On June 5th each year the United Nation’s celebrates World Environment Day to spread awareness and encourage global action in order to protect our precious environment. This year is dedicated to beating plastic pollution which comes on the heels of many countries finally taking a stand against single-use plastic and reusable alternatives becoming more and more accessible and affordable.
The places we chose to stay can make some of the most damaging impact on the environment of the locales we visit as we travel which is why it’s so important to make mindful decisions when booking accommodation. I’ve asked fellow responsible travel bloggers to share the best eco-friendly hotels, treehouses, guesthouses, and resorts in Southeast Asia based on their personal experiences.
TEMPLATION MAADS HOTEL
Where: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Prices and availability: Templation MAADS Hotel
Recommended by Callan of Singapore Beyond
While there are a host of luxury eco-friendly hotels to stay at in Siem Reap, Templation, a MAADS hotel, is definitely one of the most unique and eco-conscious. The villas were built on a former plantation and it’s the closest hotel to Angkor Wat (3kms), hence the name, a portmanteau of Temple (i.e. Angkor Wat) and Plantation. Architect and resident of Cambodia, Ivan Tizianel, designed the gorgeous oasis using traditional Cambodian architecture and sustainable practices. For example, instead of blasting the AC and draining electricity, he allowed natural lighting and air to flow through the open space.
In order to save the lush nature that makes the resort so beautiful, the cement flooring was built around the trees instead of cutting them down. There are precisely 352 solar panels attached to the roofs of the various rooms for energy conservation. The panels produce around 1,000 kilowatt-hours in peak times, while the hotel uses around 850 to 1,500 per day. All water in the hotel is from natural rainwater collected throughout the year and pumped through a filtration system. Even the 1,000 cubic meter swimming pool uses this water.
The food waste is also used for composting which happens on the premises, and of course, recycling is in the philosophy. All building materials were locally sourced, and most of the original trees such as jackfruit, mango, and cashew, were kept intact. Templation is a continuation of the MAADS philosophy to deeply respect the Earth, the Cambodian people, and encouraging responsible tourism.
ASIAN OASIS LISU LODGE
Where: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Prices and availability: Asian Oasis Lisu Lodge
Recommended by Noel of Travel Photo Discovery
Asian Oasis is one of those fantastic eco-friendly resorts that just does it all right from the get-go. Located in the northern hills tribe area is their Lisu Lodge, just an hours drive north of Chiang Mai in Thailand, the resort really fulfills its mission to be green, hire local workers from the immediate area, and grows or sources most of the food that they prepare for their guests. Even the daily tours they offer have a light presence on the environment, visiting the local hills tribes on foot or bicycle, river rafting trips, or visits to a local tea plantation on a bicycle. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly place that really puts action into their daily regimen, then go visit Asian Oasis in Northern Thailand.
PARKROYAL ON PICKERING
Where: Chinatown, Singapore
Prices and availability: PARKROYAL on Pickering
Recommended by Mike of Southeast Asia Time Traveler
The Parkroyal on Pickering on the edge of Singapore’s Chinatown feels like a green oasis, with it’s hanging gardens and natural finishes. That’s completely intentional on the designer’s part: the hotel was designed to exceed Singapore’s most stringent environmental certification, the BCA Green Mark’s Platinum rating. Let’s start with the gardens spilling over the walls. All told, the Parkroyal’s 161,000 square feet of planter walls and gardens make up more than twice the hotel’s total land area. As a result, the Parkroyal looks from the outside like an extension of the neighboring Hong Lim Park’s own greenery. Harvested rainwater irrigates the sky gardens, and solar-charged lights illuminate them after dark–all self-sustaining, drawing nothing from Singapore’s electric and water utilities. For even more savings on power, the hotel uses solar panels and LED lighting, and corridors are left open to the elements saving the electricity bill from air-conditioning areas where nobody lingers, anyway! The hotel’s energy-efficiency adds to the stay experience: the cushy interiors, spacious dining areas, and massive windows contribute to the sensation of living in a garden floating high above Singapore.
THE GIBBON EXPERIENCE
Where: Nam Kan National Park, Laos
Prices and availability: The Gibbon Experience
Recommended by Sarah of ASocialNomad
There’s one place in the world to see the critically endangered Laotian black crested gibbon and that’s the Nam Kan National Park in northern Laos. The great news is that staying in the eco-friendly treehouses of the Gibbon Experience means that you’re providing much-needed funds towards supporting the survival of the environment in which the black gibbons live. You’ll be trucked in from Huay Xai, along mud “roads”, then you start trekking through the jungle
with your guides.
Trekking is only part of the fun as then you take the skies. The Gibbon Experience has built a series of zip lines connected to treehouses–one of which you’ll get to eat, relax, and sleep in. There was even a freshwater shower in our three-level masterpiece. Don’t get me wrong, this is no way fancy. You’ll sleep in a mosquito-proof “tent” in the open to the elements treehouse, your basic food, water, tea, and coffee is flown in on zip lines, and the only way to access your treehouse is by zip line. There’s a maximum of 8 people in the treehouse, and you get the freedom to zip around during daylight hours by yourself, and of course, wake, like we did, to the sound of the gibbons singing. It’s quite simply magical and the most amazing way to spend time in the Lao jungle while supporting conservation and an organization that provides much-needed work for locals.
Where: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Prices and availability: Babel Guesthouse
Recommended by Bianca of The Altruistic Traveller
Babel’s commitment to sustainability can be found in almost every aspect of this intimate guesthouse, situated in the heart of Cambodia’s Siem Reap. Their eco-friendly practices include offering water refills, biodegradable food containers, bamboo straws, and rubbish bags made out of cassava plants–all the things we love about a green hotel. Babel Guesthouse is run with an active focus on responsible tourism, promoting locally run tour companies and experiences. The guesthouse hire local staff, drivers and guides, and sponsor all of their staff, and some of their Tuk Tuk drivers, with higher education.
Siem Reap has seen itself sprout a responsible tourism movement in recent years, with many businesses in the tourism industry maintaining a commitment to sustainability. One of the city’s projects that you will come across is the Refill not Landfill campaign that sees hotels, restaurants, and guesthouses offering water refill, turning against the use of plastic water bottles. It’s to no surprise that Babel Guesthouse is one of the main participants of this program as well.
SIX SENSES RESORT
Our stay at Six Senses resort couldn’t have been more perfect. Six Senses resort is located on Con Son, the largest island in this chain. There is a direct 45-minute flight from HCMC to Con Son daily. Con Dao islands are protected as a national and marine park. There are thick forests on these islands, as well as white sandy beaches, bays and coral reefs. Six Senses does a lot in managing a sustainable resort that offers minimum impact to the environment around it.
There’s no plastic used at the resort–not even straws. I loved using lemongrass straws to have coconut water for breakfast and having water from glass bottles in the villa. The sea and islands provide habitation for turtles and many other marine life. Ensuring that no plastic is dumped in the ocean goes a long way in protecting the environment. I saw an interesting documentary at the resort along with my daughter on the harm that plastic does to sea life. It sure brings the message home clearly. Six Senses has a full plan in collaboration with the National park authorities to restore the bay area and reef in front of the resort fully.
Where: Con Dao Island, Vietnam
Prices and availability: Borneo Nature Lodge
Recommended by Karen of Wanderlusting K
When deciding to visit Borneo, I wanted to have a truly special experience. Although there were cheaper options, I wanted to stay at a sustainable resort. I loved that Borneo Nature Lodge hires from the local community, electricity is run on solar power, they use boats with silent electric motors (not to scare off the animals), and the materials used to construct the lodge are biodegradable.
We had almost a private experience with guides that truly knew every species and instead of being packed into a boat with twenty others, our guides were able to personalize our tour to what we had not done yet. While staying at the Borneo Nature Lodge, I saw more biodiversity than I saw during the rest of my trip to Borneo, including three orangutans in the wild as well as countless other kinds of monkeys. Staying with Borneo Nature Lodge was truly a trip of a lifetime and I hope to return to try to see wild pygmy elephants.
If you liked this article check out the below reviews of some of my personal favorite eco-friendly accommodations in Southeast Asia.
5 Things You’ll Love About Bali Eco Stay (from featured cover image)
Have you stayed in an eco-friendly accommodation? Tell me about it in the comments as I’m always looking for more sustainable places to stay around the globe!
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