“We are travellers, they are tourists”
We often hear this judgmental statement, but in fact we are all tourists.
The E-Guide to Mekong Responsible tourism was conceived to complement existing travel guides to the Mekong Region, to display a type of tourism offer hardly found in any other guide. It was designed so that we all become aware tourists, and so that you do have a choice to travel while being assured your own pleasure and money will truly contribute to the host communities well being and development in this awesome region comprising 6 countries and 7 destinations: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, Yunnan, and Guangxi.
This guide has been designed for those who want their holidays to be a learning experience, an enjoyable trip visiting the natural and cultural wonders of the Greater Mekong sub-region, and a journey benefiting the people and places they visit, one which contributes to the conservation of nature, the perpetuation and enrichment of cultural heritage and the successful development of the local and indigenous communities.
Tour operators will find here a treasure trove of information that will inspire them to create new and unique packages improving everyone’s experience and enabling them to engage on the path towards sustainability.
The E-guide is meant to give a worldwide exposure to the best responsible offer, designed and crafted by real actors of change who are working at making the world a better place to live in and to travel to.
Whether private operators, rural communities, NGOs or international organisations, they have developed, or duplicated, sometimes both, fantastic products and services that are at the same time enjoyable and useful, with your own pleasure as their goal.
Marvel at the sight of mythical religious, archaeological and historical sites, admire the remaining architectural heritage left by successions of various influences, and be surprised by the diversity and complexity of local customs and traditions.
Explore in depth and challenge yourself whatever your level is, as there is something for everyone, ecotourism and community based tourism offer is plenty: trekking, cycling or zipping on a cable in the rainforest canopy, or gently gliding along the multitude of canals, rivers and other streams flowing throughout the region. Be thrilled by the sight of a kingfisher, a hornbill or a giant ibis, the melodious call of the gibbons, or the gracious pace of elephants. Rest in a beach resort, learn Thai cooking or Vipassana meditation, Lao weaving or, ancient Cambodian ceramics, dance with the Muong in Viet Nam, sing with the Hani harvesting rice in Yunnan, or admire the intimate collaboration between fishermen and dolphins in Myanmar. And to perpetuate ancestral techniques and support contemporary creations, shop and bring back with you souvenirs of the vibrant, colourful and addictive cultures of the Mekong.
We think you’ll want to come back again and again, as the more you get glimpses of understanding of the Mekong people, the more you’ll be eager to learn, and you’ll want to return.
The sites, activities, fair trade shops, cafés & restaurants, accommodation from homestays to boutique hotels and, tour operators have been carefully chosen through a rigorous selection process ensuring they are committed to sustainable development by making their business more responsible, environmentally, socially and culturally. You will also have a role to play: by choosing them, you help their activity to achieve financially sustainability.
We have also included words of wisdom, environmental tips and some insights into the cultural values of the people you will visit so that you can adjust more easily to their traditions, avoiding awkward situations or unwittingly offending people. Because the most difficult challenge you’ll face in the region will be to understand what lies behind the eternal smiles of the Mekong people, who will seldom contradict you or, say ‘no’, but may disagree in silence, despite their infinite tolerance towards often clumsy travellers. Observe the people, adjust your behaviour accordingly, read a bit about the country and you’ll experience much more than a successful holiday.
Be tolerant and open minded, listen, look, smell, touch, taste, feel and experience, meet different people who may change your perspective on life, or simply become your friends.
Warning: be aware that this guide may change the way you travel.
The E-guide to Mekong Responsible Tourism provides inspiring examples demonstrating that tourism can indeed drive positive change.
And last but not least thanks to YOU it will contribute to poverty alleviation in the Mekong Region, the cultural revival of lost skills and traditions, the perpetuation of ancestral techniques, knowledge and wisdoms, the protection of unique ecosystems and of all its inhabitants whether they crawl, glide, swim, fly or roar. Most of all, it will give your hosts a renewed pride and faith in what they do and, hopefully encourage more to follow the path of responsible tourism.
So many reasons for you to choose them!
We thank you for your contribution and encourage you to send us your comments; please inform us when you use one of our addresses, so that we can measure the impact of our project and hopefully get more support to extend this service to you and to small operators.