Sustainable Travel - Choose Local
Choose Local

Here are some ideas on how mindful travellers can leave a sustainable footprint wherever they go

Words: Phoowadon Duangmee

Southeast Asia beckons travellers with an enchanting blend of tropical beaches, iconic cultural landmarks, warm hospitality, and tantalising cuisine. But beyond its allure as a holiday hotspot lies a rich tapestry of 666 million people, indigenous traditions, fragile ecosystems, sacred sites and endangered wildlife.

Most mindful travellers recognise the impacts they have on the destinations they visit, and one meaningful way to leave a positive footprint is to actively support local communities throughout your journey. This support can take many forms – from embracing traditional village life and lending a hand on farms to savouring authentic cultural performances. As you traverse the stunning landscapes of Southeast Asia, here are some places that don’t just offer an enriching experience, but also alow you to contribute positively.

In the picturesque North of Thailand, Chiang Mai offers a hidden gem – Perception Blind Massage. This ancient practice offers not just therapy, but also meaningful employment to the visually impaired, serving as a beacon of empowerment.

For wildlife enthusiasts, the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Phuket promises an unforgettable firsthand experience of conservation efforts contributing to the preservation of Thailand’s natural heritage.

In Sukhothai, six hours north of Bangkok by road, precious windows on local life exist among the plethora of hotels and resorts. For an authentic experience, consider patronising locally owned establishments like Ban Na Ton Chan. Here, community-based tourism allows visitors to immerse fully in Thailand’s vibrant cultural mosaic by enjoying rustic charm, traditional cooking classes and authentic homestays.

In Cambodia’s ancient city of Siem Reap, prepare to be mesmerised by the transformative power of performing arts at Phrae, the Cambodian Circus. This social enterprise showcases the talents of disadvantaged youth in captivating performances while also fostering empowerment and education within the local community.

In the old capital of Laos, Luang Prabang, the Living Land Farm invites visitors to learn sustainable agricultural practices. By participating in rice cultivation alongside local farmers, you gain a deeper appreciation of traditional farming methods while supporting the preservation of Lao agricultural heritage.

Each of these encounters in Southeast Asia unfolds a story of responsible exploration and leaves behind a positive legacy in the communities visited. Embrace the ethos of sustainable travel and embark on a journey that enriches both your soul and the world around you.