Ecotourism in Vietnam


You’ve probably heard of ecotourism, but it’s a pretty new term. Maybe you’ve heard it called ‘green tourism’ or ‘responsible tourism.’ It’s part of the growing trend to take care of our world, both the natural aspects and the traditional cultural ones. And Vietnam, with 30 national parks, 69 natural reserves, 45 landscape protection sites, and 54 cultural groups, has incredible potential as one of the world’s best countries for ecotourism.

The incredible natural beauty of Vietnam @Filip Gierlinski

Ecotourism is all about sustainability and enjoying the world without damaging it– or even better, protecting and improving it while you explore. It’s feel-good travel– you grow, you help, you adventure, you keep the world beautiful.

So if you’ve had enough of mega-hotel chains and over-crowded tourist traps, and you want to see what natural beauty and unique cultures Vietnam has to offer all while helping the region continue to grow and thrive, then you should seriously consider ecotourism.

Awesome Ecotourism Trip Ideas

Alright, so you’re sold on ecotourism, right? Now the real question is… What should you do on Vietnam tours? Well, here are a few starters for making some amazing green-memories.

Go to the national parks!
There are so many parks to choose from in Vietnam. These national parks offer camping, hiking, boating, cultural home-stays, and tours of the local wildlife and bird-watching. Some of the most popular are:

  • Ba Be– with three lakes surrounded by mountains and forests of limestone and evergreens, this park offers awesome natural biodiversity with outdoor activities, plus tribal groups for the full impact of local culture.
  • Cuc Phuong– Cuc Phuong is a jungle-trekker’s dream. The trails that cut through the leafy tropics will take you to ancient caves, hundred-years-old trees, and over gurgling streams and natural pools.
  • Nam Cat Tien– with 70,000 hectares of land in Southern Vietnam, Nam Cat Tien is one of the largest national parks. It also happens to be one of the last natural homes for the java rhino and Siamese crocodiles.
  • Hoang Lien– the Hoang Lien National Park covers the famously beautiful region of Sapa, which is arguably the best place for trekking in Vietnam. With mountain vistas and incredible natural diversity, you’ll be amazed with the views. Plus you’ll have opportunities to stay with people from the Black H’mong, Red Dao, and Tay ethnic minorities if you’re intersted in a homestay.
Explore the rice terraces of Sapa @Jorge Cancela

Be an adventurer!
While you’re out exploring all those beautiful natural areas of Vietnam, be bold! Try out some of the exciting trekking, rafting, and adventure sports offered in the area. Rock-climbing and biking are two popular choices, and there are lots of opportunities for both! Nothing quite like conquering a limestone mountain or jungle pass to make you feel like a real adventurer.

Take a ride through Vietnam’s stunning countryside @Sarah Twitchell

Get involved!
There are lots of opportunities to get involved and lend a hand. Here are some great volunteer projects that you can work with, if that’s how you want to help. You can also work directly with ecotourism projects.

  • Cat Ba Langur Project is focused on protecting the native population of golden-headed langurs that call Cat Ba Island home. Their numbers had been almost wiped out due to poaching, but because of the project’s efforts it looks like they will survive.
  • Pro-Poor Tourism Project is working in Quan Ba, Ha Giang Province to help impoverished villagers create income-generating work based on their unique cultural and natural resources.
  • An Lac – Khe Ro Project is dedicated to preserving and protecting the Khe Ro Forest, while creating Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) projects in rural villages in the area..
  • Ngoc Son Ngo Luong Project is also focused on Community Based Ecotourism, and wants to ensure that the local culture is preserved while further improving the lives of the people that call the region home.
Help protect Vietnam’s natural and cultural resources, like the native langurs @Toshihiro Gamo

Other ways to travel green!
Ecotourism is partly about traveling responsibly, and taking an active interest in helping the local communities while being aware of the natural environment and sustainability. So there are lots of ways for you to travel green!

  • Take the train: The train is comfortable, inexpensive, and gives off much less exhaust than cars, buses, and motorcycles. Another great transportation option is biking– it lets you see the countryside up close, is good for you, and is good for the air!
  • Stay in Eco-Friendly hotels: While mega-hotel chains abound, there are also lots of green options. Beach bungalows, local homestays, and locally owned hotels are a much better option than the big resorts. Plus you’ll be getting a much more authentic experience. (For example, check out Mango Bay on Phu Quoc Island!)
  • Buy from street vendors: The rule of thumb that buying locally is the best option is just as true in Vietnam as it is back home. Buy your souvenirs and daily meals for the markets, hole-in-the-walls, and street vendors rather than from hotel lobbies or chain restaurants.
  • Just be aware: You wouldn’t blast air conditioning, throw garbage on the street, or be outright wasteful at home, so don’t do it on vacation either. Vietnam has incredible natural beauty, and it’s worth protecting!

While you travel, consider traveling green. Ecotourism has so much potential in Vietnam, so let the natural beauty and unique cultures of Vietnam amaze and inspire you!

Eco-friendly lodging can still be luxurious! @David McKelvey

Tags: Ba Be, Cuc Phuong, North vietnam tours

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