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All about eco-friendly holidays in Southeast Asia

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In our quest to advance sustainability, more Singaporean travellers are opting for eco-friendly holidays. Here we give you some suggestions for resorts that pride themselves on offering ‘green’ solutions to holidaymakers. Plus, we give you some top tips on how to have a more environmentally-friendly holiday no matter where you’re going.

Southeast Asia is obviously a favourite travel destination for most of us but, unfortunately, the region does not have the best reputation for being eco-friendly but destinations like Cambodia, believe it or not, are leading the way.

Cambodia, unlike popular Singaporean travel destinations like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and China, has made significant efforts to create a more sustainable nation, implementing green initiatives and investing in clean energy.

This makes it a great place for an eco-friendly holiday where you can kayak on the Campot river for just $8/hour, visit local markets and bike around the country.

However, you don’t have to confine your holiday to Cambodia. You can still have an eco-friendly holiday in other countries. These types of holidays also do not have to be costly.

Save money and have an environmentally friendly holiday at the same time by following these tips:

1. Go to destinations with low carbon footprints

This means visiting countries that have made conscious efforts to create a sustainable environment. These would be countries which have taken political initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that have reliable public transportation systems and a plethora of sustainable activities, including biking, hiking and ecotourism.

2. Choose your mode of travel with care

Once you have selected your destination, you should think about your mode of transport. It may surprise you to know that it is more eco-friendly to travel by plane than by ship.

Cruises emit as much particulate matter into the air as 1 million cars per day, and the air quality on a ship can be worse than some of the most polluted cities. The good news is that you may be able to take guilt-free cruises sometime in the future as some cruise-liners are renewing their pledges to cut down on fuel emission and become more energy efficient.

Book flights in advance to save money and take advantage of your air miles rewards. Similar to savings on lodging, booking during the low season can also save you money.

3. Plan a ‘green’ itinerary

Eating local, going on hikes, visiting local markets and walking or biking at your destination are all ways to retain a sustainable and respectful relationship with your destination. Also, most of these activities are free or cost very little.

Choosing to eat locally rather than at big chains can also save you money while being environmentally friendly. Not only will you not be paying exorbitant prices, but you can also support local farmingby doing so.

4. Buy online travel insurance

Pay less for your travel insurance by opting to go green and paperless. Your policy documents won’t be printed out on paper but will be emailed to you instead.

Other cost-saving measures

*Bring a water bottle or thermos flask to save money on buying mineral water

*Use a reusable shopping tote instead of having to use and pay for plastic bags

*Instead of buying souvenirs, donate money to sustainable organisations

Eco-friendly resorts. Our top picks

As more hotels in the region become environment conscious, you’ll find it easier to choose an eco-friendly one that allows you to support the local communities while reducing carbon footprints. What’s more, many of these resorts are pocket-friendly and won’t bust your budget.

Here are some eco resorts in Southeast Asia that fit the bill:

Sharma Springs, Bali

Green Village
Green Village

Sharma Springs is an eco-friendly lodging located within a valley along Ayung River.

It is part of Green Village, a community made up of 18 properties, all made of bamboo. The six-storey high Sharma Springs is the latest addition to this community.

Made entirely out of bamboo, it is fitted with custom-made furniture, has four double rooms, a private pool and breathtaking sunset views over the Ayung river valley and Green Village.

Sharma Springs, Green Village, Sibang Gede, Abiansemal, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia

Gayana Marine Resort, Sabah

Gayana Marine Resort
Aerial view of Gaya Island, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Another eco resort is Gayana Marine Resort. Located off the coast of Borneo, it has 52 over-water villas with sea or forest views.

Its highest-tiered Palm Villa features a glass floor that lets you gaze at the waters below.

On its grounds is a Marine Ecology Research Centre which explores ways to protect the island and its inhabitants, including endangered giant clams and coral reefs.

If you are staying at the resort, you can get involved in marine conservation by signing up for the Reef Regeneration Programme. The programme allows you to replant corals in the reef as well as up close and personal with seahorses and bamboo sharks.

Gayana Marine Resort,Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Gaya Island, Sabah, Malaysia

The Gibbon Experience, Laos

The Gibbon Experience

For eco-warriors, staying at The Gibbon Experience is a must. The treehouses here are touted to be the highest in the world. Some of them are even suspended on wires. You can go on treks and zipline from hill to hill.

The retreat aims to uphold sustainability by preserving the ancient trees of the Bokeo Forest. Reforestation schemes to restore parts of the National Park are ongoing.

The Boat Landing Guest House, Laos

The Boat Landing Guest House

The Boat Landing Guest House hotel is a Green Globe-certified hotel located in Luang Namtha, Laos’ northenmost province. This environmentally friendly, nature-based hotel comprises riverside bungalows.

If you are interested in adventurous activities, there are plenty of opportunities to go trekking, kayaking, mountain biking and enjoy various outdoor activities in the protected forests.

You can also visit the Nam Tha River to experience the local villages’ traditional foods harvested from the forests, watch woodsmen at work and even learn bushcraft in the jungles.

The Boat Landing Guest House and Restaurant, PO Box 28 Ban Kone, Luang Namtha District Luang Namtha Province, Lao PDR

El Nido Resorts, Miniloc Island, Philippines

El Nido

This resort in Miniloc Island in the Philippines has rooms that are thatched-roofed and furnished with indigenous Filipino materials. Floors are wooden and walls are covered in woven bamboo slats.

The resort also observes sustainable practices like water and energy conservation, waste treatment and conservation of marine life. If you have an interest in marine life, you can take part in a range of eco-friendly activities like swimming with the fish and getting up close and personal with a variety of marine species.

El Nido Resorts, Miniloc Island, El Nido, 5313 Palawan, Philippines

Don’t forget to get travel insurance so you can indulge in adventurous activities with peace of mind.

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