Eco-tourism in South East Asia

Scenic destinations that tread lightly on our planet

Tropical getaways just wouldn’t be the same without bio diversity and Southeast Asia is home to some of the most exotic species on the planet. This has led to a wave of awareness and a demand for eco tourism. Eco tourism sites and operators encourage visitors to minimise the environmental impact of their stay, while promoting and benefitting the local community. Such resorts are will be built in a sustainable manner, for example wood will be sourced from maintained plantations rather than logged from old growth forests. They’ll incorporate alternative energy solutions such as solar power, to minimise the destruction of the surrounds that comes with connecting buildings to main power grids. This manner of operating allows for all the creature comforts that many holiday travellers have come to expect while being sensitive to the beauty of the landscape and fragility of the ecosystem.

For the eco tourist, Southeast Asia offers a number of unique destinations and fantastic escapes that tread lightly on our planet. Care to embark on an elephant safari or hike through some of the most breathtaking forests and spot some exotic species? Or for those just looking for a bit of R&R; you can partake in a certified eco health spa for some serious indulgence. Those looking for a great eco destination can start by checking out Green Globe, a recognised third party certifier of eco holiday destinations. Or consider one of these great ideas.

Satwa Elephant Eco Lodge – Part of Eco Lodges Indonesia, the Satwa Elephant Eco Lodge works with Way Kambas national park to protect the fragile habitat of Sumatra’s most beautiful pachyderms. In addition to elephant safaris, the lodge also offers visitors an exciting glimpse of the Sumatran Rhinoceroses that live on the park, one of only three populations left in the world. Local markets offer a wide selection of handmade souvenirs and keepsakes that support the nearby villages. Accommodations and lodges are run on renewable solar energy and include all the standard amenities. Travellers may also be interested in Eco Lodges’ Komodo Dragon, Orangutan or Kingfisher experiences. www.ecolodgesindonesia.com

Chiva-som luxury health resort – called the “Haven of Life, this award winning beachfront health resort is nestled within seven acres of lush tropical gardens in the typically bustling chaos of Bangkok, Thailand. Certified by Green Globe, the resort boasts a holistic approach to wellness and provides a sanctuary where guests come to rest, relax and rejuvenate. www.chivasom.com

Bohol Bee Farm – for those looking for an experience slightly off the beaten track, how about a visit to the Bohol Bee Farm on Panglao Island in the Philippines? This unique organic farm promotes sustainable practices in the local area and offers a number of unique cultural activities for visitors to engage in while taking in the tranquil atmosphere of this exceptional spot. www.boholbeefarm.com

Tips for your own Eco Tour

Anywhere you go, there are a number of tips you can take on board to make your holidays more sustainable. Consider some of these ideas.

Carbon offset your seat – many airlines that provide cheap flights now offer passengers the option to offset the carbon emissions associated with their trip. For example for just a dollar or two, eco conscious flyers can offset the 795 kg of emissions that are associated with a Sydney to Bangkok flight.
Take along good eco habits – consider ways you can cut back on the environmental impact of your holidays. Rent a smaller vehicle, use public transport, refuse plastic bags, walk, take short showers, recycle…all of your good eco habits can be applied away from home. Some communities may be less aware of eco principles, so be respectful of their practices while doing what you can to minimise your own impact.
Give back to the community – do your research before you sign up for any packaged tours or holidays as they each support the local community to different degrees. Visit locally run businesses such as restaurants and markets and find operators that work with the locals in the area.
Be Wildlife Wary – nature supplies some of the best souvenirs, but be careful of what you take back with you! Removing organisms and organic matter from an area can pose a risk to other species and wildlife outside of the native environment. Make sure any shells are cleaned, your shoes are free of dirt that could be carrying seeds and spores and that you carefully examine any native pieces of wood for disease.

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