This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Responsible tourism: Southern Laos & 4,000 Islands holiday, tailor made
• On this trip you will stay at the Kingfisher EcoLodge in (Champasak Province) the 4,000 islands. This comfortable lodge places a focus on sustainability. They work with local NGOs to provide trekking in the national park, all water is run through an anaerobic filter system to help protect the local environment, recycling and composting is used wherever possible, the staff and many of the services are sourced locally.
• We also use the Senesothxeune Hotel which is very much involved in the local community, namely in its sponsorship of regional sports programs.
• You will also stay at Tad Lo Lodge which also uses filtration systems and is set amongst natural surroundings. To prevent the felling of trees many of the lodge-style rooms are built around trees.
• We issue all our travellers in Laos with a 'tread lightly' guide that is filled with information about how best to limit their environmental impact in Laos. This covers what produce we recommend you buy, what we recommend you avoid, how to barter with locals, reduce your environmental footprint and donate to local causes.
• This journey also uses bikes (very light riding) and boats so as to immerse you in the local scenery as well as preventing the need for large road networks and other mass-tourism traits.
What else we do in the region:
Having offices on the ground across Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) means that we are able better manage our environmental impact, and those of our partners in destinations where we do not have a direct presence.
• In Laos we work with the NGO Elephant Asia and currently pay for the production of specialist ‘Elephant First Aid Kits'.
• On all of our private and small group journeys our local guides and Western tour leaders are on hand to help clients reduce their impact on the local environment. As with almost all travel it is the little things which really help the local environment.
• In northern Thailand we work with the Himmappan Project. In this case we've purchased a plot of land in the very north of Thailand dedicated to reforestation.
• We now offer carbon offset on 12 of our best-selling journeys in Asia, including Vietnam and Cambodia. With this program we will offset the carbon emissions for every passenger on every departure.
• We aim to use environmentally conscious hotels and homestays, like Topas Eco Lodge in Sapa (featured on this journey) as well as home-stays in the Mekong Delta and Mai Chau.
Our local guides and tour leaders are essential to our responsible travel policy and can contribute immensely to our impact ‘on the ground’. As well as offering guidance their local knowledge is an invaluable resource that our travellers regularly call-on when they are exploring Asia.
• They advise on how to shop ethically, like avoiding rare produce or goods that may have been sourced from endangered or at risk environments.
• In more rural areas we can guard against any potentially damaging actions like hiking in delicate areas, littering and avoiding certain shops/industries
• Give guidance on preserving the local built environment like the temples of Angkor, the citadel in Hue or the Great Wall of China.
We work with Cleaner Climate carbon consultants to fully offset emissions from our Australia and UK offices. The funds from the offsets support clean energy projects in Thailand, India, and China. Moreover, as a local and international operator we are in a unique position that allows us to better mitigate our effects on the local environment. Examples include using modern vehicles that reduce carbon emissions, avoiding poorly run hotels and educating our local guides on environmental issues.
As well as using small independent run hotels and lodges on this journey, in Laos and the surrounding region we support a number of projects:
• Makphet. In Laos we support Makphet Restaurant (part of Friends International). A social enterprise project, Makphet takes in disadvantaged youths from Vientiane and trains them in various aspects of hospitality as well as providing a formal education, housing, food, clothing and support. As well as introducing our clients to the restaurant we also sponsor a student at the restaurant.
• Big Brother Mouse. We have paid for the publication of three books designed to encourage an interest in reading, increase literacy, and/or help educate about key rural health issues in Laos. Many of our travellers also purchase books for ‘drop off’ to schools or villages during their trip. We also run fundraisers throughout the year to support the project.
• In Laos we support the interactive COPE visitor’s centre which confronts to very real issue of UXOs and unexploded ordinance. During the visit we also show our travellers what they can do to help.
• Spiral Foundation. The Spiral Foundation runs the Healing the Wounded Heart workshop in Hue. Disabled artisans produce crafts from recycled materials and are able to generate an income. All proceeds go towards fair salaries for the disabled employees and towards funding heart surgeries for poor children in Hue. Most of our journeys that go to Hue visit the workshop and guests can meet the workers and make their own souvenirs to take home. SPIRAL are able to pay for around 100 open heart operations per year across Vietnam.
• Loreto operates a number of projects aimed at assisting disadvantaged, poor, and disabled children through the medium of education. Over the years, we have funded school kits, a library, and travel costs for teacher trainers to come from Australia.
• Creativity for Humanity. Our reusable cloth shopping bags given to Small Group Journey travellers in Vietnam are made by underprivileged and disadvantaged Vietnamese artisans who work with Creativity for Humanity.
• Child Safe Network. Our Cambodia journeys visit the ChildSafe Centre in Phnom Penh, dedicated to the elimination of child exploitation, and travellers receive a useful guide on how to help protect children in Cambodia.
• Over a number of years, Travel Indochina has paid for the training and employment of a nurse at this Siem Reap hospital, the latest is nurse Soy. AHT provides much needed healthcare to children from across Cambodia, with a focus on primary intervention and on the training. We also undertake numerous ad-hoc donations throughout the year.
• Purkal Youth Development society. We support this centre for educational and personal development of disadvantaged youth in Northern India by sponsoring school uniforms, a library, and a school-wide drama and performing arts program.
• Ad hoc support. We also offer support in many of our destinations on an ad hoc basis. In Vietnam we have offered logistical support for victims of flooding, we financially support a rural school in southern Vietnam and also run annual fundraising events in our offices in Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as in in our offices in Australia and the United Kingdom.