Travelling through Asia reveals a diverse and colourful part of the world, bursting with spirituality and human stories. There’s no surprise why. As the world’s largest continent, Asia is home to over four billion people and a myriad of different cultures.
The local spirit of Asia is found in the faces of its people and customs of its cultures, so it is vital that we do our bit to protect and sustain the local communities.
As responsible travellers, Trafalgar believes in giving back as much good to our world as we can get from it. This is why every one of our Asia itineraries includes at least one JoinTrafalgar experience, where through their holidays, guests are able to help safeguard the natural and cultural heritage of the places we visit.
Read on to learn more about the JoinTrafalgar experiences that promote responsible travel in Asia.
1. Me to We Rajasthan extension, India
Extend your Indian adventure with ME to WE and head into the rural countryside of Araveli. Gain a deeper understanding of India’s more remote communities and fall in love with the picturesque backdrop of the Aravalli range – the oldest plateau mountains in India – on this sustainable, transformative excursion. Begin your day like the locals and centre yourself through a session of morning yoga, or consider joining a dosha class to balance your body. Rub shoulders with the local women as you assist with their daily activities – making chapatti in their homes, hauling water from the local well and feeding the animals.
Meet a local farmer to gain insights into his agricultural challenges and successes, then roll up your sleeves and begin work at the build site, where guests of all ages and abilities will help build a much-needed facility for the community. Your reward for a day of hard work is a colourful performance, showcasing local folk dance traditions
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Golden Triangle, Tigers and the Ganges
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2. Lunch at KOTO Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
KOTO is a non-profit social enterprise that empowers disadvantaged Vietnamese adolescents by providing them with training and life-skills within the hospitality industry. The founder Jimmy Pham believes in the philosophy of “Know One Teach One”, that if you’re in a position where you can help someone less fortunate, then help them – hence the name KOTO. The enterprise has achieved a 100% success rate in placing its graduates in employment and changed the lives of many young people and their families. At the restaurant, you’ll meet a senior staff member who will explain more about the work of KOTO, while enjoying a meal cooked by students on their internship. Not only will the meal impress, but you can rest easy knowing you’re contributing to improving the lives of young people.
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Highlights of Vietnam
3. Chiang Mai primary school, Thailand
Meet some of Chiang Mai’s younger residents with a trip to a local primary school. The school teaches pupils aged between 3 to 12–years– old from the surrounding area, alongside hill tribe village children from the Hmong and Lahu tribes. You will be met by the School Director and given a tour of the classrooms. You’ll then have the chance to interact with the children, with the help of one of the teachers or the Director. Wave goodbye to those smiling faces after Trafalgar has donated exercise books and pens/pencils to the school – thanks to your help!
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Treasures of Thailand
4. Phare Circus in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Prepare to meet some inspirational young Cambodians at Phare Circus. The circus is a social movement that transforms the lives of students from troubled backgrounds through art and music. Artists share their own stories in unique and daring ways, blending traditional and modern theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and contortion. Many speak powerfully of Cambodia’s past and are inspired by real-life events. For example, Sokha, the story of a child haunted by war is a moving mix of drama, dance and contemporary circus techniques. The play sheds light on the long-term effects suffered by post-war victims but also the healing benefits of art. Expect the unexpected during an evening performance on your first night in Siem Reap.
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Siem Reap and Angkor Wat
5. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, China
Photo credit: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
One of life’s bucket list moments: seeing an endangered giant panda. Our guests can visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding; a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. Established in 1987, its mission is to rescue and protect endangered giant pandas. Take a walk around the green open-air enclosures and watch these magnificent animals from a respectful distance. Learn about the incredible work the research centre is doing to boost population levels and the importance of protecting these gentle giants.
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Best of China with Yangtze Cruise
6. Tibetan Refugee Centre, Nepal
After the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet in 1959, thousands of Tibetans fled Tibet and sought asylum in neighbouring countries including Nepal. The Tibetan Self-Help Refugee Centre at the foothills of the Himalayas is a sanctuary for Tibetan refugees. It’s a place of physical and spiritual rehabilitation. Also known as the Jawalakhel Handicraft Centre, the refugees maintain a source of income by producing traditional Tibetan carpets and other handicrafts to help preserve their heritage. Watch artisans at work, learn ancient techniques and listen to their miraculous stories of survival.
EXPERIENCE THIS ON: Nepal Adventure
If you would like to discover more about this fascinating continent, check out our Asia trips here. Want to give back to our big, beautiful world? Find out more about Join Trafalgar here. Which experience would you like to do? Let us know below!