Low Impact Transportation: South East Asia has lots of options for getting around making less of an impact. We always try to use local transport. This trip gives you the chance to try out Cyclos/Tuk Tuks and local buses in Cambodia, “junk cruise” in Halong Bay, motor cycle tours, local tractors in Lao, and a traditional local river boat. Getting around as the locals do not only allows you to experience the culture on a deeper level, but the same way it is at home, using public transport is the most sustainable way to go – after walking and cycling of course!
Support World Heritage: On this trip there are numerous opportunities to visit important heritage sites such as the world famous ancient temples of Angkor at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, among many other famous sites such as Hoi An, Halong Bay and Luang Prabang. Celebrating world heritage is an important way to participate in sustainable tourism. World heritage sites are designated for protection so that all the world’s people can share in these fascinating and historical wonders for generations to come.
Local Accommodation: All accommodations used throughout this trip are locally owned, managed and staffed, with profits going directly to locals. This is a major contributor to the sustainability of a trip because other types of vacations where the majority of the trip is spent in a large foreign-owned resort means very little income stays in the local economy.
Supporting local businesses, culture and community development: There are a multitude of opportunities to support local businesses and immerse yourself in the cultures of these countries on this trip. From the colourful markets to the bustling food stalls and cafes, the choices for eating and handicrafts are endless and the money is staying in the local economy - a vital way for tourism to make a positive impact. Activities that take you to markets, locally-owned restaurants, community projects, NGOs, locals’ homes and villages are vital to the local peoples’ ability to truly benefit from tourism. Our style of trip, traveling and eating with the locals, puts you right at the heart of Southeast Asian culture.
This trip also allows you to further immerse yourself in the culture and give back through optional activities that support the many local initiatives that abound in Southeast Asia for tourists to participate in:
Cambodia: Get a massage by a blind person who uses this skill to earn an income, visit the Landmine museum to support the efforts to continue removing landmines as well as support the orphaned amputees who live there, visit the Killing Fields to pay your respects to the countless lives lost to unspeakable violence during the Khmer Rouge genocide, eat a home cooked meal in a local Khmer home, try out a Khmer cooking school, visit a charity that takes children living in the local dump & provides them with education, visit a restaurant that support orphans/street kids, take the opportunity to donate blood to the children’s hospital to help children with dengue fever.
Vietnam: Visit an orphanage in Hoi an, visit a home for kids with disabilities in Hoi An, try out cooking lessons at a Vietnamese cooking schools, take a countryside bicycle tour or fishing tour with local fishermen, visit a restaurant owned by deaf mutes, eat lunch at local nunnery/monastery, eat in a training school/restaurant educating local kids, join the locals early in the morning exercising in local parks, drink with the locals in the very local bia hoi's.
Laos: Wander around a local evening fair in rural Lak Sao, visit Save the Bears Conservation Centre at Krung Sii Falls, visit an NGO providing books to children, try out a Thai cooking school, go on a nature tour with a local guide, shop in stores that support local disadvantaged women, offer alms to monks with the locals, teach monks English in the many wats (temples) in Luang Phrabang, visit local ethnic villages.
Thailand: Visit the centre for the disabled, visit a local leper colony, cycle through the countryside, eat at Cabbage and Condoms. Cabbages and Condoms is a restaurant (now a chain in Thailand) with a mission. Proceeds from the restaurant and adjoining gift shop which sells items made by local people are given to the Population and Community Development Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1974 which supports birth control, environmental conservation, rural development and AIDS awareness.
As a Tour Operator
This company has operated on responsible tourism values since its inception. From an environmental perspective, our initiatives extend from our company offices to our tours. Our head office and stores are powered by a local green energy provider, we encourage cleaner transportation methods for staff, and purchase all supplies from a local green business supplier. Our office is as paperless as possible and our brochures use 100% PEFC certified sustainable paper. We offset emissions from all corporate flights and our marine vessel, and encourage our travelers to do so by providing an online platform through Sustainable Travel International. Supporting communties is and always has been at the heart of our tours. We provide business opportunities to local people by employing local guides and tour operators. The majority of accommodation used on our tours are small-scale, locally-owned hotels. Our tours mainly use public transportation wherever possible and are small in size to keep our impact on fragile sites and communities as minimal as possible. We monitor the sustainability of our tours through traveler evaluations in order to allow for continuous improvement.
We support the local economy and business initiatives by visiting locally-owned shops, restaurants, and markets on our tours. Many tours incorporate community projects as a way of supplementing community income and supporting community development projects. In 2003 we founded a non-profit organization as a way for our travelers and our company to give back to the people and places we visit. We develop community projects around the world in the areas of health, education, small business development and environmental conservation. Funds are raised through traveler donations and fundraising. The company pays all administration fees which means that 100% of each individual donation goes directly to the community projects. Each year, we continue to support and develop new partnerships with more community projects and community-based tourism initiatives worldwide, in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Tour leaders provide travelers with information about local environmental issues in their respective regions, and provide suggestions of how we can best protect the local environment and culture.
To reduce the amount of waste created on tours, tour leaders also encourage travelers to use refillable water bottles instead of disposable plastic, cotton tote bags, reusable batteries, etc. We also include destination-specific information in our guidebooks, which are provided to each traveler including information particular to the local culture and environment and tips on how to be a responsible traveler.