1.) Eat Locally
It's possible to eat 24/7 here in Bangkok. And surely would love to try as many as you can; be it meals, snacks or fruits. But just before you activate your connoisseur mode and dash off to restaurants at high speed, why don't we do it a little differently this time. So here's challenge No. 1 for you: buy your foods from local shops for 7 days.
That's right, peeps, buy your meals and groceries from food stalls and pops-and-moms shops instead of big superstore chains. And by spending at these small businesses, you are helping local families to sustain and improve their lives by providing them direct income. And in return, they merrily serve you authentic Thai food whose tastes vary from one place to another! So, isn't it cool that you get to taste 21 different meals for a week while helping hardworking local entrepreneurs becoming well off?! We think so :)
2.) Minimize Your Waste
It's too bad that we can't drink from the tap here in Bangkok. So it's kinda acceptable when you buy bottled water instead. But do you know that these plastic folks take up to 450 years to decompose? Yep, we know it's not the most eco-friendliest card on your hand, but you can cope with that by using the challenge card: reuse your plastic bottles 10 times during your stay here.
For the starter, you can recycle the bottles by refilling them with water from dispensers, which can be found throughout Bangkok. By doing this, you not only save your budget since refilling water is way cheaper than buying new bottles (3 baht per liter is not a bad price, though), but you also get to preserve the environment by making sure that less amount of plastic garbage going to the landfill at the same time! Pretty nice, right?
And don't forget to buy bottled water from pops-and-moms store to help to provide income to the locals families and put used bottles in the correct recycle bin before you leave too :)
3.) Be Cautious When It Comes to Wildlife Tourism
We totally get it that you might want to take selfies with tigers or ride elephants in Thailand. But just a friendly heads-up, some animal tourist attractions might use unsuitable methods to tame poor animals under their care. So we don't really encourage fellow travelers, either knowingly or unknowingly, to support such practices. But if you still insist on seeing animals here, well, maybe you're up for our third challenge.
This challenge is for you to find and keep track of attractions that humanely treat animals under their care. We believe that there are numbers of places out there that treats animals nicely or let them be in their natural habitats. Find those places as much as you can and encourage others to support them, so that in turn, they continue to support the well-being of the animals under their care, while you also set examples for others to travel responsibly as well. But if you don't know where to start, we suggest you visiting the Elephant Refuge and Education in Phetchaburi and spend some time with the rescued elephants there.
4.) Go Off The Beaten Path
Last time we checked, the internet and travel blogs were loaded with lists of places to see in Bangkok. But if the thoughts of going to the same places again bore you out, or you just try anything off the books, then we suggest that you go off the beaten path and we challenge you to visit not only just 1 but 5 hidden neighborhoods in Bangkok!
These neighborhoods in Bangkok are often hidden in plain sight. They are the hidden gems that expose you to one-of-a-kind cultures, distinctive charms, and unique activities that vary from community to community. And by spending time there, you can always be sure that the money you spent is going to help the people develop economically while, most importantly, your enthusiasm and time there greatly encourage them to maintain their unique ways of lives and specialties, and not succumbing to a raging force of change from the outside. All to keep reminding you and the others that the City of Angels here has more than meeting the eyes ;)
5.) Encourage Others to Travel Sustainably
Congratulations! you've come to the end of the list. We're glad that you've followed up so far, and you must be proud of all the good deeds you've done. And most importantly, you’ve become a trendsetter for others to change and travels responsibly and sustainably! But doing so is not an easy task, and a handful of us can't handle this alone. That's why we are, together, going to do this final task: use hashtag #SustainableTravel to spread the word about sustainable tourism.
By using the hashtag, you are letting everyone know that they can do it too, and that traveling is not only about enriching yourself, it's also enriching others around them as well; financially, environmentally and sustainably. So let's not dawdle and let them know that by doing little things, like these challenges, they are doing great things that benefit other people at the same time.
Nattanut Wongpariyakul (Sher)
Sher loves writing as much as he loves wandering around. He enjoys good movies, music, as much as daydreaming on BTS Skytrain. In the meantime, he's trying to document what he sees on the streets of Bangkok and turns them into one epic writing project of a lifetime.