Quite often when people are asking me about places to stay and things to do, the topic of eco-friendly accommodation comes up. Everyone wants to do the ethical thing, but people aren’t generally so keen on spending their hard-earned time away digging compost toilets and relying on muddy lakes for bath time. So I figured it would be a good idea to put together some information around places you can stay that are simultaneously planet-friendly and worth bragging to people back home about.
These are definitely not all ‘low budget’ travel options… Y’all know you can save the planet by sharing a room with 12 other people for £3, but a little market research tells me that some of you would rather have a bit of luxe in your eco-warrior adventure, so both options feature here.
For round one, I’m starting with my favourite part of the world: Southeast Asia.
Koh Rong Samloem – Sun Island Eco Village, http://www.sun-island-eco-village.com/
Sun Island is a pretty fitting name for a resort that is 100% solar powered, which helps you to avoid the powercuts that can be common in some parts of Cambodia – as well as being pleasingly sustainable. Depending on your budget you’ve got a choice of beachside tents or bungalows, in what is arguably the most beautiful part of the country. Think glamping, not camping!
White sand beaches and that postcard-perfect clear blue water are the cherry on the pro-recycling, water-waste-reducing cake, and you can explore jungles and spot exotic wildlife right around the corner.
Kampot – Ganesha, http://ganeshakampot.com/
Ganesha offer dorm room accommodation for people on tighter budgets, as well as lush private rooms for people wanting a little more space to themselves. Here you can splash around in a ‘natural swimming pool’, borrow pushbikes to explore the countryside and stuff your face on organic produce grown in Ganesha’s gardens – with ample veggie and vegan options.
Private accommodation ‘units’ have been built using sustainable materials from the local area, and sit you in the heart of the mangroves for those Instagrammable, peaceful views.
Book in the low season and you can score as much as 50% off the usual costs, so it isn’t hard to make your stay here as cost-effective as it is environmentally-minded.
Bangkok – Bangkok Treehouse, http://www.bangkoktreehouse.com/
For every booking made with Bangkok Treehouse, staff remove 1kg of trash from the nearby Chao Phraya River. Be warned, there’s no air-conditioning in the public spaces (but you know, you’re in a treehouse hotel, so… there’s a breeze) and there’s no way for cars to get all the way to the treehouse – if you’re making the journey, be prepared to end it on foot, bike or boat.
Much of the structure here is made of bamboo, the walls are insulated with recycled cartons and the cooking is all done with solar power. What they’re cooking are organic, fresh goods with a hefty selection of vegan delights, and all the kitchen waste is composted on-site.
Staff, food and even toiletries are all local, and electric power is all produced via wind and sunshine – this isn’t the cheapest place on the list, but it’s as good-looking as it is good for the planet and you can even have your wedding here.
Phuket – Ecohostel Phuket, http://www.ecohostelphuket.com/
It’s hard to argue with a place that starts at £6 a night, and that’s before you consider their endearing reduce, reuse, recycle mantra and playful indoor astroturf. This venue is clean, modern and pretty damn stylish – and with an organic produce café and penchant for using recycled materials, they’re worth the spend if you’re in the area.
This is another place where you can borrow bikes to get around, and if you’re not feeling the dorm rooms there are several sleek private options to choose from.
Sapa – Topas Ecolodge, http://topasecolodge.com
Northern Vietnam is home to an absolute wealth of incredible scenery, and Sapa is as good a place as any to sit back and admire the views. The Topas Ecolodge was built with sustainability in mind, aiming to keep the venue’s impact on the environment as minimal as possible. Watch out for powercuts in this rural area, 18km from the centre of Sapa Town itself.
The 45 minute bus journey to get you here runs past hill tribes and buffalo, and you wind up in a peaceful retreat that offers a comfortable place to stay as well as the knowledge that your room fees are covering the cost of worthy projects in the local community.
Ban Houayxay – The Gibbon Experience, https://www.gibbonexperience.org/
If you fancy walking through the treetops and waking up surrouned by gibbons, a stay in the world’s highest treehouses might be the one for you. The Gibbon Experience is part of a wider conservation project that has helped to protect the surrounding area as a recognised National Park – eco-tourism here means re-forestation and sustainable agriculture, and they’re so big on reduce, reuse, recycle that even the old zip-lines are found new leases of life.
Staying here isn’t all about relaxing, though. Packages include hill walks, waterfall treks and other adventures – the treehouse accommodation is just one awesome part of your time in this part of Laos.