Tourism in Vietnam has boomed in the past few years and the country is rapidly developing. It’s still very much in recovery though from the wars the country has endured and the aftermath of it. With such a tumultuous history, it’s wondrous to see how the country is flourishing. But as there’s more and more tourists coming to Vietnam, there’s also a bigger need for everyone to understand how to travel in a more responsible way. Now is the time to take responsibility and make sure that we all contribute to make the world a better place, for every living creature.
If you’re going to Vietnam anytime soon, make sure that you do everything you can in order to travel responsibly. This will not only benefit the locals but also you. Only leave good imprints. There’s so much beauty in the country, and by preserving and respecting it, it’ll stay beautiful for a long time. Here are some tips to help you be a responsible traveler in Vietnam (and the rest of the world!).
Dive or snorkel with a responsible operator
There’s so many snorkel and dive operators to be found these days, and although it’s always tempting to go with the cheapest operators, it comes with a price. That price is lack of commitment to the marine environment and poor instruction, which will result in a bad scuba diving experience. 25% of the world’s coral reef has been permanently damaged because of irresponsible diving holiday companies who are only driven by cash, not by preserving the marine life. But there’s also scuba diving instructors who practices responsible scuba diving and who will make sure that you’ll have the best experience, all while respecting the coral reefs.
When you book a tour, try to go in a smaller group. It might be more expensive but it’s always better to dive in smaller groups. Overcrowded spots is a big no no and it’ll do much more harm to the coral and marine life. Also, who doesn’t prefer to dive in smaller groups? It’s much more tranquil and safe for you as well. If you end up with a good instructor, he will know what’s best for both the underwater environment and for you. Remember to never step on or touch any coral and if you do see anyone doing it, report it.
Respect the traditions and culture
Make an effort, learn more about the traditions and culture of the country you are visiting (in this case Vietnam) and integrate more with the locals. What are some of the things you can’t do? For example, you should never touch someone’s head. This is seen as the highest point of the body and should always be respected. Even if you might not agree on a lot, it’s still always important to respect their way of life.
Support local businesses
As more and more foreigners are moving to the country, there’s also many more foreign owned tour companies, restaurants, cafés, etc. If you’re going on a hiking tour for example, try to always go with a local guide. This way, you’ll put money back into the local community and also get a guide who really has knowledge about the culture and area. There’s some social enterprises spread out in the country as well which are definitely worth checking out. Shopping in local stalls, eating in local restaurants, tipping your guides, restaurant staff and hotel will also make a big impact on the locals income.
Never, ever, purchase items from endangered species
This is always a no go. It might be tempting to get those sparkling sea turtle shells or wild animal skins, but know that it’s illegal. Same goes for wild meat and poaching. If you buy these animal products, you’re not only supporting illegal businesses but you’re also ensuring that these animals will go extinct.
Avoid the Dam Sen Theme Park
There’s many animals in captivity in the park such as poorly treated elephants, dogs, monkeys and bears, who are forced to dress up and perform for visitors. Do not support any part of this park. You can always go from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne instead and get a beautiful beach where you can relax and swim.
Avoid cheap tailors
Vietnam, and especially Hoi An, is famous for their tailor made clothes. What they’re also famous for is to treat their seamstresses badly and paying them poorly. If you’re going to get something tailor made, make sure that you go to a good one which respects their workers and pays them fairly. If the price is a bit too good to be true and they tell you that you can pick up your piece of clothing within a few hours, it should raise a red flag. Don’t support these kinds of businesses. It’s worth paying a bit of extra money to insure that the people making your clothes are being treated well.