Hooray, you’ve just booked your dream vacation in Asia! Now, as you start thinking about your packing list and compiling your “Must Do” list, it’s important to remember your checklist of how to travel responsibly in Asia. Many of the ways to be a responsible traveler require only small choices and simple steps.
We’re here to make your life easier, and as locals, we know some of the key points travelers my questions when in Asia. So here are our tips on responsible travel here, in our backyard:
Be careful what you buy. When you’re shopping here in Asia, you’ll love the gorgeous handicrafts and fine work of local artisans. You do have to be aware, however, of ivory products that may be sourced illegally and other items that may come from exploitative practices. We encourage you to support the talented local artisans of Asia and to shop at fair trade dealers, but to stay away from animal products.
Don’t encourage begging. You tend to see it in the world’s less-developed countries: groups of children selling trinkets or begging for money. Although you may want to give, these children rarely benefit from your cash—or even from your well-meaning gifts, such as candy or pencils. Often, a leader collects the money, and giving gifts perpetuates begging as a lifestyle, keeping children on the streets. To truly help youngsters, donate your money to a local NGO. You’ll find many great, effective NGOs in Asia that make a real, quantifiable difference.
Leave no trace. In many countries, the region’s stunning natural beauty and historical sites are also what drives its tourism. But with a heavy influx of visitors, these pristine areas are gradually being degraded. When touring an ancient site or traveling through nature, always stay on marked paths and follow your guide’s instructions. Don’t litter. Strive to “leave no trace.”
Reduce your carbon footprint. Although your air travel may be hard to work around, there are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon footprint once you’re in Asia—and many of these often enhance your journey! If a landmark or sight you want to visit is nearby, walk or bike there instead of taking a car. Walking tours are a wonderful way to see a city and soak in its vibes, while taking public transportation or carpooling with other travelers can give you unforgettable experiences mingling with locals and like-minded travelers.
Be respectful of different cultures. Many Asian cultures are reverent, modest, and tradition-oriented, making their customs both fascinating and deeply moving. As a guest, please respect all rules and customs, no matter how strange they may seem to you. Remember the old adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”
Asia is an amazing destination to travel, and we encourage you not to be dissuaded by these points of mention. In fact, as locals we believe that responsible tourism is a great way to grow sustainable, healthy communities in Asia. So keep planning your perfect, tailor-made Asia holiday! And if you’d like more advice on traveling responsibly, just ask us.