Thailand has made some efforts over the last 30 years to preserve its lush flora and fauna - with mixed success. Though visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the country's huge national parks, illegal encroachment continues.
Thailand's popularity with tourists and its recent prosperity have benefited the country's economy, but the downside is the degradation of its natural environment. Logging and encroachment have decimated forests. Industry and ignorance have polluted waterways. Unchecked development has buried greenery under concrete.
During the past decade, activities like mountain biking, whitewater rafting, trekking and camping, bird watching, scuba diving and rock climbing have sprung up in many natural tourist areas. They are now becoming increasingly popular as mainstream travelers pay more attention to off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Such eco activities are now available in every region of Thailand, more outstandingly in the mountainous areas of the north, west, and the south of Thailand. Leading the way are trekking, mountain biking, bird watching and scuba diving.
Most of Thailand's national parks are under the control of the Royal Forest Department. Most national parks provide trekking trails for nature explorers. There are also camping sites for those who want to overnight in the parks. Trekking and camping are available in the mountainous areas all over Thailand such as Doi Luang Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai, Phu Soi Dao in Uttaradit, Thung Salaeng Luang in Phetchabun and Phitsanulok, Phu Kradung in Loei and Khao Luang in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Actually, trekking and camping are not new tourist activities in Thailand. But they are better managed today than ever before. Apart from trekking along the marked trails, you may also hire a local guide to take a tour deeper into a forest to explore off-the-beaten-track routes. Organized elephant trekking is another popular activity for anyone who isn't too adventurous.
Mountain biking trips are organized by a number of specialist travel agents. The Thailand Tourism has promoted mountain biking activities in tourist areas such as the Sukhothai Historical Park.
A favorite activity for a small group of people, bird watching is increasingly popular along with other activities catering to niche travelers. The establishment of the Bird Preservation Society of Thailand has helped promote public awareness of this activity.
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