Thailande Autrement works alongside community-based tourism villages, creating deep insights into local ethnic life, in a warm spirit of family and friendship.
What to experience?
Thailande Autrement organises exceptional cultural trips for French-speaking families and couples. Visit Pha Mon or Nong Lom villages. Karen hill tribe people welcome you as you live and learn about their culture, arts, crafts and the traditional knowledge that comes from living in the forests of Doi Intanon National Park.
However, this is a far cry from staying in a straw hut … The Pha Mon lodge has two rooms, a bathroom with hot water, a lounge and terrace, all decorated with brightly coloured weavings by the villagers.
Follow the villagers’ everyday life, experience agriculture, weaving, local customs, traditional medicine and horticulture. Activities are not staged, simply explore the community, and get to know people engaged in their typical daily activities. Trained local guides lead exploration on foot, or using top quality, well-maintained mountain bikes. Professional Thai guides assist you with translation.
In the morning, enjoy hill tribe Arabica coffee, contemplating a valley of rice terraces amid lush forest. Food – prepared by your Karen hosts – is a mix of authentic Karen dishes and some simple international choices.
Groups are kept very small – usually 2 to 5 people accompanied by a Thai French-speaking guide.
Guests can also travel around Doi Inthanon to the park summit or to visit waterfalls in a car with a local driver.
How does it help?
Thailande Autrement (TA) leads fair trade partnerships by example, investing time, energy and resources, working as long-term partners with community–based organisations, academics and NGOs. TA’s commitment to working with local people and respecting their right to choose how tourism should be done (and not done), as well as working together to solve problems, is genuinely inspirational.
In 2005, TA went into partnership with Phamon Karen hill tribe village to design a model community-based tourism project. TA provided an interest-free loan to build a lodge, and training on guiding and guest-house management. Today the loan is repaid and the lodge is 100% owned by the community.
In 2010, Phamon Community-Based Tourism Club earned $14,600 USD from TA, through employment, accommodation and the village fee. Donations to the Community Fund ($1000 USD in 2010) have supported youth environmental activities, garbage clean-ups, scholarships for local students and assistance for a local disabled man. All funds are managed by the community members themselves.
TA’s commitment to fair trade is not just confined to local communities. TA does not barter with family-run accommodation; employs 8 out of 12 Thai staff from hill tribe communities; provides social security, private health insurance and wages considerably above the minimum wage for their staff, and offer a 5 day working week with 4 weeks leave per year on top of public holidays… a miracle in Thailand !
Lodges in partner Karen villages are fitted with energy and water efficient equipment, including a solar heater in Nonglom. TA offsets guests’ flight emissions and co-funds climate solidarity projects (3625 € in 2010) with the French NGO, GERES. In 2009, TA organised climate change training for their staff.