Environmental concerns become more and more important influencers of travel, it’s vital to remember that all of us can participate in making sure our vacations are as environmentally conscious as possible. Traveling in Vietnam offers many opportunities to explore nature, and do so responsibly.
Travelers around the globe are looking for ways to leave less of a carbon footprint on the Earth as they explore and enjoy the beauty it has to offer. Environmentally conscious travel is quickly becoming a topic of conversation. While visiting Vietnam there’s plenty of room to join.
What is Environmentally Conscious Travel?
The idea that we are all responsible in some measure for participating in environmentally conscious life practices is beginning to permeate popular discussion and awareness. Our travel, and vacation plans can and should be included in how we decide to be a positive element in protecting our natural landscapes.
Take a tour to Vietnam can be a perfect opportunity to participate in environmentally conscious travel, but what exactly does that mean? Most importantly how can we gain access to the awareness of what eco-travel means and how to practice it?
There are a lot of buzzwords and opinions thrown around online that may be helpful to know but when it comes to planning a tour through the country our helpful staff can direct you towards activities, and experiences that will give you a better understanding of how Vietnam itself is helping preserve its landscape from the UNESCO designated natural wonder Halang Bay to the green hills of Sapa.
The International Ecotourism Society an authority on the subject defines Eco-travel as, “Responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people.” Which is a positive attitude to pack in your suitcase along for the trip, here we will give you some examples of how you can practice responsible travel.
As the country of Vietnam develops rapidly the issue of maintaining environmental health standards is becoming more apparent. Ho Chi Minh for example has the most motorbike’s in the world, and the writhing traffic attests to that. As a tourist, you can contribute to this growing economy but enjoying all of the engaging tours, and adventures that await in the country, while having a low ecological footprint on the country itself during your visit.
Here are some important ways you can lower your impact on the countries natural and urban ecosystems alike:
- Buy local beer! This is probably one of the easiest things to do in Vietnam as the beers are delicious and plentiful. With Bia Hoi being the cheapest glass of beer you can find in the world and somewhat of a cultural novelty to experience, and Hanoi, and Saigon beers respectively being widely available and refreshing you’ll have plenty of local options. It’s more carbon friendly to buy local, the same also applies to produce and snacks.
- Just say no to plastic, in as much is humanely possible try to avoid plastic bags at shops, using plastic straws, and any other cases in which you’re offered plastic. Try to pack a lightweight easy to roll up in your suitcase cloth shopping bag for day trips and market tours. Plastic takes an extremely long time to biodegrade, sometimes up to 500 years.
- Try to travel overland as much as possible. I know, I know, those long 24 hour bus rides sound impossible but strap on your traveling shoes and think of the adventure of it. Cutting just one 5 hour flight from your itinerary will reduce your carbon footprint an entire ton. Train and bus rides through the Vietnamese countryside are also gorgeous, just saying.
Visiting someone’s home you expect to feel welcomed, yet there is always the underlying understand that you are a guest. Since modern Vietnam opened up its doors to tourism after the 1986 Đổi Mới or economic and social reform that led to the country’s transition to a socialist oriented market economy, what started as a slow trickle has grown to a booming industry.
With over 10 million visitors to the country in 2016 the tourism in Vietnam is already a vital sector of the economy. As it grows, in order to maintain a healthy balance of ecological and cultural preservation it will be necessary for the government to take converted steps in these aims, as often unfortunately private enterprise can be less concerned with the immediate needs of the environment.
During your travels in Vietnam you can specifically aid this process of eco-tourism by interacting with locals, and local spaces with respect both in natural and social landscapes. Here’s some tips on how to do this:
- Learn a few words and phrases of the language. It may not seem useful before you arrive and of course there’s always someone who speaks a bit of English within the tourist industry, but the ability to exchange with people on a deeper level sometimes only takes a few words of their own language.
- Stay on the path! When hiking, or trekking through natural reserves and landscapes try to stay in the designated trails. You never know how much flora and fauna, you might be disturbing just a few feet off of the marked trail.
- Remember that elderly people always have the right of way in Vietnam and are afforded great deals of respect. This can translate to giving up seats on public transportation, or greeting the eldest of a group first upon meeting. Mindfulness of this practice in Vietnam goes a long way to being accepted.
- Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon in Vietnamese culture. When meeting someone of the opposite sex sometimes a handshake is ok, but generally not, it’s best to avoid holding hands, kissing, or hugging in public spaces as it makes people uncomfortable.
Whether vacationing or otherwise ecological awareness and conservation is something we can all practice. When coming to Vietnam and experiencing all that this beautiful country has to offer it’s important to realize that you have a part in keeping it that way, as with the whole of our world.
When you visit the country take photos, share them, show and tell your friends and family of your wonderful experiences in Vietnam and how ecologically conscious travel is the best way to travel in our present, and our future.
Jacob Sneed is an avid traveler, hobbyist photographer, and author. What began five or so years ago as a short vacation has turned into a nomadic lifestyle that has taken him to many central hubs and remote corners of the earth alike. More of his writings can be found at principejacob.wordpress.com