Ancient Orient Journeys

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AOJ offers a personalized travel experience for discerning clients who are especially interested in the culture, history and lifestyle of Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. Based in Ho Chi Minh City we are experts in tour design and have extensive experience of these countries. We also have excellent contacts. The company is led by myself (Vinh) wife Trang. We both have over ten years experience; myself as a travel sales manager and Trang in managing business operations. This is a very good blend. Being a small company we are nimble, flexible and very customer focused.
Member since: 02 Nov 2016

How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...

Economic responsibility

AOJ is committed to helping poorer communities and we are ambassadors for a leading charity in South Vietnam. Quite apart from donating much needed items such as clothing we are available to assist with projects, especially getting them off the ground and managing the action process. Such projects are extremely important in maintaining a fragile economy in remote and poorer areas.

Being based in Vietnam, with strong connections to neighbouring countries, we employ local people only. Whilst the aim is to promote employment opportunities for those who might otherwise struggle a little, we do have balance this with our commitment to quality through the entire supply chain. This includes all accommodation, drivers, guides and locally arranged facilities such as river trips.

We all agree the imperative is to keep money within the local economy wherever possible, and especially in areas that are under-developed economically.

We can evidence this approach to economic sustainability in using local people, accommodation and facilities and promoting lifestyle tours where clients can experience homestays and participate in rural crafts and similar. This has an economic spin-off to these communities as we are channelling money and resources for local use. If developed well and correctly this can also provide employment opportunities not only in producing crafts but also in promoting traditional ways of life to show tourists how we live in these remoter parts.

Environmental responsibility

Many of our tours are eco-friendly as they explore the natural environment through activities such as hiking and more serious trekking, photography, climbing, botany and history too. A particular feature as explained in the section on Economic Responsibility is experiencing traditional ways of life in an eco-friendly setting such as staying with families, cooking local dishes and partaking in daily tasks. In this way clients can get a true feel of not only the country but a particular area.

As Buddhists we greatly respect nature and wildlife and seek to preserve this in a natural setting and without disturbing habitats. We always ensure waste created on our tours is disposed of responsibly. A crucial aspect is ensuring that all the people we use respect not only the natural environment but the eco-systems too. We are fortunate in recruiting excellent guides and others who have the same desire and commitment to preserve and protect. AOJ often joins in seminars run by the Vietnamese Government to protect the environment.

We encourage our clients to get off the beaten track and to stay in homestays where there are no comforts of modern living such as air conditioning and TV. They will live close to Mother Nature and experience a natural way of life, far removed from the stress of Western society. We have also developed a range of biking tours that are all eco-friendly and which respect the natural environment with specific trekking trips to poorer areas, especially in Sapa and Pu Luong and Sen Monorom in Cambodia.
AOJ refuses to accept using animals as ornaments or for displays such as elephant riding or circuses, rather than simply observe them in their own habitats. We use recyclable and bio-degradable bags; not plastic. Mineral water bottles are glass and not plastic.

We have an employee profile, related to the type of role performed, so that when we select only those people who match our commitment and ethos. Our monitoring system coupled with client feedback ensures that standards are maintained. This is really important as it is fine to say we do but we must do what we say!

Social responsibility

AOJ eco-friendly tours and personally designed itineraries are with the very clear aim of not only sustaining cultures but promoting and preserving local cultures and ways of life. This can mean staying with local families such as one of several ethnic tribes or more than one to obtain a contrasting experience. The feedback is amazing; a wonderful and humbling experience is a typical comment.

In Vietnam and elsewhere there are many festivals and celebratory events such as Full Moon festival and Tet Lunar New Year. AOJ staff, Trang and I join the charity organizations and visit poor and remote areas and bring them gifts such as rice clothes and other vital supplies and support them like teaching English, Maths and Literature for young children.

We have visited remote areas around Sapa to identify and assist with community projects. We donate, pencils and drawing materials for local schools and being very practical has helped maintain the fabric of buildings such as mending broken windows.

It is our wish to set up a foundation in the remoter and very poor areas around Sapa. The aim is to promote and sustain the environment, economic infrastructure and quality of life through education in particular.

Linked to the handicraft villages, especially in the poor areas (Northern Mountainous Vietnam and the Mekong Delta) we introduce these to tourists who can see and buy the real handicrafts.

AOJ support the traditional Vietnamese music like: CA TRU, musical instrumental : dan tranh, dan bau (one string guitar) and Cai Luong (Southern Vietnamese traditional music) and we also support local meals cooked by the local host to keep the traditional feature rather than using the restaurants.

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