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My Thailand Scooter Experience

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Seeing Thailand on two wheels for me has to be one of the most exciting things to do with your clothes on! It’s great when you get off the tourist trail, head into the countryside away from the hustle and bustle of the city and pass through small villages or deserted beaches.

Here are some handy tips and hints for hiring a scooter and how to avoid some pitfalls.

Scooters can be hired all over Thailand to every man and his dog will have one to rent. Most tourist places especially in the big cities and around beach locations will have shops where you can hire; your hotel might even be able to rent them to you. For a 125 cc scooter such as the ubiquitous Honda Wave you can expect to pay anywhere from 150 baht to 300 for a 24 hour hire. For a week you will be looking at 1000 baht and around 3000 for a month. You will probably find a 50cc scooter not powerful enough if you are going anywhere where there are hills. A tank of fuel will cost you somewhere in the region of 90-120 baht. It’s worth speaking to your hotel first even if they don’t rent as they can give you great advise on reputable shops they normally send their customers to, what the going rate to rent is and how much petrol costs in the area.

So you are in the shop about to hire, what can you expect? You may have to show a license, but if you don’t have one a bit of sweet talk will get you by, they really aren’t that strict, you will see pre pubescent kids riding scooters in Thailand all the time! Be honest with yourself though if you have never ridden a scooter as its yours and other people’s lives you might be messing with. You will probably be asked to leave your passport as a deposit, this is the norm and some people are reluctant to do this. You might be able to get away with them taking a photocopy if you tell them you need your passport to cash traveller’s cheques. Alternatively you may be able to leave a cash deposit of say 2000 baht. You will most likely be asked to pay for the hire time when you return the scooter, so you could hold onto it for a couple of extra days if you wanted without having to pay a fee for returning it late. You will probably have to leave details of the address you are staying at too. Make sure you check over the scooter you are being offered, point out any damage and take photos of any damage in front of the owner (you don’t want to be paying for someone else’s damage when you return the bike). If bits are hanging off ask for another one. Ask the shop owner for the phone number of the shop in case you break down, so they can come out and help you. It’s unlikely you will be able to take insurance out with the shop, or it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on, so it’s worth looking at your travel insurance to see if you are covered to rent scooters and if so up to what cc. Should the worse happen and you are involved in an accident it’s likely that you will pay any damage that needs fixing to the scooter to the shop owner or risk not seeing your passport again. If a third party is involved you may end up paying out damages there and then, cost wise this would be a fraction compared to the UK. It’s unlikely it will ever get to court though unless you decided to peruse it with your travel insurance company if you are covered.

Before you get on, make sure you get a quick lesson from the owner and ask about any quirks of the model. Some scooters use a clutch whilst others are just twist and go. Find out the range of the tank as well and if there is a reserve tank light when does it come on? How many miles can you get from the reserve tank? I would also insist with the shop on hiring a helmet, which will most likely be the open face type. Wearing trainers is also a good idea; it’s far too easy to stub a toe in flip flops!

It’s worth watching the locals on the road before you start riding. See what they do at junctions, how they overtake, does the colour of traffic lights mean anything to them?! In busy areas the horn will undoubtedly be used frequently. It’s also likely they won’t be following the letter of the law like we do in the UK. They do however drive on the left like the UK.

If it is your first time on a scooter make sure you are in the right frame of mind. If your friends are doing it, you may feel pressurised, just go at your own pace it’s not a race. Get them to wait for you now and then. It might sound obvious, but don’t ever drink and ride, this happens far too much with tourists in Asia. Most are lucky and get away with a few scrapes, but it’s just not worth the risk to you or others on the road.

If you are going to carry a pillion (passenger) make sure you instruct them on what to do. So you get on the scooter first, then when settled, your pillion will hop on, remind them to look out for the exhaust, it may be hot. Get them to hold on to the grab rail if the scooter has one, if not they may need to put their arms around your waist, tell them not to give you a bear hug though! If your pillion is inexperienced give them a signal for you to slow down if they get worried, maybe tapping their knees against your thighs. Also tell them not to move around too much when you are moving as this will upset the movement of the scooter. When it’s time to stop, they get off first.

Things to look out for whilst on the road would be potholes, man hole covers, grates and even the odd dog in the middle of the road basking in the sun! Allot of the roads on the small islands aren’t paved so just take it easy until you can feel how the scooter reacts to the loose surface, if you do find the scooter losing traction, try to go with the flow to let the scooter stabilise itself and keep your hands loose on the bars, a death grip on the bars and sudden movements will destabilise the scooter even more. Also remember that where you are looking is where the scooter will go, so detach your eyes from that pothole and look to the side of it and in front of it. Looking far ahead also gives you more time to react to unexpected things and you don’t get that ‘ground rush’ sensation that will make you feel less confident.

If you are going out for a whole day, make sure you fill up before you head out, get a map, be realistic as to how far you can go and find out where you can fill up on your way. It’s also worth wearing sunglasses as a bee hitting your eye when you are doing 30mph is going to hurt! Carry a day sack too; a bottle of water, some sun cream, map and money can all go in it.

 

December 3, 2013 |

Motorbike Safety – Stay Safe With These 5 Tips!

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For many travelers one of the first things they do, when they arrive in Thailand for a holiday, is rent a motorcycle. Cheap, and easily accessible, they are a good way to get around and see the sights of the country. Many shops offer motorbikes for hire, for little more than a couple of dollars a day. However, there are some very important things you should consider before you decide to rent a motorbike in Thailand.

1. Have you driven in Thailand before? For many people this is the first time in driving in an Asian country, such as Thailand. They are unused to the road rules, and too many people drive as they would at home. They are unaware that dangers lurk around every corner. In Thailand it is not uncommon to have traffic weaving in and out, or to not stop at traffic lights or junctions. It is normal to have traffic approach you on the wrong side of the road, sometimes with no lights on. Undertaking (overtaking on the right hand side) while illegal in the UK, is common in Thailand. And, unfortunately, drink driving is a common occurrence in the country and accounts for a large proportion the high death toll on the road.

2. How experienced are you on a motorbike? Many people are novice motorcyclists, and some have never ridden before at all. This makes you doubly vulnerable, not only because you don’t know how to handle a bike, but also because you are not experienced with driving in Thai traffic either. It pays to do a short motorcycle proficiency course before you leave home, just so you know the basics. It might not help you if you hit a patch of sand on the road (a common reason for a lot of motorbike accidents in Thailand), as is driving too fast, but it will enable you to be more confident and to ride to the conditions of the road.

3. Is your motorbike roadworthy? Many of the motorbike rentals are not in a roadworthy condition when they are hired out. Unfortunately there is little regard for maintenance, and if something goes wrong you could be in serious trouble. Always do a full check of the vehicle you are about to hire, before agreeing to rent it. Look carefully at the treat on the tires and check if the bike has enough oil in it. If the bike does incur any damage while you have it, you will be liable, and you will probably have to pay an inflated rate for any repairs.

4. How good is your helmet? Unfortunately the helmet law is not enforced in Thailand, and so most people don’t wear protective helmets when they are driving their bikes. Rental companies will often hand you a cheap, thin, plastic helmet that will do nothing in the event of an accident. Remember, your head is very fragile, and you can incur serious brain injuries in an accident, even at slow speeds. If you are renting a bike, invest in buying your own helmet. Make sure it is DOT compliant, and done up tightly enough that in the event of an accident it will not slip off. Many people die in bike accidents that could be prevented with the right protective headgear.

5. Are you insured? Many people take out holiday insurance, but few realize that many companies don’t insure you if you are in a motorbike accident. Read the small print and make sure that you are covered if you plan to rent a motorcycle as hospital bills can be expensive!

Don’t ruin your holiday with an unnecessary motorbike accident. Too many people end up in hospital as a result of hiring bikes in Thailand, and many wish they had just hired a taxi instead. If you are not used to driving a bike, don’t try to learn how to drive in Thailand, learn at home. Keep yourself safe and have a memorable holiday for all the right reasons.

 

November 26, 2013 |

Luxury Hotels in Thailand – Top 5 Recommended!

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Thailand has some great holiday destinations to offer, from the bustling city of Bangkok, to the stunning coastlines of Phuket, to the cultural, scenic hills of Chiang Mai, and many more. Many of the top hotels are located in the main tourist areas, featuring Thailand’s exotic culture, scenery and luxury.

X2 Koh Samui

Tucked away in a peaceful, untouched island of Koh Samui is the X2 resort, boasting a fabulous overall design of sleek wood and stone, a sandy beach, and a stunning surrounding. Located on the south side of the island and housing just 27 guest rooms, this luxury hotel is a quiet getaway from the busy tourist hubs.

The X2 features a relaxing spa, private swimming pools, a signature restaurant and bar, and many other activities.
Trisara

The serene, luxurious Trisara resort sits surrounded by a lush tropical forest in the major tourist hub of Phuket. This highly-acclaimed luxury hotel offers a tranquil experience, as well as amazing views over the Andaman Sea.

Each of the Trisara’s 42 guest suites is beautifully furnished with utmost luxury, while some guest villas feature private pools. The hotel offers spa treatments, top-notch dining, a secluded beach, and plenty of sporting activities.
The Sarojin Thailand

Surrounded by lush greenery and set by a secluded white-sand beach in Phuket is The Sarojin Thailand, an award-winning luxury hotel. The hotel houses 56 guest residences featuring a warm, comfortable atmosphere with top-notch amenities.

The Sarojin also boasts a tranquil swimming pool, numerous sporting activities, a world-class spa, on-site intimate dining, and many more.

Six Senses Hideaway Samui

The Six Senses Hideaway Samui is spread around a cliff-like edge in the quiet, untouched island of Koh Samui, surrounded by lush greenery, overlooking the sea. The luxury hotel consists of 66 hardwood villas, all of which give you a luxurious outdoorsy feeling like no other.

The hotel features some amazing dining venues, a de-stressing spa, private pool villas, a lush swimming pool, small meeting facilities, a beach, and water sports facilities.

The Chedi Chiang Mai

Set in the heart of the historical, cultural city of Chiang Mai is The Chedi, a luxury hotel of style and sophistication. Built in a crisp, modern design, the hotel is surrounded by greenery and overlooks the Mae Ping River.

Each of the hotel’s 84 rooms are spacious and are equipped with first-class amenities. There is also a luxurious spa, an outdoor pool, a yoga room, and several restaurants and lounges.
Summary

Many of Thailand’s top luxury hotels feature truly luxurious, modern designs with a touch of Thai culture. There are many quiet getaways all over Thailand, while there are also many first-class accommodations in the major cities.

 

November 18, 2013 |

What You Should Know About a Thai Bar Girl

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Going to the Asian country of Thailand is a treat all in itself. Thailand has something for every kind of traveler. It has breathing scenery, historic sacred temples, and for us guys: Thai bar girls.

A Thai bar girl is just waiting for men from the Western part of the world to come along. Many of them want money, but most of them want respect – something they don’t get from Thai men. Because of their reputation for getting down and dirty, many Western guys think that they can just come to Thailand, scoop up a Thai bar girl and take her home – no questions asked. And while hooking up with a Thai girl isn’t the hardest thing to do, it does require a little more effort than that.

The first thing you should do when you see a Thai bar girl that you like is to make eye contact with her. This will let her know that you are interested. Then flash a big, flirtatious grin at her. Thai girls are almost constantly smiling and they love it when you give them attention. After you all are smiling at each other, give her a chance to make her way over to where you’re at.

Don’t say anything rude or out of the way. Remember that Thai bar girls crave respect. Act reserved and polite. Offer her your business card or buy her a drink. Do not touch her. Public displays of affection are not nearly as acceptable in Thailand as they are in other countries. Keep your hands off until the two of you are alone – and trust me, if you play your cards right, you will get her alone.

Once you have let her know you’d like to get to know her better, if you have respected your boundaries in public, chances are high that she will let you take her home. There she will give you luxurious massages and cook delectable Thai food for you… among other things.

 

November 11, 2013 |

Things To Know About PADI Certified Diving In Thailand

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Imagine crystal clear waters, vibrant colored sea life and warm breezes as you begin your adventure diving in Thailand. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI for short) operate many tropical diving adventures throughout the world. One of the most popular and world renown is the dive adventures in Thailand.

One of the reasons that Thailand is the dive spot of choice is that the weather is accommodating, the beaches soothing, and the diving outfits professionally and efficiently run. The most popular areas to dive are in PhuKet (Patong Beach, Racha Yai and Racha Noi ), the PhiPhi Islands and nearby Krabi.

Who is PADI?

PADI stands for The Professional Association of Diving Instructors and is one of the largest certification training organization for scuba divers. There are degrees of training that start with the very basic courses all the way to the advanced courses for those aspiring to become dive masters. The courses, themselves, are comprised of learning modules that the learner progresses through.

They even have an online course to take the place of class time. Of course, to become certified you have to get into the water and learn firsthand. Practical skills are mastered, then evaluated. If a student passes these tests, then he/she is certified via PADI to go scuba diving anywhere in the world.

Thailand diving offers some of the most agreeable conditions for learning to dive, or gain advanced certification. The waters tend to be gentle and the visibility ideal. Certification can take as little time as a day for beginners, to as much as a week or more for advanced degrees.

Open water dives in Thailand generally descend to about 12 meters, which is where most of the ‘action’ is around various reef colonies. Children can also become PADI certified, so families can take the dive adventure of a lifetime in Thailand while on vacation or holiday.

What to Expect When Diving in Thailand

Phuket diving training generally covers the basics, as well as including the use of the equipment, study manuals, and usually all the meals during the day. Boat fees and other fees, as well as transportation to and from the area hotels are usually all inclusive. Additionally, most Thailand dive centers are fully prepared to speak the language you are most comfortable with. Most offer instruction in English, French and Spanish, as well as others. Because the weather is nice year round, no matter when you decide to plan your vacation, dive training is always available.

Other diving in Thailand includes PhiPhi Don and PhiPhi Leh, which are two islands jutting up from the ocean a short distance from Phuket. These are among some of the most picturesque islands and are often photographed for postcards and artwork. Multiple dive spots along the islands insure that there will be plenty of room and there will be none of the crowding that sometimes is seen at various tourist dive spots. Divers, once PADI certified, can swim through underwater entrances, cruise along with schools of fish, and even do some limited cave diving. Krabi province offers sea life like nowhere else in the area. Many report swimming with sea turtles, manta rays, and even sharks.

 

November 4, 2013 |

Windsurfing in Thailand

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Windsurfing is gaining popularity in Thailand.

Thailand is not a super windy place. You won’t see the amazing freestyle moves of Bonaire or the Gorge, nor will you see the hot wave sailing action. With average wind strengths of 8- 18knots Windsurfers here are mainly using sails from 6.0M to 8.5M. In the worlds top locations a 6.0M sail is considered large.

So why do core windsurfers from all over the world choose to settle in Thailand?

As manufacturing costs in China increase, medium to large size companies are choosing to set up in Thailand where their specialized engineers and top level management are happy to move with their families.

Thailand’s perpetually warm water and even warmer people. Low cost of living and very comfortable healthy lifestyle make the choice of leaving their homes utterly bearable.

Many classic Mediterranean retirement destinations are more expensive after the Euro’s introduction. Thailand, with it’s Idealic Beachside lifestyle is becoming a popular place to make those pension Pounds, early retirement Euros’, and dwindling Dollars go further.

Grass roofed beach-side sail racks, make tedious equipment preparation unnecessary. Residents sit around in the shade, talking or simply admiring the parade of International beach goers.

As soon as the wind is good, they are on the water in minutes on the latest windsurfing gear, some of which is designed especially for the lighter wind conditions. On good days when the wind is over 15 knots , there are over 20 sails on the water in the best spots. While this number is tiny compared to the world’s classic destinations where windsurfers number in the hundreds. It is double what you may have seen 3 years ago in Thailand.

Thai people are enjoying the sport in larger numbers also. A club in “Tabsai” near to Bang San University is hugely popular among Thai’s who have regular camp outs and parties there on weekends.

On Jomtien Beach in Pattaya, The government and City sponsored Windsurfing Association of Thailand has been revived by a team of ex Thai windsurfing champions, coaches and local politician’s. The benefit of this work has gone straight into the local community where kids, are training and competing in local and overseas competitions. It is heart warming to meet these youngsters who are polite, happy, self-reliant and who will grow up with a close connection to sport and the environment. Everyone is welcome to join the local windsurfing races. With up to 70 entries and many international guests, Thailand is producing high-level athletes, often from poor or broken families.

Pattaya City, about 2.5 hours drive SE from Bangkok, is notorious for it’s red-light district and the people it attracts. However it is brimming with international restaurants, world-class hotels, inexpensive shopping and is still one of the greatest places to learn Windsurfing.

About 10 km south of Pattaya you will find 2 of the largest Water sports clubs in Thailand. This area is where the locals, expats,(foreigner’s living in Thailand) and tourists come to take windsurfing lessons, play and relax.

Kite boarding or kite surfing has brought more people to learn about windsurfing also. While some experienced windsurfers like to do both sports, many family people prefer the safety, greater challenge and independence of windsurfing.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding a water-sport anyone can learn in a few minutes is growing quickly here. Used for sightseeing, cross-training on no-wind days, surfing or as a simple yet diverse sport that gives you great at-one with nature time in any conditions.

 

October 27, 2013 |

Thailand Real Estate Market in Phuket – Your Choice For Second Home After Retirement

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The cost of living is always the main concern for most of us. In order to enjoy life after retirement, many people choose to migrate to other countries where the cost of living is much lower. For people who have intention to look for second home after retirement, I would like to introduce you one ideal place, i.e. Phuket, Thailand.

Nowadays, this island has become an international jet-set destination. The international airport is located in the north of the island. There are many schedule flights and chartered flights from different countries in Asia, Europe and North America landing in this island. In the past 10 years, many foreigners have been returning regularly to spend part or all the year in Phuket.

Let’s read on. I am going to show you how great this island is.

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand. Its size is as big as Singapore. It is located off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. This island is “backed up’ by its rich culture and colorful history. It has successfully attracted many tourists because of its beautiful coastline, spectacular natural sights and a wide variety of sports activities. For people who love to explore, there are dozens of smaller islands around Phuket which you can reach within a few hours of boating. You can spend your leisure time going around easily.

Besides the breathtaking beaches, most of the retirees like Phuket because everything can be obtained in a convenient manner. The island is “well equipped” with international banks, shopping malls, restaurants and post offices. Both its infrastructures and local industries are well-developed. They are catered to suit foreign tastes and expectations. Almost all types of facilities we have in the city can be found in this island. I would say no matter how senior you are, you don’t have any problem to survive in this peaceful island.

Purchasing real property in Phuket is not really hard. There is an important thing you must know. You need to understand the land law in Thailand. In this special island, foreigners are not allowed to own land. However, you have the right to own buildings. The fastest way for you to settle down is through purchasing condominium. According to the latest regulations, 49% of a condo building can be owned by foreigners. The prices of the condominiums offered in Phuket are very attractive. You can own luxurious condominiums which come with great facilities. You can enjoy sea view if you choose to buy the unit facing the ocean. You don’t need to worry so much about the investment cost. You are able to get exceptionally luxury condominiums if you have a few hundred thousand dollars. Your cost of investment can be much lower if you are looking for normal condo.

 

October 20, 2013 |

Condominium Purchase in Thailand

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Thailand is one of the most popular tourist and resort destinations in Asia, attracting millions of short-term and long-term guests annually from Europe, North America, Australia, and elsewhere. Many of these guests have selected Thailand as a vacation or retirement home, and many others have established small businesses here.

Whether you are young or old, whether you are still engaged in business or retired, condominium living in Thailand is very attractive for a number of reasons. One of these: Thai law, which generally does not allow foreigners to own landed property, does permit foreign ownership of condominiums. The process is simple and easy, but sound legal advice is needed to insure your interests are fully protected.

Whether you are seeking a condominium along a Bangkok mass-transit line; an ocean-side unit in Phuket, Pattaya or Hua Hin; or a condo in the cool mountains of northern Thailand, the procedure is the same: you should insure a title search is performed on the property, and a review of the legal contracts is conducted, before making any commitment. You then need to follow accepted procedures for the inward remittance of funds for the purchase; and finally you may attend the formal title deed transfer at the Land Department or delegate your legal advisor to do so on your behalf.

As a condo owner, you also have rights and responsibilities concerning management of the condominium complex, about which you need to be fully informed.

Insuring all legal steps are handled efficiently will be difficult if you do not already reside in Thailand on a full-time basis, so your choice of an advisor acting on your behalf is critical to a successful outcome.

Many property developers will suggest you use their own legal department to handle the paperwork; however, given the investment you are making in this foreign land, retaining an independent advisor insures your interests are fully protected.

 

October 13, 2013 |

Bangkok Condos – Living in the Heart of Thailand

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Bangkok – The city

The city of Bangkok (The capital of Thailand) lies in the heart of the country. It serves not only as Thailand’s capital it is also Thailand’s largest city. Bangkok is a hit among foreigners for its booming tourism industry. There is an array of famous and interesting destinations for example Chitralada, Royal Grand Palace, Erawan Shrine, Wat Pho, the Reclining Buddha, the Bangkok National Museum, the Bangkok University Art Gallery and many more. In Thailand, Bangkok is indeed the place to be.

Bangkok condo rental

For those planning to stay for quite a while, Bangkok condominiums (or condos) are readily available. In addition the Condos for sale and for rent can be a good investment for the university student, the young professional, the bachelor, or event the foreigner who’s planning a long term visit.

Living in a condo in Bangkok

Living in a condominium in Bangkok has its benefits. For one, it is relatively affordable, upkeep is generally cheap and, safety is also somewhat guaranteed by the building security team prevalent in most condo projects.

Condo communities

A condo owner can become part of an exclusive community of fellow owner with most condo developments having spas, gyms, saunas, swimming pools and last but not least a library.

Condo investments

A lot of foreigners invest in condo units because it is the only form of asset a foreigner can claim legal possession of. Buying or renting a condo unit in Bangkok is also assisted as there are a myriad of resources in the form of real estate consultants and property agents there to assist in making the process less tiresome. Nowadays, buying or leasing a condo unit has become really expedient.

Condo listings

If you are particularly interested in condo living in Bangkok but you’re still in another country, you can easily check the listings over the internet. The listings of rental properties in Bangkok are usually and mostly located in the most pleasing districts for residential areas. So you can be assured that even if you don’t get to accomplish a viewing at least you know, the condo unit is situated favorably.

 

October 5, 2013 |

Ecotourism In Pattaya-Thailand

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Before going into any Ecotourism opportunities in Pattaya, it would be helpful to explore just what Ecotourism is in Thailand, and what it isn’t…

Ecotourism has been defined as responsible travel to pristine or fragile and usually protected spots whose locals now strive to lower the environmental impact of tourism.

Eco tour guides will try to educate the tourist, as well as use profits from tours to help local ecological conservation efforts and empower local communities to do the same. The point being that by doing so, future generations may experience these areas as relatively untouched, and without the various kinds of garbage our species usually bring along.

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), established in 1990, defines ecotourism by using 7 basic criteria, and it is suggested that travellers use these same criteria when booking an Eco tour:

 

  1. The tour involves travel to a natural destination, vs. a theme park for example.
  2. The tour is organized in such a way that it minimizes the impact of the tour on the environment.
  3. The tour builds environmental awareness either directly, or indirectly through it’s management.
  4. The tour company provides direct financial benefits for conservation and preservation of the environment toured.
  5. The tour provides empowerment as well as financial benefits for the people living on or near the land.
  6. The tour operator and clients respect the culture of the local environment.
  7. The tour supports democratic movements and human rights.

 

Now with that said, most of these concepts can be easily misunderstood, and in practice, turned into a marketing tool – as well as malpractice by the more unscrupulous tour operators. There really is not much that can be done about that, as there are no international laws or enforceable restitution for ecotourism abuse. There is also no easy way to keep tour operators from labelling their business green or eco-friendly, other than common decency and truthful advertising.

But in the case of Pattaya (and Thailand in general) these labels are rarely abused. For example, there are two eco tours that stand out in Pattaya. These are the submarine and semi-submarine tours off the fragile coastal coral reefs of Ko Sak and Ko Lan. These tours are eco-friendly, in the sense that care is taken by the operators of these vessels not to disturb the corals or wildlife, and the impact on the environment is much less than if the same amount of divers (as passengers) were to visit these reefs each day.

The two recommended tour operators for visiting.

 

September 28, 2013 |
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