According to the classic ‘80s pop song ‘One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster’. But spend a full day in the city, and you’ll have time to get a taste for the real Thailand. And if you follow this itinerary you can also do it without compromising your commitment to ethical, environmental, or exciting travel!


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Breakfast, bikes and back-to-nature

Kick off the day with a caffeine hit from City Light Coffee. This cafe, located on Sukhumvit Soi 4, in the popular nightlife district of Khlong Toei, was established by Night Light – a non-profit organisation that offers holistic intervention for communities affected by human trafficking. The in-house Abonzo coffee is also sourced directly from the village of Doi Chaang in north Thailand, ensuring farmers receive enough income and greater opportunities for professional development.

Follow your brew with breakfast at Antique Cafe – situated in a small alleyway of Phrom Phong. As well as working with a plethora of NGOs to provide on-the-job training to prepare vulnerable individuals for their next job in the food and beverage industry, the profit-social business presents a chance to purchase various hand-made crafts from Narimon, an organisation aimed at preventing the exploitation of women throughout Asia.

Once fuelled, it’s time to put your foot down – literally – and start sightseeing. To reduce your carbon footprint avoid the temptation of travelling via the petrol-powered vehicles (cars, motorbikes, gas scooters and even some tuk-tuks) that clog the city streets and fill the air with smog. Instead, opt for a Bangkok walking tour which allows you to discover the culture, cuisine and many hidden corners of this city at your own pace. Those who’d rather explore Bangkok by bike should check out one of the many local operators that now offer three-hour, half-day, and full-day bicycle tours.

If you’re of the belief that the grass is greener on the other side (of the city), then head to Bang Krachao (AKA Bangkok’s Green Lung) – a verdant space located in the outskirt district of Phra Pradaeng. As well as the chance to clear your mind (and chest!) this area, nestled within a large bend in the Chao Phraya River is actually designed to resemble a green lung when viewed aerially. Eco-activities within the complex include cycling, strolls that pass between traditional wooden houses that line the streets, and a chance to stop and smell the flowers.

While there are approximately 40,000 temples all over Thailand some extremely beautiful ones can actually be found in the area surrounding the Green Lung – including Wat Rat Rangsan, Wat Bang Kobua, and Wat Kong Kaew. Typically featuring beautiful architecture and coloured glasswork, they are certainly spectacular – but ensure you always respect local culture by wearing modest clothing. (Legs and shoulders need to be covered or you may be refused entry.)

Those with a little more time in Bangkok may like to consider a trip to Khao Yai. This UNESCO World Heritage National Park is located approximately two-and-a-half hours away from the chaos of the city and home to a variety of wildlife including elephants, gibbons, porcupines, bears and different reptiles, which are left to freely roam in their natural environments.


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Refuel and a little retail therapy

Getting hungry? Stop for lunch at one of the many city eateries that have made a commitment to ethical, sustainable, socially-conscious dining. At Farm to Table (in Sathon) the focus is on agricultural sustainability and organic farming, with the rustic cafe directly sourcing local produce and transforming it into delicious meals (the ice cream is especially excellent!). The cafe also serves HelpLive Coffee with proceeds from every cup providing a meal to a child at risk. Or try Sustaina Organic Restaurant (located in Sukhumvit Soi 39), who use sustainable seafood and organic produce from their own farm Harmony Life for a great macrobiotic set lunch deal. Bonus tip: The Sustaina shop next door is stocked with organic snacks to go and goodies to buy and take home with you! If you can’t decide, you won’t be disappointed with anything on the menu at Broccoli Revolution – arguably one of Bangkok’s hippest vegan hotspots and a city staple for its fusion cuisine served in a chic, industrial interior.

Eat up, but save some energy for a spot of afternoon shopping – and the opportunity to continue your eco-adventure by trading with a range of local retailers. Ecotopia is an environmentally friendly business on the fourth floor of Siam Discovery, where you’ll find organic clothes, green-inspired gifts, planet-friendly beauty products, eco-deco and more by local and international brands all set amid a floor-to-ceiling eco-installation. Or support your search for sustainable style by hunting down Seeker x Retriever. While the design origins of this conscious clothing brand originated in Australia, every artisanal item is crafted by local communities in an ethical and sustainable way – from using natural dye baths in the region’s hot springs to incorporating recycled polyester derived from used plastic bottles. For a sustainable souvenir head to Refill Station – a zero-waste store that sells everything from hair, body, cleaning and laundry products to herbal tea and coffee for a refill – just remember to BYO containers!


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Dinner and sweet dreams

As you would have no doubt determined by now, Bangkok is brimful with ethical eating options! But one of the best for dinner is Cabbages & Condoms. Founded in 1974, this famous Bangkok eatery on Sukhumvit Soi 12 in the Khlong Toei district advocates for many of the country’s community awareness and social welfare projects. While (as the name might suggest!) the restaurant was originally opened to provide awareness about family planning, today it continues to empower locals by encouraging water resource development and environmental conservation.

Finally, wrap up your day with an enviro-friendly stay – and Bangkok Tree House is one of the best. This gorgeous eco-resort goes green with walkways in the canopies, exposed platforms, and huge windows open to nature. As well as a refuge from bustling Bangkok – where guests can breathe clean air, explore a lush landscape, and sleep under the stars – one of the green policies at Tree House is to remove one kilogram of trash from the Chao Phraya River for every booking made with them. Talk about putting your money where your trash was!