If one of your new year’s resolutions is to travel more and you’ve got your sights set on the wonders of Southeast Asia, there are many attractions and activities you can do to give back to the animals.
7 Vegan Friendly Activities for Backpacking Around Southeast Asia in 2018
Get up close (but not too close) with the Elephants at Elephant Nature Park, Thailand.
One of the biggest attractions of Thailand is the Elephant and understandably so. They’re beautiful, majestic animals that everyone wants to get close to if given the chance, because of this the exploitation of elephants in Thailand is sadly rife. The Elephant Nature Park of Chiang Mai is working to break the mold of cruel elephant tourism, without a bull hook or howdah (elephant saddle) in site. These elephants are rescued and cared for lovingly alongside dogs, cats, and buffalo. You can choose to just visit or volunteer and help out with the great work they do for all the animals in their care.
Visit and donate to a turtle sanctuary on the Gili Islands, Indonesia.
Whether you’re off to the Gili Islands for relaxation or for a party, don’t forget the turtles. One of the factors that put the turtle population at risk is the number of tourists who descend on the islands each year. Small sanctuaries on Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan have been established to help protect the turtle eggs and nurture the young before they are released into the sea, the projects are partly government sponsored but a small donation from you can make a big difference to their work.
Taste some delicious local food.
You do have to be vigilant when traveling as a vegan in Southeast Asia, however, there are plenty of options available if you keep your eyes peeled! For example, Pad Thai is a traditional Thai dish that can easily be made vegan, just ask for it with vegetables and be clear that you don’t want eggs. Fresh coconuts and other fruits to snack on are also available in abundance across Southeast Asia and they’re cheap too! Always be clear that you’re a vegan to the restaurant, café or shop that you’re buying from and you can’t go far wrong.
Kayak out to the islands of El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.
Take a bus to the beautiful El Nido from the airport in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and rent yourself a kayak. There is so much wildlife in the Philippines to observe from a safe distance! If you look at the trees closely, you may just catch a glimpse of the local monkeys swinging through the branches.
Avoid the zoos and go snorkeling.
Who needs a zoo when you can observe the wonderful creatures of Southeast Asia in the wild? This region of the world is teaming with underwater wildlife and snorkels are cheap to rent. The key word is to observe, and this goes without saying, but never ever touch or remove an animal from the sea and be wary of any local guide who advises you to do so. Your job is simply to gaze in awe.
Work on your cooking skills at a vegan cooking class.
In regions such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand, there are many cooking classes on offer and many hostels offer kitchens for you to experiment in. So, if you’re struggling with getting your vegan message across in the local restaurants and cafes you have the safety net of being able to cook for yourself but not miss out on the local cuisine! May Kaidee is a cooking school that specializes in Thai vegan and vegetarian food but if you’re visiting Cambodia, they even have a school in Phnom Penh!
Soak up the atmosphere at a vegan festival in Manila, Philippines.
Keep your eyes peeled for updates on vegan festivals in the capital of the Philippines in 2018. The 2017 Manila Vegfest was a successful Filipino celebration of veganism and there are plans for it take place in 2018. The festival offered vegan talks, sample Filipino vegan recipes and traditional Filipino entertainment, a veggie travelers paradise! Follow Vegans of Manila on Facebook to stay up to date on new events.
Image credit: Vegfest Pilipinas