Responsible Travel

The Best Filterned Water Bottle for Travel - The Gray Geopress

The Best Filtered Water Bottles for Travel

A filtered water bottle is an essential item for the responsible traveller in Southeast Asia. Not only will it ensure that you can drink purified water from any water source, but it also means that you will be protecting the environment from unnecessary plastic waste. Read our pick of the best options for filtered travel bottles for your journey!

Burning Season in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s Burning Season: What You Need to Know

The “burning season” or “haze” of Southeast Asia occurs every year creating terrible air pollution and many health problems. Having experienced this time of year first-hand several times I thought I’d give you a heads up about what it’s really like!

BEES Elephant Sanctuary: A New Kind of Elephant Tourism

BEES Elephant Sanctuary: A New Kind of Elephant Tourism

Looking for a truly ethical elephant experience? Head to BEES elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai and lead by example to change the animal tourism industry in Thailand! Read about what an average day spent at BEES is like and also more about the great work they are doing to care for retired elephants.

Exploring the local market in Hoi An

The Do’s and Don’ts of Haggling in Southeast Asia

Backpacking on a budget? Learn how to make your dollar stretch a long way with this Do’s and Don’ts guide to haggling in South East Asia. From tuk tuk rides to trips to the market you need to be armed with your skills everywhere you go.

Never Forget Elephant Foundation

Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand + Southeast Asia: Making an Ethical Choice

Elephant Tourism in Thailand takes many forms; from riding elephants to bathing them, watching them paint, dance & other horrors! Many camps in Thailand claim to be ‘sanctuaries’, but how can you tell that the elephants are being treated well & your experience is beneficial to their well-being? Daughter of a Mahout, Tidarat Jitsook (Ann) explains all…

Komodo Island Shut-Down: Fake News?

Komodo dragons are one of Southeast Asia’s most alluring creatures. Komodo National Park attracts more visitors by the day. What does this mean for the dragons themselves. Samantha Lego tells us what she learnt on a recent trip.

The prisoners of Cat Ba National Park.

The Furry Prisoners of Cat Ba National Park, Vietnam

For an animal lover, travel in Southeast Asia can, at times, bring with it unpleasant surprises. On a recent visit to Cat Ba National Park in Northern Vietnam, I was disgusted to see three macaque monkeys kept in appalling conditions in barren concrete prisons, much to the delight of several Chinese tourists. I urge every traveller to avoid this National Park.

Orangutan in Sarawak Borneo

5 Reasons to Travel Sarawak, Borneo!

Sarawak, Borneo is a place that combines wildlife, beauty and adventure! From orangutans to mouth-watering laksa, this underestimated island packs a punch.

Rak Tamachat Permaculture Course, Thailand

Permaculture & Natural Building at Rak Tamachat, Thailand

A permaculture course is not, as you may think, learning about how plants grow and how much to water them etc. (although there’s a bit of that involved). It is much more intense and revolutionary than that. The entire course gears you up to think differently about the way you look at the world; from the career you choose to the relationships you make and the way you spend your money. Permaculture is about empowerment. It’s about taking back control from the governments and the corporations that have robbed it from us, and who have led us to believe that we need anything more than healthy food, shelter and good friends around us, in order to be happy…

Maya Bay Koh Phi Phi set to close April 2018

CLOSED TO TOURISTS! Koh Phi Phi & Boracay. Where Next?

For 4 months this summer starting June 1st, Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi will close to tourists. Authorities in the Philippines are discussing a 6-month closure for Boracay Island. Is a closure necessary to protect these natural beauty spots and where should be next?

Coins for Change, Vietnam.

Southeast Asia Visa Guide for Volunteers, WWOOFers & the HelpStay Community

Backpackers who fall in love with a certain country in Southeast Asia may want to stay a while and volunteer their skills with a worthwhile organisation. But what about the visa situation? Is volunteering considered work? Will you need a special visa? A work permit? Here, we look at each country’s requirements one by one…

Should-Travellers-Boycott-Myanmar

Should Travellers Boycott Myanmar?

Travellers thinking of visiting Myanmar right now have a moral dilemma to consider. With the country rarely out of the headlines recently regarding the government’s brutal treatment of the Rohingya Muslims, is it a good time to visit? Will your tourist dollar go towards helping the military commit more human rights violations? Does your presence as a visitor condone the atrocities? We look at the case FOR and AGAINST boycotting travel to Myanmar.

“Backpacker Tourism can be a Force for Good.” Says Aid & Development Worker

Backpackers may not spend a lot, but almost every one of their dollars stays in the local economy. With package tourists, often hardly a penny is spent in local, host economies, rather large tourist corporations, big hotel chains and restaurants, shopping malls selling Western brands. It begs the question “Why does backpacking not feature in tourism developments?” Why do backpackers get a bad rap, out of proportion to the tiny fraction who misbehave?

Permaculture Design Course in Goa

What is Permaculture? Interview with Rico Zook, Permaculture Designer & Teacher

Last month, we took a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in Arambol, Goa, India with well-known Permaculture designer and teacher, Rico Zook, of Itinerant Permaculture. During the course we learnt many things, one of them, something that you think we should have known before taking the course in the first place – what permaculture actually is.

“Begpacking”: Backpackers Behaving Badly?

Over the past few days a photo has been going viral on Facebook showing two backpackers in the street selling postcards to fund their travels. I can’t help but think that this story is being blown way out of proportion by the Western media and the image of these two young, naïve backpackers is being used as a scapegoat for the inequality of the world. Before you get angry with me, here are some thoughts I’d like you to consider…

Child beggars at Chong Kneas Floating Village, Cambodia.

How Do You Feel About Beggars When You Travel?

Throughout my travels in India and South East Asia, I’ve been approached by beggars of all ages. Sometimes, I’ve given money or food. Sometimes I haven’t. Every time I go through a complex surge of emotions and the internal dilemma I describe here. Does everybody feel something similar to this? How do you cope with being approached by beggars?

Plastic Free Philippines: A 2000km Bicycle Tour With a Cause!

Anna Dawson is no stranger to the Philippines coastline having lived and worked in the country since 2008, however her next challenge will be one of her biggest yet. From September until December she will be cycling 2000km along the coasts of the Visayas and Luzon advocating for a reduction in ocean plastic, cleaning up beaches and talking to school groups…

Volunteering-SOID-Cambodia

Beyond the Temples of Angkor… Volunteering to Provide Free Education for Poor Children of Cambodia

Many travellers visit Cambodia to cast eyes upon the famous Angkor Wat Temples, yet, is there a richer experience to be had in this beautiful, yet impoverished country? Read one traveller’s experience volunteering with SOID (Supporting Orphans and Indigent People of Cambodia for Development Organisation), a small NGO that provides free education to the poor children of Veal Village, Siem Reap…

Buddha statues. Show some respect

Backpackers! Give A Little Respect…

My mum always told me from a young age: “Treat people the way you want to be treated”. This quote is very true. So why do people tend to forget this when they travel? Backpacker Ambassador Alesha Bradford highlights some of the do’s, don’ts and ‘absolute don’ts!’ of backpacking in South East Asia…

Why you Should Never Give to Begging Children – By Friends International

It happens frequently while traveling in South East Asia, backpackers are approached by adorable children asking for money. Dilemma of what to do quickly ensues, the moral question is raised, to give or not to give? We asked the experts of NGO Friends International what they would do. Here they tell us why their answer is always a firm no.

Blessing from a monk in Bangkok, Thailand.

Don’t Buy that Snake Whiskey! How To Travel Responsibly in South East Asia

With golden temples, sweltering jungles, white sand beaches and diverse cultures, it is little wonder that Southeast Asia draws travellers in droves. However, as with travel in any developing country, it’s particularly important to stay responsible whilst there. Riding an elephant? Buying that snake whiskey souvenir? In Southeast Asia, concerns on responsibility can pop up in the most surprising places. To make sure that you have an enjoyable trip without the a moral hangover, here are some tips.

Typhoon Haiyan

The Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, The Philippines – How Can You Help?

Relief work and international aid is pouring into the Philippines as the country continues with its recovery from the strongest typhoon ever recorded on the planet. With wind gusts that hit up to 270 km per hour at its peak, parts of the low-lying islands were completely flattened, and thousands of people were rendered homeless. No strangers to natural disasters, the Filipino people continue to build and rebuild their lives with admiration. We discover worthwhile organisations to volunteer with and how you can help!

Beer to Mulberries! Did Vang Vieng, Laos, Turn Around Its Boozy Reputation?

‘Tubing’ was a phenomenon that spun out of control, an activity that made the sleepy town of Vang Vieng, Laos, a notorious hotspot on the backpacker party scene. However, in September 2012, the bars along the infamous stretch of the Nam Song River closed. The slides and the zip wires were demolished and the drinking was stopped. With a reported 22 deaths taking place over high season last year, the Laos Government decided enough was enough. Tubing was banned. So what has happened to Vang Vieng since? Are backpackers missing Laos from their itinerary? Writer, traveller and volunteer at the SAELAO Project, Linda Stansberry discovers an interesting ‘Eco-Tourism’ revolution taking place in the former party town…

Why You Should Never Eat Shark Fin Soup.

A gang of students arriving for their Open Water Course had previously been enticed to eat shark. Similar to how the adventurous travellers sample insects on the Khao San Road, they thought trying shark meat was like a traveller rite of passage, but their eyes were soon to be opened to the full story. Ayesha Cantrell of Master Divers unfolds the horrifying truth…

Backpacking? It’s a dog’s life! Volunteering with Lanta Animal Welfare in Koh Lanta, Thailand

Would you like to give something back whilst you travel? Sometimes it is not all about seeing the Top 10 sights in a country, but about staying put for a while and finding out more about how your visit can help the local community. Jessica Simmonds from Scotland decided to take time out of her gap year to volunteer for three months in Thailand. She chose Lanta Animal Welfare, (LAW) a non-profit organisation based on Koh Lanta, Thailand, which takes care of the large population of stray dogs and cats on the island. Her experience was fun, rewarding and most of all valuable to the local area…

Volunteering at Mr T’s Organic Farm in Vang Vieng, Laos

If you’ve been to Vang Vieng’s town centre you’ll be familiar with the alcohol buckets, 24 hours ‘Friends’ marathons and souvenir shops that compose the backpacker enclave. You’ll definitely be familiar with the popular ‘Tubing’ scene. You may not, however, have heard of Mr T’s organic farm. It’s only 4km away from Vang Vieng’s town centre, but feels another world away from the hedonistic tubing and party culture that the small Laotion town has become so famous for in recent years. Traveller, teacher and writer, Penny Atkinson describes a very different side to the popular Laotion party destination…

Backpacker Video Diaries: A Traditional Good Luck Ceremony in Laos

After teaching English to local children in a small village outside Luang Prabang in Northern Laos, Courtney, Kaberly, Danielle and Jacqui are asked to take part in a traditional Laotion ceremony. They are thanked for helping the students and blessed with good luck for their onward travels. A ‘Baci Ceremony’ only occurs once a year and the girls were overwhelmed and honoured to be a part of such an incredible cultural experience. Watch the video of their special travel moment here!

Backpacker Video Diaries: Teaching English in Luang Prabang, Laos

Four girls backpacking in Southeast Asia visit a small village where they teach English to a group of local children. Flash cards, enthusiastic students, dancing and even a chicken in the class! Watch Courtney, Kaberly, Jacqui and Danielle at work in the classroom on their first few days. Take a look around the village of ‘Baan Phov Mok’ and see the children take Danielle across a river and to a nearby waterfall for an adventurous field trip!

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