Bikini ban in national park
KANCHANABURI, 22 October 2012: Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation is urging international tourists to keep their clothes on when they travel to Erawan National Park.
The department’s office director, Wittaya Hongwiaengjan, said in order to improve tourist safety and a respect for local culture, female tourists should not strip down to bikini swimwear when visiting Erawan National Park.
The park is a “test venue” to promote “appropriate dress.” It is the second most popular venue after Khao Yai National Park, also a venue where foreigners sport bikinis or scanty swimwear at popular waterfalls.
“Walking around the park in beach wear is a failure to recognise cultural aspects as well as being a health risk,” he said.
The risks are from nature as there are plenty of crawling and flying insects that will bite exposed parts of the body, particularly the regions used for sitting. There are also other dangers such as sun burn or even sun stroke and during the rainy seasons there is an abundance of leeches.
But it is more to do with cultural shock for the park’s director who said foreign women parading in their bikinis could be viewed as a kind of “sexual harassment.”
“There are monks and children who visit the sites so foreigners should respect this fact.”
Erawan National Park head, Kamol Nuanyai, said tourists however can wear bikinis at spots where they can swim, but they needed to act appropriately on the way to and from waterfalls.
“Women should wear a vest and use a towel from waist down, while men should wear loose pants over their swimming trunks before they arrive at waterfalls.”
Earlier this month, the national park erected signs to inform tourists to dress according to the regulations.
Nudity is frowned on in Thailand outside the confines of Bangkok’s night life zones where the police turn a blind eye to a failure to uphold national cultural standards.Beaches and hotel pool areas are open territory for bikinis, but that does not extend to national parks.
Around 400,000 tourists visit Erawan National Park annually. Of that, 250,000 are Thais and 150,000 foreigners particularly Russian tourists.
Erawan National Park is a 550-sqm park in western Thailand located in the Tenasserim Hills, Tha Kradan sub-district, Si Sawat district in Kanchanaburi. Founded in 1975, it is Thailand’s 12th national park.
The major attraction of the park is Erawan Falls, a waterfall named after the erawan, the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology. The seven-tiered falls are said to resemble the erawan. There are also four caves in the park: Mi, Rua, Wang Bahdan, and Phartat.