Thailand’s THE BEACH closed indefinitely

A couple of weeks ago, the white sandy beach of Maya Bay was closed indefinetely by the authorities of Thailand. The reason, mass tourism. As simple as that. The magic scenery made famous thanks, or because of, the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach” was literally wrecked by the continuous flow of incoming tourists since it was shot to fame by the movie.

Maya Bay was recorded to be the most popular tourist destination in Thailand over the past years receiving up to 5000 tourists and 200 boats a day. While the great affluence of tourists has considerably supported the local economy in the short term, it has seemingly damaged the location in the long term. Focusing on the short-term gains, the Thai government did not take action to protect the area despite increasing evidence of the negative impact of mass tourism in this area. It is true that the activity was generating approx. 12M$ per year, however the focus on short-term monetary gains is currently destabilizing the whole area.

After multiple years of hesitating to take action, the Thai government made a strong stand by closing the bay indefinitely to protect the area. A blunt and courageous move that is rare in today’s politics and it shows the consideration for the long-term sustainability of the area. Refusing the sirens of short-term gains towards longer-term benefits. We all know the story of the goose with the golden eggs, well that is kind of the same thing. The authorities decided to protect the bay area from the massive amount of tourists with the associated piles of garbage that are being thrown in the ocean, the pollution of waters because of the boats and the spoliation of the limited natural resources of the island.

Taking a bit of a distance with the story, it is interesting to see that one of the major Hollywood actors, Leonardo DiCaprio, and one of the most visible defenders of the environment on the international stage through funding of various sustainability projects and the now infamous speech at the United Nations was actually, because of his fame, also the reason of the decay of this heavenly part of the Ko Phi Phi Leh island. Meat for thought on whether fame is the cause or is it a tool towards more sustainability and the possible duality of everybody’s actions. The beach significantly participated in DiCaprio’s fame and now it is a clear example of how humans can spoil natural beauty … A cause that DiCaprio is defending!

When will the beach be re-opened? We hope that the Thai authorities will take its time to come up with a sustainability plan before reopening the site, paving the way towards ecotourism and showing best practices in the matter. Hopefully, this case will be an example to be followed and not just a temporary solution.


Environment friendly vacations

The christmas holiday season is getting closer, and with it comes the choice of the vacation destination. Whether you are heading to the beach, to the mountains or sightseeing, the impact on the environment varies and can be significant.

Obvious points like the form of transportation you choose to get to the destination should be taken into account to assess this environmental impact. Other tricky points, like the place of stay, the activities and even the souvenirs you buy can be equally important.

First the transportation, WWF has put in place a travel helper (here) to enable travelers to know the environmental impact of their transportation means and act on it. It comes as no surprise that the most eco-friendly mean of transport is the train, which is ten-fold less polluting than any other combination of car and plane transportation.

Concerned Scientists about air pollution caused by cars and trucks

The travel helper shows something that is less evident to most of us, indeed, traveling by car, individually, is approximately 50% more polluting than taking the plane. Factors like traveling speed, car make, and driving behavior may have an impact on this 50% factor, but the measure is averaged on a statistically representative population of cars and drivers.

Second, the place of stay has a significant importance as well. We have all seen the small cards in hotels telling us that, out of environmental concerns, the hotel will not wash our towels every day. Whether this is an authentic, environment-friendly stand from the hotel or they are doing it for some economic reasons, it is a good first step.


Nevertheless, it does not explain the broader context of the hotel, for instance, is the overall water consumption optimized when counting the pools, fountains and other water games in its premises? Is it correctly sized inline with the number of guests? Is it serving locally grown food or imported goods? and so on. Many questions remain unanswered.

The third points are the gifts travelers carry home from vacations. It is not unusual to go say to a country in North America and buy a souvenir that is made in China ! A usual aberration of the globalization era, but very frequent in real life!

Through our activities, we strive to bring solutions to the above-mentioned issues to help travelers better cope with environmental challenges to help sustain the beautiful travel destinations.

Get in touch with the Guidexplorer team to share your experience and provide tips to help reduce the environmental footprint of fellow travelers.


Why You Should Travel by Train More Often

You have a lot of options when you travel to a destination. Obviously, traveling by plane or by a car are the most common. However, traveling by train can be efficient and overall the best way to travel. As traveling by train is becoming more and more popular around the world, there are a lot of perks to this way of getting from one destination to the next.
A couple of major perks while traveling by train include, cost, movability, minimal turbulence, gets you directly where you want to go into the city, and it builds intercultural bridges.
As you compare the costs of flying and all of the extra added fees, you will find that traveling by train is drastically cheaper and the easiest way to go whether you have a big family or going on a weekend trip with your significant other. Take a look at a couple of the advantages of traveling by train.

It’s Very Relaxing & Comfortable

Traveling by train can be very relaxing and comfortable. You will have more room than an airplane seat and you won’t be stuck in the same position for hours and hours. The luxury of traveling by train is that you can get up and move around in the cabin. It isn’t as strict as flying on an airline or even going on a road trip. Usually, you can get cramped up on the road or in the air so traveling by train is the perfect option for a relaxing start to your vacation.

It’s Cheaper Than You Think

Flying on an airline typically includes a lot of hidden fees, but when you travel by train you can put those worries aside. No need to stress about gas money or paying for your overweight baggage. Riding on trains are generally stable so you don’t have to worry about price fluctuation or if one day of the week is cheaper to travel than the next day.

Speaking of prices, traveling by train allows you to take more luggage than you would be able to on a plane. For places in the United States, you can take up to 200 pounds of luggage on a train. Since there isn’t as harsh as a weight requirement for trains there is much more flexibility.

No Turbulence

Remember the bumpy airplane ride? Not anymore! One of the best things about traveling by train is that it is a very smooth ride. You no longer have to worry about spilling your drink or making sure your carry on stays next to you or in the overhead cabin.

The Experience

You always hear about people going to the airport but train stations are the next best thing! Depending on where you go, traveling by train can be very scenic. You may experience some incredible views of the mountains, rivers, beach, and everything in between. Since it is a direct ride you don’t have to worry about traffic and sitting on the interstate. The frustrations of driving have no value when you travel by train. You can sit back and relax. Don’t deal with the stress of road rage and stop lights, just sit back and watch a movie. There is a lot of comfort and relaxation when traveling by train due to the fact you don’t have to listen to safety measures or have anyone bugging you.

You Get to Your Destination Quicker

If you are traveling to a big city, the nice thing is that train stations are very convenient to all the action. You might consider traveling by train whenever you would have to deal with the high parking prices in the cities. Most people prefer the train ride because it can be significantly cheaper in the long run. When you’re on vacation, costs add up quickly and this option could be the best one for you. Even if you have a long commute to work in the mornings, see if there are any train stations along the route. Most places offer a train pass and you would be able to ditch the morning and evening traffic!


Builds Intercultural Bridges

Traveling by train is also common due to the fact it builds intercultural bridges between places. In a way, it helps us understand how people from different countries and cultures act with us and their surroundings. Traveling builds experiences and awareness. It can help you grow as a person and you can even figure out more about yourself. Every culture has a different way of life and everyone should showcase that. The perfect example is Chengdu, Europe Express.

Sustainability considerations

Most of the operational trains today are using diesel engines. However, the environmental impact of trains is significantly less than any other means of transportation. On average trains emit 0.19 kg of CO2 per passenger mile (0.12 kg/km per passenger). While the European Commission has recently, in 2015, enforced the regulation to impose that newly registered cars shall emit less than 0.13 kg/km of CO2, it is still higher than the average of emissions registered for diesel traction trains. Moreover, this does not take into account the overall increase in the number of electric engines that are being deployed in trains.

It’s A Better Way of Life

As traveling by train is budget friendly, efficient, and enjoyable more people are looking for this option to get to their destination. It can be a great experience for a family vacation too! Young kids enjoy the view and being able to see what is going on rather than just having a small airplane window. Since there is more room to move around, children aren’t confined to a small space. It can also help you out as a parent! If you are traveling with small children there is more privacy. You no longer have to worry about your child crying on a plane, rather you can just shut your cabin door of the train. There are many advantages to traveling by train for everyone. City workers are leaning on trains to get them to work in a timely fashion. From city to city, and coast to coast, trains provide traveling for all ages. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view!