Tag Archives: culture

Responsible Tourism: Tips for a Responsible Traveler

elephant responsible tourism

Over-Tourism has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately, with recent developments in Barcelona and Italy designed to curb the impact of tourism on the local economy and geography.

So what is Responsible Tourism?

A responsible tourist is simply someone aware of local customs, laws and behavior. Travelers are essentially guests in another country. By treating the host country with respect, you can have a more authentic, culturally immersive, and ultimately ethical trip.

Read More: Last-Chance Tourism

Responsible tourism doesn’t have to be as drastic as never flying a jumbo jet because of carbon emissions. While admirable, that’s just not realistic for most travelers. It can be as simple as staying mindful of another country’s culture and society before you arrive.

Here are some tips from us on how to be a Responsible Traveler:

Travel Tips

Educate yourself

Before you even book your trip, educate yourself. Read all about the country’s particular customs, so you can avoid a faux pas. Book your trip with an environmentally or socially conscientious tour organization. Willamette Intl Travel runs a monthly blog called the Conscientious Traveler where we highlight ethical tour organizations whom we work with. Responsible tour operators support humanitarian and/or environment work in the countries they arrange trips in, and sometimes even involve the traveler in these endeavors. 

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Keep it Local

As a traveler, where you spend your money can have a huge impact on the local economy. Eat at a local restaurant instead of a national or international chain, stay in a family-run guesthouse instead of a multinational hotel, and purchase a little handmade item from a street vendor, not something mass-produced from those nickel-and-dime souvenir shops. If you hire a socially conscious tour operator, they will, in turn, hire local guides and staff, use local transportation and accommodation, and recommend local eateries.

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Wildlife Activities

Wildlife tourism is big business, and exploitation that leads to a lifetime of distress is depressingly widespread. We often book clients for one-of-a-kind activities in Africa or Asia, where travelers encounter wild, incredible and exotic animals—and we work with responsible and sustainable tour operators who treat the animals fairly and kindly.

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Respect the local culture

You’re right – that’s not how they do it at home. But as a responsible traveler, you’re there to learn and experience—not to pass judgment. Know what’s polite and what’s rude—be mindful of your clothes and your behavior. Take the time to learn a bit of the language, even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you.” Ask before you take a photograph of a person or their belongings—not only is it common courtesy, you might just make a deeper connection. 

Find out more about customs for individual countries in the Culture Crossing Guide.

Have questions about Travel? You’ve come to the right place! Call our travel agency in Portland to learn more: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Conscientious Traveler, Europe

Textiles & Culture of Southeast Asia

We interrupt our two weeks in Iceland to exhibit this exclusive escorted tour in Southeast Asia!

Check out this Small Group Journey around Southeast Asia (max 2-10 Guests!!)

The journey takes you through the artistic and cultural heart of Vietnam – Cambodia, Laos – Thailand. You can book one leg or combine both!

Call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 for more information or to start your adventure!

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 I. VIETNAM – CAMBODIA (September 4-16, 2014)

Hanoi – Sapa – Danang – Hoi An – Siem Reap

Our journey begins at the charming and vibrant capital city of Hanoi. Visit the Ethnology Museum, which will provide an illuminating introduction to the costumes and lifestyles of the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam.

Visit Bat Trang village, the most ancient and famous Vietnamese pottery village that is still running and developing new pieces.

Discover the highland peoples of northern Vietnam by taking a train to Lao Cai and drive to Sapa for the valley of “Cat Cat” village – the settlement of a Black H’Mong ethnic group that still retains its unique customs and practices. We will have the opportunity to see and learn the process of indigo dyeing and hemp weaving. Visit “Ta Phin” village, where we will have an experience to learn the secrets and techniques of the amazing embroideries from the ladies of the Hmong and Red Dao minority groups.

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Spend time at the amazing Coc Ly market of local ethnic groups—the colorful Flower H’Mong, Dzao, Nung, PhuLa and take a soft trek to Ban Pho village, home of the Flower H’Mong. Take a scenic boat ride along the Chay River and stop at the village of the “Tay” people. We’ll travel to the charming city of Hoi An, a UNESCO heritage site.

Discover the art of ancient silk weaving techniques of the Cham folk in Quang Nam province, witness the full cycle of silk making from silkworms to dress, and learn the difference between natural silk and synthetic silk in this charming village located in the hub of Hoi An.

Flying from Danang to Siem Reap, we’ll visit the magnificent and unrivalled temple complex of Angkor Wat and the National Angkor Museum for an overview of Angkor history. Explore a variety of the textiles that are distinctive to Cambodia—ikat silks, known as chong kiet; the twill-patterned silks known as hol; and weft ikats, once recognized as the best in the world.

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II. LAOS – THAILAND (September 16-25, 2014)

Luang Prabang – Mekong River – Chiang Rai – Bangkok

Our adventure continues to ancient Luang Prabang, its beautiful temples, gorgeous textile galleries and one of the best craft night markets in Asia. As the centre of textiles in the region, we can explore age-old traditions and lifestyle, home grown materials used in textile and enjoy hand-crafted goods with a field day at the craft centre in Luang Prabang where the fascinating world of Lao Textiles come alive. Create your own silk textiles and discover the secrets of natural dyes when you learn how to weave with your own private teacher overlooking the mighty Mekong River. We have an opportunity to participate in the morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting alms for early risers—a unique Laos tradition.

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We take a cruise up the Mekong River to Pakbeng, stop at the mouth of the Nam Ou River to visit Pak Ou caves where thousands of Buddha images are found. Observe rural life in a Kamu village at Ban Houy Phalam along the Mekong River. Visit the Hmong and Lahu tribes. Get ready for a firsthand experience on how to make a Hmong batik handkerchief with Hmong ladies. Take a nature walk up to the Lahu hill tribe through plantations and corn fields scattered with small bamboo huts.

Visit Doi Tung, a site of major socio-environmental projects, the Mae Fah Luang Garden and the Royal Villa. We travel to the Golden Triangle on a long-tail boat for a cruise on the Mekong River down tot eh fishing village of Baan Had Krai. Our journey will end at Royal Bangkok, where we’ll visit the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew) built in 1782 by King Rama I.

Included—

–          Roundtrip airport transfers

–          Local English speaking guide in each city

–          Accommodations based on Twin/Double sharing

–          Daily buffet breakfast, most lunches and dinners

–          Daily tour sightseeing included, admission fees

Prices (approximate)

–          Land tour Vietnam – Cambodia $2428 per person

–          Land tour Laos – Thailand $2349 per person

–          Domestic Air ticket in Vietnam $125 per person

–          Domestic Air ticket in Thailand $145 per person

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy. Offers are subject to availability at time of booking. Prices do not include visa fee, taxes, fuel surcharges and airline baggage fees.

Agent Nancy has traveled to Southeast Asia multiple times, and would love to give you her firsthand account! Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com for her scoop!

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Filed under Asia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vendors, Vietnam