Cambodia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. In fact, Cambodia tourism is constantly increasing, with a 10.7% increase in tourist arrivals from 2017 to 2018.
But just like anywhere else around the world, the country is experiencing both the negative and positive impacts of tourism. Mass tourism happens to be one of the negative ones.
Indeed, recent reports by The Phnom Penh Post showed how the huge influx of visitors is threatening Angkor Wat, one of the country’s premier tourist attractions.
Good news is that the government and businesses in the travel sector are taking steps to minimize the impact of over-tourism and other negative effects of tourists. There is now a good number of eco-conscious accommodation, restaurants, and other facilities. The country also promotes sustainable transportation.
Being a sustainable tourist means travelling without causing environmental and economic problems to the local community. Tourism should not be one-sided, where you get to have all the fun and not think about the effects of your actions.
Did you know that tourism contributes to climate change? Did you know that climate change impacts tourism?
Thus, the need to stop or mitigate over-tourism in any way possible, starting with the promotion of sustainable travel.
How do you do this exactly?
When travelling sustainably, always remember to boost positive effects on the environment, society, and the economy while minimizing your negative contribution to them.
Some of the things you can do are:
To help you travel more sustainably, find green places and activities in Cambodia right here.
There you will find which travel agencies promote sustainable tourism and find different responsible activities, lodgings, restaurants and cafes.
According to the World Health Organization, transportation is one of the major contributors to climate emissions, with energy use growing higher compared to any other end-use sector.
Therefore, how you choose to travel can either have positive or negative impacts on the climate and the environment as a whole.
A report on the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed that 75% of all emissions come from air, car, and rail. If you choose not to use less-damaging means to travel, you’re contributing to climate change.
Why not go on foot or ride a bike where possible?
Why not use train or bus instead of taking a domestic flight?
You don’t need to limit travel frequency. You just need to be mindful of your choice of transportation. And accept sometimes to take things slower…
There are more and more initiatives of sustainable Cambodia tourism to help control the negative effects of tourist influx.
In the transport sector, the efforts may seem small but will make a drastic change if everyone supports sustainable travel.
Traveling like a local, for example, is one option. Take public transportation and support local infrastructure.
Find ways to travel that doesn’t contribute to emissions.
Most tourist attractions in Cambodia are within close proximity to each other. Angkor Wat, for instance, is close to other temples worth visiting, such as Bayon and Ta Prohm (or the “Tomb Raider temple”). Not exactly walking distance from each other, but you can definitely ride a bike to visit them.
From the center of Phnom Penh, on the other hand, you can cycle to Wat Langka, the Royal Palace, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the National Museum of Cambodia.
Because of how infrastructures are built, many travel agencies in Cambodia offer walking and cycling tours. Check out Insight Tours for walking tours.
Aside from flying, you can reach Cambodia and travel to and from neighboring Southeast Asian countries by train or bus. In some cases, train travel is faster than flying.
Depending on the destination, you may need to combine train and bus travel.
Some of your train options are the Eastern & Oriental Express and the Trans-Siberian Railway that passes through Southeast Asia.
As for taking a bus, make sure to check routes and book your tickets online. Some of your options are 12GO.asia, EasyBook, and STA Travel.
Then, there are boats and other forms of water transport available. Some narrow speedboats or longtail boats in Thailand will pass by Cambodia and Laos via the Mekong River.
In Indonesia, you can take a ferry to visit one island to another within the country. In Brunei, you can hire a local boat for a tour.
Alternatives to flying are plenty if you know where to look.
Sustainable travel is all about taking the most sustainable form of transport available in the destination you want to visit.
Think about the route you’re taking and what is the greenest option to get from point A to B.
Does it make more sense to fly or take a train or bus? Is it better to take a boat with a limited number of passengers a longer travel time? Which costs less fuel to reach your destination?
So boats, buses, and trains are not necessarily the better alternative. It always depends on your route.
Take that first step to sustainable tourism by taking sustainable transportation options. With most of Cambodia on flat roads, taking a bike even to the countryside is not a problem.
Practice ecotourism throughout your trip.
Book tours with operators of sustainably-run day trips so you can have fun with a heart. Don’t use an elephant for transport nor bathe with them. You can visit safe sanctuaries where elephants are free of their movements.
Stay in accommodation Phnom Penh local owners offer and support the local economy. Experience Cambodian hospitality in a pet-friendly boutique hotel with an outdoor cafe and peaceful tree-lined yard.
Support local businesses during your holiday and promote sustainable tourism.
Even if you’re only one person travelling sustainably, you can make a difference. Now, spread the word and encourage everyone to follow your lead.
Do you like it? Do you have any other tips to reduce tourism’s footprint in Cambodia? Tell us in the comment section below!