Thailand

Thailand, with its unique geography and natural attractions, has long been a draw for visitors. From mountains to rainforest, plains to wetlands and rivers to the sea, Thailand is home to many diverse habitats. Within these habitats live tigers, leopards, elephants, Asiatic black bears, sambar deer, pangolins, gibbons, tapirs, dolphins, dugongs and many others species.

Plant life is also rich with an incredible range of bamboo, tropical hardwoods and over 27,000 flowering species, including Thailand’s national floral symbol, the orchid. Mangrove forests, pristine beaches and coral reefs can be found along the country’s extensive coastal areas.

Despite the rich biodiversity, Thailand, like many Asian countries, faces a range of environmental problems: deforestation, soil erosion, wildlife trade, and air and water pollution.
 / ©: WWF / Songpol Tippayawong
New Coral Reef discovered in Thailand, Feb 2006
© WWF / Songpol Tippayawong

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • In general, people do not drink the tap water in Thailand; washing your face, taking a shower and brushing your teeth with it are fine.
  • According to Thailand’s Department of Water Works, Bangkok’s tap water is safe enough to drink but many still prefer boiling it first or buying bottled water.
 
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Recycling
  • Recycling in Thailand is mostly carried out by individual entrepreneurs - recyclable materials are sold to street buyers, and larger businesses sell recyclable materials directly to junk shops and brokers.
  • Chiang Mai has one of the most comprehensive recycling programmes in the country; here one can find on the street recycling bins for plastic, paper and glass.
 
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Transport
  • Thailand’s state railway operates the inter-city trains throughout the country. They are inexpensive and a great way to get see the countryside if you have time.
  • Thailand has an extensive network of inter-city buses.
  • Travel to Thailand by sea is possible from Malaysia; there are also ferry crossings from China, Laos and Cambodia.
  • In Bangkok, one can easily get around town by river taxi, the Skytrain and the Metro, or by a three-wheeled tuk tuk.
  • If any city needs a good bike path system to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, it’s Bangkok. Some paths have been marked but not always in the most conveniently or safely located places. Because of Bangkok’s air pollution, you may want to wear a mask if you are brave enough to bike.
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Food
  • Thailand is not known for its vegetarian fare but there are plenty of vegetarian dishes on the menu of some of the bigger restaurants.
  • Fish sauce (“naam plaa”) is the most common condiment in Thai cuisine. Be sure to ask for no fish sauce or other animal products in your dish if you are vegetarian.
  • For English speakers, “mung-sari-rud” in Thai means “eating vegetarian” (or less formally, “gin jae”), although many restaurants may not understand what you mean by the term.
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Souvenirs
  • Some species of orchids growing in Thailand’s tropical rainforests are so rare that they are protected by international law. Orchids taken from the wild are likely to require permits.
  • Buyer beware. Thailand is one of the world’s hotspots for illegal ivory products and many other souvenirs from endangered wildlife. Don’t buy them.
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Green Spots
  • Doi Inthanon National Park: This park hosts Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon (2565m) and is popular for its waterfalls, flora, hiking trails and excellent views. The park is roughly 90 minutes southwest of Chiang Mai.
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park: Located on the eastern slope of the Tenasserim mountain range at the border of Myanmar, this is Thailand’s largest national park. Over 400 species of birds are known to occur within the park and 57 mammals, including elephant, tiger, leopard, gaur, sambar deer, banteng and many other species.
  • Kuiburi National Park: Sitting on the steep Tanao Sri mountain range along the border with Myanmar, this park is home to abundant wildlife: elephant, tapir, wild pig, gibbon, macaque, sambar and barking deer, bear and banteng. The park also has a couple of waterfalls with pools for swimming and hiking trails.
  • Khao Yai National Park: The oldest national park in Thailand, Khao Yai has large areas of rainforest, an abundance of wildlife and over 500km of hiking trails. The park is located 200km northeast of Bangkok and can be reached by bus or train.
  • Lumpini Park: This is Bangkok’s oldest and biggest urban park in the heart of the city. The park offers rare open space and grass in the Thai capital, and contains an artificial lake where visitors can rent boats. It is also a popular area for biking and walking.
  • Mu Ko Surin National Park: Situated in the Andaman Sea, approximately 60km from the coast of Phang-Nga Province in the southern peninsula region, this marine park consists of five main islands. Some of the country’s best shallow coral reefs are found here, and hawksbill and green marine turtles nest along the park’s beaches.
  • Mu Ko Similan National Park: Not too far from Mu Ko Surin National Park, Mu Ko Similan consists of nine undeveloped islands, The clear waters and colourful corals make this a popular dive site. Rays and whale sharks are found in the area.
  • Mu Koh Lanta National Park:  Covering a total area of 152km2, Mu Ko Lanta consists of many islands off the southern part of Krabi Province. The two major islands are Ko Lanta Yai and Ko Lanta Noi. The main activities in the park are walking, snorkeling and scuba diving, especially at the world renowned dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.
  • Tarutao National Park: The first marine park of Thailand, Tarutao consists of 51 islands in the southern part of the Andaman Sea near the Thai-Malay border. The largest island is Koh Tarutao; mountainous and covered with rainforest. The park’s waters are home to dolphins, manta rays, sharks, sperm whales and reef fish.
  • Phang Nga Bay National Park: Located in the Andaman Sea between the island of Phuket and the mainland of the Malay Peninsular of southern Thailand, Phang Nga Bay is known for its forested limestone pillars rising out of the sea like inverted mountains and contains a large expanse of mangrove forest, among the largest in Thailand. The park is located 96km from Phuket and can be reached by bus or boat..
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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