 'Trash Hero' invite locals and tourists to help clean up any rubbish on the beach and around the island, most of it sent to be recycled. It only takes about 2 hours and it's a great chance to meet like minded people and enjoy a vegan lunch which they offer in return for your help.
EAT Food Art Hut Open all day this restaurant serves meat but has lots of vegan options including pineapple fried rice, stir fried vegetables and tofu. They specialise in German breads and offer deliciously topped avocado breads. They also have plant milk to make coffee or smoothies.
The Chill Originally a shisha bar they serve traditional Thai and western food, fresh coffee and smoothies. Again there is meat but the owner is very understanding and open to veganism. Open from breakfast to dinner. A little tip - you can go for breakfast and drop off your laundry and pick it up clean when you come back for dinner.
Koh Mak Pizza Stone ovens for freshly made pizza. To make them vegan you have to ask for them without cheese, this doesn't mean you miss out though, pile on top some yummy veggies and ask for their chilli oil for an extra tasty kick.
Island: Koh Lipe
STAY Castaway Beach Resort
Koh Lipe is still reasonably untouched and has kept its natural beauty. The island has no cars but just a few motorbikes, the island is easily accessible by foot, or you can cycle your way around. Castaway Beach Resort has procedure in place to help lessen your impact when you stay with them. They have done their best to build the hotel in the most eco -friendly way including using natural hardwoods for the structure and thatched roofs in order to keep the breeze flowing in and out of the bungalows without the need for air conditioning. They also have a system to reuse waste water to water the land. A very relaxing stay on a beautiful beach.
DO Snorkelling and Diving
You can hire snorkelling equipment all over the island and snorkel straight from the shore where you find some superb coral reefs. There are some amazing diving spots such as Yong Hua Shipwreck with an array of colourful marine life, you can even spot sting rays here.
Sunrise and Sunset
This island is home to many pristine beaches. You can start the day on 'sunrise' beach and watch the changing colours as the sun comes up over the sea. Late afternoon you can walk to sunset beach and grab a beer in one of the local bars as you watch the sun disappear.
Yoga on the beach Courtesy of Castaway Beach resort enjoy a relaxing yoga class. There are three sessions a day, sunrise, morning and evening. Classes do get full so worth booking, for beginners to more experienced yogis.
EAT Benny's on the Beach A vegetarian beachfront restaurant and bar with plenty of vegan options. There is a super food bowl, curries, taco's and no meat 'meatballs'. A relaxing feel and super friendly staff, beautiful at sunset with a cocktail.
Zanom Sunrise Beach Restaurant Serves meat but they understand the word vegan and can make their curries without meat, try the massaman curry and vegetable spring rolls.
Cafe Tropical A 'healthy' cafe, has lots of vegan options including vegan pizzas with homemade cheese, quesadillas, traditional Thai dishes such as noodle bowls and for breakfast they offer smoothie bowls and plant milk coffees. With a good ethos they offer free drinking water and sell stainless steel water bottles which you can get refilled around the island.