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River tubing in Northern Thailand approved by TAT, local authorities

River tubing in Northern Thailand approved by TAT, local authorities

MAE HONG SON: With foreign tourists flocking to Pai district in Mae Hong Son province in search of adventure activities, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has confirmed the safety of the inner tubes floating on the Pai River and their low impact on local communities and the environment.

By Bangkok Post

Saturday 25 February 2023, 05:33PM

A video clip showing more than a hundred foreign tourists tubing along Pai River went viral on TikTok and social media earlier this week, reports Bangkok Post.

Phanuwat Khatnak, Director of TAT’s Mae Hong Son office, said safety regulations for this activity included a limit of 150 participants per tubing and a minimum of one employee per 12 participants, with life jackets provided to everyone.

Sound amplifiers and alcoholic drinks are prohibited* to minimise noise, which would impact locals along the river. The operators also need to collect any waste produced by participants.

Mr Phanuwat said these regulations were created at a meeting of the TAT Mae Hong Son office, Mae Hong Son police, and private tourism operators in November last year. If the rules are not followed, the province will ban operators from providing these activities in the future.

According to Mr Phanuwat, river tubing had been taking place for many years, but only gained popularity among foreign tourists last year after Thailand reopened its borders.

Internal - Phuket News TV

Tubing is offered to tourists only from November to May when the water level is low, roughly 50 centimetres or waist level, which is deemed safe for playing. The activity is prohibited during the rainy season as the water level can reach 2-3 metres.

Mae Hong Son welcomed more than 190,000 visitors last month, of which 20% were foreign tourists, according to TAT. The province is expected to welcome 1.6 million visitors this year, with foreign travellers increasing to 30% of the total in 2023. In 2022, the number of visitors to the province tallied 1.5mn thanks to a surge in domestic tourists, accounting for 80% of the total.

TAT Mae Hong Son is promoting the province via local village experiences, wellness retreats, and road trips to the province via its "dragon trail" of 4,088 curves on the highway from Chiang Mai. The province is also popular among bikers from Malaysia and Singapore.

*The Phuket News editors are aware that travel blogers promote the activity as “tipsy tubing”. TAT claims that drinking alcohol is prohibited to participants.

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JohnC | 27 February 2023 - 09:17:33

White-water rafting down the Pai River during the rainy season is much more fun than this will ever be. Staying overnight in a jungle camp by the river mid trip then finishing up at Mae Hong Son. Great trip!

JohnC | 27 February 2023 - 09:11:42

If you want to see what a disaster river tubing is go visit Wang Wiang in Laos and see what hundreds of drunk backpackers invading a river just like this is like. Watching it we couldn't understand how or why people found it fun or enjoyable in any way. It is boring in the extreme!

Kurt | 26 February 2023 - 09:34:57

We don't see a single life jacket on photos, fantasy machine TAT! And water levels are mostly much higher than 50-100cm, (waist level). No alcohol allowed? No thai entrpreneur who doesn't know to tackle that rule. And what goes in must goes out, so seeing the concentration of people, forget 'fresh'water quality.

Fascinated | 25 February 2023 - 18:50:29

I count 1 lifejacket amongst all of them- TAT calculator playing up again? Swamping an area with this volume of people is NOT eco-tourism. If one person ges over they are going to end up trapped under the other tubes..


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