Vietnam is rapidly growing as a popular tourist destination for all kinds of travelers, from backpackers to honeymooning couples and families with children. The country is famous for its signature dishes like pho noodle soup and banh mi sandwiches, as well as amazing historic buildings, stunning terraced rice fields, intriguing cities, and its friendly, welcoming people. If you’re interested in visiting this famous Southeast Asian country, you might be concerned about the potential environmental impact of your journey, as many modern tourists are.
If so, you’ll be pleased to know that planning an eco-friendly trip might not be as difficult as it may first appear – Vietnam’s tourism industry is quickly adapting to the needs and desires of today’s tourists, and there are plenty of ways to visit this incredible country without making too much of an impact on the earth. Consider the following eco-tourism experiences to kick-start your planning:
Go trekking in Sapa
Eager to explore the wilderness of Vietnam rather than its cities? You’ll love Sapa, a remote area in the north of the country. Choose a small business that benefits its locals, and you’ll likely have a much more authentic experience than you would if you went with mass tourism providers.
Sapa Sisters is a company made up of local Hmong women and is a perfect place to start. Tourists can take a trekking tour across the mountainous landscape with a local female guide, and stay with families, eating meals with them and learning about their culture. If you’re not ready to head back to the big cities after your visit, rest assured that there are plenty of national parks to explore in Vietnam, many of which can also be explored with local guides.
If you’re looking to stay with locals in Sapa, check out our blog on How to Choose a Homestay in Sapa
Cycle in Mai Chau
On your trip, why not do as the locals do and see Vietnam by bicycle? Venture off the beaten track with a local company, and you’ll see a side of the country most tourists never experience. Travel Mai Chau offers a four-day bicycle tour for confident cyclists, during which participants are also able to take a boat trip, see native animals, and try local food.
Focus on the little things
Even if you’re not planning on going on multi-day hikes or cycling tours, you can still make a difference through the choices you make while you’re travelling. Avoid the malls and large hotel chains – buying from street vendors will support locals rather than international corporations, while staying in eco-friendly accommodation will ensure that your carbon footprint is minimized as much as possible. Even the way you travel around the country can help: for example, you might try to take public transport such as trains or buses rather than taxis. Check out our partners 12go Asia to book public transport in Vietnam online.
Travelling responsibly in Vietnam is easier than ever, thanks to the industry’s growing recognition of the importance of eco-tourism to the earth’s wellbeing. Whether you want to have a relaxing holiday or you want to spend your days packed with activities, choose eco-tourism experiences and you’ll return home satisfied, with memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Volunteer your time
If you have the time while on your trip to Vietnam, you might like to think about volunteering.
Volunteering is both a rewarding activity and a way to get involved in the local culture, and is a great way to ensure that you’re contributing to the country rather than just taking from it during your travels. Vietnam offers a wide array of possible volunteering activities, especially in the field of conservation and animal welfare – there’s something for everyone, so if you’re looking to give back to the community, volunteering is the activity for you. Check out our friends at Giving Way to find responsible volunteering opportunities. Please make sure your contribution is making a positive difference by doing your research before volunteering – find out more advice on volunteering abroad here.
Harper Reid is a freelance writer from New Zealand who is passionate about sustainable and responsible travel. She
enjoys mingling with locals during her trips overseas to have a first-hand glimpse of the culture. You can find more of
her work on Tumblr .