Responsible tourism: Vietnam photography tour, Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi
Our Environmental Policy in Vietnam. We provide authentic, real travel photography experiences for small groups of guests (maximum 8 people), supporting local projects and charities where we can.
In each location we visit we have incorporated walking tours in to the itinerary, visiting local markets and artisans getting a real feel for the area at street level. In Hoi An we have incorporated a bicycle tour to a nearby island. We take the local ferry to and from the island and on the tour we travel around the island by bicycle, stopping at nearby farms and villages, getting a real feel for rural Vietnam. (Note: the bicycle tour is optional)
Safe drinking water. In Vietnam you need to drink plenty of water due to the hot and humid climatic conditions. To minimise the use of bottled water we recommend all guests bring with them a water bottle filtration system, made from BPA free plastics. These filtration systems convert tap water into safe drinking water, eliminating the need to use countless plastic water bottles, protecting the environment.
We have chosen not to fly between each location where time and distance permit, as Stephen feels the best way to see a country is from ground level.
From Ho Chi Minh to Can Tho we travel by road. From Hanoi to Sapa we go overland by road.
All our accommodation in Vietnam was sourced by Stephen so that there are great photo opportunities straight outside the front door and within easy walking distance to local restaurants, bars and markets.
In our office we use a 100% renewable energy supplier. We buy organic and fair trade goods, as well as growing our own food. We use A+ appliances and power saving computers and hard drivers. We use very little paper as we don't send out brochures, the paper we do use is recycled.
Before the start of the trip we email an information sheet to guests which details, any dress code, or other etiquette that is required to respect the local customs and traditions. We also include the words for hello and thank you in Vietnamese to encourage our guests to use these phrases as a starter. We also hold an orientation session on the welcome evening to remind people of the particular sensibilities of the country we are in, which reiterates dress code, appropriate behaviour in public and religious buildings, and includes such things as where to find local services, appropriate tipping (by giving an insight into average local wages) and bartering. Further to that on a daily basis guests are advised what they can expect to encounter that day with regards to dress codes, removal of footwear, etc.
Stephen has spent much time in Vietnam and has forged strong links and friendships with local people and businesses. As Vietnam has started to develop its tourism industry, Stephen on each visit is constantly looking at new projects and community projects to support.
Our transport (boat) providers on the Mekong Delta trip are a group of independent young people who run eco tours. They help local villages and some of the poorer local communities with clothing and education projects. They incorporate a walking tour showing local farming practices and farming techniques. They are passionate about their country and its local customs and heritage.
Our transport providers in Hanoi have a charitable donation scheme in place.
In the Sapa region of North Vietnam we have lunch at a local family house who are from the Red Dao ethnic minority group. Stephen has stayed in their family home, you might even get to sample some of their 'happy water'.
Our local guide in Sapa is a friend of Stephen's who is from the Black Hmong ethnic minority.
Stephen sources all of the accommodation himself. By encouraging our groups to sample the local cuisine and eat at local restaurants our trips also aim to benefit local businesses and individuals by putting our money into the local economy. Stephen has sourced great independent places to eat, which give a flavour of each area we visit.
In Hoi An we visit a local NGO Fair Trade shop and café started by a Vietnamese couple, one of whom is disabled. The shop employs disabled artisans, and proceeds are ploughed back into the business to train and employ disabled persons all over Vietnam.
We encourage our guests to buy locally handmade crafts and products as this gives confidence and pride to the local artisans, keeping traditional crafts alive by supporting them economically.
We recommend buying books from local sellers about the local history, culture and customs.
1 Reviews of Vietnam photography tour, Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed on 05 Apr 2017 by Nicole Bhark
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
As a beginner, the most exciting part of my trip was learning how to use a camera and seeing travel in a whole new light. Stephen helped open my eyes to a new level of travel that I didn't know existed and taught me how to tell a story with my photography.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Dress very comfortably as it gets really really hot and drink lots of water. I suggest bringing only 2 lenses and a light tripod. Try to fit everything in one backpack. Those with lots of heavy equipment found it cumbersome and a pain.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes, I feel that many local people and businesses benefited from this holiday.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
I learned a ton about photography and now have the necessary tools to capture my next holiday with beautiful images and light.