Local Craft & Culture:
We do a lot to celebrate the cottage industries on this tour, as this is not only a way to directly benefit the locals but it is also hugely fascinating and enjoyable for travellers. For example, we have some time shopping in Mai Chau, where we can support local villages by purchasing handmade crafts, such as cloth, scarves and accessories made from coconut shell. In Mekong, we visit a lot of these small businesses and factories which sell handmade coconut sweets, soya bean sauce, popped rice and popcorn amongst other things. There is also the option to see a traditional folk dancing or water puppet show. This encourages local customs to continue and, of course, creates employment opportunities.
Accommodation & Meals:
We will spend most nights in comfortable hotels and also in some more unique accommodation such as a houseboat, a local longhouse, a sleeper train and a village guesthouse. This combination of locally run hotels contributes directly to the community as staff are from the area and food is grown and sold locally. Where meals are not provided, your guide will be able to point out several smaller restaurants, cafes and markets, like in Mai Chau, Hanoi, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta. Clients often enjoy the floating markets at Cai Rang the most, as this is the biggest and most lively market at in the Delta. It is a maze of hundreds of boats with fresh produce from fruit and veg to fish where we can really get an authetic view of local life.
A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. Our leaders and guides have been trained in responsible travel and actively encourage our suppliers, drivers, and other members of our team to respect the environment, protect the culture and support the local economy. They have also completed Child Safe training which enables them to take positive action should they encounter children at risk as well as educating clients re child protection within tourism.
In Hanoi, we encourage groups to have a communal meal at KOTO, which is an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to groups of 16-22 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students also receive accommodation, food, medical check-ups and treatment whilst they are being trained. Many of the 400+ graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training so this is a great initiative to support.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.