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RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL POLICY

Rules and Regulations

Intern rules

  • Illegal drug use, use of prostitutes and racial behaviour toward people in the group or local people is not tolerated. The local leader has the right to exclude someone of the trip without refund if s/he is found in possession of drugs, uses prostitutes or displays inappropriate behaviour.

Responsible travel & NGOs   

  • As Air Travel is one of the fastest growing causes of Global Warming and as the worst emissions are during take off and landing, all our itineraries were designed in a way to avoid flying inside Indochina. This way, we hope to minimise carbon emissions.
  • By travelling with us, you will see the best places in Indochina, learn about its history and culture, eat the best Khmer food, have as much fun as possible, but our aim as well as being your guide, is to advise you to help us minimise the negative impact on the environment during your stay. We hope you will respect our local traditions and we will help you settle comfortably into the life in Indochina.     
  •  Travelling with us means supporting the local people and communities. We aim to introduce travellers to the local cuisine and encourage them to use local products and services, in order to support the local restaurants and hotels, thus supporting the local economy. As we expand as a company, we create more and more jobs for local people, and especially for women. The way things stand at present there are not enough jobs for graduates and other educated professionals.
  • Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam all have a tragic recent past of war, political troubles and poverty, the impacts of which are unfortunately still sorely present. We are strongly concerned about improving the quality of life for our peers and in this aim, a US$5 donation per travel bag is included in your trip price for every NGO visited (please see the list up).
  • Choosing to travel with SAT help us to raise funds for our charitable organization The Spirit Foundation. The financial support we provide will ensure homeless and parentless children an education and better way of life as well as developing an infrastructure to a land so desperately in need.

Do’s & don’ts in Indochina             

Concerning the religion

  • Please do not touch anything that may be of religious significance, such as Buddha statues, altars, and burial grounds.
  • Please take off hats and shoes when entering temples, the shoes must be left outside the temple. Wear decent clothes that cover shoulders and knees and without a low neckline. You can bring a scarf with you to cover your shoulder when entering a temple.
  • When sitting in a temple, you shouldn’t have your feet pointed toward the Buddha statue. It’s appreciated that you sit facing the Buddha statue with your legs folded.
  • Women should not touch monks or their robes. If a monk wants to give something to a woman, she has to present an inner hand to receive the present without touching him. If a woman wants to give something to a monk, she should give the present to a man to pass it to the monk or put the present near the monk and let him take it.
  • Do not take photos of or disturb monks during prayer times and be discreet when taking pictures during morning alms procession.
  • If a monk accepts to pose for a picture with you, it is respectful that you do not stand higher/taller than him, if you are taller, please kneel.
  • These rules are mostly important in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand where about 90% of the people practice Theravada Buddhism.
  • Angkor is still worshipped by Khmer people, it is very much appreciated that you dress respectfully when visiting the site as in other temples. You do not need to remove footwear, however, flip-flops are considered inappropriate and you should wear shoes which hold the heel. Sandals with ankle-straps are ok.
  • Do not take distasteful photographs of you with a Buddha statue, do not lean to it and of course never climb on a big Buddha head.

Concerning body language

  • In Indochina, the feet are considered the lowest part of the body and the head the highest part. Do not point or gesture with your feet or put your feet on the furniture. Using your feet for anything other than walking or playing sports is generally considered rude.
  • Do not touch someone on the head as it is considered very impolite.
  • It is polite to gently crouch down when passing beside someone who is seated.
  • Never ever step over someone in your path.
  • Kissing and hugging in public is impolite, please avoid this behaviour in public places.
  • Hello is in general said with a smile and - especially in Thailand - with a wai (join hands in front of the face). To shake hands is usually not very common. The welcome kiss (ordinary in Latin countries) is completely inappropriate.
  • In Indochina, people speak softly and avoid confrontation. Please do not shout or raise your voice, keep cool in every situation as losing ones nerves in public is considered ill-bred. Don’t forget that in Asia it is very important not to lose face.

Concerning clothing

  • Local people in Indochina appreciate clean and neatly dressed visitors. Dress respectfully with an awareness of local standards. A lack of hygiene and revealing clothes are seen as bad manners associated with junkies or prostitutes by locals especially in remote areas.
  • Do not bath nude or even topless in public and please wear a swimming suit which is not too revealing. In less tourist areas, women should cover up with a sarong when bathing in public.
  • Remember to take your shoes off before entering someone’s house and some guesthouses, restaurants, museums etc... In doubt, look for shoes at the entrance to know if you need to take yours off. 

Concerning the appropriate behaviour to minimise the negative impact and to increase the positive impact of tourism

  • Buying and consuming any type of narcotics in Indochina is illegal. Do not engage in this practice as it causes social and economic problems and sets a very bad example for our youth.
  • Please ask locals before taking close-ups or portraits. Respect those who choose not to be photographed.
  • Please do not distribute gifts to children as it encourages begging, but give to an established organisation or village elder instead. If you would like to bring some toys for orphanage or school, it is very much appreciated but please avoid toys which need batteries and weapon-toys (apart from colourful water pistols). To learn more about this problem, please consult the following links :           
  • www.child-safe.org.uk
  • www.childsafe-cambodia.org
  • Do not purchase historical items. The looting of archeological sites results in the loss of significant social and cultural treasures, and robs our people of their history and heritage. Instead, support local craftsmen by purchasing newly made quality handicrafts.
  • It is very important that you do not purchase any illegal wildlife products as it endangers our biodiversity. The illegal wildlife trade is the second-biggest direct threat to species after habitat destruction and is of a particularly high importance in the greater Mekong sub-region. To learn more about this particular issue, please consult the following link : 
  • http://www.panda.org
  • If bargaining is usual in local markets, please bear in mind that a small amount for you can be of a great importance for a local family. Is it impolite to bargain for something you do not really intend to buy.
  • Try sampling our delicious local food whenever you can. It helps local businesses and farmers.
  • Help us to keep our environment as clean as possible. Do not litter on land or in water, keep all garbage with you until finding suitable means of disposal. Picking up rubbish sets a good example for our youth. When a dustbin is provided in the bathroom, please place your toilet paper in it to avoid blocking the sewage system. We advice you to use biodegradable soap and shampoo. Please hang on to your old batteries as we cannot recycle them for the moment. Avoid the use of plastic bags or take them back home as it is a big cause of pollution in Indochina.
  • Before leaving home learn as much as possible about the countries you are visiting as well as some basic words and try to use them with a smile! It will help break the ice when meeting local people and as a result will enhance your enjoyment in Indochina.
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