With 54 ethnic groups, 30 national parks and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Vietnam is loaded with natural and cultural wonders that make it a fascinating destination for any traveller. However, like most countries, it faces challenges preserving its precious assets for locals and visitors to continue to enjoy. That’s why the country is taking bold steps in its fight against climate change — from declaring an ambitious net zero timeline to calling for international support. If you like to learn as you go, and give back along the way, you’ll find countless enriching experiences to choose from in this Southeast Asian gem. From hotels focused on the natural environment to tours that support local communities, let’s take a closer look at sustainability in Vietnam, and some tangible trip ideas for responsible travellers.

Climate Change in Vietnam

The harsh realities of climate change have started to hit Vietnam hard - from extreme weather events along the northern coast to saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta. Reports also indicate that the country is sinking fast, a situation caused by excessive groundwater extraction and environmentally destructive human development. In response, Vietnam’s journey towards sustainability is an inspiring one, driven by the collective efforts of the government, local communities and responsible travellers to embrace eco-friendly practices and support sustainable initiatives.

Preserving Natural Wonders

Vietnam’s stunning natural wonders include the majestic Ha Long Bay and the lush Mekong Delta. Recognising the importance of preserving these ecosystems, the Vietnamese government and local communities have implemented various measures to protect them. For instance, in Ha Long Bay and neighbouring Bay Tu Long Bay, strict regulations have been put in place to limit the number of boats and to protect the delicate marine environment. Similarly, in the Mekong Delta, sustainable tourism initiatives aim to minimise the impact on the region’s fragile ecosystem.

Transitioning from Coal to Clean Energy

With Vietnam’s growing population demanding more energy, it’s crucial that this need is met through clean means. After the country reaffirmed its commitment to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible at the COP27 in Egypt, the G7 nations pledged to provide billions in funding to help Vietnam transition away from coal. Further expanding the country’s renewable energy mix and contributing to its net-zero targets, an immense wind farm is set to be built in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan. Helping to offset about 215,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, this initiative will play an important role in Vietnam’s clean energy transition.

Green Transport

Vietnam is famously a motorbike-loving nation. With over 65 million registered motorbikes, traffic congestion and poor air quality are scenarios locals and visitors face every day. Aside from two-wheeled vehicles, millions of cars and trucks flood major highways - most of them powered by diesel engines. This situation may change in the next decade after the government announced that it will gradually cease the production, assembly and import of vehicles using fossil fuels by 2040. All road vehicles should also be powered by electric or green energy by 2050, with the country set to increase its supply of charging stations and green transport infrastructure to encourage the use of e-vehicles. This drive reaches beyond the roads, to the railways and to the air. For the 2022-2030 period, Vietnam will pilot electric and green energy trains on existing railway lines. The new action plan also pledges to use 100% sustainable aviation fuel and green energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By opting to use sustainable transportation, travellers to Vietnam can contribute to reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.

Sustainable Accommodation and Community-Based Tourism

Sustainability in Vietnam extends to hotels and resorts, which are increasingly adopting responsible practices. From energy-efficient lighting to water conservation, these accommodations are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Today, many establishments source organic produce, promote fair trade and engage in responsible waste management. Community-based tourism initiatives have also gained popularity in Vietnam, offering travellers a chance to engage with local communities and support their development. These initiatives can empower residents by providing them with opportunities to showcase their culture, traditions and artisanship. By participating in homestays, village tours and community-led activities, travellers can directly contribute to the economic growth of these communities while fostering cultural exchange.

Sustainable Farming

Vietnam’s agricultural sector plays a vital role in the country’s economy. To promote sustainable farming practices, initiatives such as organic farming and permaculture are gaining momentum. Organic farms across the country are reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, prioritising soil health and promoting biodiversity. By visiting these farms and buying their products, travellers can encourage sustainable agriculture and enjoy fresh, healthy produce.

Responsible Wildlife Practices

Vietnam is home to diverse wildlife, including endangered species like the black-shanked douc. To protect animals and their habitats, responsible wildlife tourism practices are being implemented. National parks and conservation areas offer guided tours that prioritise animal welfare and educate visitors about the importance of conservation. By choosing responsible wildlife experiences, travellers can contribute to the preservation of Vietnam’s unique biodiversity.

Plastic Pollution Reduction

Plastic pollution is a global concern, and Vietnam is taking steps to address this issue. Many cities and towns have implemented plastic waste management programmes, including bans on single use plastics. Additionally, community-led initiatives and beach clean-up campaigns are raising awareness about the impact of plastic pollution on Vietnam’s stunning coastlines. Travellers can actively participate in these efforts by reducing their own plastic consumption and supporting businesses that prioritise sustainable packaging.

Environmental Education and Awareness

Education and awareness play a crucial role in promoting sustainability in Vietnam, and the country is actively working towards educating its citizens and visitors about environmental issues. Schools and organisations conduct workshops, seminars and awareness campaigns to foster a sense of responsibility towards the environment. Travellers can engage by attending workshops, volunteering with environmental organisations and sharing their knowledge and experience with others.

If you’re interested in travelling more sustainably, we can let you know about certain destinations, properties and experiences that are taking the most admirable actions towards sustainability in Vietnam.

Contact one of our Vietnam specialists