We believe that travel should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine appreciation of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos’s beautiful natural environments. This philosophy underpins the heart and soul of our style of travel. We recognise that poorly planned itineraries or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the livelihoods of local people.
This is an epic journey that is bound to stir the imagination. Commencing in Cambodia we take in riverside Phnom Penh before moving on to the monumental temples of Angkor. Here we have facilitated a very significant donation to the World Monument Fund in Cambodia, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the maintenance of a select number of archaeologically precious temples in Angkor. During this journey we actively encourage our travellers to patronise or financially assist numerous not-for-profit organisations in Cambodia including Lotus Blanc in Phnom Penh (a restaurant which teaches hospitality skills to young people recruited from a rubbish tip), Made in Cambodia in Siem Reap (which sells items made by underprivileged Cambodians) and the Sunrise Orphanages in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Our offices also finance the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, which provides health care services to poor Cambodians and through which we sponsor the training of a Cambodian nurse.
In Vietnam we experience wonderful diversity from industrial Saigon to beautiful Hanoi. At the latter there is the opportunity to visit Koto’s (know one, teach one) – a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training centre staffed by disadvantaged young people – to try their famous Koto smoothie. Our offices also finance the Loretto Foundation in Saigon (which assists disadvantaged, poor and disabled children through education), and The Fred Hollows Foundation (which provides ophthalmologic services to underprivileged Vietnamese).
This small group tour to Vietnam include visits to the Streets International in Hoi An and the Spiral Foundation in Hue. Both of which are not for profit organisations that aim to help Vietnamese form a grass-roots level.
Often from significantly disadvantaged backgrounds Streets provides young Vietnamese with skills, from front of house to qualified chef’s, in the hospitality industry that will last them a lifetime. Based from the streets Cafe and Restaurant ,we have arranged for some of the students at Streets to give members of our groups a walking tour of one of one of Hoi An’s rarely visited markets as well as a walking tour of some of Hoi An’s back-streets that are rarely seen by tourists. In a group of two or three, and with a supervisor from the organisation present, these tours will help the students earn valuable credits towards their qualifications and give our travellers a truly unique insight into everyday life in Hoi An. Upon returning to Streets Cafe and Restaurant you can relax with a cold drink and sample some of the cafe’s and students incredible food.
The Spiral foundation aims to help deaf and mute Vietnamese become self-sufficient and fully independent members of Vietnamese society. As artisans the employees of Spiral make jewellery and personal souvenirs with all profits going to various medical causes around Vietnam. As part of a small group you will see how they do this first hand and have a go at making your own souvenir to take away with you. We also make a donation for every client that visits the center that will hope will fund 15 open heart surgeries over the course of the year.
Journeying onwards through Laos we travel to Kuang Si waterfalls, one of the many beautiful waterfalls near Luang Prabang. On the way to the falls we stop at a Hmong hill tribe village and gain an insight into the lifestyle of one of the most significant ethnic minorities in Indochina. Like most minority groups in Laos, the Hmong originally migrated from China. Known as ‘montagnards’ (highlanders) by the French, many Hmong in Indochina were recruited to south Vietnamese and Royal Lao forces in the 1970s, in the hope of being rewarded with an autonomous homeland.
On this journey our local guides are trained to share their knowledge of cultural and other local issues in a balanced, informative way; in this journey alone you are likely to meet several local guides from different areas in Cambodia, and provinces in Vietnam and in Laos. They share real experiences from their own lives and insights into their family life, influences and beliefs, thus providing our travellers with a deeper understanding of the places they visit. This is what motivates our guides, not shopping commissions.
Our offices in Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Siem Reap) and in Vietnam (Saigon, Danang and Hanoi) are staffed with local people wherever possible and we have a long term aim of filling management roles with competent local staff. This presence in Vietnam and Cambodia means we are much better able to control the content, the actions of our suppliers, and the style of our small group journey.