WHY YESD SOCIAL ENTERPRISE FOCUSES ON DEVELOPING RESPONSIBLE TOURISM?
* Never purchase items from endangered species. Sea turtle shells and eggs are particularly prized in Vietnam, along with wild animal skins and ivory. As well as threatening the species, this is also illegal and you could end up with hefty fines or worse. The same applies to wild meat – as well as promoting poaching, it can also carry a risk of disease.
* If snorkelling or diving, be sure to travel with a responsible operator. Never touch or step on coral, and report any operator who drops anchor on live coral.
* Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Much of Vietnam is still very conservative, especially in rural areas, and going nude or topless on beaches is never appropriate.
* Be discreet about showing affection in public – it’s not as culturally acceptable as it is elsewhere.
* Vietnamese people make up for their conservative dress by asking impertinent questions – it’s not uncommon to be asked about your marital status, income or family by a virtual stranger – but be polite even if you don’t want to answer directly. It’s all just part of the culture.
* Never touch anyone’s head – it is the highest point of the body and must be respected. And never show the soles of your feet. These are the symbolic “lowest” point of the body, and this is an extremely offensive gesture.Much of Vietnam is still incredibly poor.
* Shopping at local stalls, eating in local restaurants, tipping guides, hotel and restaurant staff will have a huge impact on their income. However, giving sweets to children should be avoided, as should giving money to children in the street – even if they are selling something.
* If you do want to take photos of local people – ask permission. It’s polite, respectful, and a wonderful opportunity to strike up a conversation. You’ll come away with a memory of the encounter, and not just a photo. And if they are uncomfortable with it – respect that, and leave them in peace.
* Try and hire a local guide if possible – you’ll put money back into the local community, and get to learn from someone who really knows the area and culture. Taking a cyclo tour is another great way to support the local economy, and support a trade which is dying out in favour of taxis and motorcycles.