Southeast Asia Natural Adventures

nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Thailand, Indonesia and Southeast Asia


Responsible Ecological Social Tours Project (REST)


The Responsible Ecological Social Tours Project (REST) is a non-governmental organisation, established in 1994. REST has been working with various communities in the North and South of Thailand to organise, manage and develop programs for tourists who are interested in learning about Thai communities and their relationship with the natural environment by spending time with participating host families. Such Community Based Tourism is a low-key and highly personal approach, for both locals and traveler participants, that feeds tourist dollars and influence directly into the local people.

In 2002, the Year of Eco-tourism, REST was awarded the World Legacy Award for Destination Stewardship for the project in Koh Yao Noi. This award was presented to REST in Washington D.C. by Queen Noor of Jordan in association with Conservation International and National Geographic Traveler.

The World Legacy Award is presented to organizations

“For being a leading example in the tourism industry where environmentally and socially responsible tourism practices are helping to protect our planet’s natural and cultural heritage and whose actions serve as a role model for others”


REST, Travel and You

Through REST Nature Travel Specialists can arrange Thailand study tours for international groups with specific interests in development, environmental and cultural issues. Through partnerships with other Thai NGOs and grassroots groups, experienced guest lecturers combine with in-the-field participation to provide unequalled opportunities to learn the dynamics of development that shape the current Thai society. We can also offer private and customized Thailand tours for small groups, couples and individuals who would like to experience Thailand travel away from the normal tourist routes, live with and learn from local Thais who are respectful of their environment and wish to sustain their way of life.

REST operates in several areas of Thailand. Group study or individual tours can be arranged within one area, or visiting several.

Sample Thailand Study Tour Itinerary

About 925 kilometers from Bangkok, Mae Hong Son Province (capital city Mae Hong Son) is the most northwestern province of Thailand, bordering Burma in the West and North, Tak Province in the South and Chiang Mai Province in the East. It is one of the most mountainous areas in Thailand and thickly forested. The Province’s road system is sufficient when dry, but during rainy season some roads can be inaccessible.

The Province is known for its natural beauty and diverse ecosystems, with caves, steep mountains covered in mist, fast-running rivers and paddy fields that give the Province a secluded and still wild outlook. Most of its natural beauty is now protected in National Parks and the number of National Parks is likely to increase in the future.

The village REST is working together with is Baan Huai Hee, a Karen village located about thirty kilometers southeast of Mae Hong Son. The area around the village is of rich natural beauty, much of the large biodiversity part of the nearby National Park.

Ban Huai Hee is self-reliant; all agricultural products, as well as the livestock (chicken, ducks, pigs and buffalo) are for own their consumption. Exceptions to this total self-reliancy are the handicrafts and orchids which provide the villagers with some money. Since 1994, tourism has also become a small source of income. The amount derived from this source is limited, as the tourism itself is limited to reduce impacts. The village is well known for its rotational rice-farming, the traditional way of living of the hill tribes (the Karen people), the beautiful natural surroundings and its isolated location.

Several activities are included in REST tours to this area.

Thai Agriculture
The villagers practice rotation farming, growing rice, corn and several other vegetables, all in combined fields. Their thorough knowledge of both the forest and agriculture enables them to sustain the fertility of the soil. When they cut trees to create a new field, both the roots and the basis of the trunk are spared. The new field is only used for one year, allowing the forest to recover after the farmers have moved to the next field. After a few years, the forest is back in its original condition.

Thai Weaving
The women in the village practices weaving, where recently a small, traditional weaving factory was built, subsidized by the Royal Family. The women weave traditional clothes, which the local Karen people still wear, bags and sheets.

Thai Basket making
The community makes baskets form bamboo by hand; guests may also try their hand at this fascinating craft.

Thai Blacksmithing
The Karen still have their own blacksmiths who make everything by hand, without the use of machines.

Thailand Hiking
Guests can go hiking to the top of Doi Pui Mountain, within the National Park, and this hike is ideal for one or two-day trekking. Along the way is the Nursery for the Orchids; here one can also learn about herbal medicines used by the Karen people.