Inspiration

5 of Our Favorite Green Travel Experiences in Asia to Celebrate Earth Day

From flying through treetops to indigenous immersions, these are some of Southeast Asia’s shining stars that put sustainability at their heart. In honor of Earth Day, plan your next trip to make a difference.

The Gibbon Experience

By Marissa Carruthers

Apr 22, 2021

SOUTHEAST ASIA IS A UNIQUE MOSAIC of natural wonders. However, the future of its ancient rainforests teeming with wildlife, vibrant waters, and rugged mountain ranges and vast plains home to remote communities hangs in the balance due to climate change and environmental devastation. To mark Earth Day 2021, here are some of the best eco-experiences that put sustainability, communities and the environment at their core.  

Topaz Ecolodge

Sapa, Vietnam

Veer off the well-trodden trail in northwestern Vietnam with a stay at charming Topaz Ecolodge. Here, 41 rustic bungalows are tucked away on a mountaintop in majestic Hoang Lien National Park. Protecting the local environment and indigenous culture sits at the core of operations. The team of 100 staff is recruited from nearby villages home to Red Dao, Black H’mong, Tay, Xa Pho and Giay hill tribes. The kitchen also operates under a farm-to-table philosophy, with rice, vegetables, fruit and meat sourced from local farms. Additionally, a plastic-free policy runs across all rooms and suites, and water is purified and recycled on-site. A winner all round!

topasecolodge.com; rooms from US$230

Junglewalla Signature Tours

Langkawi, Malaysia

What better way to discover Langkawi’s treasure-trove of mangroves, mountains, islands and vibrant waters than alongside one of Malaysia’s leading naturalists, “junglewalla” Irshad Mobarak? The archipelago is blessed with a delicate ecosystem comprising several UNESCO geological parks rich in marine and wildlife. The sustainable tour operator curates eco-adventures that range from hiking up Gunung Raya – Langkawi’s highest peak – in search of macaques, giant squirrels, hornbills and the island’s national bird, Brahminy kites. Alternatively, enjoy a leisurely cruise through the network of mangroves and keep an eye out for land-walking fish, kingfishers and otters, or kayak along rivers that slice through forest abounding with nature. 

junglewalla.com; half-day tours from US$45

New Haven Dive School

Koh Tao, Thailand

Avid divers can turn into budding marine conservationists at New Haven. The dive school on idyllic island paradise, Koh Tao – one of the world’s most popular destinations for underwater exploring – runs a diverse range of marine and conservation activities. The aim is to teach divers to respect precious marine life through a variety of projects that include restoring coral reefs, coral reef research and taking care of sea turtle hatchlings. Experiences start from a full-day immersion and run to three-month internships for those really keen to get involved. To take part, an advanced scuba license is necessary. Of course, if you’re not qualified, the school can train you up.

newheavenreefconservation.org; accommodation from US$35 for divers, and basic diving courses from US$270

The Gibbon Experience

Bokeo Province, Laos

Adrenaline junkies can get on the ultimate high while saving one of Laos’s most pristine forests at Nam Kan National Park. The tourism-based conservation project delivers aerial adventures deep in the jungle that include a night’s sleep in the world’s tallest treehouses, teetering 30 to 40 meters high. An exhilarating zipline adventure through treetops home to a host of gibbons is the only way to access them. Visitors can enjoy hiking through thick forest and flying from mountain to mountain along ziplines to Laos’s largest tree, the 55-meter-high Tree King. Profits are ploughed into sustainable agriculture projects to reduce illegal logging, commercial cropping and slash-and-burn farming.

https://www.gibbonexperience.org/; prices from US$190 for the “Express” two-day/ one-night tour

The Farm at San Benito

Luzon, the Philippines

Check-in at the go-to retreat for Filipino A-list celebs and indulge in a stay at The Farm at San Benito. The holistic eco-resort is spread across 48 hectares of lush jungle and, as well as ensuring the wellness of its guests, it places caring for the delicate ecosystem it sits within as a top priority. In addition to unique nature-inspired holistic treatments – think mandala flower meditation, heated bed therapy and an aqua sanctuary – visitors can feast on nutritious vegan dishes that use ingredients hand-picked from the garden at Alive! Restaurant. Keep an eye out for Nirvana, the resident albino peacock.

thefarmatsanbenito.com; rooms from US$280

Hotels & Resorts

Where to Eat, Drink and Stay on Koh Samui

Thanks to a slew of new openings and a community that embraces its rich environment, Koh Samui is enjoying a bump in popularity. Jeninne Lee-St. John visits the top new spots and makes a few friends along the way.

Kamalaya Koh Samui

Spa

This Retreat on Koh Samui is Designed to Fix Your Posture

A sun-drenched retreat in the Gulf of Thailand wants to improve your posture. We discover the benefits of sitting up straight.

Hotels & Resorts

Centara Is Offering Major Deals for the Holidays

Get out of town this holiday season with these three deals from Centara.

Hotels & Resorts

When Your Island Vacation Gets Poured On

When you’ve been stuck in a studio apartment for the greater portion of the year, horror-movie-thick cloud coverage and ocean horizons murky with sheets of rain can only do so much to ruin a trip.