Ready to make a difference on your next trip? When you travel Asia with Trafalgar, you’ll have the chance to be a part of responsible and sustainable tourism in Asia with our unique Make Travel Matter experiences. From helping to preserve traditional handicrafts in Japan and Cambodia, to supporting street children in Delhi and Tibetan refugees in Nepal, and protecting wildlife in Thailand and China, here are 7 ways you can make your travels matter in Asia with Trafalgar.
1. Support the Salaam Baalak Trust and the children of Delhi
One of our favourite responsible travel experiences in Asia is a walking tour with a guide from the Salaam Baalak Trust. This non-profit organisation helps homeless children, providing food, shelter, education and job training. Your guide, a former street child cared for by the Salaam Baalak Trust, will show you around their former shelters and share stories about the difficult life as a street child in Delhi.
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You’ll also visit a small school and meet the volunteer coordinator of the program at their office. Your visit will make a difference to the lives of these children, as Trafalgar makes a donation to the Trust for each group that visits.
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2. Help protect the adorable panda bears of China
Sustainable travel in Asia with Trafalgar is all about leaving a positive impact on the communities we visit – and also our precious wildlife. In China, we’ll take you to the incredible non-profit Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where you see the adorable pandas playing in trees and with their keepers. A local guide will show you around the fantastic facility and you’ll learn about their groundbreaking research and breeding programs to protect the endangered Giant Pandas.
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With less than 2,000 Giant Pandas left in the world, your visit will Make Travel Matter as Trafalgar contributes to the centre’s efforts to preserve and grow the Giant Panda’s population so they can be released back into the their native habitats.
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3. Help preserve the traditions of washi paper craft in Japan
Washi paper is one of the oldest and most important traditional crafts in Japan, dating back to the 7th century. When you travel Japan with Trafalgar, you’ll head to Gokayama, a peaceful mountain town. Here you’ll meet a small, family-run, washi paper-making business.
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You’ll watch the family members making the paper, using traditional plants boiled into a pulp and spread across a mat to form dry sheets of washi paper. The paper is used for writing, bookbinding, origami, artworks and more and you’ll even try your hand at making your own washi paper with the family. You’ll also have the chance to purchase washi paper items to help sustain this traditional craft and family business.
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4. Support eco-tourism in Natonchan and the elephants of Thailand
This special day of ecotourism in southeast Asia begins with a visit to the village of Natonchan in Thailand. Here you’ll meet the locals, watch a demonstration of traditional ‘gymnastic doll’ making, and learn about the cotton mud-soaked clothes worn by the villagers. You’ll also have the chance to support the village’s sustainable tourism project by purchasing local handicrafts like dolls, baskets, chopsticks and hand-woven cloth as beautiful mementoes of your trip.
After saying your goodbyes, we’ll head further north, stopping at the Friends of the Asian Elephants. This incredible foundation cares for wounded elephants in Thailand, and is famed for pioneering new methods to heal sick elephants. They even have their own prosthetics centre, and you’ll get to see the elephants and learn how the foundation helps protect these beautiful creatures.
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5. Help sustain Thanh Dong Organic Village in Vietnam
If you’re a fan of fresh veggies, you’ll love our trip to Thanh Dong Organic Village in Hoi An. It was one of the first organic agricultural villages in the region, and today provides organic vegetables, promotes ecotourism in Asia, and teaches people about organic farming and Vietnamese cuisine.
You’ll have the chance to meet the local farmers and learn about their daily working routines. After exploring the farm, you can relax with a soothing foot massage. This wonderful experience will help the community sustain their livelihood and continue to share their organic farming practices.
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6. Support the work of a Tibetan Refugee Centre in Nepal
The Tibetan Refugee Centre in Nepal provides safe shelter to the Tibetan refugees who fled the Chinese occupation of Tibet. It also helps to preserve traditional Tibetan handicrafts at the Jawalakhel Handicraft Centre. Here, talented Tibetan carpet weavers are able to practice their craft and display their incredible work.
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You’ll have the chance to watch the master carpet weavers at work. There are around 500 refugees employed at the centre in jobs ranging from wool sorting and spinning to dyeing and weaving. Your visit will Make Travel Matter as Trafalgar contributes funds to the centre on behalf of our guests. You might also like to support the centre by purchasing some pieces as a stunning memento of your trip.
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7. Visit Peak Sneng village in Cambodia
Get away from the daily hustle and bustle and discover the peaceful Peak Sneng village in rural Cambodia. You’ll meet some of the villagers, visit a local school, and spend time learning about their daily lives and traditions. You’ll also get an insight into their ancient crafts and will get to try your hand at some traditional skills.
From weaving palm leaves into Cambodia’s national hats to artistic Lotus flower folding, this will be a truly memorable experience on your Asia trip with Trafalgar. You’ll Make Travel Matter here as Trafalgar contributes funds to cover the cost of water filters and other necessities. Your visit will also help to sustain the livelihoods of the local artisans and their families.
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What are your favourite responsible travel experiences in Asia with Trafalgar? Let us know in the comments below…